Fortuna Two Year Old Filly, BELLATRIX STAR, shines brightly with winning debut Whanganui 2nd September 2023

Worthy of favouritism, Bellatrix Star (2 f Star Witness – Alana’s Party, by Exceed and Excel) debuted with victory in the $25,000 Wanganui Chronicle Maiden 2YO 800 metres on Saturday at Wanganui in the hands of NZ Champion Jockey, Michael McNab

Last season Te Akau and Fortuna had success with Rubicon Crossing (Rubick) in the same event and similarly with Bellatrix Star was also purchased in conjunction by David Ellis CNZM and Fortuna Racing’s  John Galvin, who syndicated both Fillies

In her sole trial on 1 August at Te Rapa, Bellatrix Star camped behind two leaders, cornered well, and let down strongly under minimal urging to win and rider Michael McNab was keen to continue his association. While drawing the outside (6) had some drawbacks, ridden conservatively appeared the right approach and although requiring full stretch to claim the pacemaker, Hard Attack (All Too Hard), McNab showed an element of confidence in his charge. Scoring by a nose, with over four lengths to second, Bellatrix Star ran 800 metres in 46.4 on footing upgraded to Soft7 and paid $1.50 & $1.20 on the NZ TAB tote.

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“Even though she won by a short margin, it was most impressive given the way she got it done,” said co-trainer Mark Walker, who during a record-breaking previous season of 203 wins, had 29 two-year-old runners, 11 individual winners, 21 wins, 21 seconds, and 12 thirds. “She had to do it the tough way, getting back and running down the leader, and it’s not that easy over only 800 metres. It was a lovely ride of Michael’s, giving her such an educational sort of ride and that will be great experience for her going forward. She will have a little break now at Te Akau Stud. I think she will come back bigger and stronger and I certainly feel she is a Karaka Million type of filly. There is a lot of upside with her and she has the size and scope to really train on.”

BELLATRIX STAR – wins on debut – Wanganui 2nd September 2023
Michael McNab aboard (picture by Race Images)

Boasting a speedy pedigree, Bellatrix Star was purchased for $80,000 by Ellis and Galvin in January at the Karaka 2023 Book 1 Sale, from the draft of Phoenix Park, and owned by Fortuna Bellatrix Star Syndicate.

Fortuna Racing Director, John Galvin, was on course at Whanganui along with a solid contingent of the Ownership Group  – “That was a wonderful debut by our girl – things didn’t go all her way. She was a bit unsettled early in the run, but Michael (McNab) got her balanced, asked her for an effort turning for home, and although Hard Attack gave us a bit of a fright, in the end our girl did enough to win. It’s the first time she’s ever been off the bridle and she’d have learned a lot from that. It was a lovely ride by Michael and it’s why we put him on. He’s a professional and knows how to get the very best out of horses. Her work was really good leading into the trial on 2 August at Te Rapa, her jump outs have been very good also and she worked sensationally on Tuesday. So there was a lot of confidence in the camp. But of course they were all new, all on debut, and just hard to line up. She’s Karaka Million registered, probably now qualified for the race in January with the stake money from today, so we’ll just work backwards from that, give her a break and set her up for a couple of races leading into the KM.”

“Well done to Mark Walker and Sam Bergerson with how they have handled this Filly to date, she clearly has tons of ability, but they have nurtured her very well.”

BELLATRIX STAR – all action – closing stages  

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. His son Star Turn, winner of the Schillaci Stakes (Gr. 2, 1100m) is a very good young sire in Australia, while his fillies Global Glamour (Star Witness) was a dual Group One winner of the Flight Stakes and Caulfield Guineas, both at a mile, and Swift Witness won the Silver Shadow (Gr. 2, 1200m). 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, winning Group One races in Australia, France, and England, and becoming a World Champion Turf Miler.

A satisfied Michael McNab salutes the judge on returning to scale on Bellatrix Star

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 5000, 205 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, at her best around middle distances and included the N.Z. Stakes (Gr. 1, 2000m).

At the time of purchase, David 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. It’s a rarity to find many fillies out of mares by the Champion Sire Exceed and Excel because breeders tend to keep them. This filly has a lot of Exceed and Excel about her and from a dam line that has proved itself at the top level.”

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

Members of the Ownership Group enjoying that winning feeling

Bellatrix Star was strapped by Te Akau racing manager Reece Trumper.