Te Akau stars set to shine

Melody Belle winning the Gr.1 Tarzino Trophy (1400m) at Hastings last month. Photo: Trish Dunell

Reigning New Zealand Horse of the Year Melody Belle may have caught TAB bookmakers off-guard
when paying $5.60 after winning the Gr.1 Tarzino Trophy (1400m) last month, but they have ensured that they will not be caught out again by the star mare.

She went against her usual running pattern after jumping away slowly, having to make her run from the back of the field to win her seventh Group One and that has struck fear into the Petone bookies who have installed her as a $1.65 hot favourite for Saturday’s Gr.1 Windsor Park Plate (1600m).

Trainer Jamie Richards was delighted with her victory, particularly in the style that she won.

“It was quite outstanding I thought,” Richards said. “To jump away a little bit slow and be well back, I thought she really showed she is not just a one trick pony.

“She doesn’t always have to race on the speed, she can get back and finish off as well.”

Melody Belle will be reacquainted with jockey Opie Bosson on Saturday and will jump from barrier six.

“She should be able to find a nice spot from there,” Richards said.

“I would like to think she would be able to race in the first couple of dozen, but we will just leave it up to Opie.

“We are pleased with how she is going and the step up to the mile will suit her.”

Another runner Richards hopes will show his star quality at Hastings is Group One performer In A Twinkling.

The son of Fastnet Rock was slightly disappointing when finishing seventh first-up over 1400m at Ruakaka last month, but Richards is expecting a better showing when he lines-up in the Fasttrack Insurance 2000.

“I thought his first-up run was okay,” he said. “He got caught three deep with no cover and I just don’t think he is as good right-handed as what he is left-handed.

“I know that sounds a little bit silly because he ran second in the New Zealand Derby (Gr.1, 2400m) and Avondale Guineas (Gr.2, 2100m), and ran well in Australia going right-handed. But I am looking forward to getting the horse back left-handed and up over a bit of a trip.”

In A Twinkling holds nominations for the Gr.1 Melbourne Cup (3200m) and Gr.1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) and Richards said the gelding will need to perform well on Saturday to warrant a trip across the Tasman.

“We would like to give him the opportunity to go to Melbourne. We couldn’t really go to Melbourne off the back of that Ruakaka run, so we decided to head towards the Open 2000m.

“He is nominated for all of the big staying races. We are under no illusions as to how difficult it is, but there is still some nice prizemoney to be won in the second tier staying races and even the third tier. So we have got a few options with him.

“I would be disappointed if he didn’t run well. He is a proven stayer as a three-year-old.

“He needs to take that next step up against the older horses. He is just in a bit of a tricky spot in the ratings, he has only won one race, but he finds himself in an open handicap with 57kg, so he has got to do it the hard way unfortunately.”

Meanwhile, Richards is looking forward to watching Folk Dress and Xplosion line-up in the Listed New Zealand Bloodstock Canterbury Belle Stakes (1200m) at Riccarton on Saturday.

Folk Dress will head into the race fresh-up after her 1000m trial win at Ashburton earlier this month.

“I am happy with her. She was going to run at Riccarton, but it got very testing, so we just decided to wait and trialled her instead,” Richards said.

“She goes into the race in good order and we are pleased with her.”

The Coolmore-owned filly is on a path towards the Gr.1 gavelhouse.com New Zealand 1000 Guineas (1600m) at Riccarton in November, while Richards is hoping to gain some black-type on Saturday with Xplosion.

“She is a maidener running in a stakes race,” he said. “We just wanted to give her the opportunity to maybe try and place.

“She won’t get better circumstances to try and get a bit of black-type. But she has drawn awkwardly (barrier 11), which is going to make things a little bit difficult for her, so we’ll just have to wait
and see.”

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