MELODY BELLE entered in the A$5m All Star Mile reports:

New Zealand is set for a major first-time presence in the $5 million All-Star Mile at Caulfield after Te Akau Racing nominated 10-time Group 1 winner Melody Belle and the emerging Te Akau Shark for the March feature.

The pair, which are the two highest rating horses in New Zealand, joined the highly-promising three-year-old Kiwi galloper Catalyst in the nominations list for the race where the public will select 10 of the 15 runners.

The trio are all highly popular in New Zealand and with the Kiwis gaining a vote for the first time this year, it is certainly possible all three may make the final line-up on March 14 before the final five wildcards are announced.

While a maiden success at racing’s highest level has just eluded Te Akau Shark, who is part-owned by former rugby league great Paul Gallen, the five-year-old enhanced his growing reputation during this year’s Spring Racing Carnival.

Having finished runner-up – by the narrowest of margins – in the Group 1 Epsom Handicap (1600m), he followed up with an eye-catching third in the Cox Plate, where he stormed home after starting from the outside barrier.

Those performances elevated his international rating to 118, two ahead of his stablemate Melody Belle, who claimed an astonishing 10th Group 1 success in the TAB Empire Rose Stakes held over The All-Star Mile distance of 1600 metres on Victoria Derby day.

One week later, the five-year-old mare returned to Flemington and lost no admirers when she charged home late to grab second place behind Magic Wand in the Group 1 Mackinnon Stakes (2000m).

“The All-Star Mile is a great concept and we’re excited to be part of it by nominating Te Akau Shark and Melody Belle,” said trainer Jamie Richards.

“They both deserved a spell in the paddock after their spring campaigns. The Shark came back into the stable this week and Melody Belle will return on Monday.

“Te Akau Shark will most likely kick-off in an open sprint here in New Zealand, and Melody Belle will probably have a few trials at home with a view to starting her off in the Futurity Stakes at Caulfield.

“Melody Belle is a proven Group 1 performer and the Shark has plenty of ‘X Factor’, so we’re very excited about their autumn campaigns. Both horses did us proud during the spring, and we’d like to think they now have enough fans both here and in Australia to get into the top 10.

“It’s a great reflection of New Zealand racing that we have three high-profile horses entered for The All-Star Mile, and if they got there, I’m sure all three would have a great chance of winning the race.

Nominations for the 2020 edition will close at 12pm on Thursday, January 9, with the voting period scheduled to open one week later on 16 January.

The Kiwi stars join Australia’s standout miler of this year’s Spring Racing Carnival, dual Group 1 winner Fierce Impact, and Queensland’s popular Caulfield Guineas (1600m) runner-up Alligator Blood among the early entries for The All-Star Mile.

MELODY BELLE – Victorious in the EMPIRE ROSE STAKES – Group One A$1m 1600 metres – Flemington 2nd November – Opie Bosson aboard