Champion trainer Jamie Richards is starting to concede there may be no fairytale ending to Melody Belle's racetrack career.
While he is certain the great mare can improve on her 10th in the Hollindale Stakes on the Gold Coast on Saturday, he doesn't think she can do enough to turn the tables on Saturday's winner Zaaki.
The former English galloper bolted away with the A$500,000 Hollindale for James McDonald after being backed off the board and looks to have the Doomben Cup on May 22 at his mercy.
He is $3.50 to win the Cup, which will be Melody Belle's last race before she is sold at public auction as a broodmare a few days later.
"I know our mare will improve a lot and I can see her getting some money in the Doomben Cup but it is hard to see her beating Zaaki, he was super impressive," says Richards.
"She didn't have the best of luck on Saturday when she got checked at the top of the straight and it was always going to be a tricky race from her draw. But I'm confident she will be a better horse for her last race coming up."
As a 14-time Group 1 winner, Melody Belle will be the star lot of the Gold Coast broodmare sale and a similar but select sale in Sydney on Friday saw huge prices for broodmare prospects, but a Doomben Cup placing would be a nice reminder to bidders of Melody Belle's class.
Then the guessing game for what price she will fetch can begin, with it certain to be seven figures, but after that, almost impossible to predict.
Surprisingly, Melody Belle wasn't the first Kiwi home in the Hollindale, as Tiptronic stuck on for eighth after leading, while Two Illicit didn't have the wet track and finished second last.
Both would appreciate firmer tracks for the rest of the carnival.
Fresh and younger New Zealand legs are set to fly off to Sydney this week before being trucked north to Queensland, with Not An Option, Hezashocka and Joy Alone headlining the Kiwi chances at the carnival, while high-class mare Coventina Bay will race there next month.
● Jockey Johnathan Parkes' stellar season has come to a crashing halt.
The Karaka Million-winning rider is set to miss at least a month after breaking his collarbone in a shocking fall at Te Rapa on Saturday.
Parkes was riding Cutting Up Rough, who cannoned into a falling Marroni in race six, with Cutting Up Rough breaking his leg and having to be put down. Marroni did not suffer any serious injuries.
His rider, Masa Hashizume, is out of hospital after being admitted on Saturday night for observation after impact to his head in the fall which appears to have happened when Marroni clipped heels at the top of the straight.
"I've got and few cuts and a sore neck but no broken bones, so I should be back riding in a week or so," says Hashizume.
Kozzi Asano also looks likely to be sidelined for at least a month after he had a suspected broken collarbone after a fall in the last race at Woodville yesterday.
"They tell me it's broken but I'm on the way to hospital to get that confirmed," Asano told the Herald last night.
Top Central Districts rider Lisa Allpress was to return home last night after a separate race fall on Woodville that saw her taken to hospital for tests but she suffered no serious injuries and will ride again this week.