Matamata trainer Graham Richardson may not have any horses in New Zealand racing this weekend as a result of COVID-19 restrictions, but his colours will still be seen.
Richardson is the co-breeder and part-owner of smart galloper Defibrillate, who will don his colours at Moonee Valley on Saturday in a 1500m handicap.
The son of Shocking was in excellent form last preparation for trainer Patrick Payne, winning four consecutive races, including the Listed Mornington Cup Prelude (2000m) and Listed Lords Stakes (1700m).
An exciting spring could be in-store for the seven-year-old, who is nominated for the Group 1 Caulfield and Group 1 Melbourne Cups (3200m), but Payne is maintaining reserved expectations.
“He is entered in the better races, but he is probably not good enough,” Payne told RSN927.
“You would think more realistic goals would be more like the Bendigo Cup (Group 3, 2400m), but we will wait and see.
“Normally the Moonee Valley Cup would be a really nice race for him, but you would think it would be stronger than usual (with the increase in prizemoney).”
Despite his reserved outlook, Payne has been pleased with the way Defibrillate has returned ahead of spring racing.
“I think he has come back equally as good, hopefully a bit better (than last preparation), but we won’t know that until raceday,” he said.
“He is strong, healthy, happy, and well.”
Payne is looking forward to stepping out Defibrillate for this first time this preparation on Saturday, but isn’t expecting a lot over the shorter distance.
“I would think they will be too quick for him (on Saturday). There are some nice horses in that race for a 1500m handicap,” he said.
“I am really happy with the way he is going, but I would think that the others will have a bit too much dash for him first-up.”