Te Akau trainer Jamie Richards went out in style when three-year-old gelding Ragamuffin won a Rating 65 Benchmark over 1400m at Matamata, with the race fittingly named the Good Luck Hong Kong Bound Jamie Richards.
With three-kilogram claiming Te Akau apprentice Niranjan Parmar aboard, Ragamuffin, a son of Haunui Farm stallion Belardo, produced big late bounds after seizing a rails run in the straight to score narrowly in the colours of Fortuna Racing.
Richards, 32, was saddling horses for the last time in New Zealand on Wednesday as he is due to relocate to Hong Kong in May after a securing a license to train in the lucrative jurisdiction from next season.
Richards and father Paul embraced as Ragamuffin returned to the winner’s circle, with the victory the star young trainer’s final win after sending out a treble on the day, with Victoria Roc and Charmander saluting earlier on the card.
Long-time stable supporter John Galvin of Fortuna Racing was delighted to land the historic victory, the 739th in New Zealand for Richards, who joined Te Akau as its racing manager in 2014 and not much more than 12 months later began training in partnership with Stephen Autridge.
“Fortuna has always had a great run at Matamata, and won many races over the years, but today is something really special and you couldn’t have written a better script,” Galvin said.
“Watching the horse parade beforehand, I thought if we could get up and win the last race for Jamie as a trainer in New Zealand that it would be very special.
“We’ve had a long association with David Ellis and Te Akau since 2007, when Mark Walker was training here at Matamata. That continued with Mark when Te Akau expanded to Singapore, and more recently with Jamie.
“Melody Belle came along and, of course, we all know her story of 14 Group One wins and dual Horse of the Year.
“It has been fantastic working with Jamie over the years and we are sorry to see him go. He is a young man in a hurry and has a fantastic opportunity to train in Hong Kong, and I’m sure that everyone involved in racing in New Zealand will be right behind him and eager for his success on a global stage.”
After winning 13 Group One races in partnership with Autridge, Richards has followed with 40 Group One wins in a solo capacity, a remarkable achievement for someone so young and so rapidly, with future Hall Of Fame status all but assured.