Richards Runs Rampant in New Zealand 1000 Guineas

14 November 2021

The Perfect Pink (NZ) claims the third Leg of NZB's 2021-22 Filly of the Year Series. Photo:Race Images

Just like so many of New Zealand’s feature races in recent seasons, Saturday’s $300,000 Group One Barneswood Farm New Zealand 1000 Guineas (1600m) at Riccarton Park turned into an astonishing tour de force by Te Akau Racing’s champion trainer Jamie Richards. 

Internationally renowned for his dominance on racetracks throughout New Zealand, including all of the last five winners of the $1m Karaka Million 2YO (1200m) at Ellerslie, Richards broke new ground on Saturday as he reached a career milestone of 50 Group One winners at a record-shattering pace. For good measure, he also saddled the second, third and fourth placegetters.

It was rising star The Perfect Pink (NZ) (Savabeel) who came out on top in Saturday’s third leg of the 2021-22 New Zealand Bloodstock Filly of the Year Series, leading home stablemates Shepherd’s Delight (NZ) (Rip Van Winkle), Belle En Rouge (NZ) (Burgundy) and Imperatriz (I Am Invincible).

Like most big-race winners for Te Akau and Richards in recent times, The Perfect Pink was ridden to victory in Saturday’s prestigious classic by Opie Bosson. An eye-catching fourth in last month’s Group Three Soliloquy Stakes (1600m) at Matamata, she relished the extra 200 metres and the roomy Riccarton straight, surging out of midfield and outfinishing her stablemates to score by a long head.

“It’s been a bit of a whirlwind the last five or six years, after being a young fella growing up in Dunedin,” said Richards, who also won last Saturday’s Group One New Zealand 2000 Guineas (1600m) with Noverre (NZ) (Savabeel) and Wednesday’s Group Two Coupland’s Bakeries Mile (1600m) with Markus Aurelius (NZ) (Ghibellines) – both New Zealand Bloodstock graduates.

“To bring up the milestone in the South Island, and being a southern boy, makes it a really special day. I’ve got a lot of people to thank for the position I am in. It’s not just about me, it’s about the amazing bunch of staff and the owners and everyone who’s involved.

“We’ve always had a lot of time for this filly, but she needed time to mature. We weren’t originally going to bring her down here, but I’m thrilled that we did.

“I actually thought she was the one to beat on good ground, but thankfully she has been able to do it on soft ground as well.”

The Perfect Pink was bred by the South Island’s Dennis brothers in partnership with Tony Rider, and that group also shares ownership with Grant Bennett, Steven Christopher and Craig Lawrence.

Hailing from the Dennis brothers’ iconic family, The Perfect Pink is out of The Solitaire (NZ) (O’Reilly), who won 10 races including the Listed South Island Thoroughbred Breeders’ Stakes (1600m), Dunedin Gold Cup (2400m) and Riverton Cup (2147m).

The Solitaire is a three-quarter sister to the high-class mare The Jewel (NZ) (O’Reilly), who won the New Zealand 1000 Guineas in 2002, while more than a dozen other stakes winners feature under the first two dams alone in an exceptional pedigree page.

The Perfect Pink has now had two wins from five starts, finishing fourth in all of her other three, for earnings of $185,095.

“She’s a very nice filly,” Bosson said. “We picked her out as a two-year-old as a perfect 1000 Guineas-type filly, so it is a great result.

“We got a bit of a rough run and I was behind one I didn’t want to be behind. When it stopped at the 600 metres, I had to come around it and make quite a long run.

“The plan in my mind was to get to the outside and the better ground, since she doesn’t really like it the way it is. I knew I had the Savabeel factor on my side, and that really kicked in.

“Jamie does an amazing job, and you are just so privileged to ride for this stable. Every time you put your leg over one, you know they have got a great chance.”

The Perfect Pink earned 12 points for her 1000 Guineas victory, moving her straight to the top of the table. Imperatriz holds second with 7.5 points, while Shepherd’s Delight moves into third with 7 points. Bellacontte (NZ) (Burgundy) sits in fourth spot with 6 points, and Saturday’s third placegetter Belle En Rouge has moved into fifth with 5.

The next leg of the NZB Filly of the Year Series is the $80,000 Group Three LawnMaster Eulogy Stakes (1600m) at Awapuni on December 11.

View the 2021-22 NZB Filly of the Year Series Leaderboard here.