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The bookies are taking no chances with Kiwi flyer Melody Belle as the gun New Zealand-trained mare chases her fourth straight Group 1 victory in the Empire Rose Stakes 2019 at Flemington on Saturday.
VRC Derby Day kicks off the coveted Melbourne Cup Carnival on Saturday and one of the four elite level features on the all-Group card is the Group 1 $1 million Empire Rose Stakes (1600m) for the fillies and mares.
Sixteen female gallopers make-up the 2019 Empire Rose Stakes field with betting at Ladbrokes.com.au led by the Jamie Richards-trained Commands five-year-old Melody Belle.
A winner of 14 of her 24 career starts, the $1.9 million earner comes off an outstanding spring back across the Tasman having won her last three starts in Group 1 company at Hastings.
Her latest was over 2040m on October 5 by 3.5 lengths, form that is tipped to stack-up down under in the Empire Rose Stakes.
Melody Belle makes her Victorian race debut on the weekend with her only two starts in Australia being unplaced runs at Randwick back in the autumn of 2018.
She has proved her champion status since however and will take the power of beating over the mile in the Empire Rose Stakes.
Despite the size of the field just two other runners are under $10 for the win with market mover Pohutukawa ($5.50) and Princess Jenni ($8) drawn in barriers seven and 10 respectively.
Godolphin’s Medaglia D’Oro four-year-old Pohutukawa is out to atone for her unplaced lead-up run when fourth in the Group 2 Tristarc Stakes (1400m).
She was making up plenty of late ground in the Tristarc however and with ace hoop Hugh Bowman in the saddle up over 1600m Pohutukawa looks a genuine each-way chance.
Princess Jenni also failed to finish in the money last time out, the David Brideoake-trained High Chaparral four-year-old finishing under five lengths back 12th to Fierce Impact in the Group 1 Toorak Handicap (1600m).
Winner of the Group 1 Schweppes Oaks (2000m) as a three-year-old in Adelaide, Princess Jenni was back in the winners’ stall two back at The Valley in the Group 2 Stocks Stakes (1600m) and will appreciate coming back against her own kind again on Saturday.
“We didn’t have much luck the way it panned out last time and I’m just hoping for a bit more luck this time,” Brideoake told AAP this week.
“She’s had three weeks between runs. She’s had a really nice time and I couldn’t be happier with what’s gone on for the week.
“She had a gallop on Tuesday, her main work, and it was as good as any of the work she ever does.
“It’s a solid enough test and we’re under no illusions how tough it is, but I’d say she’d be in it for a long way.”
The next best in Empire Rose Stakes betting at $10 is then the other James Cummings-trained mare representing Godolphin, Tristarc Stakes winner Savatiano jumping one inside the favourite (12) with James Doyle in the saddle.
The five-year-old daughter of Winx’s sire Street Cry, Savatiano was impressive from out wide (14 of 14) defeating a class field by over two lengths in the Tristar Stakes and will look to extend her winning form over further for the first time in the Empire Rose Stakes.
Other notable Empire Rose Stakes runners include Fidelia ($14) in the outside alley, the rails-drawn Aristia ($15) winner of the VRC Oaks last spring, perennial placegetter Angelic Ruler ($16) coming off a Tristarc second and last start Angst Stakes winner in Sydney Nettoyer ($16).
2019 Empire Rose Stakes Final Field & Barrier Draw
|#||Form (Last 10)||Horse||Trainer||Jockey||Barrier||Weight||Hcp. Rating|
|1||71x0611x45||INVINCIBELLA||Chris Waller||John Allen||14||57kg||110|
|2||30111×4111||MELODY BELLE (NZ)||Jamie Richards||Opie Bosson||13||57kg||114|
|3||x33306x757||ARISTIA||Mathew Ellerton & Simon Zahra||Craig Williams||1||57kg||99|
|4||3295213×41||SAVATIANO||James Cummings||James Doyle||12||57kg||107|
|5||0x1360x600||AMPHITRITE||David & B Hayes & T Dabernig||Luke Nolen||4||57kg||104|
|6||41257×0041||SPANISH REEF||Ken Keys||Mark Zahra||6||57kg||103|
|7||x71116x710||PRINCESS JENNI (NZ)||David Brideoake||Damien Oliver||10||57kg||104|
|8||073447×545||NOIRE||Chris Waller||Michael Walker||11||57kg||100|
|9||516832×424||POHUTUKAWA||James Cummings||Hugh Bowman||7||57kg||100|
|10||58158×8361||NETTOYER||Wendy Roche||Brad Rawiller||9||57kg||102|
|11||x2196x2193||SPANISH WHISPER||David & B Hayes & T Dabernig||Dwayne Dunn||8||57kg||101|
|12||9142201×16||BACCARAT BABY||David Vandyke||Micheal Hellyer||3||57kg||100|
|13||131232×232||ANGELIC RULER||Daniel & Ben Pearce||Brett Prebble||15||57kg||98|
|14||32x147x278||MISS SISKA||Grahame Begg||Ms Linda Meech||2||57kg||96|
|15||41111×5363||FIDELIA||Robbie Griffiths||Jamie Mott||16||57kg||92|
|16||25x516x722||NAIVASHA||Pat Carey||Rhys McLeod||5||57kg||75|
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