Jamie Richards has no doubt about the quality of Addeybb and Danon Premium but he wouldn’t swap them for his Kiwi duo in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) at Randwick on Saturday.
The New Zealand trainer is eying off a Group I double on day two of The Championships and has star pairing Te Akau Shark and Melody Belle in the $2 million main event.
Bookies rate Richards’ duo as two of the main dangers of upsetting fellow international raiders Danon Premium ($3.80 fav) and Addeybb ($4.40).
Chipping Norton Stakes winner Te Akau Shark is on the third line of betting at $5.50 while Melody Belle, which won the Empire Rose Stakes in the spring, is $11.
“It has come up a terrific race,” Richards said. “You obviously have a horse from Japan Danon Premium that has got great form over there, a horse from the UK (Addeybb) which is an obvious danger as well.
Then you have Chris Waller’s (Verry Elleegant) and a few others in there as well.
“I know we are taking two good horses there that have good form around top horses in the spring. Te Akau Shark has form around Lys Gracieux in the spring in the Cox Plate and Melody Belle around Magic Wand in the Mackinnon. I am happy with both of them.”
Between Te Akau Shark and Melody Belle, Richards has celebrated 12 Group Is with the latter providing the stable with 10 of them.
Both head into the Queen Elizabeth Stakes with last start Group I defeats but had genuine excuses in their respective races.
Te Akau Shark was wide throughout when coming third in the George Ryder Stakes last month while Melody Belle was similarly luckless last weekend, finishing fourth in the Doncaster Mile.
Kiwi jockey Opie Bosson usually rides both horses but opted to pick Te Akau Shark on the weekend, with Kerrin McEvoy piloting the stablemate.
Earlier this week Bosson discussed how difficult it was to make the decision based on the horses’ abilities and Richards found it as tough to split the duo.
“It is hard to split them,” he said. “Obviously this has always been the Shark’s grand final and he has been racing in good form.
“I didn’t think he had the most luck in the George Ryder and he was obviously excellent in the Chipping Norton. He will run a big race and is in good shape. We will go back from a sticky barrier. Melody Belle has come through the Doncaster run well and was fantastic in it after being caught wide from the draw. It was always the plan to back her up in this and she is going well.”
Melody Belle jumps from barrier four and Te Akau Shark has gate eight.