Graham Richardson has four runners entered for Matamata on Saturday, but he’s keeping just as close an eye on an Australian race three days beforehand.
Richardson is the former trainer and part-owner of Defibrillate, who will attempt to force his way into the Group 1 Melbourne Cup (3200m) when he contests the Group 3 Geelong Cup (2400m) on Wednesday.
“You don’t get many opportunities in life for things you’ve always dreamed about,” Richardson said.
“If he makes the field, it’s fantastic. How many people can say in their lives that they’ve had a runner in the Melbourne Cup?”
Defibrillate hasn’t met the qualifying criteria for the race, which requires either victory in a Listed race of 2300m or further or a top-three finish in a Group race of 2300m or further.
A top three effort in the Geelong Cup would not only qualify Defibrillate, it would leapfrog him above many currently qualified horses, with the seven-year-old son of Shocking currently 45th on the ballot.
A dual Listed winner last season, Defibrillate has run four times this season and at his last start finished fourth behind Delphi and The Chosen One in the Group 2 Herbert Power Handicap (2400m) at Caulfield on October 9.
“He got a bit uptight in the gates and they put somebody up beside him and I think he half-panicked and missed the kick,” Richardson said.
“When you’re back last on the turn against horses like those it’s very hard to win so to run fourth was a big effort.”
A winner of two of his three starts for Richardson, who bred Defibrillate along with the McInteer Family Syndicate, Defibrillate has won two Listed races since being moved to Patrick Payne’s Victorian stable.
If he doesn’t get a Melbourne Cup start, the back-up race for Defibrillate is likely to be the Group 3 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2600m) on November 6.
Back home in New Zealand, Richardson is hoping his three-year-old filly Bonny Lass can run well enough in Saturday’s Group 3 Matamata Veterinary Services Soliloquy Stakes (1400m) to earn a trip to Christchurch for the Group 1 Barneswood Farm New Zealand 1000 Guineas (1600m) on November 13.
Bonny Lass won the Group 2 Matamata Breeders’ Stakes (1200m) and finished third in both New Zealand’s juvenile Group One contests last season, and she finished fourth in the Group 3 Gold Trail Stakes (1200m) in her three-year-old debut at Hastings on September 18.
“She was trapped wide the whole way so it was a very good run at Hastings,” said Richardson, who trains at Matamata in partnership with Rogan Norvall.
“She’s definitely improved since then and I’ve put a set of blinkers on her for Saturday. The track wasn’t too bad today given that we had a lot of rain last night, and hopefully we get a good track and a reasonable draw.”
He said it was difficult to say for certain whether Bonny Lass would get the 1600m journey of the 1000 Guineas, but her attitude and ability to grind away suggested she had a good chance of doing so.
Richardson’s other Matamata entries are Devotioninmotion in a maiden 1200m event and Light Brocade and Angelica in a Rating 74 1200m contest.
“Devotioninmotion has been first past the post twice and relegated both times and she should go well fresh,” he said.
“Angelica has been racing well but will only start if the track is wet, while Light Brocade ran well fresh and has improved since then.”