Cambridge jockey Troy Harris completed a dream day at Te Rapa yesterday when he guided sprinting sensation Melody Belle to victory in the group one BCD Group Sprint (1400m).
Harris was "Johnny on the spot" to replace an ill Michael Coleman on Sponge Bob in the group two Warren Strom Lifebrokers Waikato Guineas (2000m) as he guided the $34 outsider to an upset victory.
Harris had earlier been selected for the mount on the Jamie Richards-trained Melody Belle after regular rider Opie Bosson was suspended for a raceday indiscretion.
That booking was placed in jeopardy when Harris received his own suspension but a stay of proceedings enabled him to take his place on the Commands four-year-old mare and secure his first group one win since piloting Tell A Tale to victory in the 2008 New Zealand 2000 Guineas (1600m).
Sent out favourite despite finishing near last in the group one Telegraph (1200m) at Trentham last start, Melody Belle looked a forlorn chance when battling behind a wall of horses soon after the field turned for home.
Ardrossan and Bostonian had set down to fight out the finish before Harris guided Melody Belle into a gap at the 100m mark where she charged home to snatch victory by a head from Bostonian, with a nose back to Ardrossan in third.
Harris, who had worked and ridden for Te Akau Racing in his formative years, paid tribute to his former employers after the race.
"I'm thrilled to ride for Te Akau and Fortuna [owner] who have given me the opportunity," he said.
"I did my apprenticeship with Te Akau, so they have been good to me and I'm just rapt.
"Turning for home, I thought I was in a little bit of trouble, but then I got a suck up behind Jason [Waddell, riding Ardrossan], I gave her a couple and she just took off.
"She had me in two minds turning for home but when we got to the 200m, she clicked into gear and I knew we were in business."
Owned by the Fortuna Melody Belle syndicate, the victory was the third at group one level this season for Melody Belle, who has now won nine of her 18 starts and over $1.38 million in prizemoney.
- NZ Racing Desk