Trainer Graham Richardson believes the step up to 1400m for Saturday’s Gr.1 Courtesy Ford Manawatu Sires’ Produce Stakes (1400m) is the key to promising two-year-old To Catch A Thief (US Navy Flag) finding his way to the top of the podium for the first time in his short juvenile career.
The son of US Navy Flag was once again seen finishing strongly when running into fourth in the Gr.1 Sistema Stakes (1200m) at Pukekohe earlier this month after being held up for a distance in the home straight that day.
“He should have at least run third at Pukekohe as he did get held up at a crucial time, but the way the race was run so slowly probably put paid to any winning chance he had,” Richardson said.
“The one thing I did know from that race was there was still a ton of improvement in him and I’m thrilled with the way he has performed in his work since then.
“Make no mistake it will be no mug field on Saturday and they just don’t give Group One’s away, but I think he is one that is going to lap up the extra 200m on offer.”
With Craig Grylls confirmed to ride, Richardson is now hoping for a good draw and a genuine tempo in the race, although he isn’t concerned about the likelihood of striking a wet track.
“He is a pretty versatile type who can cope with some moisture in the surface, so I’m relaxed about the type of track that will be on offer,” he said.
“I just want to see a truly run race as that will be right up his alley.
“It would be great to see him break his maiden status this week as I think he deserves to go to the paddock as a race winner, but I have said all along what he does as a two-year-old will just set him up for next season.
“What he has shown us tells me he could well be my Derby (Gr.1, 2400m) horse and I can’t wait to see how he comes up in the spring after a nice winter break.”
Two of Richardson and training partner Rogan Norvall’s stable stars have already commenced their post summer breaks with both Bonny Lass (NZ) (Super Easy) and Defibrillate (NZ) (Shocking) now taking time out before returning in the spring.
“Bonny Lass has had a small foot issue and we just think the best thing for her is to give her the time off now and let her get over that in the next few months,” he said.
“She is a very good mare and I think she will bounce back bigger and better for her next prep.
“Defibrillate has also gone out for a spell after being knocked around a fair bit last time behind Prowess in the Bonecrusher Stakes (Gr.1, 2000m).
“He possibly could have had one more run but he deserves some time off and to get himself right mentally as much as physically after copping a decent buffeting.
“We will be looking at the Group One on the last day of the Hastings Spring Carnival (Livamol Classic, Gr.1 2040m) in October for him after a fresh up run over a mile somewhere up here.” Defibrillate ran third behind Mustang Valley in the 2022 edition of the Livamol Classic before going on to capture his first elite level prize in the Gr.1 Zabeel Classic (2000m) at Pukekohe on Boxing Day last year.