Rishi breaks drought

Rishi. Picture Stuart McCormick

Tim O'Connor

Rishi had watched his stablemates Love Ina Chevy and Jean Luc run to victory in the past two fast class features at Tabcorp Park Melton and decided it was about time he stepped up to the mark.

And with multiple Group 1-winning reinsman Zac Phillips in the sulky, the six-year-old gelding broke a run of 36 starts without a win by taking out the TAB Long May We Play Pace (1720m) on Friday.

It wasn’t the most convincing success of all time, but it was a deserved one for the Lance Justice-trained gelding, who did some work early before finding the lead and then held off his challengers in the home straight to score by a half-head over Rock N Roll Chapel and odds-on favourite Dont Hold Back.

Rishi had been part of Justice-trained trifectas in Melton feature races during the previous fortnight, but his mates weren’t able to hold up their end of the deal this time around. Love Ina Chevy was fourth, while Jean Luc finished sixth.

Phillips said he had to take his hat off to Justice and owner John Hawke, who recently celebrated his 80th birthday.

“He’s been racing really well, but not having much luck,” Phillips told Trots Vision post-race.

“He was obviously an expensive purchase from New Zealand and Lance has sort of always been of the opinion he’s as good as most, if not better.

“But it’s just a matter of getting his mind right and they’re getting him there.”

Rishi, who is by Bettors Delight out of Christian Cullen mare Reklaw, won the listed 2018 Tontine Pacing Championship not long after arriving in Australia and Friday’s success was his 10th since being in Justice’s care. In total, Rishi has won 13 of 76 career starts for more than $170,000 in prizemoney.

Justice’s brother John trained and drove a double on Friday with Long Weekend and Bao Nien, John Caldow scored two winners in the bike with Vernnay for Michael Hughes and Chief Runningcloud for wife Maree before she completed her training double with Our Sportscaster in the last event on the card.

Racing returns to Victorian harness racing headquarters on Friday for another day meeting.