Horse Racing

Richards’ star mare can be Belle of the ball

A week after piloting Australia’s leading mare, jockey James McDonald is relishing the chance to pilot the best New Zealand has to offer in Saturday’s Tancred Stakes at Rosehill.

The champion Sydney hoop finds himself in an enviable position of riding two of the best mares in Australasia in the space of a week when he jumps aboard Kiwi superstar Melody Belle this weekend.

It was less than a week ago he was aboard the Chris Waller-trained Verry Elleegant when the gun mare added an eighth Group 1 by lowering the colours of English raider Addeybb in the Ranvet Stakes.

Melody Belle will be chasing a 15th win at the top level in the Tancred in what will be the first time McDonald has ridden the Jamie Richards-trained mare under race conditions.

He jumped aboard the Kiwi heroine for the first time at trackwork on Wednesday morning and was determined to play a part to further cementing her legacy this weekend.

“I can’t wait to hop on her,” McDonald said.

“That was probably as good a win as she’s had recently at her last start over in New Zealand when she won the Bonecrusher.

“She was really good and looks to be racing as good as ever.”

Champion mare Melody Belle. Photo Credit: Trish DunellSource:Supplied

After McDonald spoke to News Corp it was revealed Melody Belle is being monitored closely heading into the Tancred after Richards reported the mare had tied up after galloping at Randwick on Wednesday.

But the trainer advised Racing NSW stewards that Melody Belle had similar episodes before and was responding well to treatment.

She arrived in Australia on Monday after breaking the New Zealand record she held alongside champion mare Sunline by claiming a record 14th Group 1 in the Bonecrusher Stakes at Ellerslie on March 13.

The Tancred Stakes will be the first time connections have ever tested the stellar six-year-old over the 2400m trip but the stable is confident Melody Belle can add to her Group 1 resume at the trip.

“There is no concerns from the trainer or her regular rider that she will have any issue getting over the 2400m,” McDonald said.

“It‘s not the strongest edition of the Tancred and she is a 14-time Group 1 winner so she definitely has class on her side.”

McDonald had also been booked to ride West Aussie star Arcadia Queen – arguably Australia’s second best mare in training – in the Group 2 Emancipation Stakes.

But leviathan owner Bob Peters was forced to scratch his three-time Group 1 winner, which is undergoing scans on Wednesday with a cloud now over her racing future.

James McDonald will ride VRC Oaks winner Personal. Photo: Robert Cianflone/Getty Images for the VRCSource:Getty Images

McDonald will now partner Greysful Glamour in the Emancipation while he is set to partner another Group 1 winner in the form of VRC Oaks winner Personal in the Vinery Stud Stakes (2000m).

The Tom Dabernig and Ben Hayes-trained filly will look to add a second Group 1 to her resume and is a $7 chance to do so against her own age and sex.

“She is a beautiful filly,” McDonald said.

“I am looking forward to getting on her and two really good performances heading into this in some strongly run races.

“That should set her up nicely for the Vinery.”

McDonald’s other stakes rides include Derby bound stayer Favreau (Tulloch Stakes) as well as Shared Ambition (Neville Sellwood Stakes), Signore Fox (Star Kingdom) and Buffalo River (Doncaster Prelude).

He is also aboard promising two-year-old Coastwatch in the Schweppervescene.

Originally published asMcDonald ready to sing right Melody

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