Rather Grand Plans For John’s Leisure

Wheal Leisure (Racing Photos).


John Richards was very impressed with the victory of his filly, Wheal Leisure, in Saturday’s  Metcash Handicap (2040m) at Moonee Valley … and, why not.

After all, it was only her third start (second win) and it’s a big step up to a mile and a quarter this early on. It will be an even bigger leap for Wheal Leisure’s next assignment as she prepares to cross the Bass Strait and take on the Apple Isle’s finest in the Listed Tasmanian Oaks (2100m) at Launceston on 19 February.

“I really liked the way she got to the line on Saturday,” Richards enthused. “It’s only very early days but if she comes through the Tassie Oaks well, there’s always the options of the Oaks in Adelaide and Sydney too.

“It would be great to win a stakes race in Tasmania: I haven’t had a black type winner down there but I bred and raced, Palatine Hill, a half sister to another homebred in (stakes winner) Rather Grand, and the dam of (dual 2016 Group One winner) Palentino, which Jenny Watson bred out of Tassie.”

Richards, a successful Victorian businessman and part-owner of 2015 Melbourne Cup winner, Prince of Penzance, secured Wheal Leisure from the 2015 Inglis Melbourne Premier Yearling Sale for just $22,000 and placed the horse with young Englishman, Archie Alexander.

“I have most of my horses with Darren Weir, but Archie shifted to Ballarat and he’s very professional. Got a great work ethic,” Richards adds. “And he’s certainly doing a terrific job with Wheal Leisure.”

A daughter of the Emirates Park based-Breeders’ Cup Mile winner, Artie Schiller (34 stakes winners including Flying Artie), Wheal Leisure is out of the Encosta de Lago mare, Sadiya.

Bred by Lisa McMaster, Wheal Leisure is a granddaughter of the Listed Cranbourne Cup winner and Caulfield Cup runner up, Lisa’s Game.

“I’m not surprised Wheal Leisure is getting over a bit of distance this early,” McMaster points out. “Lisa’s Game (bred and raced by McMaster’s father, Don Marshall) was a very good stayer and it will be interesting to see if Wheal Leisure does race in Adelaide as Lisa’s Game ran fourth in the (Group One) South Australian Oaks over there.”

If McMaster is disappointed at selling Wheal Leisure as a yearling, she’s doing a good job of hiding it: “We normally race the ones we breed but we were just getting too many and so decided to put Wheal Leisure through the ring. What’s that saying? ‘You always sell the one that’s good’,” McMaster says with a laugh.

Based at Cora Lynn, near Victoria’s Pakenham racecourse, McMaster still has Sadiya though and will race her current 2YO, Temple of Bel (by Bel Esprit), who is now in work with Henry Dwyer at Caulfield and, albeit unraced, is “showing some promise”.

“Sadiya also has a Fiorente filly that has been entered for the Inglis Melbourne VOBIS Gold Yearling Sale in April and she’s currently in foal to Star Witness.”

HOOFNOTE: Wheal Leisure? John Richards claims Cornish ancestry and is a great fan of the TV series Poldark.

Wheal Leisure is named after a mine which features in Poldark and was indeed a functioning mine: shut down in 1893 but still a major tourist attraction.

The Power of Passion