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New Zealand Group One winner Melody Belle has impressed Te Akau's head trainer Jamie Richards

New Zealand Group One winner Melody Belle has impressed Te Akau’s head trainer Jamie Richards with a trial win at Te Rapa.

The filly won the 2017 Sires’ Produce Stakes at Awapuni and also the Group Two BRC Sires’ Produce Stakes in Brisbane.

Richards, admits her three-year-old season was disappointing with the filly unplaced in five starts including the Light Fingers and Surround Stakes in Sydney.

Richards is hoping for big things in the upcoming season.

“I’m really pleased with her,” Richards said. “She’s the biggest and strongest she’s been.

“Her three-year-old career didn’t go the way we had planned, but often those good two-year-olds can miss a year and we’re looking forward to the four-year-old season with her.

“At this stage, she’ll trial in three weeks at Te Teko and then she’ll run first-up in the Foxbridge and all going well will head toward Hastings.”

Age of Fire, a potential Cambridge Stud stallion prospect, didn’t favour the track conditions in his 900m-heat, finishing at the tail of the four horse field and will join his stablemate at Te Teko in three weeks.

Richards said Age Of Fire would be kept to shorter distances as a four-year-old.

After winning the Group One Levin Classic (1600m) Age Of Fire was unplaced in the Randwick Guineas (1600m) and Rosehill Guineas (2000m) in his Sydney autumn campaign.

“We probably tried to make him stay as a three-year-old,” Richards said. “We believe he is a sprinter-miler, so we’ll just keep him short and sharp for the meantime.

“He’s a lazy, laid-back sort of horse that probably needs the blinkers back on as well.”

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