BELLATRIX STAR salutes New Years Day in style with a classy last to first Victory in the Group Two Eclipse Stakes at Pukekohe Park

Fortuna Racing filly Bellatrix Star (2 f Star Witness – Alana’s Party, by Exceed and Excel) thrust herself forward as genuine Karaka Million contender when winning  an exciting rendition of the $225,000 Eclipse Stakes (Gr. 2, 1200m) on 1 January at Pukekohe.

A 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 and still at the rear of the field on turning for home, 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).

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“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,” rider Warren Kennedy said.

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

BELLATRIX STAR – Winning the Group 2 Eclipse Stakes – Pukekohe Park – Warren Kennedy aboard

“Warren (Kennedy) got her to relax really nicely,” said co-trainer Mark Walker. “She didn’t have all favours last start and showed today that 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 their eighth consecutive victory, Te Akau Racing currently has six in the field of 14 for the $1m Karaka Millions 2YO (Restricted Listed, 1200m) on Saturday 27 January at Ellerslie.

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

Accepting the Winners Trophy in front of a large crew of widly excited Syndicate Members, John Galvin said, “It’s a great thrill for everyone in the syndicate to win this race. Thank you to Mark (Walker) and Sam (Bergerson) for their training efforts. Mark and David (Ellis) picked this filly out for us at the Karaka sale after I had tasked them with finding me the type of  Filly that could be a genuine contender for the 2024 Karaka Million. This is the first Group winning two-year-old we’ have had since Melody Belle. We only paid $80,000 for her, 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.”

“Also, I’d like to congratulate Auckland Thoroughbred Racing for their initiatives and the way they’ve managed the race day process over the last eighteen months with Ellerslie undergoing reconstruction and we look forward to getting back to racing this month at Ellerslie.

Winning connections post race

The Sire of Bellatrix Star, 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 include over 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,” Te Akau Supremo David Ellis said. “John Galvin has been a great supporter of Te Akau Racing for more than 20 years, he has introduced so many new people into Racing Ownership through his Syndication model and it is a pleasure for me to be able to select a filly of this class for Fortuna Racing. It’s a rarity to find a Filly for sale out of mares by the Champion Sire Exceed and Excel because breeders tend to keep them. 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 is raced by the Fortuna Bellatrix Star Syndicate, an ownership Group comprising 69 individuals from all parts of New Zealand and one from Australia with 13 of them being first time investors in a Fortuna Syndicate

Bellatrix Star was strapped by Kendyll Lee.