Melody Belle on song for big farewell

Melody Belle will farewell racing this weekend and while the Kiwi star is well past her best, she has one advantage over her Doomben Cup rivals.

Melody Belle may be well into the twilight of her career but the Kiwi super mare has one thing in her favour heading into today’s Doomben Cup.

In a field that features seven horses with more than $1 million in prizemoney, remarkably she is the only one to boast a race start at Doomben.

The $700,000 Group 1 feature is one of the strongest races seen in Queensland recently and it is fitting it marks Melody Belle’s farewell after the 14-time Group 1 winner announced herself Down Under in the Sunshine State four years ago.

It was a raw but talented filly that came to Brisbane in 2017 to dominate the Group 2 Sires’ Produce at Eagle Farm before going under as a short-priced favourite in the Group 1 JJ Atkins two weeks later at Doomben.

Trainer Jamie Richards is willing to write off her disappointing run in the Group 2 Hollindale Stakes at the Gold Coast two weeks ago and revealed his stable star had turned a corner in her work recently.

“We didn’t have the rub of the green heading into the Hollindale, there had been a few niggling things go wrong but we are a lot happier this time around,” he said. “We didn’t have a lot go right that time, we are going better now.” Richards believes Melody Belle’s trip to Queensland four years ago fast-tracked her development into the mare she is today.

“I think it brought her on, it was an important part of her development,” he said. “She is a Group 2 winner in Queensland so that tells you everything you need to know.

“She is easy to train, pretty straightforward because she wants to do everything to a high standard – she is a marvel really.”

While the trainer says it will be hard to turn the tables on Annabel Neasham’s Hollindale winner Zaaki, he would be satisfied to see his crowd favourite turn in a huge effort before she was put under the hammer at the Magic Millions Broodmare Sale on Tuesday next week.

Ever a realist, Richards said even Melody Belle’s experience at Doomben may not be enough to get her home against a stacked field.

“She seems to be in good shape and we just want to see her run well and be competitive for her last start,” he said. “I think she is capable of putting in a good run.’’

Richards said Melody Belle will be his only runner of the Brisbane carnival with the trainer attempting to find a horse to bring next year.

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