Jockey Ben Melham is thrilled to have secured the ride on Group 1 winner Tavago for his first-up run in the 2016 Memsie Stakes (1400m), and is confident the horse is in the right form for a strong performance in the Caulfield feature on August 27th.
Tavago made only one appearance in Australia during the recent Autumn Carnival, but more than stamped himself as one to watch with a dominant performance for success in the Group 1 Australian Derby (2400m) on Day 1 of The Championships.
Tommy Berry has been confirmed to take the Sydney rides on Tavago during the forthcoming Spring Carnival, but Melham is thrilled to have picked up the ride for the 2016 Memsie Stakes after partnering the four-year-old in strong hit-out on Monday.
“It was the first time I’ve been on his back and he gave me the feel of a real nice stayer,” Melham told Racing Victoria.
“It was a pretty casual jump-out, he travelled well under his own steam and coasted to the line to place second under a hold.
“I’m expecting he will run well fresh but there is no doubt he will improve as the races get longer.”
Tavago immediately stamped himself as a horse to follow upon debuting to racing in his native New Zealand for second in the Waterview Opening 2017 Maiden (1400m) in October, before he broke through for a maiden race win in the Fairview Motors Maiden (1600m) on November 7th.
Making a successful transition to black type company when taking out the Group 3 Wellington Stakes (1600m) on November 27th, the Tavistock gelding resumed in January for third in the Listed Karaka 3.y.o Mile (1600m), but failed to make anything of an impact or beat a running home in the Group 2 Waikato Guineas (2000m) on February 6th.
Charging home from the rear of the field for sixth in the Group 1 New Zealand Derby (2400m) in what was his only other start prior to the Australian Derby, Tavago is currently rated a $17 chance in early 2016 Caulfield Cup betting markets at Ladbrokes.com.au.
The 2016 Memsie Stakes field and barrier draw is due to be completed and released by midday, Wednesday August 24th.