The stunning victory by Melody Belle in the Gr.1 BCD Group Sprint (1400m) at Te Rapa on Saturday marked several milestones for those associated with the outstanding mare.
While the win provided stand-in rider Troy Harris with his first Group One success since 2008 it also secured Jamie Richards his 50th victory at stakes level as a trainer.
By any standard it is a remarkable achievement for the twenty-nine year-old who is in his first full season in sole charge of the Te Akau Racing stables after commencing his career at the Matamata operation in partnership with Stephen Autridge.
Richards was philosophical about the achievement when quizzed about it after the event.
“I wasn’t actually aware of it so, if that is correct, then I’m certainly pleased to reach that mark at this stage of my career,” he said.
“My focus is on the horses that we prepare and I guess if I’m doing my job properly then those type of records become a bonus along the way.”
Richards was quick to admit that any prospect of achieving the 50 stakes win mark seemed a remote possibility as Melody Belle appeared to be struggling mid-way through Saturday’s contest.
“I had just about given up on her as she didn’t seem to be travelling at all well coming to the home bend,” Richards said.
“My thoughts drifted a bit to what had happened last time at Trentham and maybe she was trying to tell us she needed a break.
“When she picked up in the straight and finished off like that it made it a very special win.
“She left a little bit of feed last night, but that is to be expected. She was bright as a button on Sunday morning and seems to have come through the race really well.”
Melody Belle will now head to the Gr.1 Haunui Farm WFA Group One Classic (1600m) at Otaki on February 23 before being sent to the spelling paddock for a well-deserved break.
Richards also confirmed that exciting two-year-old Probabeel will contest the Gr.3 Magic Night Stakes (1200m) at Randwick on March 16, a pre-cursor to a tilt at the Gr.1 Inglis Sires’ (1400m) at the same venue three weeks later.
“She (Probabeel) had ten days in the paddock after the Karaka Million and really thrived,” he said.
“She has come back looking a picture so we’re really excited to be able to confirm where she will be going next.
“Her main aim is the Sires’ in early April so we will head across before then for a lead in to that in the Magic Night Stakes in March.
“At this stage the Golden Slipper (Gr.1 1200m, March 23) is still a possibility but Brendan (Lindsay) just wants to keep his options open around that one.”
Owned by Cambridge Stud proprietors Brendan and Jo Lindsay, Probabeel has won three of her four starts including a stunning performance to score in the Karaka Million 2YO (1200m) at Ellerslie on January 26 at her most recent start. – NZ Racing Desk