Confidence levels set at extreme, ace jockey Jason Waddell got just the boost he was looking for when the field was released for Saturday's Gr.1 JR & N Berkett Telegraph (1200m) at Trentham.
Booked for $1.90 pre-barrier draw favourite Melody Belle, Waddell looked to the top of the Telegraph field and saw barrier three.
A perfect draw for Melody Belle.
Only problem was that the horse at the top of the book was Enzo's Lad not Melody Belle, who was listed immediately below alongside the horror barrier of 18.
"I'd gone through my other draws and saw I'd drawn wide in the other feature races and the worst thing was I thought Melody Belle was going to be number one. I saw barrier three and thought 'great' but then saw it was Enzo's Lad," said Waddell, whose mounts have drawn 14 or wider in all four stakes races on Saturday.
"Before the barrier draw, I thought she was the closest to a sure thing I'd ever ridden in a Group One. It was a sit-and-steer job before barrier draws came out. The draw doesn't make things easy, but it will make it more satisfying if she can win."
Eased slightly to $2.20, the Jamie Richards-trained Melody Belle remains a dominant favourite and Waddell is excited to ride her on Saturday.
Asked how he rated the Commands mare's last-start placing in the Gr.1 Railway (1200m) at Ellerslie from a similarly wide barrier, Waddell replied: "Incredible."
"I've been in awe of her since she beat me on Julius in the Foxbridge Plate (Gr.2, 1200m).
"She's one of the most genuine mares racing in New Zealand probably since Seachange. I'm really looking forward to riding her."
Waddell will formulate plans to combat Melody Belle's wide draw but won't be single-minded about how he rides her.
"I can't control the barrier draws but I can control how I prepare going into the race and how I prepare to give her the best chance of winning," he said.
"I'll have three or four ideas but I won't put anything in place really until I see how the track is playing. If it's playing like it did last Saturday or like it did on Telegraph day last year, it's going to be near impossible to come down the outside and win.
"But if they can get out to the middle of the track and they're winning from there, I just need to get her comfortable in running and in a position where she's able to sprint over the top of them.
"I can't see myself being closer than four off the fence but hopefully something else is four deep and can give me a track into it."
A winner of the Gr.1 Manawatu Sires' Produce Stakes (1400m) at Awapuni at two, Melody Belle is shooting for her third Group One win this season after earlier victories in the Tarzino Trophy (1400m) and Windsor Park Plate (1600m) at Hastings in September. - NZ Racing Desk