Trainer Graham Richardson is looking forward to catching up with one of his old mates on Monday.
Talented middle-distance performer Defibrillate did his early racing from Richardson’s Matamata stable where he won two of his first three starts before being sent over to Patrick Payne’s Plumpton stable to capitalise on the opportunities available in the Melbourne metropolitan area.
The now seven-year-old son of Shocking did Richardson and his fellow owners proud, winning eight of his 24 starts, with three of those at stakes level while also finishing close-up in sixth in the Gr.1 Australian Cup (2000m) in 2021.
While the gelding is still competitive at a high level in Victoria, Richardson felt he would be even better placed back home in New Zealand where he will be set for a number of Group One targets in the new season.
“Defibrillate came home during the week and went straight out to the spelling paddock,” Richardson said.
“I’m going out to see him on Monday and I’m pretty excited as he is such a cool horse and we haven’t been able to see him in the flesh for the last two and a half years thanks to COVID.
“It will be great to give him a pat and to make a fuss over him.
“He did a great job for us over there but had probably met his mark now.
“He was still competitive at stakes level in the right races, but we just thought that back here he is very much a genuine Group One contender at his pet distances which are a mile or 2000m.
“We will get him back into the stable once he has had a nice break and found his feet back here.
“At this stage his first assignment is likely to be the Group One mile at Hastings on the second day of their carnival.
“He might have one run before then or maybe just a couple of trials as he goes well fresh and is not the type of horse that needs a lot of work to get him to a peak.”
The return of Defibrillate for Richardson and training partner Rogan Norvall will mitigate the loss of Gr.3 Manco Easter Handicap (1600m) winner Carolina Reaper, who has been sold to international interests.
“Carolina Reaper has been sold so she will be leaving us, so having Defibrillate back will help fill that gap,” Richardson said.
“We will still have plenty of firepower at the top levels as Tiptronic will be returning while Bonny Lass has the Railway (Gr.1, 1200m) as her main aim for the summer.
“Rogan and I also have some really promising younger horses coming through so I’m really looking to see how they progress as they get ready for the spring.”
Richardson singled out two-year-old Channel Surfer as one of that younger brigade to watch after the son of Grangewilliam Stud stallion Derryn caught the eye with a bold late run for fourth in his raceday debut at Te Rapa last month.
“Channel Surfer was very impressive on debut and I think he could be one of our stars next season,” he said.
“He seems to handle some cut in the ground and has worked up well after that first run, so we might set him for the Castletown Stakes (Listed, 1200m) at Wanganui next month before we put him away for a break.”