Melody Belle's draw may be wider but the disappointment not as brutal for trainer Jamie Richards heading into Saturday's $250,000 Telegraph at Trentham.

Because while the hot favourite and glamour mare has barrier 18 in the group one sprint, that could turn out better than the barrier 13 she failed to overcome in the Railway at Ellerslie on New Year's Day.

On that occasion Melody Belle was never on the track and stormed home for third in a race she probably couldn't win the second the barrier draws came out.

That was immensely disappointing for young trainer Richards, in charge of the Te Akau team, as he had trained the mare to the minute for her fresh up assault on the great sprint.


So while he was hardly thrilled to cop the worst barrier for Saturday's $250,000 thriller Richards realises a wide draw at Trentham may not be as daunting as barrier 13 was at over the more turning Ellerslie 1200m.

The Trentham 1200m is a dogleg which under the right circumstances can allow elite horses to sit wide with cover and peel off to win, like the high-class mare Guiseppina did in 2012 or even surprise southern victor Signify two years ago.

When Guiseppina won she sat four wide with cover before roaring home for James McDonald, the sort of run new jockey Jason Waddell might be forced to look for with Melody Belle on Saturday.

Of course it is not that easy. Melody Belle has still yet to win from outside barrier seven, admittedly all but one of those races around one bend when wide draws tend to matter more than a straight six or dogleg 1200m.

And while the wide draw is not the kiss of death, in last year's Telegraph those back in the field were left with no hope as Enzo's Lad hugged the rail from a good draw and got a winning break at the 100m.

"It is not ideal, we all know that," admits Richards. "And to get wide draws back to back after Ellerslie is tough to swallow but we got some really good draws in the spring.

"But we have a good rider and the most important thing will be Jason getting some cover and then a clear run late. One thing I am not worried about is the horse. She is really well and galloped great with Jason up on Tuesday morning."

Melody Belle comes into the race beautifully placed under the set weights and penalty conditions, being a rating 107 mare but only giving a rating 77 horse like Hanger 2kgs.


While she is clearly the best horse in the race she is not even topweight, that role falling to defending champion Enzo's Lad, who leads a team of five South Island reps as the South seeks to win it for the third year running, one of the more unlikely winning sequences in recent New Zealand racing history.

While annoyed by the mere 2kgs between Melody Belle and Hanger, the latter's trainer Roger James is happy with barrier five even though it does raise the possibility of some traffic concerns for the four-year-old.

"I won't ever moan about a draw like that even though he might be a horse who settles just off them," says James. "He is probably ready for a 1400m race but the Telegraph can often race like a 1400m."

Hanger is one of three sons of the late, great O'Reilly in the Telegraph trying to emulate their sire who won the Telegraph 22 years ago, remarkably at only his fourth career start.

The Telegraph is the highlight of a huge programme that includes the Wellington Cup, Desert Gold Stakes and Thorndon Mile.