Racing: Gore Guineas too good an opportunity for Richards to pass up

A $50,000 race almost on the back doorstep was too hard to ignore for Paul Richards with his galloper Our Santana.

The Coats Choice gelding will tackle many of the South Island's best 3yr-olds in the listed Gore Guineas (1335m) tomorrow, even if Richards feels his charge is still a few weeks away from peak.

Our Santana was partly to blame for his sixth placing over 1400m at Wingatui on Boxing Day, but has impressed Richards in his work since then.

''He was a wee bit disappointing on Boxing Day but he over-raced a wee bit,'' he said.

Richards has seen improvement in the gelding since his run three weeks ago, but is conscious there are some talented and well-tried types in the race such as the Lisa Latta-trained Platinum Kingdom.

''He's still learning,'' Richards said of Our Santana.

''Whether he's got enough ringcraft to be really competitive, I'm not sure.''

Richards felt the barrier draw of 11 might work in his favour, rather than being crowded by horses early on.

''Out there, he doesn't have the hustle and bustle to deal with.

''He might just slot in behind the leaders.''

Platinum Kingdom, who was fifth in the 2000 Guineas (1600m) in November, has four career wins from his nine starts, while Absolut Excelencia is coming off two straight wins, including one tomorrow's race distance at Gore on December 23, for Ruakaka trainers Kenny and Lisa Rae.