Training partners Stephen Autridge and Jamie Richards are about to discover how New Zealand and Queensland form equates to Sydney racing when Melody Belle lines up in the Light Fingers Stakes.
The filly has settled in nicely to her temporary surrounds at Randwick, the venue of the next stage of her blossoming career as she targets the Group One Surround Stakes (1400m) next month.
Melody Belle enjoyed a successful trip to Brisbane last winter, when she won the Group Two Sires’ Produce Stakes (1400m) on a heavy Eagle Farm track.
She wound up for her second trans-Tasman experience with a commanding victory in the Group Three Mongolian Khan Trophy at Ellerslie last month.
Although encouraged by that result Richards realises Melody Belle faces a tough task over 1200 metres on Saturday.
“She couldn’t have been any more impressive in the manner she won but we’re not sure of the strength or depth of that field,” Richards said.
“New Zealand and Brisbane form certainly isn’t Sydney form so we’re looking forward to seeing how she matches up against fillies like Alizee.”
The Godolphin star was the $1.75 favourite with the TAB on Friday, while Melody Bell was the $4.80 second elect.
Richards said Melody Belle was in good shape physically and mentally as Rory Hutchings prepares to ride her for the first time.
With stable jockey Opie Bosson in Melbourne to ride Embellish, Blake Shinn had been booked for Melody Belle.
He is serving a suspension and ex-pat New Zealander Hutchings picked up the ride.
“When she came home from Brisbane she had a good long break at Te Akau Stud and really furnished up nicely,” Richards said.
Richards said plans were fluid for Melody Belle and would be clarified after the Surround Stakes at Randwick on March 3.
The Light Fingers Stakes field was down to 13 on Friday when Chris Waller scratched unbeaten filly Charlyane after she drew a wide gate.
Richards was content with barrier 12.
“You’ve got to go back from there and try to ride her with a little bit of cover, which suits her,” he said.
“We won’t be rushing forward and getting caught three-deep.”
Embellish runs in the C S Hayes Stakes (1400m) at Flemington as the three-year-old colt aims at the Group One Australian Guineas (1600m) at the same track on March 3.
“Although dropping back from a mile to 1400 probably isn’t ideal, it gives him an opportunity to have a look around,” Richards said.