Richardson hopes for something special from Bonny Lass

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The last few days have dampened Graham Richardson's enthusiasm about the prospects of in Saturday's Group 3 (1100m) at Pukekohe.

Richardson and his training partner Rogan Norvall mapped out a three-race spring campaign for their quality sprinting mare, kicking off in last month's Group 3 Sweynesse Stakes (1215m) before contesting the Counties Bowl and culminating in the Group 1 Sistema Railway (1200m) on New Year's Day.

The campaign could hardly have started on a better note, with Bonny Lass scoring an impressive first-up win in the weight-for-age Sweynesse at on October 16.

Richardson and Norvall have been happy with their four-year-old Super Easy mare's progress through the four weeks since, but a range of other factors have made them a cautious around her +230 favouritism for this weekend's $110,000 race.

“I wasn't very happy when we landed the extreme outside gate (11) yesterday,” Richardson said.

“And that's on top of carrying the topweight of 60 kilograms, plus the likelihood that the track is going to cop a bit of rain over the next few days. None of that is ideal for us at all, but there's not a lot we can do about it. I think it's going to take a big effort from the mare.

“But apart from all that, she's going extremely well. We're deliberately spacing her races right out in this preparation, because she's a better mare fresh.

“I thought she was hugely impressive first-up, and with a lot of improvement still to come. She's gone the right way since then and worked up very nicely on Tuesday morning.”

Richardson and Norvall have managed a remarkable black-type strike rate through the last few weeks. The Matamata pair have trained five winners so far this season, and three of them have come at stakes level – Paisley Park in the Listed Matamata Cup (1600m), Bonny Lass in the Sweynesse and Defibrillate in the Group 3 (2050m).

That black-type treble has already equalled the career-best number of stakes winners in a season for the Richardson-Norvall partnership, and it is Richardson's best since he trained five feature winners in 2011-12.

Bonny Lass will be backed up at Pukekohe on Saturday by first-starter Buccino in the Listed Barfoot & Thompson (1100m), while Red Hussar sits second on the ballot for the Group 3 Pukekohe Traders Counties Cup (2100m).

Two-year-old filly Buccino was bought by Richardson in partnership with from 's Book 1 draft at Karaka 2022 in March.

“She's had one trial and won it nicely,” Richardson said. “She still doesn't know much, but in saying that, there's only one horse in this field that's won a race. We're happy to give her a shot at it, and if she happened to run third and pick up some black type, we'd be over the moon.

“She's certainly a filly worth following through the season. All going well, I'd like to get her to the (Gr.2, 1200m) and then potentially carry on into something like the Karaka Million (1200m) or Matamata Breeders' Stakes (Group 2, 1200m).

“Then we've got Red Hussar, who's entered for the Counties Cup and also in the Rating 75 mile. He's going nicely, and I'm hoping he'll get a run in the Cup, where I think he'll be a very nice lightweight chance.

“Our other runner is Bahia Emerald in the Rating 65. She'll appreciate a bit of rain, and it seems likely that she's going to get that.”

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