Melody Belle (Image: Racing Photos)
Leading New Zealand trainer Jamie Richards says he has unfinished business in the Seppelt Mackinnon Stakes with stable star Melody Belle.
The champion six-year-old finished second in the race last year and Richards is hopeful she can go one better in 2020.
However, he is acutely aware of how tough that will be with a genuine Group 1 field featuring the likes of Arcadia Queen, Mr Quickie, Dalasan and Mugatoo.
"It's a Mackinnon, it's not going to be an easy race to win," Richards said.
"But we are looking forward to it. It is a race she ran second in last year and we think we have a bit of unfinished business."
Melody Belle failed to fire over shorter distances earlier in the spring in Sydney but returned to New Zealand and got back out to her favourite trips and strung two G1s together.
Those performances booked her spot back on the plane for the Seppelt Mackinnon Stakes.
Richards said he was happy with how Melody Belle had settled into Melbourne following the trip across the Tasman Sea.
"We're pleased with the way she has gone about everything. She seems to have settled back into it well, so you've got to be happy," Richards said.
"The Australian form is very strong, especially at 1200m and 1400m, where she was running in Sydney.
"We got her back in her routine at home and kept her happy. She enjoys being back in New Zealand.
"I don't think she was going that bad, she just didn't have a lot of luck. She appreciated getting up to the mile and 2000m at her last start and that's probably her preferred distance as an older mare."
"He's been a rider we have been watching for a fair while," Richards said of McNeil.
"Obviously he has worked his way up through the ranks. He has been rewarded for his form through the carnival, really.
"It's a shame Kerrin (McEvoy) got suspended, but we're happy to have Jye on."