Group One winner Tiptronic has taken the underdog tag into the last two editions of the Group 1 Herbie Dyke Stakes (2000m), and he will once again carry that label in the feature race at Te Rapa on Saturday.
The Graham Richardson and Rogan Norvall-trained gelding defied his odds when runner-up in the 2019 edition of the race, and once again when coming out last year and going one better.
“He is always the underdog for some weird reason, but he is a very genuine horse and he has had a second and a first in the race,” Richardson said.
The O’Reilly seven-year-old has pleased his connections leading into Saturday and Richardson was particularly happy with his last start win in the Karaka Cup (2200m) on Karaka Million night.
“It gives them confidence when they win, or go well, and it has certainly done that for him,” he said.
Although pleased with the gelding, Richardson said he will have his work cut out this weekend when taking on reigning New Zealand Horse of the Year Melody Belle.
“He has beaten some very good horses over the years, but he has got Melody Belle to compete against and she will be very hard to beat, as she usually is,” Richardson said.
TAB bookmakers have marked Tiptronic as a +900-winning chance for Saturday’s Group One, with Melody Belle a short-priced -333.33 favourite following her record-equalling last start win in the Group 1 Thorndon (1600m) at Trentham last month.
Richardson will also be vying for stakes glory on Saturday with three-year-old filly Canuhandleajandal, who will contest the Group 2 David & Karyn Ellis Fillies Classic (2000m).
The daughter of Jimmy Choux has impressed Richardson with her four starts to date, including a fourth-placing in the Group 2 Royal Stakes (2000m) at Ellerslie on New Year’s Day.
She posted the same result last start in a rating 75 2000m race at Matamata and Richardson was pleased with her performance against aged opposition.
“She was badly handicapped after she got seven points running fourth in a fillies race,” he said. “She ended up having to race horses older than her. She did very well in a 74-rating race over ground. She is very well in herself, it’s a very tough effort to do what she did.
“She worked up well this morning and is pretty fit, but she is still learning as a racehorse.
“Vinnie (Colgan, jockey) is riding her, as well as Tiptronic, and I am pretty happy with both horses.”
Canuhandleajandal is on a path towards the Group 1 Al Basti Equiworld Dubai New Zealand Oaks (2400m) at Trentham next month and Richardson is hoping she will be joined by a couple of stablemates competing at Matamata on Wednesday.
Bullbars filly Ali Arc will contest the Marsh Racing 1600, while Ocean Park filly Oh To Be will line-up in the Stable Books 2000.
“Ali Arc can really gallop and her last start second was a very good effort,” Richardson said. “She is doing well, she just needs to make one more step up to win.
“Oh To Be’s third to Carolina Reaper last time was a big effort because she was wide the whole way. Carolina Reaper is another heading for the Oaks.”