No Melbourne Cup, but Derby will be fine

Scott Richardson will be chasing his second Group One win at Ellerslie on Saturday.

Scott Richardson will be chasing his second Group One win at Ellerslie on Saturday.

Tauranga owner Scott Richardson has dreams of winning a Melbourne Cup, but will very happily settle for a New Zealand Derby.

“I’ve always wanted to win a Melbourne Cup. It’s been my dream,” said Richardson. “That’s why I called my place in Matamata, Flemington Farm.

“But to win the New Zealand Derby would be great, too. It’s the biggest race here and it would be my highlight as an owner.”

Richardson, a former board member of the Auckland Racing Club, has already experienced Group One success, with his mare Diademe winning the 2015 NZ Thoroughbred Breeders Stakes at Te Aroha, and he has a realistic chance in Saturday’s Vodafone NZ Derby with Highlad, a son of High Chaparral.

Richardson has been enjoying an exciting winning streak in Sydney with the Bjorn Baker-trained Your Way (by Thewayyouare), who took her record to seven wins from nine starts when ploughing through the mud to win at Randwick last Saturday. That win brought up a milestone for Richardson with the Baker family.

“That was my 60th win with horses trained by Bjorn or Murray,” said Richardson. “A lot of the wins have been in Aussie with Bjorn — Burbero won one here then 12 over there with Bjorn before he broke a leg.

“Mr Tipsy did well for me, too. He won 11 and Diademe (seven wins) was a good mare. She not only won the Group One at Te Aroha, she was also third in it and won a Group Two and a couple of Group Threes.”

Those Group Three wins by Diademe were at the Auckland Cup meetings in the Westbury Classic in 2013 and again two years ago.

Richardson came closest to pulling off a Group One at Ellerslie with Mr Tipsy in the 2009 Auckland Cup, but had to settle for second behind outsider Spin Around. Mr Tipsy’s record also included a win in the Marton Cup and a third in the Sydney Cup.

Richardson has had one attempt at the New Zealand Derby. That was back in 2007 with Stolen Thunder, who had finished third to Sydney visitor Redoute’s Dancer in the Gr.2 Championship Stakes. He wound up 10th in the Derby, won by Redoute’s Dancer, and was then sold to Hong Kong interests.

“He just wasn’t up to it, but I think Highlad is a better chance,” said Richardson. “We know he’ll get the distance.”

After winning the Listed Wanganui Guineas in his second start, Highlad was taken to Melbourne and set for the Victoria Derby. Along the way he finished third over 1800m in the Listed UCI Stakes at Flemington.

He ran eighth in the Victoria Derby and, though over seven lengths from the winner Prized Icon, he suffered traffic problems and was doing his best work late.

Richardson has been a regular traveller to Australia to watch his horses performed and even an on-going health problem wasn’t going to stop him being on hand for the Victoria Derby.

“I don’t travel like I used to and I have never seen Your Way race, but I’m determined to get to Ellerslie on Saturday,” he said. “The bookies and punters don’t like him, but I hope they’re wrong. Murray and Andrew wouldn’t run him unless they thought he had a chance.”

With regular rider Matt Cameron taking the mount on stablemate Jon Snow, Jonathan Parkes has picked up the ride on Highlad.

“I’m happy to have him on,” said Richardson. “He’s in form and winning all the big races. Hopefully he can win the Derby for me.”