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Epsom Handicap favourite Te Akau Shark has cruised to a half length win in a barrier trial in New Zealand ahead of his race return.

The Jamie Richards-trained Te Akau Shark, part-owned and named for Cronulla Sutherland NRL captain Paul Gallen, was among 48 horses from the Te Akau operation to run in the trials at Te Rapa on Monday morning.

“He lengthened well and he is coming up nicely. We are pretty pleased with him,” Richards said.

“He and Melody Belle will both more than likely go to the Foxbridge Plate. That’s where they will kick off their campaigns.”

Melody Belle finished fifth in her 900m heat and while Richards did expect a better performance from the NZ Horse of the Year elect, he is not concerned heading into her first assignment next month.

“I thought her trial was OK,” he said. “She just got stuck down in the worst of the ground with not really a lot of room.

“I thought she might have trialled just a little better, but I am not concerned. She is a racehorse and she will know it’s business on the 17th (August) when she gets the blinkers back on.”

In the first heat of the day, Group One winners Sword of Osman and Avantage, along with Karaka Million 2YO (1200m) winner Probabeel, had their first hit-outs in their respective preparations.

Richards was pleased with their efforts and said all three would trial again before making their returns.

“Sword of Osman trialled particularly well,” he said.

“Probabeel and Avantage, they got back off bad barriers and just stayed in behind them and weren’t asked to do too much today. All three of them are coming up nicely.

“They will all trial again at Avondale in a couple of weeks and then we will map out a program for them. Hopefully Probabeel and Avantage could both be seen in Australia at some stage.”

 
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