With the target slapped on the back of Melody Belle, you get the impression trainer Jamie Richards isn't about to offer his rivals any more incentives.

Richards' champion Commands mare walked the talk, as it were, in the first leg of the Hawke's Bay Spring Racing Carnival — the Tarzino Trophy — on August 31 and he aims to let her actions speak for themselves in the second leg, the Windsor Park Plate, today.


The Matamata mentor points out Melody Belle has the desired attributes and their chances should be as good as anyone else when the 5-year-old darts out of barrier six in the feature $200,000 group one weight-for-age race over 1600m in Hastings at 4.30pm.

"It's just business as usual for us," says Richards, quietly confident the barrier will be kinder despite defying the odds from a devil's barrier 15 in the first leg.

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Notably jockeys have changed with "cheeky monkey" Michael McNab making way for Opie Bosson to slip into Melody Belle's saddle in a quest to add the Windsor Park Plate to the Tarzino Trophy defended here a fortnight ago for another double, on the way to a historic triple crowns.

"Opie Bosson is a stable rider," he explains, after throwing down the gauntlet to challengers for a carnival trilogy of crowns here with a nomination into the final leg, the group one WFA $250,000 Livamol Classic, here on Saturday, October 5.

Jockey Michael McNab's celebration was something to behold when he rode Melody Belle to victory for the Tarzino Trophy on August 31 but he makes way for Opie Bosson today. Photo/file
Jockey Michael McNab's celebration was something to behold when he rode Melody Belle to victory for the Tarzino Trophy on August 31 but he makes way for Opie Bosson today. Photo/file

Richards suspects the 200m extension from the Tarzino Trophy race can pose a few problems on the dead 4 track that is likely to have some rain on it early this morning.
Cambridge trainer Andrew Forsman laughs at suggestions Cutadeel, who he co-trains with Murray Baker, will give Melody Belle a run for her money.

"We'd like to hope so but she's very good but, hopefully, we can give her a fright — that's the plan anyway," says Forsman of Cutadeel (Australia) who will have Michael Coleman steering him out from barrier 12.

"It's [barrier 12] quite tricky and quite awkward for him ... ," he says, adding when Cutadeel won the Reliable Man Trophy over 1600m here in the first leg he ran an economical premier race.

"He just didn't cover too much ground which has a risk of happening from a wide draw but that's our concern and that should make it difficult for him."

Forsman says they have confidence in Coleman but he'll have to be positive tactically to jostle into position without having to expend too much energy.

"That'll be up to him but a little bit dictated by what happens inside with what the other horses are doing as well."

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He says Cutadell was in need for a run here when he won the Reliable Man Trophy so, without doubt, he'll be a sharper contender today although it'll be a stronger race despite a smaller field.

Hawke's Bay Waimarama Ltd, which bred Cutadeel, had sired him out of Dundeel (NZ) from Dineeta (Australia) in 2009.

He and Baker also have Mongolian Marshal and jockey Matthew Cameron in contention from barrier one. Both the 4-year-old Cutadeel and the 5-year-old High Chaparral (Ireland) gelding, Mongolian Marshal, have to prove themselves at the WFA level.

Forsman expects Mongolian Marshal to be "very competitive" provided he finds the breaks to make the most of his "quick turn of the foot".

"I think he's almost the forgotten horse in the race [because] he's very capable so I certainly wouldn't forget him and give him almost as good a chance as Cutadeel."

So is Mongolian Marshal going in as an insurance deal in some respects?

Forsman says both the geldings are entering on their own merits because if they were under the tutelage of another trainer they'd be in the line up.

The horses have been nominated for the Livamol Classic as well as the 15th Coupland's Bakeries Mile at Riccarton Park on November 13.

"We don't worry too much about her [Melody Belle]. We just worry about our two main horses and what they'll do, you know, because she's just another horse in a race so anything can go wrong with her as much as they can for us."

Forsman emphasises while Melody Belle commands respect their geldings aren't simply there to make up the numbers.

Baker, who was recognised with two of the highest honours in racing a fortnight ago, won't be here today because he's racing some of their marquee horses in Melbourne.

Last year he was inducted into the New Zealand Racing Hall of Fame and picked up the Outstanding Contribution to Racing Award at the New Zealand Thoroughbred Horse of the Year Awards in Auckland on September 7.

He and Forsman had received the NZ Trainer of the Year Award for the third successive year and fourth time in five years, while the stable's dual group one high flier Madison County claimed the Champion Three-Year-Old Award gong.

Cambridge trainer Andrew Forsman believes Mongolian Marshal is an almost forgotten horse in the Windsor Park Plate today. Photo/Trish Dunell
Cambridge trainer Andrew Forsman believes Mongolian Marshal is an almost forgotten horse in the Windsor Park Plate today. Photo/Trish Dunell

The co-trainers have completed seven seasons in partnership and their stable had racked up a record-breaking 143 wins two seasons ago. Last season Baker and Forsman amassed 112 victories, including 25 black-type winners, and earned more than $3.8 million in prizemoney in New Zealand.

The pair have prepared 693 Kiwi winners and 105 group or listed ones as well as 32 Australasian group one wins.

Baker was a fledgling trainer in Woodville in the 1980s before his meteoric rise in New Zealand and confesses his addiction to Aussie racing.

He and Forsman have kept a low profile to the start of the new season here, preferring to spell their mounts a little longer but are leaving an indelible mark across the ditch.

Among their conquests are Long Jack's accolades in Melbourne, Quick Thinker clinching the group 3 Ming Dynasty Stakes (1400m) fresh up at Rosehill while stablemate Rhaegar finished fourth behind his stablemate.

Madison County starts in the group one Rupert Clarke Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield today and is nominated for the group one Cox Plate over 2040m at Moonee Valley on Saturday, October 26.