New Zealand's best mare, Melody Belle, provided racegoers with another display of her class when she defended her Group 1 Tarzino Trophy (1400m) crown with an amazing performance to win yesterday.
The five-year-old Commands mare, who kicked off a stunning haul of five Group 1 victories in the 2018-19 season with her win in the race 12 months ago, showed she would be just as competitive at the highest level again this year with another sparkling effort.
An indifferent run first up in the Group 2 Foxbridge Plate (1200m) at Te Rapa to open her campaign, combined with an outside barrier draw, saw punters tread warily with the Jamie Richards-trained mare, installing her as a loose second favourite behind her Te Rapa conqueror Endless Drama.
Expected to race in a handy position, that plan went out the window when she dwelt slightly at the start. Rider Michael McNab was forced to bide his time near last in a strung-out field as rank outsider Deerfield set up a hectic speed out in front.
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McNab didn't panic as he eased his charge to the outside to track up Endless Drama and Wyndspelle around the home bend before angling for clear running at the 350m. Melody Belle let down with a devastating sprint to collar Wyndspelle and Helena Baby with 50m to run as McNab rose high in the irons to celebrate the victory.
"This is just unreal," McNab said. "With the work that has been put in by the whole Te Akau team, I had a good feeling.
"We stepped slow and I thought that was Plan A definitely gone as I was going to go forward.
"So I went back and got in, and across the top, I saw Endless Drama out posted and I thought he would take me far enough [into the race].
"We chased him and then sucked up and sucked up and when she got out, she let rip — just an amazing horse."
- NZ Racing Desk