If you are one of those who believe the Te Rapa track may get a touch too wet for Julius, and there will be plenty of you, you might look at Melody Belle in tomorrow's $100,000 Lisa Chittick Foxbridge Plate.

Melody Belle is the logical tip. While Winx goes around in the unusual circumstances in a race named in her honour at Randwick, the name Foxbridge strikes a meaning with essentially just breeding buffs on this side of the Tasman.

English-bred Foxbridge became New Zealand's champion sire and champion broodmare sire for 11 straight years, back in the late 1930s and 1940s.

Perhaps a little surprisingly for such a dominant sire influence, Foxbridge appears in the pedigree of only Melody Belle in the 14-horse field carded for the weight-for-age contest.


As the name suggests, Melody Belle is a member of the Belle family, which emanated from Foxbridge's mating with Belle Fox, producing foundation mare Belle Time in 1953.

Melody Belle has not raced since Sydney in the autumn, a two-race campaign during which things did not go right. She has come back well with a nice barrier trial victory in a four-horse field on this track.

She showed on several occasions last season she can manage wet conditions very well.

Victory here will take her close to the million dollar mark in stake earnings.

Julius scored a brave and dominant victory on this track when resuming from a winter spell. The track that day was officially a heavy 10, but, at least when Julius went around, it was racing a bit better than a 10.

Depending on the weather today and tomorrow morning that may not be the case this time. Rain is forecast for today and tonight, which will help some Foxbridge runners and hamper others, particularly those well short of full fitness.

New York Minute, Underthemoonlight, Francaletta, Authentic Paddy and brothers Close Up and Seventh Up are unlikely to be upset by further rain.

New York Minute is unbeaten since joining the Baker/Forsman team and comes into this race well in the weight scale but much will depend on the state of the track.

If Julius can get a grip on the surface his race fitness over the opposition may be the telling factor.

If not, the statistical tip could be the way to go — Melody Belle.

Julius will get his group one opportunity at Hastings a fortnight later in the Tarzino Trophy (1400m) if he performs to expectations.

Trainer John Bell plans to sparingly race him again this campaign with the Tarzino Trophy being the ultimate goal.

The son of Swiss Ace has already been installed the $7 favourite on Fixed Odds with the TAB bookmakers for the Tarzino Trophy even though he is not guaranteed a start in the feature.

He is 21st equal in the order of entry for the 16-horse field and needs to shape up in the Foxbridge Plate to secure a start.

Buoyed by jockey Jason Waddell's confidence, Bell expects Julius to measure up tomorrow.

"He's a happy horse and he's improved from his first-up run," Bell said. "He was 75 per cent ready that day."

Waddell went straight to the front fresh-up and, despite being taken on mid-race, Julius was too strong, winning by a length and a half.

"That was Jason's plan and it worked," Bell said.

"He'll be making the call on how to ride him on Saturday. He knows what's best for the horse and what he can do."

If Julius does succeed in the Foxbridge Plate it will be a far more compacted programme for him backing up a fortnight later in the Tarzino Trophy.

"He only had three runs in the whole of last season and now he'd be having three in a month," Bell said.

"But you can't be too precious. We've looked after him and now he's ready for it.

"He can go out for a spell until Christmas after the Tarzino."

Waddell has an extremely high opinion of Julius.

"He's my horse to hopefully replace Kawi," Waddell said.

"He's the best I've ridden who hasn't won a group one. He hasn't run in one yet, but he will and he'll be a group one winner."

Foxbridge Plate

Foxbridge Plate: Named after New Zealand's 11-time champion sire.

• Melody Belle: The only member of tomorrow's 14-horse field that carries Foxbridge's blood.

• Conditions suit: The talented mare races well when fresh and can handle rain-affected footing.

- additional reporting, NZ Racing Desk