Noverre dialled in for Guineas assignment

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It might have taken a while but Matamata trainer Jamie Richards believes Noverre has his mind right on the job ahead of Saturday’s Group 1 Al Basti Equiworld Dubai New Zealand 2000 Guineas (1600m) at Riccarton.

The Savabeel colt has long shown immense natural talent but has been something of a work in progress, with Richards devoting plenty of time to rectify his temperament and barrier manners, which have let him down in the past.

In his dress rehearsal for the 2000 Guineas, Noverre produced a polished performance to win the Group 3 War Decree Stakes (1600m) at Riccarton, suggesting his wayward tendencies may be a thing of the past.

“He was really good last time. He was focused and on the job,” Richards said.

“I liked the way he paraded and he got away from the gates cleanly. He’s in good shape. He’s had a good couple of weeks and hasn’t had to do any travel. He’s down there (Christchurch) in familiar surroundings and he’s won at the track and at the distance. He’s had a really nice preparation.”

Bookmakers installed Noverre as a +170 final field market favourite on Wednesday despite drawing wide in barrier nine in a field of 10 for the Classic.

Richards said plans would be for rider Opie Bosson to again allow Noverre to find his feet early.

“He’s always been a bit naughty in the barriers and tended to be a bit slow away. He seems better now but he’s drawn out so we’ll stick to that pattern,” Richards said.

“There seems to be genuine tempo in there with a few that will get on with the job a bit so hopefully that will set it up for something to come off the pace.”

Richards also has I Wish I Win in the Guineas as an +1000 seventh favourite and was delighted the Savabeel gelding had drawn the inside gate after a last-start third placing in the Group 3 Barneswood Farm Stakes (1400m) at Ashburton.

“He was Group One-placed as a two-year-old behind On The Bubbles and he’s had a good prep without a lot of luck,” Richards said.

“He got pushed very wide on the corner at Ashburton and he’ll improve with that. He was a little while between runs going into Ashburton and his fitness has certainly improved since then.

“On Saturday, he’s got the nice draw so he won’t have to spend a penny in the run. He’s got to be a nice eachway chance.”

Richards secured his first Group One win in the 2015 New Zealand 2000 Guineas training in partnership with Stephen Autridge with Xtravagant before adding a second win in the race with Embellish in 2017.

He has a formidable team in action on Saturday at Riccarton and Te Rapa, with Challa, Radegast, Supreme Khan and Fashion Shoot racing on the 2000 Guineas undercard.

“Supreme Khan has been racing well but just hasn’t been able to take that next step up yet but I’m hoping he can this weekend with the good money up. He’s drawn awkwardly again which doesn’t make it easy with the big weight.

“Fashion Shoot was a bit disappointing last time. We’re not sure if she handled the backup so we’ve spaced her races this time. On her best form, she’s an eachway show.

“Challa won really well last start and it took a good one to beat him. Radegast was a lot better the other day and he’s found the right race with the top ones going into the bigger money race with the consolation a nice race for him.”

Richards still has plenty of contenders for Cup week features at Riccarton with Marcus Aurelius earmarked for the Group 2 Coupland’s Bakeries Mile (1600m) on November 10, Summer Monsoon set for the Group 3 Lindauer Stewards Stakes Handicap (1200m) the same day and fillies Imperatriz, Synchronize, Belle En Rouge, The Perfect Pink, Shepherd’s Delight and Irish Red aimed for the Group 1 Barneswood Farm New Zealand 1000 Guineas (1600m) on November 13.

At Te Rapa, Richards will produce Maasir, Shezathinka, Feelin’ Fancy, Perfect Scenario, Campionessa, Image Of You, Pure Imagination and Romantic Lady, the latter contesting the feature Listed Legacy Lodge Sprint (1200m).

“She’s going well,” Richards said of the five-year-old Power mare.

“We’ve had to keep her work right up to the mark because she’s quite a gross, good-doing mare. She’s in good shape and down on the minimum from a good gate, I don’t think she’ll be far away from getting a bit of black-type.”

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