Star New Zealand mare Melody Belle may be vulnerable when she makes her return to racing in the Futurity Stakes at Caulfield.
The warning comes after Paul Richards, father of the mare’s trainer Jamie, rode Melody Belle in a gallop on the course proper at Caulfield on Tuesday.
The work-out was Melody Belle’s first look at Caulfield with Saturday’s Group One Futurity Stakes (1400m) the mare’s lead-up to the $5 million All-Star Mile (1600m) at Caulfield on March 14.
The 10 horses who polled the highest in the public vote for All-Star Mile berths will be announced on Thursday.
“She’s not screwed right down yet and whatever she does on Saturday she will improve on,” Richards said.
“She had a decent blow this morning and blew up a bit over the back, so you’d think there’d be a bit of natural improvement ahead of Saturday.”
Melody Belle was beaten first-up last campaign over 1200m at Te Rapa before going on a four-run winning streak, all at Group One level.
She claimed her first Australian Group One win in the Empire Rose Stakes before running second to Irish mare Magic Wand in the Mackinnon Stakes at Flemington on November 9, her most recent outing.
“Even though she backed up in the spring, she does seem to like her races spaced, so three weeks from this race to the All-Star Mile should be perfect,” Richards said.
Melody Belle is favourite for Saturday’s race at $2.80 over Australian Guineas winner Super Seth at $3 with the Chris Waller-trained Kolding on the third line at $3.50.
The final field and barrier draw for Saturday’s 1400m-race will be declared on Wednesday.
Kolding also had his first look at Caulfield on Tuesday with race jockey Glen Boss aboard.
Boss had a careless riding suspension from Warwick Farm last week reduced on appeal, enabling him to take the ride on Kolding in the Futurity Stakes.
The jockey said Kolding does not put a lot of effort into his work, unless asked, but was happy with the way the gelding handled Caulfield.
“He has not raced in Melbourne before and had never been to Caulfield before, so it was an opportunity to give him a look,” Boss said.
“As he does with everything, he took it all within his stride. He’s got a great attitude towards everything and is a very easy horse to ride.”