Probabeel (NZ) Crowned New Zealand Horse of the Year
30 November 2021
Already a multiple Group One winner and Karaka Million history-maker, Probabeel (NZ) (Savabeel) solidified her place in New Zealand racing folklore with the title of 2020-21 Horse of the Year.
Bought by Te Akau Racing’s David Ellis for $380,000 from the Book 1 draft of Waikato Stud at Karaka 2018, Probabeel has been an elite performer on both sides of the Tasman for Cambridge Stud owners Brendan and Jo Lindsay. Her achievements were honoured with the premier accolade in New Zealand’s Thoroughbred Horse of the Year Awards, which were held as a virtual event on Monday evening.
Probabeel won four of her eight starts during the 2020-21 season, all in either Sydney or Melbourne, and earned more than $1.5 million in stakes.
After placing first-up in the Group Three Show County Quality (1200m) and winning the Group Three Bill Ritchie Handicap (1400m), Probabeel stepped up to the highest level and scored a superb win in the A$1 million Group One Epsom Handicap (1600m) at Randwick.
She later added a pair of wins at Caulfield in the Group Three Bellmaine Stakes (1200m) and Group One Futurity Stakes (1400m), then returned to Sydney to place in the Group One Queen of the Turf Stakes (1600m). Her only times outside the top two placings came when she was unplaced on wet tracks in the Cox Plate (2040m) and All-Star Mile (1600m).
Overall, Probabeel has won 12 of her 28 starts and over $4.4 million in stakes – almost 12 times her purchase price at Karaka. While all of her four career Group One victories have come in Australia, Probabeel has also played a starring role on home soil as the only horse to ever win both the $1m Karaka Million 2YO (1200m) and the $1m Karaka Million 3YO Classic (1600m).
Probabeel, who also took the award for Champion Sprinter-Miler, recorded the seventh consecutive Horse of the Year title for a Karaka graduate. She followed in the footsteps of two-time winners Mongolian Khan (Holy Roman Emperor), who won it in 2015 and 2016, Bonneval (NZ) (Makfi), who took the honour in both 2017 and 2018, and Probabeel’s Jamie Richards-trained stablemate Melody Belle (NZ) (Commands), who was the winner in both 2019 and 2020.
Melody Belle claimed another honour in 2021, named Champion Middle-Distance Horse on the strength of her sparkling victories in the Group One Livamol Classic (2040m) and New Zealand Stakes (2000m).
Bought by Ellis for $57,500 from the 2016 Premier Sale and raced by the Fortuna Melody Belle Syndicate, the remarkable mare earned more than $4.2 million in a career that featured 19 wins from 41 appearances. She won 14 Group One races – a new all-time record for a New Zealand horse.
The 2020-21 Champion Three-Year-Old was Aegon (NZ) (Sacred Falls), who was a $150,000 purchase by his co-trainer and part-owner Andrew Forsman in Book 1 of Karaka 2019. Aegon won five of his seven starts as a three-year-old, headed by the Group One New Zealand 2000 Guineas (1600m) at Riccarton, the $1m Karaka Million 3YO Classic (1600m) at Ellerslie, and the Group Two Hobartville Stakes (1400m) at Rosehill. He earned more than $1.1 million in prize-money during his three-year-old season.
Aegon is trained by Forsman in partnership with Murray Baker, and that Cambridge pair celebrated a second award on Monday with The Chosen One (NZ) (Savabeel) in the Champion Stayer category. After winning first-up in a 1700-metre handicap at Flemington, the quality galloper went on to finish third in the Caulfield Cup (2400m) and fourth in the Melbourne Cup (3200m), along with a second placing in the Group One Herbie Dyke Stakes (2000m) at Te Rapa. Passed in at Karaka 2017 with a reserve of $150,000, The Chosen One has earned more than $1.8 million on the track to date.