Italian Princess (black cap) eyes the challenge of Sandblaster. Kenton Wright www.raceimages.co.nz
Matamata trainer Graham Richardson has an enviable tally of 422 wins to his name, while being in particularly fine form of late, but he gained a special thrill as owner and breeder when Italian Princess (4 Ch. M. Bertolini – Our Chickaroonie, by Groom Dancer) stuck her nose out on the line to win the $45,000, Listed, Counties Bowl over 1100-metres at Pukekohe on Saturday.
“There is no better feeling”, Richardson said as he collected the trophy.
Italian Princess had resumed from a spell at her previous start with an impressive win at Te Rapa over 1200-metres on good footing when setting a genuine pace, and passed her biggest test to enhance a formidable record to five wins from eight starts.
Quick on her feet, she matched the early rush of her speedster rivals to situate outside the leader for rider Michael Coleman. Able to level under hands and heels at the 150m, it appeared further urging would see her draw clear, but Sandblaster (Sandtrap) had other ideas and it was only a timely head bob that got her home.
A nose separated the first two, with one-and-a-half-lengths to Show Up (Show A Heart) in third, another from the Richardson stable.
The time on good footing was 1:02.76 for the 1100-metres.
Richardson said, “I honestly thought we got beat, but it was a great effort, a tough effort.”
Coleman said, “She got the lead pretty comfortably but ran out of gas the last little bit. She tries hard and I was a bit worried whether or not I’d got the bob on the line, but it looks like it has gone my way.”
While Richardson is targeting the upcoming group quality sprint races with Italian Princess, he feels she prefers racing left-handed as opposed to the clockwise way of going at Pukekohe, and Ellerslie.
“She is still a better horse left-handed and has a lot of learning to do going right-handed, and that’s the way the Railway is”, he said. “Thank God the Trentham race, the Telegraph, is left-handed, that’s all I can say.”
The Telegraph Handicap (Group I) is raced for $1 million over 1200-metres at Trentham on January 22.