Harris Bullish with Melody Belle

Date: 17 Oct 2020

Harris Bullish with Melody Belle

NZ Racing News reports:

No jockey will go into Saturday's Gr.1 Livamol Classic (2040m) at Hastings with more confidence than Melody Belle's (NZ) (Commands) rider Troy Harris.

The 32-year-old Matamata hoop racked up his fifth Group One win when he guided Melody Belle to success in the Gr.1 Windsor Park Plate (1600m) at Hastings a fortnight ago and he has seen nothing since to convince him she won't repeat the victory in Saturday's weight-for-age feature.

“She's bounced back to her best. She's happy to be home,” Harris said.

“She was really strong there last time and I couldn't pull her up till the 800m which really gives me confidence she'll run out the 2000m even stronger than she did the mile.

“Her work was outstanding this morning (Thursday). If they couldn't beat her last time, they won't get close to her this week. That's just how confident I am going into Saturday.”

Melody Belle was arguably at her most vulnerable for the Windsor Park Plate going into that race off two unplaced Sydney runs and a six-week gap between runs.

She surged home in the closing stages to deny stablemate Avantage by a nose, her 11th Group One win and her 15th career win from 32 starts.

“She's a real racehorse. She just wants to win. She puts herself there and tries her heart out,” Harris said.

Harris has ridden Melody Belle twice now for Group One wins in the Windsor Park Plate and last year's BCD Group Sprint (1400m) at Te Rapa, part of a remarkable record the jockey has forged for the Fortuna ownership syndicate.

He has yet to taste defeat in the colours at Group One level, having also partnered Tell A Tale to success in the Gr.1 New Zealand 2000 Guineas (1600m) at Riccarton in 2008. In all, he has had 12 rides in the Fortuna colours for nine wins, having ridden Tell A Tale eight times for five wins as well as getting two wins from as many starts aboard Leaderboard at Riccarton last spring.

The only potential stumbling block for Melody Belle this weekend could be her draw of barrier 12 but Harris can only see positives in that too after rain this week has seen the Hastings track drop into the slow range.

“I was a bit worried when the draws first came out but they've had a bit of rain down there and being away from the fence might be an advantage,” he said.

“Jamie normally lets me ride the race how I see it. We'll see how she gets away from the barriers but I wouldn't mind settling in front of a few of the outsiders. As I said I'm pretty confident. I'd be surprised if she got beaten.”

Harris can only remember riding in the race once before, when he finished 14th on Pentathon in 2008, but he'd like to win on Melody Belle to add to a strong family legacy in the race, joining his father Noel Harris' three wins in the race aboard Secret Seal in 1987, Castletown in 1991 and Princess Coup in 2007 and his uncle Des Harris' back-to-back wins aboard La Mer in 1978 and 1979.

“It would be a good race to add to my CV and good to go down in the race history with Dad and my uncle,” he said. 

Harris has five rides at Hastings, the others being Mandalorian, Son Of Bielski, Excelleration and Original Gangster.


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