Melody Belle Writes History
5 Oct 2019
It seemed inevitable, but she still had to do it – Horse of the Year Melody Belle (5 m Commands – Meleka Belle, by Iffraaj) is the Bostock New Zealand Spring Carnival Triple Crown winner after a pulverising victory in the $250,000 Livamol Classic (Gr. 1, 2040m) on Saturday at Hastings.
In doing so, the Queen of the Turf became the first ever to accomplish the feat.
World-class galloper Starcraft (Soviet Star), a five time Group One winner that claimed titles of Champion 3YO in Australia, Champion Sprinter in New Zealand, and Champion Miler in Europe, tried but failed. Multiple Horse of the Year Seachange (Cape Cross), winner of seven Group One races, tried but failed, and Champion Three-Year-old and Horse of the Year Jimmy Choux (Thorn Park), winner of five Group Ones, tried but failed.
It took Melody Belle – securing her ninth Group One victory – trainer Jamie Richards, and rider Opie Bosson to get the job done. And she did it by three and a half lengths, no problems at all. Although, it appeared a touch awkward early in the race when Bosson, conscious of not being shuffled back on the inner, took the bull by the horns and worked off the rail heading into the back straight.
But, as she did when repeating her first two leg wins, in the Tarzino Trophy (Gr. 1, 1400m) and Windsor Park Plate (Gr. 1, 1600m), Melody Belle ranged into the clear and distanced the opposition to take her place in racing royalty.
Melody Belle also now claims the record of the horse to have won the most Group 1 races ever in new Zealand – she shared that stage pre race with (King Mufhasa) and now assumes that title outright.
“I’m really proud of her and it’s an absolute result,” said Richards, in Australia, preparing stable-mates Probabeel (Savabeel) and Te Akau Shark (Rip Van Winkle) for Group One races at Randwick.
“She’s achieved what no other horse in history has been able to do. She’s had a great preparation and I thought it was a terrific ride with Opie, getting her out at the right time and, yes, she did the rest.
“Everything has gone to plan and staff at home has done a great job with her, and a big thank you to John Galvin and his team. She’s been a marvel. David (Ellis) did a great job to buy her in the first place and she’s rewarding everyone involved with life long memories. It really is quite amazing, the way she has developed and what she has achieved, and again, a big thanks to all the staff who have really stepped up while I’ve been travelling.”
Te Akau principal David Ellis purchased the reigning Horse of the Year as a yearling for $57,500 at the 2016 New Zealand Bloodstock Premier Sale, from the draft of Haunui Farm, on the account of breeder Marie Leicester. She has now won 14 of her 24 starts and $2 million in prize money for owners in the Fortuna Melody Belle Syndicate (Mgr: John Galvin).
“It’s the thrill of a lifetime to buy a mare that won the Karaka Million as a two-year-old filly and train on to keep getting better and better,” Ellis said. “We bought her at New Zealand Bloodstock’s Premier Sale and it’s just great the way it’s worked out.
“Jamie Richards has done an incredible job training her to win all these races and it’s one of the greatest days I’ve had on a racecourse.”
For Ellis and Te Akau Racing, Melody Belle provided their fourth winner in the race, following Distinctly Secret (Distinctly North) in 2003, Princess Coup (Encosta De Lago) in 2007 and 2008, while four also for former Te Akau apprentice and five-time Champion Jockey of the Year Opie Bosson.
“It is history, isn’t it, and it’s just great to be on a racecourse when history takes place,” Ellis said. “It’s a very proud occasion for us all at Te Akau. On Tuesday morning, Opie sent me a text and he said, ‘Melody Belle, the best gallop I’ve ridden in my career and the best she has ever felt. If I can’t win on her, I need to retire on Saturday’. He is a freak, everybody knows that, and the hard work he put in to make the weight has been greatly rewarded.
“It’s a really great sponsorship by Livamol, in their sixth year, and congratulations also to Hawkes Bay Racing CEO Butch Castles, a great racing administrator, who, with his team, has put together another fantastic carnival and made so many people happy.”
Unbeaten in all seven rides aboard Melody Belle, Opie Bosson said: “A big thanks to all the team at home at Te Akau Racing. David Ellis, I wouldn’t be here today without Dave, who has helped keep me on the straight and narrow and overseen me at the gym.
“I’d like to thank John Galvin and team. I’m very honoured to ride the horse and a big thank you to Melody Belle.”
On behalf of the large syndicate of owners (37), Fortuna Syndications manager John Galvin said: “Well, as I said to people before the race, we’re standing on the crest of history and now we’ve done it. So, it’s an incredible feeling to have come here today and win this very elusive Triple Crown.
“She’s probably the best she’s ever been and while it’s never over till it’s over, there was a lot of confidence in the camp beforehand, just because of how well she had been working and eating and that sort of thing.
“She’s 1 in 10,000 and the sort of horse you dream about. She keeps stepping up year after year. This is her fourth season of racing and words fail me, really.
“It’s life changing. It was life changing when she won the Karaka Million. The fact that she’s gone on now and won nine Group Ones, it’s incredibly life changing.
“It’s a wonderful occasion for spring racing and thank you very much to the Hawkes Bay Racing Club.
“Of course, I’d like to thank the sponsors, Livamol, Marie Leicester the breeder, and David Ellis for selecting this horse. She was great value at $57,500 and what a great mare she’s been for us.
“Jamie Richards, not here today, but with the team in Sydney, and all this Te Akau team that has done such a great job all the way through. And Opie Bosson, who has won seven out of seven on this mare, so well done to Opie. Mette, our strapper, who shed a bucket of tears after the race, and last but not least, to all the members that own Melody Belle, many of whom are here today and for quite a few of them she is their very first racehorse ever.”
Melody Belle was strapped by Mette Mosebo.
Photo credit – www.raceimages.co.nz
Footnote: While all the celebrations were underway at Hastings, Te Akau trainer Jamie Richards also had good reason to enjoy himself in Sydney. Not only in honour of Melody Belle, but also the terrific performances by Probabeel and Te Akau Shark, who each tried valiantly and finished second in their respective assignments: Probabeel in the $500,000 Darley Flight Stakes (Gr. 1, 1600m), and Te Akau Shark in the $1m TAB Epsom Handicap (Gr. 1, 1600m).