Melissa Harrison could have secret weapon in Ardlethan Cup

The Melissa Harrison-trained Bobby’s Secret will contest Saturday’s Ardlethan Picnic Cup. Image: Bradley Photos.

Melissa Harrison will make a rare trip to the picnics on Saturday, and she is eyeing the $10,000 Ardlethan Picnic Cup. 

Teaming up with the in-form Dylan Parrott, Harrison will start experienced country campaigner Bobby’s Secret in the 1600m feature. 

The five-year-old is a three-time winner and is never too far off the pace.

Last time out, he finished fourth to Chaotic Beauty in the 1700m Benchmark 58 Handicap at Cowra on March 4.

“At Cowra, he over-raced and did everything tough, but he kicked on the turn, hung on pretty gamely, and wasn’t beaten far,” Harrison said. 

“Coming back from full TAB grade to the picnics will suit. It’s the right distance, and hopefully, it’s on the right track.”

He will carry 63.5kg, and Harrison admitted that was the biggest concern, albeit he gets in four and a half kilograms better than the top weight, Military Manoeuver (Emily Harrison) from the Doug Gorrel yard. 

“It’s a good question about the weight, and we’re about to find out,” Harrison laughed when asked if the heavier-than-usual weight would bother Bobby’s Secret. 

“He’s only a little fella, but he gets in good, and from the wide draw, he’ll make his own luck and be able to get into rhythm.”

The stable’s best chance is Keys To Love, who’s been racing very well on the TAB circuit. 

A backmarker who possesses a good finish, the Choisir mare placed at Gilgandra and Orange in February before finishing fifth in a 1375m Class One Handicap at Cowra earlier this month. 

Parrott is again in the saddle, and from gate one in the small field of five, the five-year-old will get her chance to register a second career win.

“She is racing super, and she still ran fifth at Cowra the other day after missing the start by two lengths,” Harrison said. 

“She can be her own worst enemy, and she will get back and need some luck, so we’ll see how she goes.”

When asked why she was targeting Saturday’s meeting at Ardlethan, Harrison said she was racing two horses that could benefit from the drop in grade. 

“I don’t think we’ve had many runners at the picnics, and we went to the Grenfell Picnic Cup last year with Bobby’s Secret because her owner, Danny Kotel, is the President, and we had one runner at Bong Bong, which came second,” Harrison said. 

“It’s just the right meeting and races for these two horses that are looking for a bit of confidence. Hopefully, they handle the track and run well.”

The Ardlethan Picnic Cup has eight acceptors and is the feature race on the six-race program at Ardlethan. 

Points for the 2024 NSW Picnic Champion Series will be up for grabs. For more information on the series, click here
For the 2024 NSW Picnic Racing dates, click here.