Group One target for Brando

Three-year-old feature races now beckon the Jamie Richards-trained Brando (NZ) (Savabeel) after his maiden victory in the Mainfreight 1400 at Te Aroha on Wednesday.

The son of Savabeel had a picket fence form line at the trials prior to finishing runner-up behind $2.60 Gr.1 Barneswood Farm New Zealand 1000 Guineas (1600m) favourite Tinker McPhee (Nostradamus) on debut at Matamata earlier this month.

Punters duly backed the Te Akau runner into $1.30 favouritism for his Te Aroha assignment and he delivered for his supporters, winning by a long head over Deep Beauty (Deep Field), with a further 4-1/4 lengths back to Cleverconversation (NZ) (Thewayyouare) in third.

Brando was purchased by Te Akau Principal David Ellis out of Riversley Park’s 2019 New Zealand Bloodstock Ready To Run Sale draft for $500,000.

“He’s had two starts for a second and a win, and I thought it was a good effort from a wide draw (12),” Ellis said.

“He had to use plenty of petrol early to get over and it was a beautiful ride by Danielle (Johnson), and what you come to expect from our premiership-leading rider.”

Ellis, along with trainer Jamie Richards, has decided to bypass the Gr.1 Al Basti Equiworld Dubai New Zealand 2000 Guineas (1600m) at Riccarton next month in favour of other three-year-old features in summer.

“Rather than go to Christchurch for the 2000 Guineas, we will set him for the Levin Classic (Gr. 1, 1600m) in January at Trentham,” Ellis said.

“We’ve won that race recently with Hall of Fame and Age of Fire and it looks an ideal race for him.”

Richards already has the $3 favourite for next month’s Guineas, with Need I Say More (No Nay Never), the impressive winner of the Gr.2 James And Annie Sarten Memorial Stakes last Saturday.

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