Matamata trainer Graham Richardson didn’t have to wait long for his first winner since returning from a short overseas trip when Suspense took out the opening event over 2100m at Ellerslie.
Richardson, who prepares the four-year-old with training partner Gavin Parker, had flown back in to New Zealand in the early hours of Saturday morning.
Any jet-lag that the popular conditioner was feeling was quickly shaken off as the lightly raced Suspense showed admirable staying qualities to forge clear in the run home after disputing the pace for most of the journey.
The victory now qualifies the Rip Van Winkle gelding for the rich Dunstan Feeds Stayers Championship Final (2200m) to be raced at the venue on January 1.
Richardson, who registered his 700th career training victory during the week, was quick to pay tribute to the ride of Trudy Thornton who took the initiative to plant her mount outside the leader after being caught wide from an outside barrier.
“It was a smart ride,” he said.
“She went forward when they were going to walk.
“I was thinking ‘oh gawd’ as he wouldn’t settle for a while as he’s got a lot to learn.
“He looked as though he would be the first one beaten but he won easily in the end.”
Richardson has high regard for his charge as a staying prospect with the Dunstan Final his next assignment.
“He’s pretty smart,” he said.
“We’ll go for the Dunstan hopefully as he will get a start now.
“He probably doesn’t need another run between now and then, but we will wait and see.”
Richardson also paid tribute to the team at his Matamata stable after reaching the 700-win mark with Paisley Park’s victory in the last race at Rotorua on Wednesday.
“I watched the race (on Wednesday) on the computer with Paul O’Sullivan,” he said.
“It was a good result and I was really chuffed for all my staff.
“Parksy (Gavin Parker) is doing a great job at home and it continued while I was away.”
The victory by Suspense was the highlight of a mixed day for the Richardson/Parker team with race favourite Rocket Fuel finishing out of the money in the Listed Trevor Eagle Memorial (1500m), after playing up in the barrier, while Tiptronic fought well for third in the Gr.3 Eagle Technology Stakes (1600m). – NZ Racing Desk