Trainer Jamie Richards added another milestone to his already storied training career when he provided the first four home in the Group 1 Barneswood Farm New Zealand 1000 Guineas (1600m) at Riccarton.
Impeccably bred filly The Perfect Pink gave Richards his 50th Group One victory of his career and an elite level double at the carnival for he and jockey Opie Bosson, after the pair combined just seven days earlier to capture the Group 1 New Zealand 2000 Guineas (1600m) aboard Noverre.
The Perfect Pink, a daughter of superstar Waikato Stud stallion Savabeel and three-time stakes winning O’Reilly mare The Solitaire, had looked a leading contender for the race after a solid finish for fourth behind stablemate Imperatriz in the Group 3 Soliloquy Stakes (1600m) at her last start.
Bosson played a patient game aboard The Perfect Pink, sitting three wide in midfield with cover, before swooping to the outside of the track in the run home.
Stablemates Shepherd’s Delight and Belle En Rouge looked like they would fight out the finish at the 200m, but Bosson surged on The Perfect Pink to join issue and take victory by a long neck from Shepherd’s Delight, who pipped Belle En Rouge for third as race favourite Imperatriz arrived late to take fourth.
Richards was in a reflective mood as he celebrated his third New Zealand 1000 Guineas success and brought up the half century of elite level wins so early in his training career.
“It’s been a bit of a whirlwind the last five or six years, after being a young fella growing up in Dunedin,” he said.
“To bring up the milestone in the South Island and being a southern boy makes it a really special day.
“I’ve got a lot of people to thank for the position I am in.
“It’s not just about me, it’s about the amazing bunch of staff and the owners and everyone who is involved.”
Richards admitted that the race looked an unlikely target earlier in the campaign, with the filly clearing maiden ranks on the synthetic track at Cambridge in late September.
“We always had a lot of time for her, but she needed time to mature,” Richards said.
“We weren’t originally going to bring her down here, but I’m thrilled that we did.
“I actually thought she was the one to beat on good ground, but thankfully she has been able to do it on soft ground as well.”
The victory was the fourth for Bosson in the race after taking it out in 2009 and 2010 with Katie Lee and King’s Rose respectively before combining with Kahma Lass for Richards last year.
“It’s an amazing feeling as she is a very nice filly,” Bosson said.
“We picked her out as a two-year-old as a perfect 1000 Guineas type filly, so it is a great result.
“We got a bit of a rough run and I was behind one I didn’t want to be behind.
“When it stopped at the 600m I had to come around it and make quite a long run.
“The plan in my mind was to get to the outside and the better ground as she doesn’t really like it the way it is.
“I knew I had the Savabeel factor on my side and that really kicked in.
“Jamie does an amazing job and you are just so privileged to ride for this stable. Every time you put your leg over one, you know they have got a great chance.”
Bosson said The Perfect Pink shaped as a filly that will relish getting over ground.
“She will be an out and out Oaks filly for sure. She doesn’t over-race, she just drops the bit and does whatever you want. She is the perfect staying type,” he said.
The Perfect Pink was bred by Southland racing identities the Dennis brothers, along with Milan Park principal Tony Ryder, who share in the ownership of the filly along with Grant Bennett, Steven Christopher and Craig Lawrence.
The filly will head for a break at Milan Park after flying back from Christchurch on Tuesday, before preparing for a tilt at the Group 1 New Zealand Oaks (2400m), with Australia also a long-range target.
Richards didn’t rule out trying race favourite Imperatriz over a mile again in the future, but believed she would be most effective at 1200m and 1400m, which is what she will be set for after Christmas and into the New Year.
The Perfect Pink becomes the 26th individual Group One winner for her champion sire Savabeel, who is in his 16th season standing at Waikato Stud. O’Reilly mares are responsible for seven of those Group One winners.