Richards juveniles hitting top-gear

Normal service was resumed at Te Aroha on Saturday when Jamie Richards and the Te Akau racing team dominated the opening event on the card, the Te Aroha Stallion Service Scheme (1100m) for the two-year-olds.

Richards lined up three runners in the event and produced the trifecta as I Am Invincible filly, I Choose You  lead home her stablemates Grace 'N' Grey  and Accidental Tourist .

I CHOOSE YOU winning the Stallion Service Scheme Mdn
I CHOOSE YOU winning the Stallion Service Scheme Mdn Picture: Race Images Photo

The champion trainer has dominated the two-year-old ranks in recent seasons but has made a slower start to the current term.

A stunning victory by exciting filly Bright Blue Sky at Te Rapa last weekend preceded Saturday's result, with Richards looking to build on that momentum as he increases his presence in the upcoming juvenile events on raceday.

"We've been a little bit slow out of the blocks this season due to a number of factors," he said.

SAVY YONG BLONK winning the Japac Manawatu Breeders Stakes
SAVY YONG BLONK winning the Japac Manawatu Breeders Stakes Picture: Race Images Photo

"We've probably lacked some really early maturing types and it has been a bit of a wet and cold spring which impacts on the preparation of the babies.

"I don't think we are the only ones who have been in that boat and with the tracks better now and the sun out, we should see the two-year-old numbers on raceday increase."

Richards was pleased with all three of his runners on Saturday and expects them all to take improvement from the experience.

"I thought I Choose You was very professional and really kicked hard when asked for her effort," he said.

"She pinned her ears back and had a go, which is what you want to see.

"The grey filly, Grace 'N' Grey, probably cost herself by overdoing things in the middle stages where she got a bit keen in the running and that took the edge off her finish.

"I thought Accidental Tourist was also very good late. He is a horse that lacks some ringcraft and still does a lot wrong, but he got home nicely at the end to suggest he will take real benefit from the run.

"We will just play it by ear with them all, but I would think that I Choose You is an ideal Matamata Breeders' Stakes (Gr.2, 1200m) type so she can have a few easy days and we might look at the Eclipse Stakes (Gr.2, 1200m) at Ellerslie on New Year's Day for her next start."

Richards also confirmed that Bright Blue Sky would be heading to Australia next month to prepare for a tilt at the Magic Millions 2YO (1200m) event on the Gold Coast in January.

Purchased from the Gold Coast Sale by Ellis in conjunction with Andrew Williams Bloodstock for A$600,000, Bright Blue Sky has had an easy time of it since her stunning debut victory at Te Rapa.

"Bright Blue Sky has had a quiet week in the paddock but came back to the stable today (Sunday)," Richards said.

"At this stage she is booked to fly over to Sydney on December 12.

"The plan will be to give her a trial in Sydney before heading up to Brisbane for a lead-up race and then into the Millions on January 15.

"She is a very genuine filly who created a good impression with her first-up win, so it is exciting to take on the challenge of an Australian campaign with her."

Richards also has a big team engaged at the trial meeting at his home venue at Matamata on Monday including 18 two-year-olds and proven performers such as Savy Yong Blonk and Prise De Fer.

"We've got a big number in at the trials as they can just walk across to the track from the stables and be home minutes after they have had their trial," he said.

"We have a variety of our two-year-old team having a run, with some that will be seen out in the next few weeks while there are also some who will most likely have this run and then be put aside for the autumn and beyond.

"Savy Yong Blonk  and Prise De Fer are also having a hit-out before they head to Trentham on Saturday for the Captain Cook Stakes (Gr.1, 1600m), while it will be good to have a mare like Festivity back and trialling following a short break.

"She didn't have a lot of luck in her first few runs this season, so we backed off her and gave her some time out.

"At this stage she might go first-up into the Hallmark Stud Handicap (Listed, 1200m) at Ellerslie on Boxing Day, then the Telegraph (Gr.1, 1200m) at Trentham if she is back to her best."
NZ Racing News