"Melody" A Knockout Hope

Apr 02, 2015

NEWCASTLE: Thursday, April 2, 2015:

TRAINER Kris Lees has a good yardstick to Rustic Melody’s ATC Oaks test at Randwick on Saturday.

An improving filly who has missed a placing only twice from eight starts (including two wins), Rustic Melody (Brenton Avdulla) faces easily her biggest assignment in the $200,000 Group 3 Adrian Knox Stakes (2000m).

And whilst her trainer is acknowledging the difficulty facing her to progress from a last-start country success to scoring on Day 1 of The Championships, he is by no means downplaying her chances.

“I realise it is a big jump from winning in restricted class at Scone to taking on the better fillies under quality conditions,” Lees said this morning.

“But this filly reminds me a lot of Express Power, who ran second to Royal Descent (subsequent runaway ATC Oaks heroine) in this same race two years ago.

“They are both by Snitzel and had consistent form and kept improving leading up to the Adrian Knox.

“Rustic Melody has trained on strongly since her easy win at Scone, and I’m expecting her to race well in spite of the tougher class.

“Obviously, though, she will have to finish the race off well on Saturday to continue on to the Oaks a week later.”

The Adrian Knox winner is exempt from ballot for the $1m Oaks (2400m).

Express Power did not run in the 2013 Oaks, but subsequently won the Listed Gold Coast Bracelet (1800m) after her Knox placing.

Now a five-year-old and retired from racing, she has been served by I Am Invincible.

Rustic Melody, a $60,000 purchase at the 2013 Gold Coast Magic Millions yearling sales, followed her second to Caped Crusader over 1800m at Randwick on March 11 by trouncing her Class 1 rivals by nearly five lengths over 1600m at Scone 13 days later.

Coincidentally, Express Power also won over the same journey at Scone (a Class 2 Handicap) at her previous preparation to contesting the Adrian Knox.

Lees is hoping for a wet weather return to boost Savoureux’s prospects in Saturday’s $200,000 Group 3 PJ Bell Stakes (1200m) at Randwick.

For a couple of reasons, he withdrew the lightly-raced three-year-old from today’s $150,000 Gosford Guineas (1200m) to take on her own sex in the Bell.

“Firstly, I didn’t think she could finish ahead of stablemate Onemorezeta at Gosford today,” Lees said.

“And I’m banking on more rain in Sydney as she has a good wet track pedigree, and won a Listed race on a soft track at Doomben last December before a break.”

Savoureux (by Nadeem) has a 50 per cent strike rate, having won three of her only six starts.

She resumed with a solid sixth from an awkward barrier to Fine Mist (again a rival on Saturday) in a Benchmark 80 Handicap (1200m) at Warwick Farm on March 19, and the return to competing against her own sex is definitely a plus – as is international star Zac Purton’s booking.

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