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Saphoni makes her mark on Queensland

By Isaac Murphy

Dave Richardson has raced greyhounds in New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia, but thankfully the Grafton trainer has turned his attention to Queensland tracks with a gun litter headed by Dashing Corsair hopeful Saphoni beginning to make their mark north of the border.

Saphoni set tongues wagging with her brilliant 34.82sec front running 600 metre debut last week, but it hasn’t always been clear sailing for the bitch who endured a tough start to her career.

“I knew I had a really talented bitch, so I started her off in The Vince Curry and she just wasn’t ready to race in a field,” Richardson said.

“I thought it might set her back a bit and wasn’t so sure what I had with her until I brought her back for a Maiden heat and final series at Ipswich where she ran 30.24 and was home in 12.62, which is unheard of.

“She went on to win the final and then I took her to Albion Park to trial and she ran 30.10 at 7am in the morning, let’s just say I knew she was back on track.”

Despite her first up heroics over the 600 Richardson expects a much sterner examination in open company opposed to a 0-4 win race.

 “I’m not going in with high expectations, but when you run 34.8sec first time over the 600 metres you’ve got to give her the opportunity, she doesn’t know she’s in against seasoned dogs,” he said.

“I like her heat, she’s got the three box vacant and Rasheda in the two who is an ultra-strong bitch, but not necessarily the quickest away, if she can get on the bunny she’ll give them a sight.

“If she doesn’t win tomorrow night or the final she’ll be back to a 0-4 win 600 on a Monday night, which if she does get knocked around will be a nice class drop.”

With multiple wins at both Ipswich and Albion Park Saphoni is starting to live up to the billing, Richardson hoping she follow in the footsteps of her mother as a Group winning bitch.

“I bred the litter myself and it’s shaping up to be a cracker, I won the Gold Cup at Wentworth Park with her mother Sandave Sapphire and she lined up as favourite for the Winter Cup in 2016 but injured herself pre-race and never ran again,” Richardson said.

“It was devastating at the time, but that’s starting to turn around now she’s bred her first litter there’s eleven of them and there’s not one that can’t run.

“Saphoni is running faster times than her mother did at the same age, all things considered I think she can go on to greater heights.”

After decades in the industry Richardson has formed close bonds and fellow trainer and good mate Mike Stephenson is helping him get the best out of his dogs at Albion Park.

“I do the majority of my racing in Queensland now, I’ve got a system where I leave the previous night and stay at my good mate Mike Stephenson’s place at Bray Park and the dogs can spend the day in the kennels there getting ready to race,” Richardson said.

The trainer couldn’t speak highly enough of the respect and professionalism he’d received at Ipswich and Albion Park since doing most of his racing at the tracks the past few years.

“My experiences with Albion Park and Ipswich have been brilliant, the people in charge are so courteous and diligent in the way they run their clubs, that’s a big reason I don’t mind the travel,” he said.

“I had Saphoni’s brother go amiss when trialling at Albion recently and the girl who was supervising the trials went above and beyond to take care of him, I didn’t even know her name and she bandaged him up without hesitating.”

“Six weeks later he’s running around at home, it’s things like that that make you want to come back.”

With a talented bitch on the rise and an affinity for the club Richardson said we would be seeing a lot more of Saphoni at Albion Park.

“My plan is to get Saphoni to the 700, but I don’t want to push her with her age (27 months) she’ll tell me when she’s ready.”

“She still needs to get a few more miles under her belt before she tackles the 700, I let the dogs tell me when they’re ready I’ll keep her ticking over up there until the time’s right.”