All the rage prior to the Ashford Lodge Stakes was surrounding the two favourites, but Melt burned punters at Pukekohe on Saturday.
Debut winner Pinot Grey and dual trials winner Autumn Wild were both well-found in the market, but it was Melt that finished strongest in the $50,000 co-feature for local trainer Nigel Tiley.
Knowing he had a nice filly on his hands, Tiley was confident heading into the race with the Avondale trial winner and the result never looked likely halfway down the straight.
“Her work on Thursday morning was as good as I’ve ever had a two-year-old work,” Tiley said, “I said to Andrew (owner) that I won’t run her unless I think she can win.
“This filly is good.”
Pinot Grey and Autumn Wild went hammer and tong in front, but Melt quickly chimed in and put lengths on its opposition. The daughter of Iffraaj showed a significant turn-of-foot and jockey Michael McNab was thrilled with the effort.
“I wanted to be in that position because I thought there would be good pressure up front,” he said. “They quickened up early enough and I let her roll into the race.
“She’s pretty special that horse, pretty good.”
McNab is second in command for Te Akau Stud and he has ridden the likes of 2000 Guineas placegetter Age of Fire this season, but believes this filly could be just as good.
“I ride a lot of really good two-year-olds at Te Akau and this thing has given me as good of a feel as anything,” said McNab, who finished second in the Ashford Lodge Stakes last year for Tiley.
“I ran second in this race last year. He’s a good supporter of mine and it’s good to repay him.”
Tiley doesn’t have any big race plans for Melt, but a trip to Ellerslie over the Christmas period could be the target.
“She’s not a Karaka Million horse so we don’t have to put any pressure on her to go anywhere,” Tiley said. “She’s got black type now so the pressure is off.
“We’ll be looking at some of the nice two-year-old races over Christmas.”
Unfortunately for favourite punters, both Pinot Grey and Autumn Wild failed to finish in the money after pouring on the pace up front.