Melt (Michael McNab) powers away from her rivals in the Eclipse Stakes.
The collective sigh of relief from the connections of Karaka Million aspirants could at least be imagined if not heard at Ellerslie this afternoon after Pukekohe filly Melt spanked a quality field in the Barneswood Farm Eclipse Stakes.
With black type wins in her only two starts, the powerfully built daughter of Iffraaj stands out from her contemporaries not just physically but also in style. In an impressive home track debut five weeks ago, Melt had easily accounted for her opposition in the Listed Ashford Lodge Stakes.
Stepping up yet another level for today’s Group Three contest, she was just as dominant even though she didn’t look the winner halfway down the home straight. She had trailed one out and although poised to challenge, appeared to be making heavy weather of it.
But then she found her stride and lengthened for Michael McNab to gobble up the duelling pair She’s A Thief and Al Hasa.
The relief for Karaka Million entries is that, as a home-bred raced by Aucklander Andrew Fowler, Melt is not eligible for the rich juvenile feature back at Ellerslie at the end of the month.
Over the final 100 metres Melt showed her class, hitting the line hard to score by three-quarters of a length from last-to-second finisher Bit Lippy. She’s A Thief wilted to third another three-quarters of a length back and just shading Al Hasa, with the previously unbeaten Sir Nate next across the line.
“It was a bit different to her first win,” commented McNab. “Sher went bang then but this time she took a while to wind up.
“Either way she’s been too good for them – she’s pretty smart.”
Fowler bred Melt from the former speedy racemare Ticklish and is now believed to be fending off big offers for the classy bay.
“I don’t think he’ll sell though, he likes her too much,” said trainer Nigel Tiley with a hint of relief. “She’ll have a freshen up now and then we’ll target the Sistema Stakes back her in March.
“The thing is she looks more like a three-year-old, so I’m not still not too sure just how good she is.”
Rain began to fall minutes after the Eclipse Stakes and by the time the next race had been run, the track had been downgraded from Good3 to Dead6.