Melody Belle (NZ) matches record with eighth Group 1

Karaka graduate Melody Belle (NZ) (Commands) shares a slice of New Zealand racing history after an effortless win in Saturday’s $200,000 Group 1 Windsor Park Plate (1600m) at Hastings.

The win was her eighth at Group 1 level, bringing her level with Mufhasa (NZ) (Pentire) for the all-time record number of elite-level victories in New Zealand.

A $57,500 purchase at the 2016 Premier Sale by Te Akau principal David Ellis, Melody Belle was crowned 2018-19 New Zealand Horse of the Year after scoring five superb Group 1 victories last season. She has begun 2019-20 in the same unstoppable form.

She won the Group 1 Tarzino Trophy (1400m) on August 31 with a stunning come-from-behind performance, and on Saturday she was breathtakingly dominant.

Settled in midfield by jockey Opie Bosson, Melody Belle began to improve her position as the field streamed down the side of the Hastings track towards the home turn.

Bosson brought the hot favourite out wide at the top of the straight, and Melody Belle took care of the rest. She cruised to the lead and raced away, scoring by two and three-quarter lengths in a fast time of 1:34.17.

Melody Belle has now won 13 of her 23 starts and earned $1.867 million in stakes – more than 32 times her purchase price.

“Eight Group 1 wins – words fail me,” said John Galvin, manager of the Fortuna Melody Belle Syndicate. “It’s a great thrill. I thought her last victory (Tarzino Trophy) was fantastic, after getting a long way back. I thought today was a very clinical performance. She relaxed and settled, and Opie handled her perfectly.”

Bosson, meanwhile, is now unbeaten from six rides on Melody Belle.

“She’s just amazing,” the champion jockey said. “Right from her 2-year-old days, all the way through to now. Jamie and the team at Te Akau have done a great job, and for her to just keep winning the way she has, it’s amazing.

“She’s got that will to win. Every time you go out on her, she gives you 110%. If she ever does run a bad race, there’s obviously something wrong.

“We got into a good spot today. They went quite hard in front, so I ended up going back a spot from where I’d originally planned. I also got going a little bit earlier than I had planned, but she was just going too well.”

Vendor Haunui Farm
Purchaser Mr DC Ellis (Te Akau)
Breeding Commands – Meleka Belle
Sale Lot 395, 2016 Premier Sale, $57,500
Bred by Mrs N M Leicester

IN other news high-class filly Aretha (NZ) (Charm Spirit) has picked up right where she left off last season, taking the early lead in the 2019-20 New Zealand Bloodstock Filly of the Year Series with a brave victory in Saturday’s $70,000 Group 3 Hawke’s Bay Breeders Gold Trail Stakes (1200m) at Hastings.

Trained by Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman for owner-breeder Greg McCarthy, Aretha’s four starts as a two-year-old produced a win in the Group 2 Matamata Breeders’ Stakes (1200m) and placings in the Group 1 Sistema Stakes (1200m), Group 1 Manawatu Sires’ Produce Stakes and Group 2 Wakefield Challenge Stakes (1100m).

Going into Saturday’s race fresh up, she produced a superb, never-say-die performance. Sent forward by jockey Matt Cameron to take the lead in the first 100 metres, she was quickly taken on and headed by On Show (NZ) (Showcasing).

But Aretha worked forward to regain her advantage, then produced a strong kick in the home straight to go clear.

Another of last season’s star fillies, Bavella (Snitzel), quickly emerged as a major threat in the last 200 metres. She swept up alongside Aretha and looked likely to race past.

But Aretha responded to the challenge. In an exciting, head-bobbing finish, she prevailed by a nose.

“She was very brave,” Forsman said. “I thought she was a beaten horse. Fresh up today, I thought she’d gone a bit keenly in front. She kicked well for home, but then I thought Bavella had her for sure.

“But we’ll take it. It’s great to see her come back so well in this campaign, and hopefully she can go on with it up to 1600 metres later on.”

McCarthy took great delight from his star filly’s performance.

“It’s a huge thrill,” he said. “The Gold Trail is a wonderful race, very time-honoured. I’ve raced in it only once before, back in 1993. To come back and win it now is fantastic.”

Aretha has now had five starts for two wins, three placings and $177,250 in prize-money.

The Gold Trail Stakes was the first of 10 legs in the 2019-20 NZB Filly of the Year Series, and Aretha has taken the early lead with 6 points. Bavella now sits second on the table with 3 points, while Loire (NZ) (Redoute’s Choice), who produced a big finish down the straight to run third, has 1.5 points.

The second leg of the Series is the $300,000 Group 1 New Zealand 1000 Guineas (1600m) at Riccarton on November 16. Worth 12 points to the winner, the prestigious classic is now firmly on Aretha’s radar.

“We’ll try to pick the best path through to the 1000 Guineas from here,” Forsman said. “That race will have taken a fair bit out of her, it was a big run, so we’ll just see how she comes through it and reassess.”

Less than 24 hours after being crowned last season’s champion South Island two-year-old, Miss Federer (NZ) (Swiss Ace) has scored first points in the 2019-20 New Zealand Bloodstock Southern Filly of the Year Series.

The Andrew Carston-trained filly led all the way for a brilliant victory in the first leg of the Series, the $50,000 Listed New Zealand Bloodstock Canterbury Belle Stakes (1200m) at Riccarton on Saturday.

Miss Federer rushed out of the starting gates to move to the head of the field, and she dominated the race from that point on.

She opened up a big margin early in the run home, then responded to the urgings of jockey Kylie Williams to win by a neck from the fast-finishing All About Magic (NZ) (Showcasing) and Woodcote Lass (NZ) (Showcasing).

“She had come on nicely from her first run (second over 1000m on September 7), where she hit the wall at the 100m,” Carston told NZ Racing Desk. “I hadn’t been able to give her a trial before that race, so I knew she would take plenty of benefit from it.

“Kylie did a super job. She had a plan before the race and she executed it perfectly. Miss Federer did start to get a little tired at the end, but she had done a bit to get to the front, so that was to be expected.”

Bought for $10,000 at Book 2 of Karaka 2018, Miss Federer has had seven starts for four wins, two placings and $121,535 in prize-money – more than 12 times her purchase price.

Miss Federer now tops the NZB Southern Filly of the Year Series table with 7 points, while All About Magic has 4 points and Woodcote Lass has 2.

The Series will resume in the late summer and autumn with the remaining three legs – the $50,000 Listed NZB Insurance Stakes (1400m) at Wingatui on February 29, the $50,000 Listed NZB Airfreight Stakes (1600m) at Riccarton on April 4, and the $50,000 Listed New Zealand Bloodstock Warstep Stakes (2000m) at Riccarton on April 18.

Miss Federer, meanwhile, could be in line for a shot at the $300,000 Group 1 New Zealand 1000 Guineas (1600m) at Riccarton on November 16.

“People have asked me if she will get the 1600m of the 1000 Guineas and the simple answer is I just don’t know,” Carston said.

“She has a nomination for the race and that is our target, but whether she gets there or not will be up to her recovery from today and how she goes when we step her up over more ground.

“As long as she comes through this well, I will give her a month between runs and have a crack at the Barnswood Farm Stakes (Group 3, 1400m) at Ashburton in mid-October.

“If she is going to get that sort of trip then Ashburton is a good place to do it. Once we see how shegoes there then we can make plans for the Guineas or not.”

Vendor Bradbury Park
Purchaser Mr AJ Carston (Canterbury)
Breeding Swiss Ace – Halobelle
Sale Lot 846, Karaka Book 2, $10,000
Bred by Nearco Stud Ltd

Karaka graduates enjoyed a big evening at Friday’s 2018/19 Christchurch Casino South Island Racing Awards at Riccarton, headed by a second Horse of the Year title for Savvy Coup (NZ) (Savabeel).

Bought for $65,000 at the 2016 Premier Sale, Savvy Coup burst to prominence in the 2017-18 season with five wins and more than $460,000 in stakes, headed by the Group 1 New Zealand Oaks (2400m). As well as earning her first South Island Horse of the Year title, the Michael and Matthew Pitman-trained runner was also New Zealand’s champion three-year-old of that season.

Savvy Coup continued in the same vein into the spring of 2018-19, winning the Group 1 Livamol Classic (2040m) and finishing second in the Group 1 Windsor Park Plate (1600m). She also travelled to Melbourne and contested the prestigious Cox Plate (2040m).

With six wins and $649,000 in stakes to her name, Savvy Coup has earned almost 10 times her purchase price for the Bruford and Coupland families. Her racetrack heroics were honoured on Friday with a second Horse of the Year trophy, along with the title of Champion Stayer.

Champion Two-Year-Old was Miss Federer (NZ) (Swiss Ace). The $10,000 Book 2 purchase won three of her five starts last season including the Group 3 Woburn Farm 2YO Classic (1200m) and the Listed Welcome Stakes (1000m). The Andrew Carston-trained filly earned $88,410, almost nine times her purchase price.

$55,000 Select Sale purchase Emily Margaret (NZ) (Pins) was Champion Three-Year-Old and New Zealand Bloodstock Southern Filly of the Year. Trained by Kevin and Pam Hughes, she earned $157,375 in a season headed by victories in the Group 2 Wellington Guineas (1400m), Listed Canterbury Belle Stakes (1200m) and Listed NZB Insurance Stakes (1400m).

Champion Miler was Boots ‘N’ All (NZ) (Perfectly Ready), whose 2018-19 season featured a win in the Listed Timaru Cup (1600m) and placings in the Group 2 Coupland’s Bakeries Mile (1600m) and the Group 3 White Robe Lodge (1600m).

Breeders Bruce Sheat and Cheryl Wilson had tried to sell Boots ‘N’ All at the 2014 South Island Sale with a reserve of only $5,000, but he was passed in. Sent to the stable of Lance Robinson, he ended up winning them more than $280,000 in prize-money before sadly suffering a fatal reaction to an antibiotic in April.

Karaka graduate Kolding (NZ) (Ocean Park) will be given a chance at Group 1 level after prevailing in an exciting finish to Saturday’s A$160,000 Group 3 Bill Ritchie Handicap (1400m) at Randwick.

The $170,000 Premier Sale purchase produced an irresistible surge down the outside in the home straight, catching Fierce Impact (Deep Impact) in the shadows of the finish line and scoring by a head.

“He is a very good horse,” jockey Glen Boss said. “He’s a quality individual with a real presence about him. As soon as you get over his neck, you think, ‘Gee, you have got some quality.’ It gives you a bit of confidence before you get to the start that you are on a really good horse.

“I was confident at the top of the straight that I was going to run really well, but when Nash Rawiller on Fierce Impact put three-quarters of a length on me really quick, I thought, ‘Oh, gee, that’s just too good.’ But, to his credit, he lifted when I asked him to. That’s a good sign heading towards the Epsom.”

The Group 1 Epsom Handicap (1600m) will be run at Randwick on October 5.

In the meantime, Kolding’s career record stands at 13 starts for six wins, four placings and A$451,000 in prize-money – more than two and a half times his purchase price.

"He's a really nice horse and it was good to see him fight strong that last 50, when it looked like he might have been beaten,” trainer Chris Waller said.

“He goes into the Epsom with a winnable weight, and there’s a sense of timing. It's the race he's been set for after winning the race at Eagle Farm in June, the Queensland Guineas (1600m).

"He's a really nice horse, he showed that at the end of the autumn with the three races in a row that he won."

Kolding was bred by Warren Pegg and is a half-brother to two black-type performers – the three-time stakes winner Sampson (NZ) (Dubai Destination) and the Listed winner Miss Upstart (Snippetson). Sampson cost just $20,000 at the 2011 Festival Sale and has earned more than $450,000.

Another half-sibling, a filly by Iffraaj, was bought for $150,000 during Book 1 last year.

Vendor Wentwood Grange
Purchaser Mulcaster Bloodstock (Auckland)
Breeding Ocean Park – Magic Star
Sale Lot 269, 2017 Premier Sale, $170,000
Bred by W Pegg