Esteemed NZB Filly of the Year Title to be Awarded in August

29 July 2020

Jennifer Eccles (NZ) (Rip Van Winkle) dominated in the 2019-20 NZB Filly of the Year Series.
Jennifer Eccles (NZ) (Rip Van Winkle) dominated the 2019-20 NZB Filly of the Year Series.

The undisrupted portion of New Zealand’s 2019-20 racing season marked the 48th year of New Zealand Bloodstock’s highly prestigious Filly of the Year Series.

The coveted honour endowing thoroughbred excellence will be presented to winning connections at the 2020 NZTBA National Breeding Awards held at the Don Rowlands Centre in Cambridge on Saturday 22 August.

There are ten races in the NZB Filly of the Year Series, with significant prizes for the owner, trainer and breeder of the ultimate Series winner.

The NZB Filly of the Year winner immediately becomes a highly valuable breeding proposition and earns her connections $50,000 in bonus cheques including $10,000 for her breeder, $10,000 for her trainer and $30,000 for her owner(s). 

Once described as New Zealand’s best maiden, the Shaune Ritchie-trained Jennifer Eccles (NZ) (Rip Van Winkle) made her first appearance on the Filly of the Year table after placing second in the Group One New Zealand 1000 Guineas (1600m) at Riccarton in November 2019.

Onwards from there she was unstoppable, subsequently winning the Group Two Eight Carat Classic (1600m), Group Two David & Karyn Ellis Fillies’ Classic (2000m) and Group Two Little Avondale Lowland Stakes (2100m).

She outclassed her rivals again winning a Trentham classic, the $400,000 Group One Al Basti Equiworld Dubai New Zealand Oaks (2400m), which cemented her Filly of the Year Series title by a margin of 22.5 points.

After an impressive crusade, Jennifer Eccles finished the series on top with a total of 44.5 points claiming this year’s title. The only other filly in the last two decades who reached 40 is Justa Tad (NZ) (Istidaad), who scored 42 in 2004-05.

Jennifer Eccles was a $5,000 purchase by syndicator Adrian Clark at the 2017 National Weanling, Broodmare & Mixed Bloodstock Sale from Westend Partnership. She has now won four of her 11 starts and NZ$499,650 in stakes for the Challenge No.10 Syndicate, more than 99 times her purchase price.

“She’s a spectacular filly and has a great turn of foot,” said trainer Shaune Ritchie, who was thoroughly impressed with her campaign.

“There has been a quality bunch of fillies in New Zealand this year, with the likes of Two Illicit (NZ) (Jimmy Choux), Probabeel (NZ) (Savabeel), Travelling Light (NZ) (El Roca), Loire (NZ) (Redoute's Choice) and Showbeel (NZ) (Savabeel), so to win that title in such a strong year is a tremendous achievement,” he said.

Loire (NZ) (Redoute’s Choice) finished second on the Filly of the Year Series table with 22.5 points, while Showbeel (NZ) (Savabeel) was third with 13.5.

NZB’s Bloodstock Sales Manager Danny Rolston looks forward to celebrating Jennifer Eccles’ achievements at the awards function and presenting the historic trophy to her large group of connections.