10th Jun: Te Akau team in peak order for Doomben Published: 09 Jun 2017 - - Author: NZ Racing Desk
Jamie Richards is satisfied with what the Te Akau team has achieved through the Brisbane carnival but says the success of the campaign will be measured by the results at Doomben on Saturday.
The Matamata horseman shares training duties of the team with Stephen Autridge, but has been the man on the ground in Brisbane through the winter carnival and will saddle a marquee team on Queensland's blue riband day of racing.
Melody BellePhoto: Grant Peters
In action are star filly Melody Belle in the Gr.1 J.J. Atkins (1600m), Hong Kong-bound three-year-old Shocking Luck in the Gr.1 Queensland Derby (2200m), Zambezi Warrior in the Gr.2 Brisbane Cup (2200m), Heroic Valour in the Listed Daybreak Lover (1200m) and Jimmy Rea in the Listed Mark Hinkler Handicap (1200m).
"It's grand final day for us. These are the races these horses have been set to win," Richards said.
"It's been great to win a couple of black-type races on the way through, but these are the races we're here to win."
Melody Belle is the most favoured to win.
A clinical 4 3/4-length winner of the Gr.2 QTC Sires' Produce Stakes (1400m) at her last start, the Gr.1 Manawatu Sires' Produce Stakes and Karaka Million winner is as short as even money with Australian bookmakers.
"She's in really good order. She came through the Sires' run the other day really well," Richards said.
"She's a straightforward filly, doesn't overtax herself on the training track. Opie [Bosson, jockey] was happy with her work on Tuesday. She's in good form and we can't fault her. She's ready to run a good race.
"We've got a lot of confidence in this filly. What she's been able achieve in her career so far has shown us she's pretty special."
Shocking Luck, a $5 favourite for the Derby, returns to the scene of his Gr.3 Rough Habit Plate (2000m) triumph last month, having weakened to sixth in heavy going in the Gr.3 Grand Prix Stakes (2200m) at Eagle Farm a fortnight ago.
"He worked with Zambezi Warrior on Tuesday and Opie was really happy with him too. He said it was as good, if not better, than going into the Grand Prix," Richards said.
"Going back to Doomben on a better surface is going to help him and he's got a lovely barrier [drawn one]. He'll get handy and track the speed and should get a good run from there.
"This is the last start he'll have for us before heading up to Hong Kong so hopefully we can send him off on the right note."
Richards rated Zambezi Warrior a "realistic chance" in the Brisbane Cup (2400m) after a fourth placing in the Gr.3 Chairman's Handicap (2000m) at Doomben and second in the Gr.3 Premier's Cup (2200m) at Eagle Farm at his past two starts.
"He's in good form. He's improved out of sight on the trip and he's thrived since the race the other day," Richards said.
"He's not great away from the gates so he'll probably get three or four back the fence from the draw [barrier three] and he might need some luck from there. Jeff Lloyd rode him in work on Tuesday and he was happy and I'd like to think he's a winning chance."
Richards said the carnival had been a "massive learning curve" for him personally, having to deal with the frustration and repercussions of missing the payment deadlines for Melody Belle and Shocking Luck, meaning both had to have late entry fees paid, but a successful day on Saturday would give him immense satisfaction.
"It's pretty daunting to have the favourite for both the JJ Atkins and Queensland Derby, but also a massive feat for us and that all stems from the horses Dave [Ellis, Te Akau principal] buys, the support from our owners and the efforts of our entire staff.
"A lot of effort has gone into getting these horses ready to be at their best for this carnival. Now, hopefully, we can have a bit of luck. It's exciting but I'm more nervous than excited at this stage to be honest." - NZ Racing Desk.
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