The winner of the Group 2 $250,000 Mitavite BRC Sires’ Produce Stakes (1400m) at Eagle Farm on Saturday will determine who will be the favourite for the Group 1 $600,000 BMW Australia J.J. Atkins (1600m) in a fortnight.
Group 1 winning New Zealand filly Melody Belle and the Chris Waller trained Tangled are both the top two picks in the betting for both the BRC Sires’ Produce Stakes and the J.J. Atkins and a win by either this week will see he or she a clear cut favourite for the Group 1 for the juveniles.
Melody Belle is the $3.30 favourite for the BRC Sires’ Produce Stakes in front of Tangled at $6.50 while the two are closer together in the J.J. Atkins betting with the Kiwi filly marked at $6 just ahead of Waller’s colt at $7.
The Stephen Autridge and Jamie Richards trained Melody Belle arrived in Brisbane on the back of a win in the Group 1 NZ$225,000 Manawatu Sires Produce Stakes (1400m) at Awapuni in New Zealand on April 1 and the stable reported that she is in good order for Saturday’s assignment.
“She is in good order. She hasn’t run for a little while,” co-trainer Jamie Richards told Sky Racing HQ.
“She came over relatively fresh and trialled at Deagon on pretty testing ground. Opie (Bosson) just held her together.”
Richards said that Melody Belle did take a little bit longer than the rest of team to settle into her new surroundings but she came through a second in a 1050m Deagon barrier trial since her arrival in Brisbane.
“She took a little bit longer to settle in than some of the other boys. She is only a two year old filly and that is to be expected,” Richards said.
“She has put on a nice amount of weight since. We just took her easy for a couple of days after Deagon and she gets into the race in good order.”
“She only a fair track worker but certainly turned the corner when she gets the blinkers on on race day.”
Top New Zealand rider Opie Bosson gets the ride on Melody Belle in the BRC Sires’ Produce Stakes and Richards expects the Commands filly to go forward from a mid-field barrier draw in the capacity eighteen horse field.
“From a slightly awkward gate I expect her to go forward a little bit and it will just be how her condition holds out in the last bit at the end of the 1400m,” Richards said.
“We think she is in the right form, we thought she was the right sort of two year old to bring over here.”
“She is certainly going to be peaking in a couple of weeks’ time.”
Tangled showed his class with a come from behind win in the Group 2 $175,000 Moet Champagne Classic (1200m) at Doomben on May 13 jockey Kerrin McEvoy will probably adopts the same tactics after drawing one to the outside of Melody Belle.
Waller has a high opinion of Tangled and thinks the Snitzel colt will have no problems stepping up to the 1400m of Saturday’s race and then onto the 1600m of the J.J. Atkins.
“I think he is a really nice colt and he is going to be even better over further,” Waller said.
“His dam Brambles Rose won the New Zealand Oaks so he should also go on to be a three year old.”
Undefeated Kiwi colt Qiji Phoenix is currently marked at $8 for the J.J. Atkins and will also be in contention for favourtism for the Group 1 if he can make it four wins from four starts in the BRC Sires’ Produce Stakes.
The Donna Logan and Chris Gibbs trained Qiji Phoenix is on the third line of betting at $7 for the Sires’ Produce Stakes and will jump from the outside of the field with Leith Innes in the saddle again after the pair combined for the colt’s last two wins.