A Guide To The $1m Group One Empire Rose

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Melody Belle

EMPIRE ROSE STAKES

The $1 million Empire Rose Stakes is a Group One weight-for-age race run over 1600m for fillies and mares at Melbourne’s Flemington racecourse

It will run as race five at 2.20pm AEDT on Saturday, November 2

HISTORY

  • First run as a Listed race in 1988 and won by the Colin Hayes-trained Concordance
  • Formerly known as the Myer Classic, the race is named after champion mare Empire Rose who completed the 1988 Mackinnon Stakes and Melbourne Cup double
  • Had a stint as a Group Three (1995-6) before being elevated to a Group Two in 1997 and a Group One in 2004
  • Three-year-old fillies became eligible in 2002 when the race went from set weights plus penalties to weight-for-age
  • I Am A Star became the first filly to win the race in 2016, with Shoals accomplishing the feat again 12 months later
  • The fastest time recorded was 1:34.20 by Market Price in 2001

NOTABLE WINNERS

Lotteria (2005), Divine Madonna (2007), Forensics (2008), Typhoon Tracy (2009), Red Tracer (2013), Shoals (2017), Shillelagh (2018)

TALKING POINTS

  • Prize money doubled from $500,000 to $1 million for 2019
  • Shillelagh won in 2018 from Bring Me Roses and Fundamentalist
  • Star New Zealand mare Melody Belle is the $3.50 favourite ahead of Godolphin’s Pohutukawa at $5.50
  • Five Group One winners in the field (Melody Belle, Aristia, Invincibella, Amphitrite and Princess Jenni)
  • Invincibella denied Pohutukawa a maiden Group One in June, winning the Tattersall’s Tiara at Brisbane by a short half-head
  • Craig Williams will ride Aristia as Damian Lane serves a careless riding ban
  • All 16 runners are mares for the second straight year

WHAT THE KEY PLAYERS ARE SAYING

  • “Up to the mile should really see her at her best. But I’m terrified of the form of the New Zealand mare Melody Belle. I wish she was in the Cox Plate” – Pohutukawa’s trainer James Cummins on Melody Belle
  • “She’s not a proven miler. But if it’s a slowly run race and she’s going to put herself right on the speed, she’s capable of being in the finish” – Cummings on Savatiano
  • “She’s adaptable and can handle any ground really” – trainer David Brideoake on how rain could impact Princess Jenni
  • “The big track at Flemington will suit and the mile is close to her best distance. Needs to improve but she’s a very capable horse” – Invincibella’s trainer Chris Waller
  • “She’s coming into this race just about ready to peak and her form at Flemington is outstanding” – co-trainer Simon Zahra on Aristia
  • “The previous year she didn’t spell well so this time we’ve taken a different path and kept her fresh for the 1600 metres” – Spanish Reef’s trainer Ken Keys

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