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Group One Mares Headline Weekend Haul for Karaka Graduates

Monday, October 5, 2020

Graduates of New Zealand Bloodstock Sales celebrated five stakes victories across Australasia over the weekend, headed by a trans-Tasman Group One double for the Jamie Richards-trained stablemates Melody Belle (NZ) (Commands) and Probabeel (NZ) (Savabeel).

Probabeel (NZ) Excels in Epsom

Star mare Probabeel (NZ) wins the Group One TAB Epsom Handicap (1600m) at Randwick.
Star mare Probabeel (NZ) wins the Group One TAB Epsom Handicap (1600m) at Randwick.

With a superb win in Saturday’s time-honoured A$1 million Group One TAB Epsom Handicap (1600m) at Randwick, top-quality Karaka graduate Probabeel (NZ) (Savabeel) proved her place among the very best mares currently racing in Australasia.

The $380,000 Book 1 purchase had sent an ominous warning to her Epsom rivals with a smooth lead-up victory in the Group Three Bill Ritchie Handicap (1600m) two weeks ago, and on Saturday it was more of the same in the main event.

Ridden by Kerrin McEvoy for champion Kiwi trainer Jamie Richards, Probabeel overcame a tricky wide gate and wore down her high-class arch-rival Funstar (Adelaide) for a memorable one-length win.

“She showed her true grit there,” McEvoy said. “She really picked up well for me, and I knew that if I could just have a conservative run through the first part, she was going to be really strong for me with no weight on her back. That’s exactly what she was able to do.”

Bred by Waikato Stud’s Garry Chittick and raced by Cambridge Stud owners Brendan and Jo Lindsay, Probabeel has now had 18 starts for eight wins, six placings and more than $2.5 million in prizemoney.

“I haven’t been able to touch this mare or see her in the flesh for four months, so all credit to my team in Sydney, they have done a great job,” Richards said.

“She has had a wonderful preparation. We haven’t had a day of soreness or a temperature or anything to worry about the whole way through.

“It is such a thrill for all of us – not just myself, but for David Ellis, Mark Walker, Karyn Fenton-Ellis and for Brendan and Jo Lindsay and Henry Plumptre. She’s a real New Zealand product that was bred by Waikato Stud, bought by David Ellis and owned by Cambridge Stud.

“It is a wonderful day and I am lost for words.”

Vendor Waikato Stud
Purchaser Mr DC Ellis (Te Akau)
Breeding Savabeel – Far Fetched
Sale Lot 203, 2018 Book 1, $380,000
Bred by G J Chittick

Hawke’s Bay Heroine Delivers Again

Melody Belle (NZ) secured her 11th Group One victory.
Melody Belle (NZ) secured her 11th Group One victory.

Reigning New Zealand Horse of the Year Melody Belle (NZ) (Commands) extended her unbeaten Hawke’s Bay record with another magnificent performance in Saturday’s $200,000 Group One Windsor Park Plate (1600m).

The Jamie Richards-trained superstar mare has had six starts at Hastings for six wins, all of them at Group One level, and she is now an 11-time Group One winner overall.

Bought for $57,500 at the 2016 Premier Sale by Te Akau Racing principal David Ellis, Melody Belle won the Tarzino Trophy (1400m) and Windsor Park Plate during the 2018 Hawke’s Bay spring carnival. She returned last year and defended both of those titles, then added the Livamol Classic (2040m) to become the first horse in history to complete a clean sweep of the Hawke’s Bay spring Triple Crown.

Saturday was a triumphant homecoming after a luckless early spring campaign in Sydney, and she showed her true colours with a third consecutive Windsor Park Plate crown.

But she had to earn it. She was pushed every step of the way down the straight in a stirring duel with her four-time Group One-winning stablemate Avantage (Fastnet Rock). But Melody Belle’s fierce determination shone through as she lunged at the line and scored by a nose for jockey Troy Harris.

The time of 1:33.88 was a new race record.

“She’s super,” Harris said. “Avantage sort of eyeballed her and got past, and she goes, ‘Not today!’ All credit to the mare. She’s tough and I was lucky to get the ride on her.”

Melody Belle has now had 33 starts for 16 wins, six placings and more than $3.67 million in stakes for her owners the Fortuna Melody Belle Syndicate, who were unable to follow her to Sydney in the early spring due to Covid-19 travel restrictions but made up for it with a bumper on-course contingent at Hastings on Saturday.

“Melody Belle and Avantage are two proper champions and we’re very lucky to have them in our stable,” Richards said. “Melody Belle is a wonderful mare. I honestly don’t believe she was going that badly in Sydney, just running into star horses and not having a lot of luck. So here she is, back in New Zealand, and she loves it. Good horses can overcome most things, but a good barrier (three) and a lovely ride is a big help.”

Runner-up Avantage was a $210,000 purchase by Ellis at the 2017 Premier Sale. She has now had 20 starts for 11 wins, five placings and more than $1.5 million in prize-money.

The third placegetter was the $3,000 Karaka weanling purchase Callsign Mav (NZ) (Atlante), who was a boil-over winner of the Tarzino Trophy (1400m) two weeks ago. This follow-up performance was every bit as good, proving that the local four-year-old is the real deal. He was beaten by a mere half-length by two mares who have won 15 Group One races between them.

Callsign Mav has now had 11 starts for four wins, four placings and $202,000 in stakes.

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

Kolding (NZ) Passes Distance Test

Kolding (NZ) claims the Group Two Quincy Seltzer Hill Stakes (2000m).
Kolding (NZ) claims the Group Two Quincy Seltzer Hill Stakes (2000m).

Already a proven star over a mile, elite Karaka graduate Kolding (NZ) (Ocean Park) added another string to his bow in Saturday’s A$500,000 Group Two Quincy Seltzer Hill Stakes (2000m) at Randwick.

In only his second attempt at a distance beyond 1600 metres, the $170,000 Premier Sale purchase passed his stamina test with flying colours.

The Chris Waller-trained Kolding was ridden by James McDonald, who unleashed him at the top of the straight and swept to the lead.

Proven Group One stars Avilius (Pivotal) and Fierce Impact (Deep Impact) tried to go with him but couldn’t match his finishing kick. Kolding cleared out to win by two lengths.

“Firm ground is the key to him and he has run that 2000 metres out really strongly, so there are no queries to that,” McDonald said. “It worked out perfectly, they rolled along at a canter and dashed home and he had a good turn of foot.”

Kolding has now had 24 starts for 10 wins, five placings and A$5.89 million in stakes – more than 37 times his purchase price.

“When he first tried 2000 metres, he was at the end of his preparation and it was a wet track,” Waller said. “So now was the time to try him again after he had just won the Group One George Main Stakes (1600m).

“He will go to the Cox Plate (2040m) next – he deserves to. Winning form is good form, and hopefully he can win three in a row. The next one’s going to be a bit bigger.”

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

Unbeaten Aegon (NZ) Soars to Guineas Win

Unbeaten Aegon (NZ) dominates the Group Two Dundeel at Arrowfield Hawke’s Bay Guineas (1400m).
Unbeaten Aegon (NZ) dominates the Group Two Dundeel at Arrowfield Hawke’s Bay Guineas (1400m).

In a thrilling finish dominated by graduates of New Zealand Bloodstock Sales, the unbeaten Aegon (NZ) (Sacred Falls) took his fledgling career to a new level with a brilliant victory in Saturday’s $100,000 Group Two Dundeel at Arrowfield Hawke’s Bay Guineas (1400m).

Aegon was a $150,000 purchase from the draft of breeder Waikato Stud in Book 1 of Karaka 2019. He was bought by co-trainer Andrew Forsman, who shares ownership with the Zame Partnership.

On Saturday he emulated his sire Sacred Falls, who himself had extended his unbeaten career record with a dazzling performance in the Hawke’s Bay Guineas back in 2012.

Aegon was ridden by Leith Innes, who brought him down the outside with a flying finish from nowhere to snatch a superb victory right on the line in only his second career start.

“For a horse that’s still maturing to make up that amount of ground in the last 200 metres, it speaks volumes for the ability he has,” said Forsman, who trains in partnership with Murray Baker.

“He’s got a ton of ability and to see him do that is a bit of a buzz. I think he’s pretty smart.”

Aegon has now had two starts for two wins and $59,400 in stakes, and his next two targets are likely to be the $100,000 Group Two Sarten Memorial (1400m) at Te Rapa on October 24 and the $500,000 Group One New Zealand 2000 Guineas (1600m) at Riccarton two weeks later.

Aegon won Saturday’s Hawke’s Bay Guineas by a nose from Bourbonaire (NZ) (Darci Brahma), who was a $120,000 purchase from the same Book 1 session. He has had three starts for a win and a placing.

The third-placed Moana (NZ) (Ocean Park) was another head away after struggling to find clear racing room for a large part of the home straight. She was passed in at Karaka 2019 with a reserve of only $30,000. She has now placed in two of her three starts and appears unlikely to remain a maiden for long.

Vendor Waikato Stud
Purchaser Mr AC Forsman (Waikato)
Breeding Sacred Falls – Toss Up
Sale Lot 485, Karaka 2019 Book 1, $150,000
Bred by Waikato Stud

Group Two Glory for Sierra Sue (NZ)

Sierra Sue (NZ) secures a classy win in the Group Two Lexus Rose of Kingston Stakes (1400m).
Sierra Sue (NZ) secures a classy win in the Group Two Lexus Rose of Kingston Stakes (1400m).

Sierra Sue (NZ) (Darci Brahma), who was bought for only $2,000 at the 2019 Karaka May Sale, stepped up to the big time in Saturday’s A$300,000 Group Two Lexus Rose of Kingston Stakes (1400m) at Flemington.

Representing the expat New Zealand combination of trainers Trent Busuttin and Natalie Young and jockey Michael Walker, the lightly raced four-year-old charged home from second-last at the 400-metre mark for an emphatic win.

“I was just lucky enough that I had the horse underneath me,” Walker said.

“I told the connections that other than Tagaloa (Lord Kanaloa), she’s the best they’ve got. She’s x-factor. She’s a Group One horse in the making.

“I’ve said since I sat back on her this preparation, a mile or 2000 metres, Group One fillies and mares’ races, she’s right in there. She’s top class, I promise you.”

Sierra Sue has now had seven starts for five wins, one placing and A$259,175 in stakes – more than 130 times her purchase price.

“Wow,” Young said. “We had an unfavourable gate and we thought, ‘Let’s just give her an economical run. He (Walker) was cool, calm and collected and just found the right path through, and she showed that fifth gear and just put them away.

“She’s had seven starts now, that’s her fifth win and a second. She’s just been versatile, and she’s shown so much class all the way through. She just loves the three weeks between runs and keeping fresh.”

Vendor Ardsley Stud
Purchaser Mr PW Lock (Waikato)
Breeding Darci Brahma – Centree
Sale Lot 767, Karaka 2018 Book 2, Psd (Res $30,000) Lot 174, 2019 Karaka May Sale, $2,000
Bred by J E Fokerd