Te Akau trainer Jamie Richards is getting used to having runners at multiple venues across Australasia and this weekend will be no different.
The premiership-leading trainer in New Zealand will be at Te Rapa on Saturday where he is hoping Melody Belle will set a record for most Group One wins by a New Zealand trained horse (14) should she add the Gr.1 Herbie Dyke Stakes (2000m) to her remarkable career tally.
He will also saddle strong chances in feature races with Avantage (Gr.1 BCD Sprint, 1400m), Perfect Scenario (Gr.2 Legacy Lodge Waikato Guineas, 2000m), and Amarelinha (Gr.2 David & Karyn Ellis Fillies Classic, 2000m).
While he will be on course at the Hamilton track, he will be keeping a close eye across the Tasman where he will have runners at both Flemington and Randwick.
While not practical to cross the Tasman to watch his horses race in the flesh as a result of COVID-19 travel restrictions, Richards said he has been able to rely on his team who successfully campaigned Te Akau runners across the Tasman throughout the pandemic.
“I will be keeping a close eye on the weather everywhere and relying on the great staff that we have in Australia, like Craig Thornton in Sydney and Ashely Handley in Melbourne,” Richards said.
“We have got a good support crew around us. We have been travelling horses there for a little while now and made good contacts. Brad Taylor is a big help to us in Melbourne and John Thompson has been a really big help in Sydney, clocking horses and giving us advice.
“Fortunately, we have got a good team around us.”
Brando will carry the tangerine silks of Te Akau in the Gr.3 CS Hayes Stakes (1400m) at Flemington, a stepping stone to the Gr.1 Australian Guineas (1600m) at the same venue.
The son of Savabeel has been in impeccable form in New Zealand, winning three of his five starts, including the Listed Uncle Remus Stakes (1400m), and was runner-up in his other two starts, including the Gr.1 Levin Classic (1600m) at Trentham in his last outing.
Richards has received positive reports from Handley in the lead-up to Saturday.
“I am pleased with him and I think he has gone the right way,” Richards said. “He has had a month between runs and is back to 1400m with the blinkers on.
“He had an exhibition gallop at Pukekohe before he went over and did some nice work on Tuesday morning. Jye McNeil (jockey) came in and rode him and I think everything has gone according to plan.”
Richards hasn’t had a lot of luck with barrier draws in Melbourne and Saturday has proven no different with Brando having drawn gate 12 in the 16-horse field.
“He has got an awkward barrier, so he will need a bit of luck. The visitors draw never makes it easy over there,” he said.
“We will just have a look at the speed maps. Flemington is a big, roomy track, so if you go back you have still got enough room. He will be inclined to maybe going forward a little bit, but the grand final (Australian Guineas) is still a couple of weeks away, so we will work it out once we speak to the form guys.”
Further north, the stable will be represented by Kahma Lass in the Gr.2 Light Fingers Stakes (1200m) at Randwick.
Raced by Brendan and Jo Lindsay of Cambridge Stud, Richards is hoping for a solid performance from the Group One-winning filly in her first Australian assignment.
“She is ready to run well,” Richards said. “She trialled in a pretty hot heat at Rosehill behind Nature Strip and Bivouac. She trialled well here at Matamata behind Probabeel before she got on the plane.
“We are expecting her to run well. She is up against proven horses like Away Game, and a good field of fillies in a good race.“She has drawn a nice gate (2) and has done some nice work. I will be disappointed if she is not in the first three or four.”