Australia: Melody Belle’s Farewell Tour Of Australia

There are many American graded stakes races with their own rich history which now serve as preps for the Breeders’ Cup. Similarly, Friday night’s features at Rosehill have become stepping stones to The Championships at Randwick (April 9 & 16). The Group 1 Tancred Stakes  includes the Queen of New Zealand turf, Melody Belle, and other key contenders at The Championships. Be sure to catch all the action live on the new Sky Racing World App or watch on TVG (First Post: 9:45 p.m. ET / 6:45 p.m. PT).

The Tancred Stakes will be the first Australian stop on the farewell tour by mighty New Zealand mare Melody Belle, whose career is of elite status. Striking at a 50% win rate across 38 starts, she recently set a New Zealand record for most G1 wins (14) and will likely set another record when offered at public auction upon her retirement.

Now in the second half of her 6-year-old season, Melody Belle will appear in the catalog for the National Broodmare Sale at the Gold Coast on May 25, where she could attract global interest. Prior to the curtain coming down on her fabulous racetrack career, Melody Belle (5-1) will strive for a 15th G1 triumph in the Tancred, where she will be tested at 1 1/2 miles for the first time. Trainer Jamie Richards is adamant that his superstar mare, who has won from five and a half to ten furlongs, will appreciate the added distance in the twilight of her career. Between the Tancred Stakes and Broodmare Sale, plans call for Melody Belle to contest an undecided race during The Championships at Randwick, before a pair of races in Queensland – her swan song would be a mere three days prior to being auctioned.

Melody Belle will be ridden for the first time by James McDonald, fresh off winning last week’s Ranvet Stakes on Verry Elleegant. In the space of a week, “J-Mac” is poised for G1 success on Australia’s and New Zealand’s best mares – and the 29-year-old would become the fastest rider in Australian history to reach 50 G1 wins. Chief opposition to Melody Belle in the Tancred is expected from Sir Dragonet (9-2) and Angel of Truth (7-1), who were left in the wake of Verry Elleegant and Addeybb in last week’s spine-tingling Ranvet. (That pair will renew their intense rivalry on April 16 in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes, showpiece race of The Championships and possible target for Melody Belle).

Trainer Peter Moody and jockey Luke Nolen, who enjoyed global fame thanks to the undefeated sprint phenomenon Black Caviar, combine again for the Australian debut of Irish stayer Nickajack Cave (18-1). In stark contrast to the dazzling speed of Black Caviar, each of Nickajack Cave’s ten career races have been at 1 1/4 miles and beyond. Moody believes the horse can be competitive in the weight-for-age Tancred, but admits to still learning about him.

“This will give us a guide, as everything we are doing is to try and qualify him for the Melbourne Cup later this year,” he said.

Dreams of the world’s biggest two-mile handicap are not misplaced, because Nickajack Cave defeated 2020 Melbourne Cup winner Twilight Payment at level weights last June in Ireland. The 5-year-old gray had previously finished two lengths behind Sir Dragonet, who won the Cox Plate in his Australian debut last October and is favorite for Friday’s Tancred. Nickajack Cave (Irish-bred and now Australia-based, yet named for a cave in Tennessee!) has not raced since winning a G3 in his native land last August.

Moody and Nolen also have an intriguing presence in Friday’s other G1 event, the Vinery Stud Stakes (Race 6). Princess Rhaenys (15-1) impressively broke her maiden at her second start, but at a relatively nondescript “provincial” track. Unusually in Australia, she competed at a mile off a layoff (19 weeks after debuting). Moody now thrusts her into a Group One at 1-1/4 miles, so obviously feels the filly is an untapped staying talent. Wagering is logically headed by Harmony Rose (9-5), returning to her own sex after a third place finish in the Randwick Guineas (runner-up Mo’unga subsequently won last week’s Rosehill Guineas).

The Vinery Stud Stakes is the key prep race for the Australian Oaks at 1 1/2 miles during The Championships at Randwick. The Vinery’s equivalent for colts and geldings is Friday’s third race, the Tulloch Stakes, a final lead-up to the Australian Derby.

The Rosehill card will be broadcast live on TVG this Friday night (First Post: 9:45 p.m. ET / 6:45 p.m. PT) alongside cards from Kembla Grange, Gold Coast and Eagle Farm. All races will be live-streamed in HD on the new Sky Racing World and major ADW platforms such as TVG, TwinSpiresXpressbet, NYRABets, WatchandWagerHPIbet, and AmWager. Wagering is also available via these ADW platforms. Fans can get free access to livestreaming, past performances and expert picks on all races at

A native of Brisbane, Australia, Michael Wrona has called races in six countries. Wrona’s vast U.S. experience includes; race calling at Los Alamitos, Hollywood Park, Arlington and Santa Anita, calling the 2000 Preakness on a national radio network and the 2016 Breeders’ Cup on the International simulcast network. Wrona also performed a race call voiceover for a Seinfeld episode called The Subway.

The post Australia: Melody Belle’s Farewell Tour Of Australia appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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