Six Win Boxing Day - Campionessa Group 1 Glory

Date: 27 Dec 2023

Six Win Boxing Day - Campionessa Group 1 Glory

Richly deserving of Group One honours, Campionessa (6 m Contributer – Bella Carolina, by O’Reilly) won the $450,000 Cambridge Stud Zabeel Classic (Gr. 1, 2050m) on Boxing Day at Pukekohe. 

Having resumed on the course with a big effort to win the Auckland Thoroughbred Breeders’ Stakes (Gr. 2, 1400m) on 25 November, Campionessa was poetry in motion as she raced clear to win the Cal Isuzu Stakes (Gr. 2, 1600m) on 16 December at Te Rapa, and warranted favouritism in the time-honoured event.

Second in both the Herbie Dyke Stakes (Gr. 1, 2000m) and Bonecrusher Stakes (Gr. 1, 2050m) last season, and previously winning the Metropolitan Trophy (Listed, 2500m), Campionessa certainly laid claims to scoring at the highest level over a middle distance.

Ridden majestically by stable jockey Opie Bosson, who bagged his 95th Group One victory, Campionessa was given a lovely trip in the trail, became held in a pocket before pushing out at the 300m mark and defiantly surged clear of Randwick Metropolitan (Gr. 1, 2400m) winner No Compromise (Pins) over the concluding stages. 

“He’s just too good for them,” said a punter in the stand, referring to Bosson.

Owned by Te Akau Campionessa Syndicate (Mgr: Karyn Fenton-Ellis MNZM), she was purchased by David Ellis CNZM for A$60,000 at the 2019 Gold Coast National Yearling Sale, from the draft of Mapperley Stud, where the sire stands.

Her 27 starts have yielded 10 wins, five seconds, three thirds, and $936,590 in prize money. 

“What an incredible mare and to think we were lucky to get her, really,” Ellis said.

“She was passed in at Karaka, and Simms (Davison) took her to the Gold Coast Sale, where I was with Joe Walls and Jamie Richards, and she was passed in again before we negotiated the purchase.

“She displayed ability right from the start when she won her first two starts and has just continued to get better as she’s matured.

“The zone she’s in now is very hard to beat and the way she won last time at Te Rapa, she had to be a big chance on the back of that performance.

“It’s the ultimate for any horse to win a Group One, but especially a mare and it means the world for her commercial appeal as a broodmare.

“It’s been an incredible day to win five races - half the programme - on Boxing Day at Pukekohe, when the best competition is about, and also the Hazlett Stakes with Kai (Ocean Park) at Wingatui, and it's been another great day for Opie (Bosson) with five wins.

“Also, I’d like to thank Brendan and Jo (Lindsay), and everyone at Cambridge Stud, for sponsoring this great race and all they do for the racing industry. To have their investment and support, along with the TAB partnering by Entain, and all the other initiatives, I can’t begin to explain how much it means.”

On footing upgraded to Soft5, Campionessa ran 2000 metres in 2:07.9, last 600m in 33.8 (approx.), and paid $3.00 & $1.50 on the NZ TAB tote.

“We didn’t spend a penny throughout,” Bosson said. “I tried to come out into better ground and the horse in front of me rolled out as well, and we just had to push our way through. 

“It was a good effort. She’s tough, to pick herself up and then fight off the other challenger. 

“She deserves a Group One, and has a lot of confidence through the win two starts ago here, which showed last start, too, and she’s just on the way up and beaming.

“These mares when they get on a roll like this in the summer they can really hold their form and she’s a classic example,” added Bosson.

From the first NZ crop of Contributer (High Chaparral), Campionessa is out of the three-time winning mare Bella Carolina, by O’Reilly (Last Tycoon). 

Australian Middle Distance Horse of the Year Contributer (High Chaparral) was a dual Group One winner in the Chipping Norton (Gr. 1, 1600m) and Ranvet Stakes (Gr. 1, 2000m), and was Champion Second Season Sire in New Zealand.

His sire, High Chaparral (Sadler’s Wells), winner of six Group Ones including the English and Irish Derbies, has sired winners of 59 Group One races and is already a noted sire of sires. 

Her dam Bella Carolina won three times to 1400 metres and has left five individual winners of 18 races, including stakes' winners Tennessee (Per Incanto), who won the Wellesley Stakes (Listed, 1000m), and Leedox (Time Test) in the Futurity Stakes (Listed, 1400m). 

In addition, the dam sires in the pedigree of Campionessa are some of the best to ever stand in New Zealand: Champion Sire O’Reilly, and in turn Centaine, and Noble Bijou. While through her sire lines she carries a cross of immortal sire Northern Dancer. 

“Things didn’t go right in the early part of the spring and we gave her a break, and she’s just come back in such great form,” said co-trainer Mark Walker.

“When a mare gets in form they generally hold it as well, and she deserved that. She’s had a couple of seconds in Group Ones, and it's terrific for the ownership group as well. 

“Not one of them complained when things weren’t going right in the spring, and we pulled stumps, and they supported us and their reward is today.

“She dug deep to win, so that was great, brilliant for the mare and he’s an underrated stallion, too, Contributer. 

“Now she’s got a Group One on her CV, we probably have to look at something in Australia again as well, but we’ll let the dust settle and work it out.”

To end her campaign last season, Campionessa made a hit and run trip to Flemington, recording a creditable sixth in the Australian Cup (Gr. 1, 2000m).  She was only 2.2 lengths from the winner Cascadian (who at his next start was 1.5 lengths third being Giga Kick and Zaaki in the Group 1 All Aged Stakes).

For trainers Mark Walker and Sam Bergerson, Campionessa provided the 16th stakes' win this season, the team's fifth Group One, while also ticking over 80 wins for the season during the day, with only five months complete. 

Campionessa was strapped by Muralla Mallesh.

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