Devoted Delivers for Tayla

Date: 26 May 2024

Devoted Delivers for Tayla

Providing another jockey with their first win, Te Akau apprentice Tayla Melvin (a4) rode a beautiful race aboard Devoted (6 g Contributer – Mapmaker, by Volksraad) in the $40,000 TAB Rating 65 2100 metres on Saturday at Pukekohe.

Te Akau has a great history with apprentices, providing over 20 with their first race day success. Stable rider Opie Bosson is among the list, as too Vinnie Colgan, Troy Harris, Daniel Stackhouse, current leading apprentice Niranjan Parmar, and Jess Allen, winner of the “Most Promising First Year Apprentice Jockey” last year.

While Allen won at her first attempt aboard Aotea Lad (Savabeel) last April at Te Rapa, Melvin saluted at her 11th, but has continued to ride in good form from the outset. She finished third in her first ride aboard Polly Plum (Xtravagant) on 19 April at Matamata, and prior to winning had four fourths in a row before finishing third on Baronet (Contributer) in the preceding race.

Devoted had finished strongly from the rear for fourth in the Rating 65 2200 metres on 11 May at Rotorua, with Melvin aboard, continuing solid efforts, was aided by weight relief to 55kg, and had previously won on heavy ground. 

From last in a field of 14, Melvin improved Devoted from the 1200m, travelled well 800m out, angled widest turning for home and sustained a strong finish to record his fourth win.

“It’s finally good to get the monkey off my back this early in my career, so it’s pretty good,” said Melvin, on dismounting.

“I started with Te Akau about a year ago and Mark (Walker) offered me an apprenticeship with them, so haven’t looked back since.

“I’m originally from down South, in Mosgiel, with Debbie & Terry Kennedy, and made my way up here.I said to myself when I left school that I didn’t want to pursue a career with horses, but here I am.

“I probably rode him a bit further back than what I anticipated, but he’s the kind of horse that just switches off and relaxes in behind midfield. When he came to the home straight he let down really nicely. 

“I didn’t want to get too confident.”

Devoted ran 2100 metres in 2:18.5 on Heavy10 footing and paid $16.30 & $3.90 on the NZ TAB tote. 

“He’s a fit horse and it was a good effort to win in testing ground, but the most pleasing thing about today was watching Tayla (Melvin) have her first winner,” said Mark Walker, who trains with Sam Bergerson.

“She’s an important part of the team, rides beautiful track work, and all the staff will be rapt for her.

“She’s been getting better in every ride since starting off last month and her fitness is continuing to improve. I think she’s got a bright future.

“And the horse, Devoted, he’s continuing to furnish and mature, although it has taken time, and he could develop into a really nice steeplechaser.”

Devoted was purchased by David Ellis CNZM for $55,000 at the 2019 Karaka Book 1 Sale, from the draft of Mapperley Stud, and is owned by the Te Akau Cartography Syndicate (Mgr: Karyn Fenton-Ellis MNZM). 

From the first crop of Champion Australian Middle Distance Horse of the Year Contributer, a dual Group One winner of the Chipping Norton (Gr. 1, 1600m) and Ranvet Stakes (Gr. 1, 2000m), Devoted is out of Mapmaker (Volksraad), who won twice and placed in the Trentham Stakes (Gr. 3, 2100m).

The grand-dam of Devoted, Straight Eight, by 2000 Guineas (Gr. 1, 1600m) winner Danske (Danehill), was a solid performing winner of three races that finished second in the Marton Cup (Listed, 2100m), and the third dam, Straight Line, was by very good stallion Straight Strike (Mr. Prospector). 

“That was a fantastic result and we’re so proud to have given Tayla (Melvin) her first winning ride,” said Te Akau principal David Ellis CNZM. 

“I’ve kept a close eye on the way she’s been riding over the past month and she’s hardly put a foot wrong.

“She’s been positioning the horses really well, giving them every chance, and it was just a matter of time before she broke through. 

“Te Akau has a great reputation and history with apprentice jockeys and we consider it an important part of the racing industry to not only train good horses, but also back its young people and help develop them. 

“Not all of them can make it, but those that have taken the opportunity have gone on to do pretty well for themselves in life, with their commitment to racing, and we certainly try and give them every chance of a good grounding in not just riding but also horsemanship and other life skills.”

Devoted was strapped by Ahbi Pawar.

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