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This Is It, Valerie

21 May 2021

In under 24 hours we are set for the last time to witness a race for a very special Te Akau/Fortuna Racing star – Melody Belle (6 m Commands – Meleka Belle, by Iffraaj) or as we know her Valerie has been a horse who has shown so many people what racing has been about. Her ability, class and the journey she has taken us on has provided the Te Akau team, the Fortuna Syndication team, her owners and her mass supporters has been nothing short of what dreams are made of.

Please join us in reliving her history breaking 14 Group 1s – which was your favourite? 

Bred by Marie Leicester, purchased by David Ellis CNZM for $57,500 at the 2016 New Zealand Bloodstock Premier Yearling Sale, from the draft of Haunui Farm, and owned by Fortuna Melody Belle Syndicate (Mgr: John Galvin), Melody Belle has won of 14 Group One races (19 from 40 in total) and $4.3 million prize money.

Her 14th Group 1 victory saw her establish a new New Zealand record for Group 1 wins by a New Zealand horse.

In March, on Auckland Cup Day at Ellerslie, our reigning dual Horse of the Year surpassed the record of 13-time Group One winner Sunline (Desert Sun) with a blistering performance in the Bonecrusher NZ Stakes (Gr. 1, 2000m).

While Winx (Street Cry) sits clearly atop as international Group One record-holder with 25. Melody Belle is fifth equal, only one short of Black Caviar (Bel Esprit), who recorded 15 in an unbeaten career of 25 starts, and, incredibly, all but her debut win has been in stakes’ races. 

Remarkably, she is unbeaten in seven Group Ones at Hastings, and matched the herculean Winx when winning seven Group One races in a calendar year (2019), after Winx achieved the feat in 2018. 

Melody Belle won her first start as a two-year-old in 2016 and, basically, never stopped. Crowned Champion Two-Year-Old after winning the Karaka Million 2YO (Restricted Listed, 1200m) and Sires’ Produce Stakes (Gr. 1, 1400m), she also won the Sires’ Produce Stakes (Gr. 2, 1400m) at Eagle Farm (Brisbane). She recorded five Group Ones as a four-year-old, four in a row as a five-year-old, including an historical feat in the Hawkes Bay Triple Crown, followed with the Empire Rose Stakes (Gr. 1, 1600m) at Flemington, and a further four this season. 

She recorded Group One wins in the Sires’ Produce Stakes, Tarzino Trophy (2), Windsor Park Plate (3), BCD Group Sprint, Haunui Farm Classic, Bonecrusher Stakes (2), Livamol Classic (2), Empire Rose Stakes, and Thorndon Mile. While aboard for the victories: Michael McNab (2), Shafiq Rusof (2), Troy Harris (4), and Opie Bosson (6).

Before being sold next Tuesday (25 May) at the 2021 Gold Coast National Broodmare Sale, Melody Belle will contest the weight-for-age $700,000 Doomben Cup (Gr. 1, 2000m) on Saturday at Doomben.

Drawn barrier eight and to be ridden by Te Akau stable jockey Opie Bosson, she did win the Sires’ Produce Stakes (Gr. 2, 1400m) as a two-year-old at Eagle Farm in Brisbane.  She is currently $15.00 & $3.70 (fixed odds) on the NZ TAB, in a market headed by Hollindale Stakes (Gr. 2, 1800m) winner Zaaki (Leroidesanimaux) at $2.60.

Trainer Jamie Richards revealed that Melody Belle had a few “niggling things” leading up to the Hollindale, a race in which she travelled three wide with cover on Slow7 footing before being checked in the straight and finishing 10th.

Following her gallop on Tuesday morning at the Gold Coast, Richards reported: “She worked well in her customary style on the course proper over 1200m and did some nice work on her own, and I was really happy with her.” Aboard, Opie Bosson was also pleased with her work. 

Win, lose, or draw, the tradesman like professionalism of Melody Belle will long be remembered. 

While not unlike any other horse around the stable, come race day, she seemed to possess a knowingness of what lay ahead, the focus required, drummed up by safely contained adrenalin. Her every step was measured, confident of the talent and what her job was. Champions just seem to go about their business better.

From the Belle family, which began with the purchase of Belle Star (Foxbridge) by the parents of Marie Leicester, James and Annie Sarten, prior to 1940, Melody Belle has followed in the footsteps of some illustrious family members, but she is clearly the best. 

“She is just a lovely mare to have around and she will make a great broodmare,” Richards concluded.

We have so much love for her – our New Zealand history making champion. It’s been a hell of a ride to say the least – our emotions are starting to kick in!

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