Former top filly Melt made a welcome return to the winner’s circle on her home patch at Pukekohe on Saturday. The Nigel Tiley-trained mare had kick started her career in fine fashion when successful at stakes level at the same venue first-up as a two-year-old.
She then went on to win the Northland Breeders’ Stakes (1200m) as a three-year-old before finishing second to subsequent dual Group 1 winner Madison County in the Group 2 Hawke’s Bay Guineas (1400m). An unsuccessful three-start campaign from the Chris Waller stable in Sydney, where she had niggling issues with her feet, saw her returned to Tiley by her co-breeder and owner Andrew Fowler in mid-2019.
Tiley has been patient with the mare and was confident of a good performance from her after encountering some bad luck in her first two runs in this campaign. That confidence soared when a sustained downpour saw the track downgraded from a Good3 to a Dead5 shortly before the race with the daughter of Iffraaj relishing some give in the track.
Despite being trapped three-wide from an outside draw, rider Matthew Cameron soon had her outside the speed set up by Princess Rihanna before issuing her challenge at the top of the long Pukekohe home straight. Melt kept up a sustained finish to win by a neat length from Princess Rihanna, who held out the fast finishing Sheezallmine for second.
“It’s great to see her back like that,” Tiley said. “You could forgive her first up run and she had no luck last time either. “Today she did it tough and Matt told me afterwards she was very strong in the last 100m, her best part of the race.”
While Tiley has always felt the mare was best suited at the shorter sprint journeys, the performance has him considering tackling a 1400m feature at her next start. “You’d have to think if we could find the right race and circumstances for her, we’d have to try her over 1400m,” he said. “The fillies and mares race coming up here (Group 2, 1400m) next month could be ideal if we could get some dig in the track again.
“I’m also going to nominate for the Railway Stakes (Group 1, 1200m) at Ellerslie but I won’t run her on a hard track again as she just doesn’t hit out. “We will just tick her over and if we got rain then that would see her take on that race as well.”
Tiley also has the Group 2 Dunstan Feeds Auckland Thoroughbred Breeders’ Stakes (1400m) at Pukekohe on November 21 as the target for Le Castile, who finished an unlucky third behind Siracusa and stablemate Demonetization in the Listed Haunui Farm Karaka Classic (1600m) later in the day.