Bel Sprinter Needs to Overcome Slow Start in 2014 Winterbottom Stakes

Hoop Ben Melham has resigned himself to the fact that Bel Sprinter, who has a solid effort of tardy starts, will give his rivals a head start in the Group 1 Winterbottom Stakes (1200m) in Perth this Saturday.

Ben Melham notes that Bel Sprinter will need to not give his Winterbottom Stakes rivals too much of a start if he wants to win the Group One race.

Ben Melham notes that Bel Sprinter will need to not give his Winterbottom Stakes rivals too much of a start if he wants to win the Group One race. Photo by Race Horse Photos Australia.

The only thing the jockey can do is try to limit how big of an advantage his twelve rivals get by forcing the gelding to not spend too long in the stalls like last time out.

“We’ve got to accept the fact that he’s probably going to begin slowly, just as long as he doesn’t give too much of a start away,” Melham told TVN.

Melham has ridden Bel Sprinter in his two starts this campaign, which began with the Group 2 Caulfield Sprint (1100m) on October 18. The gelding went straight back with no early pace after jumping before going for the inside run where he was held up for a short while. After taking a late split he bobbed on the line for a dead heat win alongside Miracles Of Life.

He then fell victim to a tardy start the next time out in the Group 2 Tab.com.au Stakes (1200m) on November 1. After missing the start by five lengths he tacked on to the field quickly but lost a plate at 300 metres which shortened his action and he was ultimately beaten ten lengths in sixth place. Melham is confident the result would have been much better without the massive delay.

While he’s guaranteed to make it back into the field no matter how long he stays in the stalls, Melham wants to limit just far he misses the start.

“You know he’s going to be back in the field so it comes down to the run and luck he gets in the race,” the trainer said.

“If the right horse turns up on the day he can win. If he runs up to his work before he left for Perth he’s going to be very hard to beat.

“I’m not too worried about his draw, it is not a bad draw. I think it will come down to how far he misses it and luck in running.”

Bel Sprinter will jump from barrier eight in the 2014 Winterbottom Stakes, for which he is an $11 shot in the Ladbrokes.com.au betting market.

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