Jamie Richards wasn’t the only New Zealand trainer who had a smile on his face after Melody Belle’s dominant win in the Group 1 Empire Rose Stakes (1600m) at Flemington on Saturday.
Hastings conditioner Corrina McDougal, who trains in partnership with Paul Nelson, was happy to see her win so comfortably, particularly given she was the only horse to beat the McDougal-Nelson-trained Peso home in the Group 1 Livamol Classic (2040m) last month. “It was a bit of a thrill that one, running so well against Melody Belle,” she said. “He did everything right and we couldn’t have asked for anything more. “It was great to get so close in a Group 1 and especially seeing the way Melody Belle won on Saturday.”
The weekend’s result has given McDougal a timely confidence boost ahead of Ellerslie’s meeting on Tuesday where Peso will line-up in the Group 3 OMF Stakes (2000m). His trainers are heading into Tuesday positive the son of Colombia will perform well, but they are still wary of his high-class opposition. “He is working just as well as he was ahead of the Livamol,” McDougal said. “He’s pretty easy, he just goes on and does his work and everything is pretty much the same as it was before last start. “There’s no Melody Belle in the field tomorrow, but Vin De Dance and Concert Hall look like they will be tough to beat.”
Peso has drawn well in gate two and McDougal said jockey Rosie Myers should be able to find an ideal spot from there. “He’s drawn nicely in barrier two, but he is pretty versatile and sits wherever you like. He can go forward or back, he is pretty easy to ride,” she said. “I’m confident he should be able to run a good, honest race again.”
TAB bookmakers have installed Peso as a $3.80 second favourite for the 2000m feature behind Group 3 winner Concert Hall at $2.40.