Paul Richards eyes Byerley Park challenge

ON THE MOVE: Trainer Paul Richards.
ON THE MOVE: Trainer Paul Richards.

Wingatui trainer Paul Richards has confirmed that he will shift to the Byerley Park training complex at Karaka in November.

"The timing is right. We have sold our home, and travelling around with Natuzzi has opened my eyes to opportunities," Richards said. " It is a challenge and I am looking forward to it."

His wife, Leanne, has also been involved in racing as an owner and administrator. She is the immediate past-president of the Otago Racing Club. Paul is also on the committee.

Richards (53) trained Natuzzi to win the Group III $100,000 Pink Ribbon Cup (1200m) at Caulfield in April. The gelding has won the listed Lightning Handicap at Trentham the past two years and finished second in the Group I Telegraph Handicap at Trentham.

Natuzzi returned to work with Richards on Monday. The 5-year-old was spelled at Pukekohe following his Australian campaign.

He is being aimed at the Stewards' Handicap (1200m) fresh up at Riccarton in November. He ran second to Durham Town fresh up in the Stewards' last year.

"I will be taking Natuzzi north and there will be other horses going with me. I have had good owners," Richards said.

Natuzzi is owned by Bill and Sandra Duell, of Mosgiel. He has won eight races and $285,000 in stakes.

Richards has been training out of stables at Wingatui racecourse since March.

He earlier had his horses stabled at the former Lucky Son Lodge stables nearby. He has 21 horses in work and two apprentices: Doni Pratiyou and Sigourney Kelly.

He shifted to Wingatui as a jockey 32 years ago after serving a four-year apprenticeship with Gore trainer Rex Cochrane. He worked at Wingatui initially for the stable of Arthur and Leslie Didham and later became stable jockey for Brian and Shane Anderton.

He won 1078 races as a jockey before he retired in 2004. His wins included the Counties Cup, Wrightson Bloodstock Plate and Canterbury Gold Cup on Random Chance in the late 1980s. He rode A Gordon For Me in 22 of his 26 wins, including the White Robe Lodge Handicap at Wingatui in 1992 and 93, Great Easter Handicap and Churchill Stakes at Riccarton.

Richards has trained the winner of 105 races, including the 2009 Dunedin Cup with Never Plead Guilty, and the Great Western Steeplechase at Riverton with Jamie's Chance (2007) and Last Frisco (2008). He had his first training win with Glenbrooke Boy in his home town of Waimate in July 1994.

He has Them Or Us engaged in the Cashmere Plate for 3-year-olds at Riccarton tomorrow. Them Or Us won first up at Ashburton last Friday.

The season, which concluded yesterday, has been the best for Richards, with 13 wins and $231,340 in stakes in New Zealand.

Richards will be following the path of Peter and Dawn Williams, who shifted to Byerley Park from Riccarton after they won the NZ One Thousand Guineas with Planet Rock at the 2011 New Zealand Cup meeting. They had been at Riccarton for 20 years. The Williamses have added features races to their record with Shuka (Group I Captain Cook Stakes and Canterbury Gold Cup), Planet Rock (Eight Carat Classic and Lowland Stakes) and the Ryder Stakes at Otaki on Saturday with Niki Piki Milo.

Byerley Park opened in 2006 as a purpose-built training facility and is used by 12 trainers.

The Southland Times