Melody Belle set to return to New Zealand
Prolific Group One winner Melody Belle will return to New Zealand and take no further part in the Australian spring following two unplaced runs in Sydney.
John Galvin, director of her ownership group Fortuna Syndications, confirmed the mare had been booked on a flight home.
While her owners have been satisfied with Melody Belle’s performances, the uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has prompted them to pull up stumps.
Melody Belle failed to beat a rival home first-up in the Missile Stakes and had little luck when down the track behind Verry Elleegant in the Winx Stakes at Randwick on Saturday.
“She’s booked to come home on Sunday,” Galvin told the NZ Racing Desk.
“We thought it’d be better to take the uncertainty out of it, pull the pin on her spring campaign in Australia, bring her back here and aim her at some of the spring and summer targets.
“If she goes well, we can look at Australia in autumn and look at the All-Star Mile and races like that.”
Trained by Jamie Richards, Melody Belle was being aimed towards the Empire Rose Stakes in Melbourne, a race she won last year before finishing runner-up in the Mackinnon Stakes.
Galvin said there were several upcoming options for Melody Belle in New Zealand, including the Windsor Park Plate (1600m) and Livamol Classic (2040m) at Hawkes Bay, both at Group One level during the spring.
She is not nominated for those races but connections have the option to pay a late entry fee.
“Hawkes Bay is still on the radar and we’ll make a decision on that once she gets back and Jamie gets to look at her,” Galvin said.
“He hasn’t seen her since the All-Star Mile on March 14. Everything is on the table.”