Connections of classy Redoute’s Choice mare Melito have abandoned plans to take the four-year-old overseas this season instead opting to keep her in Australia for a shot at more Group glory that will include a clash with sprint queen Black Caviar.
Trainer Gerald Ryan and owner John Rippon were forced to call off ‘Operation Hong Kong’ at Sha Tin for Melito due to quarantine regulations, but have no regrets about the campaign change.
“We’ve got no regrets and unless she shows signs she’s had enough she will go on through the same programme as last year,” Ryan said.
Speculations that Melito was being considered for retirement have also been shelved.
“The owners are keen for Melito to race on next season,” Ryan said.
“If they were going to retire her, she would have gone to Hong Kong or Royal Ascot before being sent to stud.
“But she is still racing so well, I think she is going better now than at any stage of her career.”
A dual Group 1 winner, Melito’s two elite level victories came in the TJ Smith Stakes at Randwick and the Winter Stakes at Eagle Farm last year.
This season she has had four runs and will be given the chance to add a third Group 1 win to her name when she lines up in Saturday’s $400,000 Group 1 All Aged Stakes (1400m) at Royal Randwick.
Twelve months ago Melito finished a brave second to the late Hot Danish in the All Aged Stakes and will be hoping to do one better on Saturday.
After a moderate spring where Melito twice finished fifth behind the world’s fastest horse, Black Caviar, in the Schweppes Stakes and Patinack Farm Classic, Melito resumed with a first-up win in the Group 2 Apollo Stakes (1400m) at Rosehill on February 19.
She continued on to run fifth behind Danleigh in the Group 1 Chipping Norton Stakes (1600m), third to Aloha in the Group 1 Coolmore Classic (1500m) and then showed good form finishing second behind Gai Waterhouse’s glamour mare More Joyous in the Group 1 Queen of the Turf Stakes (1500m) last start at Rosehill on Golden Slipper Day.
After a three week break, Melito has been nominated for the 2011 All Aged Stakes, which is one of four Group 1 showdowns taking place at Randwick for Sydney Cup Day this Easter Saturday.
After the All Aged Stakes, Melito will tread a familiar path following the same five-run sequence she did last year.
“She had seven runs last time and will have nine this time, eight of them Group Ones,” Ryan said.
“She is holding her condition – she looks terrific.
“Her weight on Friday was 548 kilos which is the same she has been all along this prep.
“From now on the program will be the All Aged, the BTC Cup, the Doomben 10,000, the Stradbroke and the Winter Stakes.”
The Group 1 BTC Cup (1200m) will run at Doomben on May 14 and this is where Melito will come face-to-face with Moody’s undefeated superstar Black Caviar.
Black Caviar could also be an acceptor for the Group 1 Doomben 10,000 (1350m) on May 28 along with Melito.
While the connections of many other quality sprinters have altered their campaigns to avoid a clash with Black Caviar, Ryan is unperturbed about Melito racing against her.
“Whether Black Caviar runs or not in those races, Melito will definitely be there,” Ryan said.
“Those races suit our program.”
Following the two tough battles with the best racehorse in the world, Melito will move onto the richest race in Brisbane, Eagle Farm’s $1 million Group 1 Stradbroke Handicap (1400m) on June 11 before her final race of the season in the Group 1 Winter Stakes (1400m) on June 25.
Other notable nominees for the 2011 All Aged Stakes this year boom sprinter Hay List coming off a gallant second to Black Caviar in the TJ Smith Stakes, the Peter Moody-trained Fastnet Rock colt Hinchinbrook, Mossman four-year-old Love Conquers All who ran second to Sacred Choice in last Saturday’s Doncaster Mile and last start George Ryder Stakes winner Rangirangdoo.
One nominee who is an unlikely starter is Chipping Norton Stakes winner and 2009 All Aged champion, the Chris Waller-trained Danleigh.
“If he does run, Dwayne Dunn will ride him but it’s likely we will just have Triple Honour and Rangirangdoo,” Waller said.
“Nash Rawiller will ride Rangirangdoo and Jim Cassidy will be on Triple Honour.
“Rangirangdoo is fighting fit but if the ground is as heavy as it was on Saturday (for Doncaster Mile Day), he won’t run.”
Acceptances for the All Aged Stakes and the other Sydney Cup Day features will be taken on Wednesday with the Randwick final field published right here at Races.com.au.
2011 All Aged Stakes Nominations
|1||ALL SILENT||Grahame Begg||112|
|3||CENTENNIAL PARK (NZ)||David Payne||–|
|6||EAGLE FALLS||David Hayes||111|
|7||HAY LIST||John McNair||117|
|8||HEART OF DREAMS||Mick Price||–|
|9||HINCHINBROOK||Peter G Moody||101|
|10||HURTLE MYRTLE||Matthew Smith||100|
|11||LADYS ANGEL||Joseph Pride||87|
|12||LOVE CONQUERS ALL||Michael, Wayne & John Hawkes||–|
|14||RANGIRANGDOO (NZ)||Chris Waller||118|
|15||SHOOT OUT||John Wallace||115|
|16||SISTER MADLY||Anthony Cummings||–|
|17||TRIPLE HONOUR (NZ)||Chris Waller||112|