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Guineas favourite Embellish no clear standout
10 Nov 2017

With three in-form runners in Saturday's Group I feature at Riccarton, Jamie Richards is finding it mission impossible to tip the stable's leading prospect.

With training partner Stephen Autridge, the Matamata horseman will be represented by Embellish, Te Akau Shark and Age Of Fire in the Al Basti Equiworld New Zealand 2000 Guineas (1600m).

"It's very, very hard to split them," Richards said. 

Ever Loyal is a $5.50 third favourite for the 2000 Guineas.

Ever Loyal is a $5.50 third favourite for the 2000 Guineas.

"They have all done nothing wrong and they are all fit and happy and working well."

The Savabeel colt Embellish is the pre-post favourite after consecutive wins at Ruakaka and Trentham, beating race rival Ever Loyal the first time and downing the older horses at his latest appearance. He will be ridden on Saturday by Opie Bosson.

"I know that Opie just loves Embellish and the horse isn't a brilliant trackworker, but he is up to the mark," Richards said.

Te Akau Shark is yet to be tested with an unbeaten record after wins at Te Rapa and Matamata.

"He's still quite new and having his third start in a Group I, but he deserves his place," Richards said.

The son of Rip Van Winkle will be partnered by Michael McNab, while Matt Cameron has the ride on Fastnet Rock's son Age Of Fire.

"Age Of Fire is probably the smokie in the race and he will love the mile at Riccarton being out of a Galileo mare," Richards said.

"We're sure they will all run very well. They are lightly-tried horses and Embellish was the only one to run at two so they are still yet to peak." 

Embellish is a $3.20 favourite ahead of Sensei ($4.80), Ever Loyal ($5.50), Bostonian ($6.50) and Te Akau Shark $7.

Meanwhile, Cambridge trainer Shaune Ritchie is confident he has progressive stayer Bee Tee Junior on target for his assault on a Christchurch Cup Week double.

The lightly raced six-year-old has the Group III Christchurch Casino New Zealand Cup (3200m) as his main target next week, but Ritchie warns he will be equally competitive in Saturday's Listed Redwood Metropolitan Trophy Handicap (2500m), the traditional lead-up event to the Cup.

"He's travelled down well and I'm expecting a good performance from him on the weekend," he said.

"He's not as well off in the weights this week, but it's not a big field and he will love the 2500m distance of the race.

"At his last start he simply fell asleep at the back of the field and lobbed along without a care in the world until he was asked for his effort. He switched on nicely and showed a sharp turn of foot and that's what I will be looking for this time as well.

"He appeals as the type to appreciate the big Riccarton track, although my only concern is that it doesn't get too hard underfoot on the day.

"He can handle it on top of the ground, but you wouldn't want to see them have to race on a really firm track two weeks in a row as that could pose a problem."

Ritchie had planned on having a two-pronged attack on Saturday's contest, however stablemate Where Are You endured a tough trip south and will need a couple of easy days to recover.

"With the terrible wind her flight got buffeted around and she got down and scraped a knee," he said.

"She was a little worse for wear coming off the plane which meant we had no option but to miss the race.

"Thankfully, it's mainly superficial so she will be right to start on the last day of the carnival." 

– NZ Racing Desk.