Despite a tough run, Atom Cat proves too good in the Matamata Cup. Kenton Wright www.raceimages.co.nz
From Maiden status to winning an eighth race within ten months is a monumental performance for any horse and trainer. A feat achieved by local horseman Graham Richardson and Atom Cat (5 B. G. Traditionally – Gatestopper, by Carnegie), winner of the $45,000, Listed, Team Wealleans Matamata Cup over 1600-metres at Matamata on Saturday.
Owners Don and Wendy Pye MBE are glad they persevered with a horse thought initially too small to be a racehorse – 15 hands and 460 kilograms – who has now won eight of his twenty-two starts and $103,000 earnings.
Not only is he on the diminutive side, but he had to work especially hard when trapped four wide in the running before unleashing a sprint to collar the leaders inside the furlong and going on to score emphatically by one-length.
Tough staying type Sand Hawk (Sandtrap) finished second, while another local from the Lance Nobe stable, Headsup (Thorn Park) was half-a-length back in third.
The fourth placed second favourite Salvatore (Howbaddouwantit) ranged to lead mid-straight yet was unable to continue his run, while the favourite Time Keeper (Stravinsky), a group one winner of the Easter Handicap, tired to finish fourteenth after being taken on in front.
Having her first ride of the gelding, winning rider Samantha Spratt said, “He was travelling huge on the corner. I’ve seen his races before and he can really finish them off.”
Richardson was surprised that Atom Cat could continue to find the line after travelling so wide, let alone win the race.
“I gave him no hope when he was three and four wide down the back straight and going nowhere, but they did go quick in front and I could see him cruising into it at the right time. But I gave him no hope at the 1000m mark. It was a really tough run”, he said.
Richardson had previously prepared Platonic, the winner of ten races and half a million in stakes, to win the Matamata Cup in 2001.
He said there are no immediate plans for Atom Cat, who has been in commission for a considerable length of time and also prefers yielding footing that tends to diminish over the summer months.
The win by Atom Cat was a perfect precursor to Richardson taking out the race he sponsored later on the card, the $15,000 Richardson Racing Stables Rating 90 for fillies and mares over 1200-metres, won by the classy mare Show Up (4 Ch. M. Show A Heart – La Serenade, by St. Covet), whom he trains for The Oaks Stud.
Ridden positively, outside the leader, by Alvin Ng, Show Up travelled within herself to the 200m and found plenty when Ng asked her for an effort.
Impressive winning her previous start at Hastings over 1200m on Slow8, August 28, she has also shown an affinity on good ground when displaying her prowess with a sprint win over 1200m in 1:09.90 at Te Rapa in March.
The Oaks Stud General Manager Rick Williams said, “She is a lovely mare and with her races spaced she has a bright future.”
Sentiments echoed by Richardson. “She’s a lovely filly. She’s just going to go through the grades, but slowly. She’s immature and we’ll just take our time. She hasn’t raced for four or five weeks, but she doesn’t need racing.”
Show Up has won four of her ten starts and Richardson has set lofty goals.
“She and another filly of mine, Italian Princess (Bertolini), will be aimed at the Railway, and the Telegraph, hopefully”, he said.
Show Up scored by a neck over Nicole Amy (Le Bec Fin), who closed solidly on her inner, with Lakeland Queen (Lake Coniston) fighting hard off the trail for third, half-a-length away.
The race was robbed of some of its strength when group one winning juvenile Banchee (Oratorio) came out after the track downgraded to slow earlier in the day, as too did another of the top chances, Saheel (Zabeel), along with Santangelo (Lonhro).
Show Up beats Nicole Amy and Lakeland Queen.