Te Akau pair head the Foxbridge Plate
- Te Akau pair head the market in the Foxbridge Plate
Jamie Richards will saddle up stablemates Te Akau Shark and Melody Belle for the Group Two Foxbridge Plate at Te Rapa on Saturday as the pair head the market.
The five-year-old Melody Belle will be out to defend her title after winning this event last year with the mare’s victory giving Richards his first stakes win as sole Te Akau trainer in the race last season.
However, this year she has to contend with her stablemate Te Akau Shark who will be out to spoil the party as he shoots for his sixth win from seven starts.
Foxbridge Plate favourite – Te Akau Shark
The Rip Van Winkle gelding opened a $2.15 favourite with Sportsbet and the NZ Racing Desk reports a bet of $10,000 has already been wagered on him.
Stablemate Melody Belle is second elect at $3.70 ahead of the John Bell-trained Helena Baby at $4.40 who is shooting for his sixth win in a row.
In preparation for the $100K event, both horses have trialled twice with Te Akau Shark winning both his heats while Melody Belle was strong to the line, finishing third in her first heat, then was happy to sit behind the leaders (under a good hold) and finish fifth in her second run.
Both of them fared badly at the barrier draw with Te Akau Shark jumping from gate 11 and Melody Belle camped right next to him in gate 12 while third elect, Helena Baby covers Te Akau Shark, jumping from gate 10.
Trainer John Bell acknowledges that this is the biggest test for Helena Baby but remains confident he can go one better than his stablemate Julius who finished second (beaten a nose) to Melody Belle in last year’s event.
Helena Baby is coming off a comprehensive win in the Listed Opunake Cup (1400m) where he put almost six lengths on runner-up Rosewood.
After the barrier draw, Richards voiced his concern with the Te Akau pair and believes Endless Drama is one to be wary of after the eight-year-old drew gate two.
“They haven’t made it easy for us given the draws, so they’ve got a job in front of them, that makes it tricky.
“Endless Drama is going to get the gun run and could be very hard to beat, because he looked super at the trials.”
The Te Akau duo, however, are each coming off a hat-trick of wins and both have outstanding first-up records, with Te Akau Shark unbeaten when fresh.
When asked to rate the pair, Richards found it difficult to split them.
“Te Akau Shark probably trialled better than Melody Belle and heads into the race in really good order, but in saying that, it’s hard for a horse that hasn’t won a Group One to try and beat a horse that has won six.”
“So it’s going to be a hell of a benchmark for him, but both horses are going well.”
A spring carnival campaign is still on the cards for both horses with the W.S Cox Plate as a main target, now that Winx is off the scene.