Phoenix Thoroughbreds‘ talented homebred filly Hell Hound bounced back to form with a victory at Caulfield on Saturday (22nd July).
The daughter of Yarraman Park’s Hellbent had won both of her starts as a juvenile before being competitive in a couple of stakes races. Her form had since tailed off, but she seemed to rediscover some of her early promise to score under birthday boy Beau Mertens, who remains unbeaten on the Price Kent Racing trainee.
In a roundabout way, some of the credit for her entry to the winners’ circle can go to Ben Melham. The jockey was on board when he rode her positively over 1400m on her previous start, only for her to fade late on. In his post-race briefing, Melham suggested that the trip was no problem as long as she could be ridden from off the pace and from a decent draw. And so it came to pass.
Drawn in barrier 5, Hell Hound broke on terms and settled in fourth behind a reasonable pace. The three-year-old travelled well within herself and as the field rounded the turn for home, she was still on the bridle. For a moment, it looked as though she would be short of room, but Merten’s extracted the filly and she hit the line well while repelling a few late challengers.
— Racing.com (@Racing) July 22, 2023
“I was lacking confidence in her,” admitted co-trainer Mick Price to Racing.com. “I was of the opinion she wasn’t savaging the line. But (Ben) Melham probably helped when he rode her aggressively in front the other day and she didn’t get 1400 ridden like that. He said to ride her with a smother and the trip would be no problem. We drew gate, rode her forward with a smother, Beau Merten’s gave her a perfect ride and she won another metropolitan race, fantastic!”
Merten’s is now three from three on the filly who is the product of one of Phoenix’s more successful broodmares in the form of Miss Charming. She produced Hell Hound’s Group Two winning half-sister and fellow Phoenix Thoroughbreds’ bred Letzbeglam. Additionally, she is the dam of stakes-placed Snazz’ n’ Charm, while the Phoenix owed Offensive Charm has shown plenty of promise and could add to Miss Charming’s list of winners at Pakenham next week.