DESPITE their tough draws, stablemates Tell Me Tales and Berisari remain the pair to beat in Saturday night’s feature at Tabcorp Park Melton.
Prepared by record-breaking horsewoman Emma Stewart, the duo are set to begin from the back row in The Richmond Lass – a feature Stewart captured with Starburst Girl in 2016.
Racing in solid form, including a win in The Make Mine Cullen three starts ago, Tell Me Tales is the early favourite from barrier 10.
Triumphant in the Angelique Club Pace two outings ago – in which Tell Me Tales finished third – Berisari will come from gate 11.
“The preferential conditions were always going to make it tough on them,” Stewart said. “They’re both working well and good enough to overcome the draw with the right run.
“It won’t be easy, so we’ll just have to see how it plays out.”
Foaled in 1963, Richmond Lass was the first standardbred owned by Fred Miller, who bred the multiple feature race winner via a mating between handy matron Chevro and star Adelaide-based sire, Aachen.
Given to respected local horseman Jack Moore to train, Richmond Lass enjoyed a successful two-year-old season, winning the 1966 Victoria Breeders’ Plate and the South Australian Sapling Stakes.
Moore handed the reins to John Dewhirst for the Breeders’ Plate, with the filly capturing her heat and Final in style.
A 4/6 favourite in the 3000 pounds Final, Richmond Lass led throughout to beat Robert Eden and Red Meadow by eight yards, rating 2:09, a second faster than State Law’s 1962 race record.
Driven by Stan Messenger in the Sapling Stakes, Richmond Lass beat Adios Court and Princely by eight yards.
She rated 2:08.7, which slashed three-and-a-half seconds off the previous record held by Bon Adios.
As a three-year-old Richmond Lass had 16 starts for 11 wins and three placings, with her earnings of 10,413 pounds making her the richest filly of the season.
Among her victories for the term were the South Australia Oaks when driven by Dick Webster, and the Victoria and New South Wales Oaks with Moore in the cart.
Richmond Lass became the first filly to claim the three major state Oaks.
Given a long break after her New South Wales triumph, Richmond Lass had a limited four-year-old campaign, which netted five wins and two seconds from nine starts.
While Richmond Lass was in the paddock, Moore announced his retirement from the sulky, with his team driven by numerous freelance reinsmen.
Richmond Lass won her first race as a five-year-old when she overcame an arduous 60-yard handicap at Nyah with Dewhirst handling the reins.
With only four runs to her credit that campaign, Moore made the trip to South Australia for the 1969 Wayville Inter Dominion.
Webster steered Richmond Lass during her heats, with the mare winning her final qualifier.
Finishing with five points, Richmond Lass was tied as the lowest points earner with Golden Alley, Teeny Rena and Ascot King.
As there was only three spots remaining in the Final, the Inter Dominion Grand Council decided to eliminate the horse with the slowest aggregate qualifying times from the heats.
As such, Teeny Rena was balloted, which certainly caused a commotion.
A lot of people felt Golden Alley should have been eliminated because, not only was he under an injury cloud, but he had not contested all his heats.
Golden Alley was eventually scratched from the decider, but Teeny Rena was not promoted into the field.
Winner of her Consolation, Teeny Rena did receive some justification almost 30 years later as the grand dam of Our Sir Vancelot, the industry’s first triple Inter Dominion winner.
As for the 1969 series, Richmond Lass was driven by local reinsman Kevin Brook, who was a last-minute replacement for Webster.
Webster had to stick with Bylaw, which he also drove during the heats.
Making the most of his opportunity, Brook settled Richmond Lass in the coveted one-one as Adios Court led and Twinkle Hanover worked in the breeze.
Taken three-wide at the bell, Richmond Lass joined Adios Court before edging her way to the front on the home turn.
Responding brilliantly to Brook’s vigorous driving, Richmond Lass completed a six-yard win from Adios Court, with Twinkle Hanover three yards away third.
Richmond Lass rated 2:08.7 for the 12 furlongs and 206 yards, equalling the Wayville Inter Dominion record set by Cardigan Bay during the 1963 Final.
Richmond Lass became only the second mare to win the Inter Dominion outright, following Bandbox’s success at Gloucester Park in 1947.
Robin Dundee dead-heated with Jay Ar at Dunedin in New Zealand in 1965.
Evicus (Perth, 1936) and Parisienne (Christchurch, 1938) were declared Inter Dominion Grand Champions when the series was awarded on points, but they did not win the Final.
Following her Inter Dominion victory, Richmond Lass was taken to Harold Park for the third edition of the Miracle Mile on March 14.
Driven by Cyril Caffyn, the mare finished fifth behind Adaptor in 1:59.2.
Returning home, Richmond Lass had another three starts for two seconds and a sixth before being sent for a spell.
Scoring first-up as a six-year-old, Richmond Lass had 23 subsequent starts, which resulted in nine wins and five placings.
One of her unplaced efforts was a fourth behind Adios Court in the A G Hunter Cup.
Contesting the 1970 Inter Dominion at the Ascot Vale Showgrounds, Richmond Lass was unplaced in her three heats, missing the Final won by Bold David.
Richmond Lass bounced back with numerous wins, including several over Bold David.
One of those was at Kilmore, where she covered the mile in 2:04, taking two seconds off Dale’s Gift’s track record set in 1965.
Dale’s Gift was also trained by Moore for the majority of his career.
That was her final win for the season.
Richmond Lass was placed in the paddock once again after two more runs, which included a third at Hamilton.
Finding it difficult to make her way into the winners’ circle as a seven-year-old, Richmond Lass registered just one victory from 14 starts in what was her last season of racing.
Jack Hargreaves had the honour of partnering Richmond Lass at her final victory when she beat Deep Court and Son Of Nancy at Mildura on November 20.
The mare was unplaced at her five remaining outings for the term and was retired after finishing fifth behind Reichman at Ballarat on March 26, 1971.
Richmond Lass was sent to stud with 31 wins and 15 placings from 75 starts for earnings of $42,936.
Proving she could be successful regardless of who held the reins, Richmond Lass won for seven reinsmen.
Richmond Lass’ first assignment in the breeding barn was visiting the court of Tarport Boy, with a filly later named Richmond Toolain a result of the mating.
A top juvenile, Richmond Toolain beat the colts in the 1977 Victoria Sapling Stakes.
She was also second in the Breeders’ Plate and third in the Edgar Tatlow Memorial Stakes Final.
Richmond Lass had seven foals, for four winners, with her son Richmond Adina also a handy performer.
Tragically, Richmond Lass had to be put down after being badly burnt in a bushfire in January 1985.
Moore, who was caught in the fire with Miller’s foreman, John Carey, was able to save her foal by Happy Talk, but he never raced.
Moore has been quoted as describing the drama that unfolded was as ‘hell on earth’.
Carey suffered burns to a large portion of his body and spent almost two months in hospital.
Moore was luckier, and although he suffered burns, he only spent two days recovering in hospital.
“When we got to the paddock, we could see the smoke from the fire, but it was a long way off. Fred was on another part of the property moving sheep and cattle,” Moore said.
“We must have waited an hour-and-a-half before there was a wind change.
“The fire raced towards us and we took Richmond Lass and her foal onto the road.
“The ground was bare, but the air was burning. The smoke was so thick it was impossible to see.
“We just had to let them go. I jumped into a horse trough, but John seemed to get disoriented.”
Although the horse trough saved Moore’s life, he was badly burnt as every time he came up for air, the heat seared his skin.
“When it was safe, I looked around for John and Richmond Lass. John was in a bad way and the horse was badly burned.” Moore said.
“She was heaving and puffing. I threw some water over her, but it was too late.”