Class mare Melody Belle secured her fourth Group One title for the season when she out-toughed her rivals in Saturday’s Haunui Farm Group One WFA Classic (1600m) at Otaki.
Fresh off victory in the Gr.1 BCD Group Sprint (1400m) at Te Rapa earlier in the month, the Jamie Richards-trained four-year-old was confidently expected to prevail despite being dealt a blow earlier in the week when she drew barrier thirteen in the 14-horse field.
Luck was on the Commands mare’s side when rain on Friday and Saturday morning left the Otaki track rated a Slow7 with the pattern of the day favouring horses who made their runs out wide in the home straight.
Rider Opie Bosson followed that recipe to the letter as he positioned the mare nicely in behind the speed despite travelling wide for the better part of the first 800m.
Melody Belle was travelling easily as she moved into contention before Bosson sent her to the extreme outside to make her challenge. Hitting the front at the 300m mark the glamour mare kept up a powerful run to defeat local galloper Wyndspelle with Takanini visitor Consensus fighting bravely for third.
Fortuna Melody Belle Syndicate manager, John Galvin, was on hand to witness the victory from the mare that was purchased for $57,500 out of the 2016 National Yearling Sale by Te Akau Racing boss David Ellis on Galvin’s behalf.
“She’s amazing isn’t she,” he said.
“She has been the benchmark horse of the season, but you still have to get out there and do it.
“This one is really special. If you said at the start of the season you would run in seven races and win five of them, a Group Two and four Group One’s, you wouldn’t believe it.
“So, it is very special.”
The victory also brought up a rare milestone for Bosson who has now been victorious in every Group One race that is run in New Zealand.
“I enjoyed winning that as it is the only Group One I haven’t won in New Zealand, so to get the whole lot, I am quite proud,” he said.
“This race always clashes with Matamata, so I haven’t ridden in it a lot, but to be on a quality mare like her, I knew I was in with a good chance.
“She is just a professional racehorse who never knows when to lie down.
“I didn’t jump away as well as I hoped but she got in a good position and travelled beautifully.
“She was nice and balanced and when she came up underneath me, I knew she was going to be a big chance.”
The win took Melody Belle’s career record to ten wins from 19 starts, five of those at Group One level, and over $1.5million in stakes earnings. – NZ Racing Desk