Creditable performances from his star performers Te Akau Shark and Melody Belle in the Gr.2 US Navy Flag Foxbridge Plate (1200m) at Te Rapa on Saturday has left trainer Jamie Richards satisfied with the start to a big spring campaign for both horses.
Te Akau Shark stormed home from near last on the turn to run impressive winner Endless Drama to less than a length at the line while Melody Belle battled gamely into fourth after peaking on her challenge in the last 150m.
Richards, who celebrated his 30th birthday on Sunday, reported that both of his charges had pulled up well from their exertions and had trotted up nicely less than 24 hours after the race.
“They were both a little tired and left a wee bit of feed which was to be expected after a tough first-up run,” Richards said.
“While we went there to win, you had to be satisfied with how they both performed and there is no shame in losing to a quality horse like Endless Drama.
“The wide draw made it tough for Te Akau Shark as he got back and had to come very wide in the straight but he closed things off nicely in the final stages.
“Michael McNab gave Melody Belle a great run from her draw but she is a year older now and I think she is definitely looking for 1400m and further.
“She never gave it away in the straight and was holding her ground well at the post so I don’t think she lost any admirers with the run.”
Richards confirmed the immediate plans for both horses would be for Te Akau Shark to head straight to Sydney while Melody Belle will continue on her mission to the three feature events during the Hawke’s Bay Spring Carnival.
“We will continue to monitor them over the next few days but as long as they have no issues then we will continue with their campaigns as planned,” he said.
“Te Akau Shark will head across to Sydney on Monday week and will run in the Tramway Stakes (Gr.2, 1400m) at Randwick on September 7.
“Melody Belle will go to the Tarzino Trophy at Hastings (Gr.1, 1400m) where she will meet Endless Drama again. She is going to have to lift to challenge him but we’re confident there is still a turn or two in the screw with her.
“We are focussed on Hawke’s Bay at this stage and won’t make any further decisions for her until after that.”
Richards is also looking forward to the Taupo meeting on Wednesday where a large number of his stable runners will kick off their spring campaigns including four-year-old mare Savy Yong Blank who finished off her three-year-old season with a creditable fifth in the Gr.1 New Zealand Oaks (2400m) after being placed in the Gr.3 Sunline Vase (2100m). – NZ Racing Desk