Jake Bayliss celebrates as he crosses the Sistema Railway finish line on Volpe Veloce.
Twenty-one years after his last Group One win, Graham Richardson has been joined by his training partner Gavin Parker and Australian jockey Jake Bayliss as first time Group One winners with Volpe Veloce in the Sistema Railway.
Richardson’s breakthrough came with Kailey in the 1997 Railway, but that was little more than a distant memory during an anxious build-up to today’s premier Ellerslie sprint. It was one thing to have the long-time favourite, but something much more intense in today’s countdown when heavy rain forced a downgrade to Slow8 by the time the Railway was run.
Parker, who joined Richardson in a training partnership last season and has been Volpe Veloce’s constant companion since, admitted afterwards that he was not at all keen to send the mare around, but he was over-ruled.
“I didn’t want her to run, I thought she was no chance on that track,” Parker said. “But luckily I’m only the junior partner and Richie had the final say.”
That didn’t make Richardson’s call any easier, and the pressure he was under was obvious, watching the Trackside monitor in an Ellerslie backroom as the minutes ticked by to start time.
Thankfully it all came together and Volpe Veloce carried punters home. Her wide draw saw her drop back to second-last, but Bayliss had the situation well under control from the midway stage, working forward between runners wide out.
On the point of the turn defending champion Start Wondering had taken a narrow lead from the pacemaker Melody Belle, with Volks Lightning also lodging her claim. Under clear topweight of 59 kilos, Start Wondering was giving his all, but over the final 200 metres Volpe Veloce asserted herself, charging through to score by a length and half.
Packing Eagle came with a big finish down the outside to nose Volks Lightning out of second, with a neck to a courageous Start Wondering and a length to Sweet Leader in fifth place. Melody Belle was next to finish after a gap closed on her and she was abruptly checked inside the final 50 metres.
“I’m shocked,” was Parker’s initial reaction, while Richardson’s main emotion was one of relief at a result to savour.
“It’s been a big effort by everyone, Gavin, the staff at home, her work riders and all of it capped off by a brilliant ride from Jake,” said Richardson, who signed for the Foxwedge mare as a $240,000 Karaka yearling and then put together a syndicate group that have now savoured 10 wins from 13 starts.
“I told him to settle her where ever she was comfortable and he never panicked.”
Bayliss, who had his Melbourne-based brother Regan on-course to share the big moment, was jubilant at the ultimate result coming from his decision to move to Matamata two months ago.
“To think that my brother and I come from a little farm in Queensland and now we’re on top of the world,” the 23-year-old said. “These Group Ones, you can’t buy them.”