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Richardson chasing hometown feature with Bonny Lass 

Matamata trainers Graham Richardson and Rogan Norvall head to their local meeting on Saturday with talented yet unassuming filly Bonny Lass in the Gr.2 J Swap Contractors Ltd Matamata Breeders Stakes (1200m).

An impressive debut winner at the course and distance in late January, Richardson is pleased with the progress of the Super Easy filly, who upstaged high-priced yearling colt Noverre when breaking maiden ranks, with that runner enhancing the form by winning comfortably at Whanganui last week. 

“She’s a very natural two-year-old. She just gets up and does what you want her to do and she is not silly about it,” Richardson said. 

“She has only had the one trial and the one race and has just done everything as a professional. 

“She is athletic and is going to be a better three-year-old. She came up quicker and is more of a natural than we thought she would be. 

“What we do after this we are not sure yet. We will keep an eye on her physically and see what her shins are like. 

“Certainly around the stable she is very quiet and you wouldn’t know she is there half of the time.”

With 11 horses nominated for the banner race of the year at Matamata, Richardson is hoping for a good draw and is proud to have a runner in the feature. 

“It is a big thrill to have a horse capable of going to the Matamata Breeders’ Stakes, obviously being from Matamata it is a big thing,” he said. 

Raced by the Social Racing Starting Gates Syndicate in conjunction with breeder Sandy Moore, Bonny Lass is likely to have a legion of fans.

The filly, who will be ridden by Craig Grylls, has shown good versatility coming from off speed when winning her only trial, before dictating when successful on raceday. 

Richardson will have a further four runners at Matamata with Paisley Park to contest the Listed Matamata Veterinary Services Kaimai Stakes (2000m), in-form mares La Mia Stella and Rocket Fuel in the Lisa Chittick Plate (1400m) and Light Brocade in a Rating 65 1200m.

“Paisley Park was a little bit stiff last time and should have run a little bit closer, I can’t split Rocket Fuel and La Mia Stella and Light Brocade has worked up well and will sport blinkers for the first time,” he said.

Meanwhile, Group One winner Tiptronic has recovered well after being galloped on when sixth in the Gr.1 Herbie Dyke Stakes (2000m) and is on a path to the Gr.1 Bonecrusher New Zealand Stakes (2000m) at Ellerslie on March 13.

“He’s fine. He has healed up better than I thought. It is nearly 100 percent and he will have a trial next week at Rotorua before he heads to the Bonecrusher,” Richardson said.

The Matamata horseman is also getting a huge kick out of watching Defibrillate, a horse he part-owns, having prepared him to win two of his first three starts, racing in great form for trainer Patrick Payne in Melbourne. 

The son of Shocking has won nine of 13 starts, the last four in succession including Saturday’s Listed Mornington Cup Prelude (2000m) at Caulfield.

“It is quite incredible actually. I got a massive thrill seeing him win on Saturday, especially because I have a few of my mates in him, as well as Graeme and Linda McInteer who have been with me for years,” Richardson said. 

“I bought his mother for them, Our Chickaroonie, as a yearling. They are great people. 

“I was at home watching the race with some mates in Matamata and I have never been so nervous. They were taking the piss out of me big time. I am usually cool and calm when I have a Group One runner.

“We are going to the Australian Cup (Gr.1, 2000m) with him and we are so happy to have a horse even heading in that direction. Paddy said he has pulled up extremely well and that will be his biggest test at weight for age.” 

Bonny Lass, picture Race Images

Surprise package for novice breeder

When Tracey Schroeder bought herself an ‘old plodder’ to ride and potter around with, she got a lot more than she bargained for.

She bought Pretty Woman as a re-educated thoroughbred to ride under saddle but has ended up with a valuable broodmare whose first foal is the Listed Southland Guineas (1600m) winner Chokito.

“It’s incredibly exciting, following Chokito and watching her win,” Schroeder said.

“One of my daughters had a thoroughbred eventer but other than that I had never had anything to do with thoroughbreds until I got this mare. Chokito winning makes owning the mare ever so special.”

Chokito has now won four races from 10 starts. She won three times at two, and this season she has been placed at each of her four starts, including a third placing in the Listed Gore Guineas (1335m). She is part-owned and trained by Warwick Coles who purchased her for $1700 as a foal in a two for one package on gavelhouse.co.nz.

A daughter of the former Champion Two-Year-Old Vespa, Chokito is the first stakes winner for the Elusive City stallion. She was bred by Fairdale and Goodwood Studs, from a family Fairdale Stud had had a lot of success with over the years. According to Goodwood Stud principal William Fell, he and his cousin Duncan, decided to sell Pretty Woman as she didn’t have the commercial appeal for Book One. 

“Pretty Woman was originally a Fairdale Stud mare that we kept with Dad (Rex) and Gerald when the partnership split,” William Fell said. 

“In 2018 Duncan and I had a conversation about her and although she had left a lovely Vespa foal, it was one mare and a family that we decided to offload, so she went on Gavelhouse.”

That family has produced Pretty Woman’s dam Howmuchyacharging, a Group One placed winner who won the Gr.3 Highview Stakes (1200m) at Hastings. Howmuchyacharging produced seven foals for four winners.

Her dam, Fairdale Lass, was unraced but was a half-sister to the stakes winners Marnies Magic and Rock You. 

So back to the tale around Pretty Woman and how she became Schroeder’s prized broodmare and not her hack.

“I rode from five to 21 competitively and then both my daughters did as well. Once the girls left home and started their own families, my husband said to me ‘you have got all the gear in the shed, we’ve got the 10 acre block and nice roads to ride around, why don’t you get yourself an old plodder’, so I set about finding myself a nice big strong horse to ride and found Pretty Woman.

“After Warwick Coles bought her with Chokito at foot. Apparently, she was a lovely leggy filly a bit like her mum and then he decided he didn’t need the mare and sold her to be re-educated as a hack so she could be rehomed.

“I bought her sight unseen but had photos and videos of her, and when she got delivered a month after I had bought her, she was not in the best condition so I looked after her and treated her like a princess over the winter. I think I rode her once.

“Around late October she was looking pretty potty and ribby. The vet was around looking at one of my daughter’s horses and I asked him to have a quick look at her. He said it’s the time of the year, we’ll give her a good drench and have another look in a weeks’ time. That was on a Monday and by Tuesday night she had foaled a colt foal.

“In the meantime I had called the woman I had bought her from and asked if she could have been in foal, and she said she doubted it and put me onto Warwick Coles, and he told me when he bought her he had bought her as a two in one package. 

“He contacted Goodwood Stud and William Fell told him she had been served by Alamosa but had tested negative.

“With this in-mind on the Tuesday night I said to my husband ‘I’ll just go and check on that mare again’, and when I got there, she was ready to foal down. And the next thing I know a stunning little colt was born. I had no idea about thoroughbreds or who Alamosa was and now I had this lovely colt. Oh and I had never foaled a mare either.

“With a few phone calls to Goodwood and Wellfield, I soon got all the paperwork sorted out, and I then sent her off to War Decree at Inglewood Stud, and Gus (Wigley, stud principal) has been a great help and given me lots of good advice.”

Pretty Woman foaled a filly foal by War Decree this season and Schroeder elected not to serve her, now she is thinking she will be booking her a date with Vespa again next season.

So, did Schroeder ever get that ‘old plodder’ to ride?

“I haven’t actually got around to buying myself another horse. The three I’ve got now are keeping me pretty busy,” she said. 

Group One winner retired

Group One winner Julius has been retired.

It’s not the first time the Swiss Ace nine-year-old has entered the retirement paddock, having been forced away from the track following his third-placing in the 2018 Gr.3 Sweynesse Stakes (1215m) after scans revealed he had a hole in his near fore tendon.

At that point in his career Julius had won the Gr.3 Concorde Handicap (1200m), Gr.3 Darley Stallions Plate (1200m), and placed in the Gr.2 Foxbridge Plate (1200m) and Sweynesse Stakes.

Trainer John Bell received positive reports the following year and it was decided to bring the talented sprinter back into work.

“We put him out on a large sheep station on the west coast, and we just let him run around there for quite some time,” Bell said.

“The only reason why we got him back was because he was chasing the sheep around, he was that well.”

Julius came back and won the Gr.3 J Swap Contractors Sprint (1400m) second-up in 2019, before recording his first elite-level victory in the Gr.1 Railway (1200m) at Ellerslie on New Year’s Day 2020.

He was beaten into second by Avantage in the 2021 edition of the Railway and he had two further starts before Bell decided to retire him after his ninth-placing in the Gr.1 BCD Group Sprint (1400m).

“He has been an amazing horse, he’s an incredible animal – what he has done and won,” Bell said. “It’s been a wonderful journey.”

Bell said the intention was to give Julius one final run in the Gr.3 Haunui Farm King’s Plate (1200m) at Ellerslie on March 6, however, he said his stable star has nothing left to prove.

“He never left an oat after Te Rapa and he has never been as well in his life,” Bell said. 

“If you want to listen, they will talk to you. I went and had a chat with him on Monday and he said ‘John mate, I’m done’.

“His last race was going to be the King’s Plate, which was the Darley Plate when he won it, but he has done enough and doesn’t have to prove anything more.

“He has been a very popular horse and he has always performed. 

“We have got several nice horses about, so we will see how we can develop them, and hopefully we get lucky and get another Julius or Mosse.”

Grand Annual hopes for Magnanimous Man

Former New Zealand jumper Magnanimous Man has joined Warrnambool trainer Patrick Ryan’s barn ahead of a likely tilt at a number of feature Victorian jumps races.

"There's a bit of a wrap on Magnanimous Man," Ryan told The Standard.

"He's only had a handful of jumping starts which have resulted in two wins.

"His last jumps run was in the Great Northern Hurdle in October, where he was unplaced.

"He handles all types of conditions and also has some ability on the flat as well as being a very handy jumping prospect.

"He was purchased by some stable clients."

A number of feature jumps races beckon the son of Nom Du Jeu, but Ryan has a burning desire to target the Grand Annual Steeplechase (5500m) at his home track in May.

"The Grand Annual is the race that all jumps trainers would love to win," he said.

The seven-year-old gelding was previously trained in New Zealand by Craig and Shaun Phelan, for whom he won six of his 29 starts, and placed in four others.

Auckland Cup likely for Sinarahma

Allan Sharrock will be hoping it’s a case of like mother, like daughter, if Sinarahma lines-up in the Gr.1 Barfoot & Thompson Auckland Cup (3200m) at Ellerslie next month.

Sharrock trained Sinarahma’s dam, Shez Sinsational, to win the 2012 edition of the two-mile feature, and he believes her six-year-old daughter has the potential to do the same.

The Darci Brahma mare has only been tested up to 2000m, but Sharrock said there are a couple of factors that have influenced his decision.

“I have changed tack,” Sharrock said. “There is a possibility I might run her in the Auckland Cup. 

“She has always been strong in her races late, it is worth $500,000, she probably comes into the race at 53.5kg, and her mother won it. Dee And Gee won the New Zealand Cup (Gr.3, 3200m) and she’s a Darci Brahma.

“I have always been of the opinion that a good miler can win the Auckland Cup, as a long as you settle.

“We will pay a late nomination the week prior, if I am happy enough to go there.”

Sharrock has a good association with the race, having won two previously with Shez Sinsational (2012) and Ladies First (2018).

“It is a race I am familiar with and it’s a nice race to win, if you are good enough,” he said.

Sinarahma has pleased her trainer with her recent performances, including a runner-up result behind Melody Belle in the Gr.1 Thorndon Mile (1600m), after missing the start, and running fifth in the Gr.1 Herbie Dyke Stakes (2000m) at Te Rapa earlier this month.

“She was the first one under a ride when the sprint went on (in the Herbie Dyke),” Sharrock said. “It wasn’t run hard, so the back-runners were vulnerable and to her credit she was very good through the line, so I was happy with the run.”

Meanwhile, Gr.3 Wellington Cup (3200m) hero Waisake will likely return to Trentham next month to round out his preparation in the Listed Lincoln Farms St Leger (2600m).

The Zed gelding has been in impeccable form this time in, culminating in his Wellington Cup victory, and Sharrock said his charge will likely have one more run before being turned out in preparation for loftier targets next season.

“He has done us proud this year and we will probably put the pressure on him with a couple of two-mile races next year,” Sharrock said.

“He is relatively lightly raced, with 23 starts, I just didn’t want to beat him up this year. He will end up in the St Leger and that will probably be his season.”

Looking ahead to the weekend, Sharrock said he has a couple of winning hopes at Otaki on Saturday.

“We have got two (rating) 65 horses who will be hard to beat,” he said. “Tavattack will be in the 65 1400m, and blinkers will go on The Lost Boys in the 65 1200m.” 

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