Jockey Ben Melham will shoot for a second Memsie Stakes winning ride when he partners ATC Derby winner Tavago in the Caulfield clash first-up at the end of the month.
Melham guided the Peter Moody-trained Dissident to victory in the 2014 edition of the $500,000 Group 1 Memsie Stakes (1400m), which kicks off elite level racing this season on August 27.
He has been booked to partner the Trent Busuttin & Natalie Young-trained Kiwi galloper Tavago in the race, with fellow hoop Tommy Berry booked to ride in Sydney.
Berry was aboard the Tavistock gelding for his Australian debut on April 2 at Royal Randwick, which produced the runaway three and a quarter-length victory over Jameka in the Group 1 ATC Derby (2400m) in Sydney.
Tavago scored the upset as a $41 shot in the Derby, and is likely to be at long odds for his first start as a four-year-old in the Memsie Stakes.
Melham remains confident however despite the fact his mount is yet to race in Melbourne or win over less than a mile (1600m).
He got his first feel on board the $1.38 million earner in a workout at Cranbourne, where the former Cambridge-based duo of Busuttin and Young have recently relocated, on Monday morning and was pleased with the horse’s cruisy performance over 1000m.
“It was the first time I’ve been on his back and he gave me the feel of a real nice stayer,” Melham told Racing Victoria.
“It was a pretty casual jump-out, he travelled well under his own steam and coasted to the line to place second under a hold.
“I’m expecting he will run well fresh but there is no doubt he will improve as the races get longer.”
The major Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival assignment for Tavago this year is the $3 million Group 1 BMW Caulfield Cup (2400m) back out over a mile and a half on October 15.
He currently sits as a $17 shot in all-in Caulfield Cup betting at Ladbrokes.com.au, equal with the likes of last year’s third placegetter Our Ivanhowe and runner-up Trip To Paris from the British stables of Ed Dunlop.
Sitting top of the futures Caulfield Cup odds at $15 is the Mick Price-trained Victoria Derby winner from last Melbourne Cup Carnival Tarzino.
The fellow New Zealand-bred son of Tavistock enjoyed a strong autumn that included an Australian Guineas second, Rosehill Guineas win and fourth as the beaten $1.65 favourite in the ATC Derby.
He too resumes in the Memsie Stakes Saturday week, the race set to attract plenty of class competitors including the reigning Melbourne Cup winner Prince Of Penzance.
Another New Zealand Group 1 winner in the Memsie Stakes line-up will be Sofia Rosa, the Stephen Marsh-trained daughter of Makfi last seen winning the Group 1 ATC Oaks (2400m) in April.
Hugh Bowman rode the NZ Oaks runner-up to victory in her first Australian start, but the now four-year-old mare will kick off her spring preparation in the Memsie with Michael Walker in the saddle.
To back your favourites in the Melbourne Group 1 races over the coming months at the right price make sure you’ve got an account open and ready to go at Ladbrokes.com.au!