Melody Belle (NZ) Crowned New Zealand Horse of the Year

Melody Belle (NZ) claims the New Zealand Horse of the Year title.
Melody Belle (NZ) claims the New Zealand Horse of the Year title.

With a sensational five Group 1 victories to her name during the 2018-19 season, superstar Karaka graduate Melody Belle (NZ) (Commands) was a runaway winner of the New Zealand Horse of the Year title at Sunday night’s awards ceremony at Ellerslie Racecourse.

Bought by Te Akau Racing principal David Ellis for $57,500 at the 2016 Premier Sale, Melody Belle made an immediate impact with brilliant victories in the Karaka Million (1200m) and Group 1 Manawatu Sires’ Produce Stakes (1400m) as a two-year-old.

But she went to a new level during her four-year-old campaign in 2018-19, winning the Group 1 Tarzino Trophy (1400m), Windsor Park Plate (1600m), BCD Group Sprint (1400m), Haunui Farm WFA Classic (1600m) and Bonecrusher New Zealand Stakes (2000m).

From 61 votes cast in Horse of the Year voting, Melody Belle received 59.

The Jamie Richards-trained mare won six of her eight starts during the 2018-19 season and earned $701,500 for owners the Fortuna Melody Belle Syndicate. That amount is more than 12 times her purchase price.

Overall, Melody Belle has had 22 starts in her career for 12 wins, seven of them at Group 1 level. She has earned $1.75 million – more than 30 times her purchase price.

Melody Belle’s spectacular 2018-19 season also earned her the award of Champion Sprinter-Miler.

Danzdanzdance (Mastercraftsman) was named Champion Middle Distance Horse. Bought for only $5,000 at the 2016 Select Sale by syndicator Kylie Bax, Danzdanzdance claimed a Group 1 double in 2018-19 in the Rydges Wellington Captain Cook Stakes (1600m) and Zabeel Classic (2000m). She also collected Group 1 placings in the Livamol Classic (2040m) and New Zealand Stakes (2000m), along with a third placing in the Group 1 Ranvet Stakes (2000m) in Sydney.

Trained by Chris Gibbs and Michelle Bradley for owners B.A.X Bloodstock Achieving Xcellence Ltd, S Barnao, M Hawes, J Loose, R J Stern, R Tierney and L Wotton, Danzdanzdance has won four of her 16 career starts for more than $600,000 in stakes – 120 times her purchase price.

The age-group categories were taken out by Yourdeel (NZ) (Dundeel) and Madison County (NZ) (Pins).

Champion Two-Year-Old Yourdeel was a $100,000 purchase at Karaka 2018 Book 1 by part-owner Chris Rutten. Trained by Jamie Richards, he is the seventh champion two-year-old to come from the Te Akau stable.

Yourdeel won four of his six starts last season, including both of New Zealand’s two Group 1 races for two-year-olds – the Sistema Stakes (1200m) and Courtesy Ford Manawatu Sires’ Produce Stakes (1400m). He also won the Group 3 Waikato Stud Slipper (1200m) and finished third in the Karaka Million (1200m).

Madison County, who was named Champion Three-Year-Old, was bought for $36,000 at the 2017 Select Sale by owners the China Horse Club.

His three wins in the 2018-19 season came in the Group 1 Al Basti Equiworld New Zealand 2000 Guineas (1600m), the Group 1 Fusion Electrical Levin Classic (1600m) and the Group 2 Hawke’s Bay Guineas.

The Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman-trained gelding placed in all of his other starts, including the Karaka Million 3YO Classic (1600m) and the Group 1 Australian Derby (2400m) in Sydney.

The New Zealand Bloodstock Filly of the Year title was shared between Karaka graduates Imelda Mary (NZ) (Ferlax) and Queen of Diamonds (NZ) (Savabeel).

Imelda Mary cost $3,500 at the 2017 Festival Sale and earned $163,000 during the 2018-19 season, headed by Group 2 victories in the Valachi Downs Royal Stakes (2000m) and Cambridge Stud Sir Tristram Fillies’ Classic.

Queen of Diamonds was a $640,000 purchase at the 2017 Premier Sale. Her 2018-19 season featured three victories, headed by the Group 2 Little Avondale Lowland Stakes (2100m) and Group 3 LawnMaster Eulogy Stakes (1550m). She also placed in the Group 2 Cambridge Stud Eight Carat Classic (1600m) and Sir Tristram Fillies’ Classic (2000m).

Pencarrow Stud and New Zealand Bloodstock principal Sir Peter Vela was awarded the Owners’ Premiership at the 2018-19 New Zealand Thoroughbred Horse of the Year Awards at Ellerslie Racecourse on Sunday.

Sir Peter’s horses won 42 races in New Zealand during the 2018-19 season.

His star performer was Supera (NZ) (Savabeel), who won four races during the season including the Group 2 Travis Stakes (2000m) and Group 2 Tui Anniversary (1600m). She also placed in the Group 1 Fiber Fresh New Zealand Thoroughbred Breeders’ Stakes (1600m) and the Group 2 Cal Isuzu Stakes (1600m).

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