Rain sinks Probabeel at The Valley

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Trainer Jamie Richards admits he hasn’t had a lot of luck with star mare Probabeel and her bid for feature race success at The Valley after her second attempt at the Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) was thwarted by rain on the day.

The four-time Group One winning daughter of Savabeel looked a solid chance in Saturday’s iconic weight-for-age event, but with the rain that fell steadily during the day turning the track in favour of those who relish a rain-affected surface, her chance to shine was severely reduced.

Typical of her fighting nature, Probabeel battled hard all the way but finished a well beaten fifth behind European raider State Of Rest.

Similar circumstances had seen her 2020 attempt at the race end the same way, while her bid to win the AUD$5million All Star Mile (1600m) back in March was also hampered by rain, leaving her record at the track a damp and miserable zero from three.

“As soon as the rain came it was game over pretty much,” Richards said.

“We were actually tossing up about late scratching her, but as the track wasn’t downgraded during the day, we had no option but to go around.

“I thought she was very brave, but when Brett (Prebble) let her head go at the 600m she was just spinning her wheels from then on.

“We will now take a few days and see how she is before we make any further decisions with her.

“She left a little feed last night which she hasn’t been doing in this campaign, so it might be time for a break, but that decision won’t be made until the dust settles.”

Richards, who enjoyed a red-letter day back in New Zealand with six wins including two at stakes level, also had no luck in Sydney where race favourite Entriviere finished a frustrating fourth in the AUD$2 million The Invitation (1400m) at Randwick.

Trapped wide from an outside barrier when the pace slackened, jockey Tommy Berry sent her forward to sit outside the leader, where she failed to settle, leaving her no kick in the final stages of the contest. The daughter of Tavistock earned AUD$100,000 for finishing fourth.

“The plan was to get cover where we could with Entriviere, but when he couldn’t Tommy elected to go forward,” Richards said.

“He spoke to me after the race and said he probably got that wrong as she over-raced a little and didn’t have a lot left for the business end of the task.

“I guess that is racing and you have to take it on the chin, but we didn’t really get to see the best of her in the race.

“Dad (Paul Richards) is looking after her over there and he has said she trotted up well this morning (Sunday), so we will also take a few days to decide whether she has another go over there or comes home for a break.”

Richards was delighted with his local team and paid tribute to the work of his staff in trying circumstances.

“We’ve been a bit slow to hit top gear and it is pretty tough with the circumstances around the country, but I’m really proud of how the team has put in the hard yards to get the results we got yesterday,” he said.

“It’s hard to win one race let alone six, so a big congratulations to everyone involved.”

Richards will now turn his attention to the Te Rapa meeting on Monday where he has three runners engaged including Palamos in the feature event, the Group 2 James & Annie Sarten Memorial Stakes (1400m).

“Palamos has had a frustrating start to this campaign with a few things going wrong, so I’m hoping he is near right for his third-up effort tomorrow,” he said.

“This race will give us a good guide as to where he is at, as we are thinking about taking him south for the 2000 Guineas (Group 1, 1600m) if he shows us he could cope stepping up in distance.

“We already have Noverre in the 2000 Guineas after his impressive win in the Group Three at Riccarton yesterday (War Decree Stakes), so a good performance could see Palamos join him down there.”

The Groupo 1 Al Basti Equiworld Dubai New Zealand 2000 Guineas (1600m) is the feature event at Riccarton on November 6, where Noverre is the +400 fixed odds favourite with Palamos currently at a +2500 quote.

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