Te Akau NYD Group 2 Quinella

Date: 2 Jan 2024

Te Akau NYD Group 2 Quinella

Fortuna Racing filly Bellatrix Star (2 f Star Witness – Alana’s Party, by Exceed and Excel) won an exciting rendition of the $225,000 Eclipse Stakes (Gr. 2, 1200m) on 1 January at Pukekohe.

Worthy favourite when winning the first two-year-old race of the season at Wanganui, Bellatrix Star had finished third to race rival Velocious (Written Tycoon) when resuming in the 2YO 1000 metres on 11 November at Te Rapa, and second to her again in the Counties Challenge Stakes (Listed, 1100m) on 25 November at Pukekohe.

Despite money coming for impressive debut winning stable-mate Move To Strike (I Am Invincible), Bellatrix Star rated a top three chance and fought out the finish with the two aforementioned.

Content to settle last for leading jockey Warren Kennedy, on the bridle when six lengths astern at the 600m, Bellatrix Star picked up nicely to angle clear at the 300m, quickened to level 150m out, and sustained her run to the outside of Move To Strike (second) and Velocious (third).

It was a terrific effort by all three in form two-year-olds, with the experience of Bellatrix Star winning on rain-affected ground proving paramount in a close finish - the second of Kennedy's blitzing seven wins on the premier programme.

“She settled beautifully in the run, quickened smartly, picked up the other two really quickly, and she’s a better filly held up for longer and to pounce late,” Kennedy said. 

A day out from the meeting the footing was Soft6, but subsequent rain downgraded the track to begin racing at Heavy8, before being upgraded after the first race to Soft7. In essence, given the rainfall, the track raced very well, but at the same time benefitted those that appreciated a yielding surface.

Bellatrix Star ran 1200 metres on 1:11.0, last 600m in 33.8 (approx.), and paid $10.70 & $1.50 on the NZ TAB tote. 

“Warren (Kennedy) got her to relax really nicely,” said co-trainer Mark Walker. 

“She didn’t have all favours last start and showed today by riding her further back, and off the speed, that she had a really good turn of foot.

“She’s peaking at the right time for the Karaka Millions, and that’s always been her target.”

Searching for its eight consecutive victory, Te Akau currently has six in the field of 14 for the $1 m million Karaka Millions 2YO (Restricted Listed, 1200m) on Saturday 27 January at Ellerslie. 

“I think the (Soft7) track favoured her, but the second horse (Move To Strike) also went really well and we’ll let the dust settle before deciding what we do with him (he is not Karaka Millions eligible, having g been purchased at the Magic Millions' Sale by David Ellis CNZM),” Walker added. 

Owned by Fortuna Bellatrix Star Syndicate (Mgr: John Galvin), she was purchased for $80,000 by David Ellis CNZM and Fortuna in January at the Karaka 2023 Book 1 Sale, from the draft of Phoenix Park, and has now won two of her four starts and $167,700 prize money.

“It’s a great thrill for everyone in the syndicate to win this race,” Galvin said.

“Also, I’d like to congratulate Auckland Thoroughbred Racing for their initiatives and the way they’ve managed the process, and we look forward to getting back to racing this month at Ellerslie. 

“Thank you to Mark (Walker) and Sam (Bergerson) for their training efforts, and Mark and David (Ellis) picked this filly out for us at the Karaka sale.

“This is the first Group winning two-year-old we’ve had since Melody Belle (Commands). We only paid $80,000 for her and she won on debut, hasn’t been disgraced in her last two starts, and to win a Group Two at her fourth race day start is extremely valuable for her future.

“It was a lovely ride by Warren (Kennedy), very important black type for the filly and whatever she does from here on in they can never take this victory away.”

Stallion Star Witness (Starcraft) was a dominant winner of the Coolmore Stud Stakes (Gr. 1, 1200m) down the straight at Flemington, before becoming a successful sprint sire in Australia.

Grand-sire of the filly, Starcraft (Soviet Star) is well known in New Zealand, winning two legs of the Group One Triple Crown at Hawkes Bay. He won Group One races in Australia, France, and England, and became a World Champion Turf Miler.

Dam Alana’s Party is by Australian Champion Sire and leading broodmare sire Exceed and Excel (Danehill), who made a name for himself over two decades of world racing and breeding – just an extraordinary sire whose winners have numbered over 5500, 370 stakes' winners, including 17 individual Group One winners.

Grand-dam The Party Stand, by Stradbroke (Gr. 1, 1400m) winner Thorn Park (Spinning World), was an impressive winner from 1200m – 2000m, best around middle distances and included the N.Z. Stakes (Gr. 1, 2000m). 

“The Eclipse Stakes is a very valuable race for a filly to win and congratulations to everyone in the Fortuna syndicate,” Ellis said.

“We had a good horse in the stable by Star Witness named Phantom Witness that won his first two starts over 1200 metres and we probably didn’t see the best of him, so we were very interested in this filly at the sales. 

“Bellatrix Star has a lot of Exceed and Excel about her and from a dam line that has proved itself at the top level, and now she’s joined them.”

Bellatrix Star provided the stable with its fifth Eclipse Stakes (Gr. 2, 1200m), having won it last year with Trobriand (Kermadec), and previously with Imperatriz (I Am Invincible), Warhorse (General Nediym), and Te Akau Class (Masterclass). 

Bellatrix Star was strapped by Kendyll Lee. 

Photo credit - www.raceimages.co.nz


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