Single-minded approach wins
Richie’s Cup runneth over. A recurring theme on the racing front over the past two or three months has been the success rate of horses trained by Graham Richardson.
At Ellerslie on Saturday it was more of the same when the Richardson-trained Single Minded added the Gr. 2 Avondale Cup to the Gr. 2 City Of Auckland Cup he won on the same course on New Year’s Day.
With a Wellington Cup fourth slotted between those two wins, the veteran of just 11 starts is now scheduled to return to Ellerslie with one of the best formlines to the $500,000 Stella Artois Auckland Cup on March 7.
‘‘It’s quite amazing what he’s done in such a short career,’’ said his trainer. ‘‘I have to keep reminding myself that he’s still only four and he has it all in front of him, but he tries so hard whenever he goes to the races.’’
Single Minded has a reputation as particularly tough customer, one that needed patient handling and tolerance.
Various Richardson stable staff have played their part, none perhaps more so than his regular trackwork rider Jackie Barlow, an experienced horsewoman who adopts the same firm but tolerant policy that she does with other members of the Richardson team on her ‘‘special projects’’ list.
The same tough streak also played its part in Single Minded’s recovery from a hairline fracture to a cannon-bone that he suffered when winning his first race in late 2010. After six weeks confined to his stable and a long recuperation he was ready to return to racing last November, winning first-up over 1600 metres and adding another three wins, a third and a fourth in five subsequent starts.
The big question around Single Minded and most other Auckland Cup candidates is whether he will manage the extreme flat racing distance of 3200 metres.
Three wins a fourth from four starts over 2400 metres answer part of that question, and anyone wanting to know more needs only to talk to his regular rider Craig Grylls.
‘‘He’s got a lovely staying style, he just rolls along and keeps giving,’’ said the young man who has ridden Single Minded in all five of his wins.
‘‘I’d be surprised if he doesn’t run two miles and I can’t wait for the Auckland Cup.’’
Single Minded is likely to be joined in the Ellerslie feature by lesser rated stablemates Top Spot and Dadzadreamer.
Top Spot was unplaced behind Single Minded on Saturday after getting well out of her ground, but qualified for a start when third in the City Of Auckland Cup.
Dadzadreamer may have clinched his place in the field when he completed a stable double by winning the last race at Ellerslie on the weekend.
That was his first win for almost two years and perhaps it’s no coincidence that it followed a course of schooling over the jumps in the middle of the Matamata training tracks.
Dazadreamer’s win took his trainer’s tally to 30 for the season thus far, matching his best ever result from 2009-10 with more than five months remaining of the current season.
Graham Richardson expects to have at the most just one runner at his local meeting on Saturday, but he will have a definite presence as a race sponsor and the host of a function for stable clients.
‘‘I love racing on my home track but it’s just the way it’s worked out with most of the team racing elsewhere lately and now targeting the Auckland Cup carnival,’’ he said.
‘‘My one possible runner is Sudoku in the Breeders’ Stakes.
‘‘She’s had just one the start for a bit of an unlucky fifth in a big field and might be lucky to get a run.
‘‘She wouldn’t be the worst though, so we still might have something to celebrate.’’
John Sargent kept his big season rolling when he saddled up Choice Bro to win the Gr. 3 Platinum Homes Classic at New Plymouth on Saturday, taking his tally at the top of the trainers’ premiership to 59.
Jason Bridgman was also in winning form at the Taranaki meeting with the Waikato Stud-owned filly Glad, then added another two at Sunday’s Wairoa meeting to put him on 45 wins and a clear third premiership position.
Waikato Stud had a winning weekend on both sides of the Tasman, with another home-bred three-year-old filly in Shopaholic upsetting the hot favourite Mosheen in the Gr. 3 Vanity Stakes.
In line with the policy of assessing young racing stock before deciding where they would be best placed, Shopaholic won one of her four local starts as twoyear-old last autumn before being sent to Melbourne trainer Danny O’brien.
The Pins filly, who has now won four of her nine starts, is out of the O’reilly mare Splashing Out, who was also a good winner in Melbourne, while others that have made similar ventures worthwhile include the dual Group One winner Glamour Puss along with big winners Ugachaka and Do Ra Mi.
The Gr. 2 Kewney Stakes at Flemington last March was Do Ra Mi’s biggest win, but she returned to Waikato Stud after disappointing in her spring campaign. She’s now back in work with newly licensed resident trainer Kate Hercock, who returned late last year from Macau and after a trial win earlier in the month she is scheduled to be Kate’s first raceday starter in the open sprint on her home track this weekend.
As always, this Saturday’s big programme of racing centred on the flagship $100,000 J Swap Contractors Matamata Breeders’ Stakes will attract strong fields and plenty to keep the expected big crowd entertained both on the track and off.
See you there.
Successful: Single Minded and Craig Grylls have the Avondale Cup in safekeeping from their only challenger, Booming.