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New Zealand trainer Jamie Richards may have lost one of his stars Te Akau Shark but he still has a strong contingent gearing up for the spring.

Te Akau Shark remained in Sydney after the autumn carnival with stablemates Melody Belle and Probabeel but requires surgery for an eye injury.

That surgery, later in the week, will rule Te Akau Shark out of Richards’ spring plans in Melbourne.

Melody Belle and Probabeel have returned to work in Sydney under the care of Te Akau Racing’s Ashey Handley, and Richards said their early progress would determine a spring path.

“They’ll be nominated for the 2020 Cox Plate and we’ll see how they come up,” Richards told RSN.

“They’ll probably trial in Sydney and then we’ll make a bit of a plan for when they head down to Melbourne.

“Whether they have a run in Sydney first or whether we think they’re better to go and get settled in and race exclusively in Melbourne, we’re not entirely sure yet.

“We’re working through those options at the moment.”

Richards said he was hoping to have 12 boxes in operation at Flemington for the spring.

And the team won’t be made up exclusively of Te Akau Racing horses with a number of fillies from Cambridge Stud to join the team in Melbourne as early as August.

“That all depends on the trans-Tasman bubble and hopefully COVID-19 settling down a little bit and if we don’t get any second rounds or anything,” Richards said.

“We hope to have them trial up towards the end of July and have them over there in August, but that is all still up in the air at this stage.

“We have to be guided by the authorities.”

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