One of the curses of Melody Belle's career has returned "at a less than ideal time" heading into today's A$1.5 million Tancred Stakes in Sydney.
That is how trainer Jamie Richards describes the 14-time Group 1 winner tying up after trackwork on Wednesday, just days out from her latest Group 1 target.
Melody Belle was passed fit to race by Racing NSW vets yesterday, and Richards says while muscle tie-up is nothing new for her, it is an inconvenience she could do without when stepping up to 2400m today.
"She has been dogged by it her whole career," says Richards.
"Usually she comes through it very quickly, we just run some fluids through her and she has a swim and she is fine.
"And I think that will be the case here. She is good to race but at this level, stepping up to 2400m for the first time, you don't want any hiccups.
"So we are hopeful it won't affect her but it is something we could have done without."
With Sydney's weather improving, the Rosehill track was back to a good4 yesterday, which will suit Melody Belle, because while she has won in the wet, stepping up to 2400m for the first time on a testing track could have been well outside her comfort zone.
With James McDonald in the saddle to negate her wide draw, Melody Belle is second-favourite for the Tancred behind Cox Plate winner Sir Dragonet, with fellow New Zealand galloper The Chosen One looming as the upset in the race, as he will love the 2400m and good track, and has Hugh Bowman on, albeit it from the widest draw.
The Chosen One's stablemate The Frontman contests the A$200,000 Tulloch Stakes and looks an each-way chance from the ace draw.
Closer to home, Richards has a stranglehold on a major juvenile race, this time the $225,000 Sires' Produce at Awapuni, with On The Bubbles and the lesser-known I Wish I Win.
The Awapuni track also looks to be improving but maybe the best punters can hope for is a slow6-7, which would suit Richards' pair.
"There may not be a lot between them but I tend to favour the horse who has been there, done that in these situations and that is On The Bubbles," he said.
The Awapuni meeting is a beauty, with Callsign Mav and Royal Performer to clash at set weights and penalties in the $100,000 Awapuni Gold Cup, with Callsign Mav up to 2000m, having never won past 1400m.