The decision by Te Akau principal David Ellis to leave star mares Melody Belle and Probabeel in Sydney following their autumn campaigns is already paying a dividend.
They have been in the hands of travelling foreman Ashley Handley, who is providing positive feedback to trainer Jamie Richards as to how the mares are progressing.
Closed borders between Australia and New Zealand due to COVID-19 has ruled out any travel for Richards but the trainer says the horses are gearing up nicely for their spring returns.
Melody Belle will trial at Randwick on July 28 before her scheduled return in the Missile Stakes on August 8, with the Winx Stakes at Randwick two weeks later an early Group One target.
“She’s a mare that as she’s got older she’s needed a run so we’ve been very mindful of that,” Richards told NZ Racing Desk.
“We’re pretty keen to have her ready to rock and roll early because I think quite a few of the nicer middle-distance horses will be resuming in the Winx Stakes and might be a little bit vulnerable fitness-wise, that’s what we’re hoping anyway.
“By having her fit and ready to go early and running in the Missile, hopefully she’s really ready to crank up in the Winx Stakes.”
Richards said Probabeel was a little bit behind Melody Belle in her preparation. However, she is likely to also trial later in July.
“She gets a little bit hairy over the winter so we’ve clipped her out and she has taken a little while to brighten up in the coat but she’s getting there,” Richards said.
“She has done the same amount of work as Melody Belle but we are just trying to stay away from the weight-for-age races with her initially.”
Richards said Probabeel was likely to resume in the Toy Show Quality at Randwick on August 22.