Te Akau’s darling, Melody Belle, is in search of her fourth Group One victory this season at Otaki on Saturday, but will have to overcome her visitor’s draw to do so.
The Jamie Richards runner, who is raced by Fortuna Syndications, has drawn barrier 13 in the Gr.1 Haunui Farm WFA Group One Classic (1600m) and her connections are hoping she won’t be hindered too much by her wide gate on Saturday.
The four-year-old daughter of Commands has had a spate of bad luck with barrier draws of late and has never won a race when drawn outside of barrier seven.
She ran on gallantly to finish third in the Gr.1 Railway (1200m) at Ellerslie on New Year’s Day after jumping away from gate 13, while her outside barrier (18) proved too much in the Gr.1 Telegraph (1200m) at Trentham last month where she finished towards the tail of the field.
Melody Belle bounced back last start to win the Gr.1 BCD Group Sprint (1400m) at Te Rapa earlier this month, from gate 2, and Richards has been pleased with his stable star since that run.
“She won well at Te Rapa,” he said. “I wasn’t too sure of whether she was going to get there, but she’s a winner, tried really hard and got the job done for us, so that was really exciting.
“She has come through everything in really good order. I’m really pleased with her, she has been eating and working well.”
While he is a bit dismayed by the barrier, Richards has taken some solace with the mile start point at Otaki.
“At least we have got a nice run down the back straight there from the mile chute at Otaki,” he said.
“We will just leave it up to Opie (Bosson, jockey) and see how we get on.”
The Group One test on Saturday will likely to be the last of this preparation for Melody Belle, with her connections believing she deserves a break after what has been a successful season-to-date.
“She has done a really good job this preparation for us,” Richards said.
“We will just get through Saturday and more than likely she will be off to the spelling paddock.” – NZ Racing Desk