Most trainers have their unfinished business race.

The race which means a little more to them than its monetary value. The race that when they hear its name it jars them a bit. Their what if race.

It might be something as simple as a hometown cup, or the race they suffered a bad beat in. It could have been two weeks or 20 years ago, but horse trainers carry that sort of thing around.

For Team Te Akau one of those races in the Mackinnon Stakes. And today they want to turn some past nightmares into a dream.


Racing fans remember the shock of two years ago when Gingernuts suffered a career-ending injury just cantering to the Mackinnon start.

His life hung in the balance and while a horse ambulance is never a welcome sight on a racetrack, seeing it before any race is almost unheard of.

Jerry, as Gingernuts is known, survived and is now the retired statesman of Te Akau but the Mackinnon dread goes further back than that.

"We had Distinctly Secret beaten a couple of noses by Lonhro in 2002," says Te Akau boss David Ellis.

"I owned him and I really could have done with the money back then so it is another reason we have unfinished business in this race."

Today Melody Belle hopes to lay the Mackinnon demons to rest, the wonderful mare the favourite in the A$2 million weight-for-age group one at Flemington.

As crushing as she was winning the A$1m Empire Rose at Flemington last Saturday this is a step up.

There is nothing in the class of Lonhro to spoil the party this year but there are still plenty of hardened weight-for-age warriors between Melody Belle and a second visit to the Cup week winner's stall.


"It is the biggest test of her career," admits young trainer Jamie Richards.

"But she has bounced through last week in great shape. We couldn't be happier."

Richards doesn't see jockey Opie Bosson changing tactics too much from last week, with Melody Belle's wide draw suggesting she will be allowed to get into her rhythm early.

Her wide draw may not loom ideal as Mackinnons can sometimes lack tempo and favour leaders, perhaps even more of a concern as the rail moves to 9m today.

But after a rollercoaster weather week Flemington must start to show some wear and coming wide may not be a disaster by the second last race of the carnival.

In fact all week wider barriers have been more a positive than a negative. Of the 19 races so far past 1200m only three have been won by horses drawn 1-3 and nine have been won by those drawn 10 or wider. "I think it might be a good thing by that time of the day," says Richards.

"But we will leave that up to Opie, all I know is the horse is spot on."

Te Akau will also be busy at Te Rapa and Riccarton today, with Richards opting for Remington (R6, No.3, Riccarton) as the best bet on this side of the Tasman.

Kiwis at Flemington

4.10pm (NZ time): Sir Charles Road, A$300,000 QE II Stakes, 2600m

4.50pm: The Bostonian, A$2 million Darley Sprint Classic, 1200m

5.30pm: Rondinella, A$300,000 Matriarch Stakes, 2000m

6.55pm: Melody Belle, A$2 million Mackinnon Stakes, 2000m