Belle of the Season – Melody Belle

This news item has been sourced from the Te Akau Racing website

Champion Two-Year-Old and Horse of the Year finalist Melody Belle has completed one hell of a season.

From debut winner to Group One winner of a Sires’ Produce Stakes (1400m) in New Zealand and Brisbane, and a stunning Karaka Million (Listed, 1200m) victory in between, the filly purchased by Te Akau principal David Ellis for $57,500 at the 2016 NZB Premier Yearling Sale has been a revelation.

By *record-breaking sire Commands (Danehill) from first crop Iffraaj (Zafonic) mare Meleka Belle, Melody Belle was bred by Marie Leicester, prepared for sale by Haunui Farm, and purchased by David Ellis for the Fortuna Melody Belle Syndicate (Mgr: John Galvin).

Her season record of four wins and a third from seven starts earned $865,444 in prize money.

“It’s not easy to compare horses, and I have bought and we have trained Champion Two-Year-Olds Darci Brahma, Maroofity, Warhorse and War Affair, but the way Melody Belle won those three big races (Karaka Million and two Sires’ Produce Stakes) said to me that in thirty years of buying, syndicating and training horses that she’s as a good a two-year-old as we’ve ever had,” Ellis said.

“Melody Belle was the only New Zealand two-year-old to win this season at Group level in Australia, when she won the Sires’ Produce (Gr. 2, 1400m) in Brisbane, and we are particularly proud of what she achieved in her first season of racing.”

In the saddle for a majority of her wins, Te Akau stable rider Opie Bosson was also suitably impressed with the filly.

Following her win in the Karaka Million, Bosson said: “She’s a really laidback filly. The blinkers went on today, which helped. She was really sharp on the bridle and turning for home I couldn’t believe how well she was travelling”.

And after winning the Sires’ in Brisbane: “She was just travelling turning for home and when I let her down she gave me a huge sprint,” Bosson said.

“She has impressed me hugely in every start this season,” Bosson said. “She is professional in everything she does, has a great attitude, and a dazzling turn of foot when asked. She’s shown her class on both sides of the Tasman, which is never easy as a two-year-old, and I can’t wait to ride her again next season.”

Ellis said that Melody Belle is currently enjoying what he suggested would be a ‘good’ spell at Te Akau Stud, and with trainers Stephen Autridge & Jamie Richards had mapped out a plan for her three-year-old season.

“Her first target is likely to be the Group Three Concorde Handicap in early December at Ellerslie, as a lead up to the Group One Railway there on New Year’s Day. Both of those races are 1200 metres and we feel she is the right sort of filly to then step up to the million-dollar Karaka 3YO Mile at the end of January next year,” he said.

“Following that she could look to major races like the Coolmore Classic at Randwick, Sydney if she was happy getting over a bit more ground.”

Autridge said: “She’s such a versatile and easy filly to train, that can act fresh, so we have plenty of options going into next season, but the main thing now is that she has a lengthy spell after achieving so much as a two-year-old”.

“She did nothing but keep stepping up and you’ve got to remember that after the Karaka Million it was eight weeks before she raced again and won the Group 1 Sires’ at Awapuni. And then she did the same thing again, virtually, before winning the Sires’ in Brisbane, so she’s one very athletic filly and there is a real depth of talent in that family.

“I thought she showed good natural ability and plenty of grit to win her only trial before we sent her to the races at Ruakaka and that day she actually beat the stable-mate Summer Monsoon, who we like too but she retained the rail and just kept going to win easily by two lengths with her ears pricked.

“She did a fair bit during the season, so that’s why we’ve decided, no Christchurch or Melbourne in the spring, and to give her a decent spell so that she has the best opportunity of doing it next time at three.

“With what she’s done, she’s up there with any of the better two-year-old fillies I’ve had anything to do with and this filly I’ve got to say is as good as I’ve ever had as a two-year-old filly,” he said.

*Commands set an Australian record of 155 individual winners in the 2010-11 racing season.