Melodeon wins the Chandler Macleod Handicap at Moonee Valley (Racing Photos)
You’d wish you had a dollar for every time the old adage about the ‘size of the dog in the fight’ is trotted out. Indeed, it was probably well worn by the time David got his first slingshot.
However, the saying definitely fit the bill on Saturday when the pint sized, Melodeon – all 15 hands of her – lined up against some Goliaths in the Chandler Macleod Handicap over 1200m … the lucky last at Moonee Valley.
Speaking of luck, Melodeon’s trainer, Charlotte Littlefield, probably thought she was all out of it when, on the morning of the race, five runners were scratched, allowing for fifth emergency, Hypersonic, to get a start.
On the back of two wins from two starts, Hypersonic was a clear favourite come start time, but far more disconcerting for Littlefield was that Damien Oliver – who had been booked to ride to Melodeon – switched to Hypersonic.
Damian Lane, recently returned from a stint in Japan, but well remembered as the pilot for last year’s Cox Plate winner, Lys Gracieux, was legged aboard Melodeon instead.
Melodeon is no Lys Gracieux, but the game little mare produced plenty in the run home on Saturday to edge out Proper Rogue in an absolute thriller, notching up her fourth win (along with a lip second at the Valley) from 11 starts.
Littlefield, who runs a small team at Pakenham, south east of Melbourne, now boasts three wins from her last three runners, but admits to being down in the dumps on Saturday morning due to the late jockey switch.
“The karma bus came back around,” Littlefield enthused “Everything fell apart on Saturday morning and I couldn’t have felt more depressed … you don’t expect to get five scratchings at Moonee Valley on a Saturday, and Damien Oliver had to jump off and get on Hypersonic.
“We looked at Hypersonic in the yard and thought ‘he’s a big, burly horse with all those physical attributes’, and so, to beat horses like that with this little girl, 15 hands, is just super.”
Darryl Sherer, thought it was pretty super too. Sherer owns the 4YO, Melodeon, with brother, Peter, sister-in-law, Debbie, and several friends and also bred the Valley winner from his Not A Single Doubt mare, Sheza Single Girl.
Sherer is a familiar figure at Melbourne racetracks where he takes photographs for Racenet and has been a long-time contributor to various racing publications.
“I started working in the pedigree department at Wright Stephenson in 1974 before it later became Dalgetys and then, of course, the Victorian arm of Inglis,” Sherer explains. “I ‘shuttled’ between Europe and Australia for quite a few years with stints as editor of Pacemaker magazine and for Horse & Hound, interspersed with roles back home as Thoroughbred Breeders Australia CEO and Racing Manager for Arrowfield. I moved back to Australia, full-time, about 10 years ago and recently launched my own website: pedigreeupdate.com.”
Working in tandem with Flemington trainer, Nigel Blackiston, Sherer secured Sheza Single Girl for $12,500 at the 2011 Inglis Melbourne Premier Yearling Sale after the then filly had initially been passed in.
The pedigree undoubtedly suited Sherer who had written about the exploits of many of the filly’s relations: among them the multiple French Group One winner Fast Topaze.
“She (Sheza Single Girl) was a relatively handy type who won a couple of races for us, and also ran fifth in stakes company,” Sherer points out. “I only race a couple with friends, but decided she was worth having a crack with as a broodmare.”
Sheza Single Girl’s first mating – to Group One Mackinnon Stakes winner Glass Harmonium – was also a result of Sherer’s time at Flemington.
“He (Glass Harmonium) was trained by Mike Moroney and a very good racehorse and I thought the pedigree would match up well. What I wasn’t quite anticipating though was a small, chestnut filly.”
Sherer would sell the next foal – unraced Canford Cliffs 4YO, Chocolate Martini – as a weanling, but has retained Sheza Single Girl’s 2YO Turffontein filly (“she’s currently at the breakers”) and is tossing up where to send the broodmare in 2020 after she missed to Hardham last spring.
“It doesn’t take long to grow your broodmare ‘band’ however,” Sherer muses. “Aside from Sheza Single Girl, we’ve got the Turffontein coming through and Melodeon of course. The numbers can grow fairly quickly.
“Here’s the thing with breeding though … I’ve been fortunate to witness many great racehorses – I saw Dancing Brave come from last and beat something like 14 Group One winners in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, while I also raced a stakes winner in Ominous, but it’s a whole different feeling when you breed a city winner like Melodeon. It’s very special.”
Sherer has his fingers crossed that Melodeon will, one day, notch up that elusive black type, but intends to leave future programming to the trainer.
“I’m a firm believer that you leave the trainer to do what you pay them for. Charlotte has done a very good job with Melodeon and taken her along quietly and, consequently, is getting the results. It’s up to her where she goes next,” Sherer adds. “Like I say to my fellow owners … shut up, buckle up and enjoy the ride.”