Matamata trainer Graham Richardson wasn’t expecting too much when he sat down to watch his pride and joy Defibrillate kick off his autumn campaign at Caulfield on Saturday.
Richardson is part of a syndicate of owners, including close friends Lance O’Sullivan and Brendon McCullum, who race the seven-year-old son of Shocking out of the Plumpton stable of Patrick Payne after he was sent there in 2019 following two wins from three starts for Richardson in New Zealand.
Defibrillate has fashioned a stellar record under Payne’s guidance with seven wins from 19 starts before adding an eighth Australian victory and second successive Listed Mornington Cup Prelude (2000m) as he charged home from midfield to defeat race favourite Desert Icon.
Payne had told Richardson during the week to expect a good run, but not necessarily a winning one, with Richardson just happy to see him running on at the finish.
The stirring finish for victory had Richardson and those around him at the restaurant where they were seated for dinner, creating a ruckus that ended up costing Richardson the cost of the drinks bill for the evening’s celebrations.
“Paddy (Payne) had said to me that he was well, but whatever he did on Saturday he would improve on, so don’t get your hopes up too much,” Richardson said.
“I knew he always goes pretty well fresh, but that was a massive effort to get up and win so convincingly without really being asked for too much.
“There were a group of us at an Italian restaurant getting ready to have dinner and there was a fair bit of noise when he hit the front and ran away from them.
“I had to shake the moths out of my wallet and shout drinks all night, but when it is on the back of a win like that, it is well worth it.”
Richardson was also pleased to see Defibrillate return to his best after his form had tailed off in the summer as Payne attempted to get him a start in the Group 1 Melbourne Cup (3200m) at Flemington.
“I half blame myself for him not being at his best last time in as we wanted to see if he could stay and get a start in the Melbourne Cup, which wasn’t to be,” he said.
“He’s not really a 3200m type and we found that out in the end. He is much better suited to a middle distance as he has a very sharp sprint that he showed on the weekend.
“I haven’t spoken to Paddy about where we go next, but there was talk about the Australian Cup (Group 1, 2000m), however I will leave it up to him to make any decisions like that.”
In the meantime, Richardson and training partner Rogan Norvall are gearing up for a busy fortnight on the local scene which will see them with several runners in stakes races over the next seven days, while also attending the Avondale trials on Tuesday with a number of stable members and Richardson spending numerous days at Karaka in the build-up to the New Zealand Bloodstock National Yearling Sales.
“We’ve got a hell of a week coming up and we are just working out who goes where at this stage,” Richardson.
“Rogan is taking a big team to the Avondale trials on Tuesday and I was planning to be at Karaka to start some on-site yearling inspections.
“We have Aspen Colorado set to start in the Lowland Stakes (Group 2, 2100m) at Hastings on Wednesday so I will probably drive down there and then go back to Karaka for the rest of the week.
“Bonny Lass will tackle the Mufhasa Stakes (Listed, 1400m) at Ellerslie on Saturday, while Bigiff will take on the fillies in the Sunline Vase (Group 2, 2100m) as her lead-up to the New Zealand Oaks (Group 1, 2400m).”
Richardson is looking forward to the National Yearling Sales with several orders to buy for existing clients.
“I have a number of orders this year which is fantastic,” he said.
“These are from people who have confidence in our industry which is great, while we will also be looking to attract some new owners into the ones we buy to syndicate.
“Sale time at Karaka is always an exciting time and I think this will be another successful year for those who want to get involved.”
The New Zealand Bloodstock National Yearling Sales gets underway at Karaka at 11am on Monday March 7 and runs through to Saturday March 12.