Barrier only concern with Melody Belle

Melody Belle could add a fourth Group One to her tally at Ellerslie on New Year’s Day.   - Trish Dunell
Melody Belle could add a fourth Group One to her tally at Ellerslie on New Year’s Day.

Trish Dunell

Te Akau trainer Jamie Richards believes he has Melody Belle on song for the Gr.1 Sistema Railway (1200m) at Ellerslie on Tuesday, but is disappointed at drawing a wide barrier with his stable star.

“She is fit and forward and ready to go. We couldn’t be any happier with her,” he said. 

“She’s had a couple of trials and won those nicely. She had a nice exhibition gallop at Te Rapa and she worked well here on Thursday morning on the course proper (at Matamata). 

“She’s is where she needs to be and is in terrific order, but we have just got to work a way around that barrier (15), which is a little disappointing. 

“She’s probably going to be back a little bit in the field, hopefully with a bit of cover. If she can get the right run into the race she is going to be very competitive.”

Richards is also excited to line-up unbeaten two-year-old Aotea Lad in the Gr.3 Barneswood Farm Eclispe Stakes (1200m).

The Savabeel gelding won the Gr.2 Wakefield Challenge Stakes (1100m) at Trentham on debut earlier this month, but he will have to overcome his outside draw in the eight horse field at Ellerslie on Tuesday.

“He is spot-on. He’s been up to Ellerslie and had a bit of a look up there. I think the timing of the race suits him,” Richards said. 

“It’s a good, strong field, so he’ll just need to take that next step up against those impressive horses from Cambridge in Whiskey Neat and Exuberant.

“He’s drawn a bit awkwardly, so he’s probably going to go back a little bit. As long as he’s finishing off, we’ll be very happy.” 

Meanwhile, white filly Luminous will have her first tilt at black-type when she contests the Gr.2 Valachi Downs Royal Stakes (2000m).

The daughter of Reliable Man has finished runner-up in both of her starts-to-date and Richards believes she has a promising future.

“I think she is a pretty exciting staying sort of filly in the making,” he said. 

“She has worked up well and we don’t often run our horses out of their grade, but we think she deserves an opportunity and we are really looking forward to the race.” – NZ Racing Desk


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