Te Akau to the fore at home trials

Melody Belle
Melody Belle is on target for the Group 1 Thorndon Mile (1600m) later this month. Photo: George Salpigtidis (Racing Photos)

It was a big day for trainer Jamie Richards and his team at the Matamata trials on Tuesday, with 32 runners, including star mares Melody Belle and Probabeel. Eleven-time Group 1 winner Melody Belle headed into her 1200m heat with plenty of condition, but pleased Richards with her runner-up effort ahead of her Group 1 Thorndon Mile (1600m) target later this month.

“Melody Belle looked pretty big and burly before the start,” Richards said. “She has got a bit of tightening up to do yet. A big, strong hit-out like that will bring her on and we have got enough time to give her an exhibition gallop before we head to the Thorndon first-up.”

Melody Belle was beaten by stablemate Amarelinha, who is currently a $2.40 second favourite with TAB bookmakers behind Aegon for the Karaka Million 3YO Classic (1600m). “She (Amarelinha) trialled nicely,” Richards said. “She was there for a nice hit-out. She will head to the Karaka Million Mile in 11 days, so that will bring her along nicely.

“She is going to be going as good as she can to be competitive in a high-quality race like that. “She has trained on well since her win on Boxing Day (Group 2 Eight Carat Classic, 1600m) and does appear to be going well.”

Stablemate Probabeel put in a pleasing effort to win her 800m heat ahead of stablemate and fellow Brendan and Jo Lindsay-owned filly Kahma Lass. “I was really pleased with the way they trialled, particularly Probabeel over half a mile,” Richards said.

“I legged Opie (Bosson, jockey) up and said ‘don’t let her bludge around, make her do a little bit’. “She has got plenty of condition and weight on and I thought she trialled really well. That stands us in good stead to head off to Australia. “She will kick-off in a 1200m race and then she will run in a 1400m, there are a couple of options there for her, and then she will be third-up into the mile in the All-Star. “Kahma Lass will go to Sydney. She will trial at Randwick on the course proper and she will run first-up in the Light Fingers (Group 2, 1200m).”

Richards also lined-up a couple of runners slated for a start at Trentham’s premier meeting on Saturday. Juveniles Noverre and Quattro Quinta won their respective 800m heats, and while both are nominated for Saturday’s Listed IRT No.1 Wellesley Stakes (1000m), Noverre may be saved for another day.

“I thought they both trialled up nicely,” Richards said. “Noverre is a colt we have a lot of time for. He was an expensive yearling (purchased by Te Akau’s David Ellis for $800,000 out of Waikato Stud’s 2020 New Zealand Bloodstock Book 1 Yearling Sale draft) and is a lovely type. “We are looking forward to seeing how the rest of the week goes with him. I am not 100 percent sure whether he starts at Wellington or not. We will just have to see how the rest of the week goes. “Quattro Quinta trialled well. He finished it off nicely and he can go down to Wellington for the Wellesley.”

Burgundy Belle will also head to Trentham for the Group 1 JR & N Berkett Telegraph (1200m) after finishing runner-up in her 1000m trial at Matamata behind Babylon Berlin. “Burgundy Belle trialled today as it was just a wee while between runs,” Richards said. “With trials on the back doorstep I wanted to do a little bit more with her. She trialled nicely and had a good gallop and that will bring her on.

“She will have a quiet rest of the week and we look forward to running her in the Telegraph. “Any rain will be a help to her. She is not that well in at the handicaps under the weight-for-age scale but for a mare that doesn’t really go right-handed there really wasn’t a lot of other options for her.”

She will be joined on Saturday by stablemate and last start Group 1 Railway (1200m) winner Avantage. “Avantage is in good shape, I am pleased with her. She worked nicely this morning and appears to be going well,” Richards said. “I thought she was vulnerable being first-up in the Railway, but I didn’t need to worry because she got the right run in the race to capitalise on it.

“Hopefully when the draws come out we can draw a nice barrier and have a bit of luck in the running. She is going to be a very good chance again.”

Brando will also head south on Saturday to contest the Group 1 Devan Plastics Levin Classic (1600m) off the back of his win in the Listed Uncle Remus Stakes (1400m) at Ellerslie on Boxing Day. “Brando is going well,” Richards said. “He has done some nice work and has prepared well. Up to the mile should suit him.”

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