Kiwi horseman Paul Richards is out to match the success of his first foray into Australian racing when Natuzzi runs at Caulfield on Saturday.
Richards first crossed the Tasman Sea in 1998 to ride the moderately performed Ain’t No Doubt, a horse he also trained in New Zealand.
Victorian rules banning jockeys from holding a trainer’s licence forced Richards to entrust Hec Anderton with the training of the mare but he was on hand to get her home narrowly.
“I told Hec to give me a ring when she was right to go and he rang me a month after she arrived and said she was ready,” Richards said.
“I came over to ride her and she duly won at Flemington. It was terrific.”
Natuzzi arrives in Melbourne with vastly superior form to Ain’t No Doubt.
The sprinter has won seven of his 21 starts and finished second in the Group One Telegraph Handicap in January.
Natuzzi claimed his second Listed Lightning Stakes (1200m) when he finished powerfully at Trentham last time out.
Richards said Natuzzi has settled in well at Cranbourne to prepare for Saturday’s open sprint at Caulfield.
The race will be a trial run to decide whether the four-year-old will tackle Group races in Melbourne or Adelaide.
“If he goes all right on Saturday and he pulls up all right, we might back him up in the Group Three (Victoria Handicap) the following Saturday,” Richards said.
“We plan to stay on for South Australia.”
Regular rider Chris Johnson will also travel to Melbourne to partner Natuzzi.
Richards said an inside draw would suit Natuzzi but his racing style meant the sprinter could overcome an awkward gate.
“He gets back and runs on anyway,” Richards said.
“An inside draw would be great but it won’t worry him too much.”
Richards said Natuzzi’s 58kg handicap would help his chances on Saturday.
“He drops three points on his New Zealand rating over here and that helps him a bit because he’s not too badly in at the weights,” Richards said.
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