Melody Belle dominant at 2020 Horse Of The Year Awards

Crowned in 2019 as the 2018/19 Season Horse Of The Year, the question on everybody’s lips leading into the 2020 renewal of this historic event was “can Melody Belle do it again”? Four Group One victories during the 2019/20 Season including one at Flemington on Derby Day (Empire Rose Stakes) with the other three being the three legs of the Hawkes Bay Triple Crown, a feat that had never been achieved before, plus a brave 2nd in the Group One McKinnon Stakes and a 4th in the Group One Doncaster Handicap (when carrying top weight), had set the scene for her. She had been nominated in three Categories (Sprinter/Miler, Middle Distance and Horse Of The Year). Te Akau Shark presented the possibility of being a strong contender in the Sprinter/Miler category with his two Group One victories (Waikato Sprint and Chipping Norton Stakes at Randwick) and high class performances for 2nd in the Epsom and 3rd in the Cox Plate.

A degree of drama surrounding the event had been caused by the NZ Thorougbred Racing decision five weeks before its holding, to make it “virtual” given the uncertainties at the time around Covid – 19. Seizing the initiative, the Principals of Te Akau Racing, David and Karyn Ellis, decided to hold a “Te Akau Racing” event for their Owners, Staff and other supporters in the upmarket Fosters Lounge at Te Rapa race course and “live stream” the virtual ceremony to the attendees. Fortuna Melody Belle Syndicate had 14 of its Ownership Group in attendance.

Cutting to the chase, the big news of the evening was that Melody Belle scooped the pool, winning all three of the Awards she was nominated for. As expected, there was support from the Voting Panel, (made up of 60 individuals from around NZ from Media and Racing Administrators), for Te Akau Shark in the Sprinter/Miler category, however Melody Belle prevailed with 37 votes to Te Akau Shark’s 16. In Middle Distance category, she received 57 votes and in the Finale, the very prestigious Horse Of The Year Award, she received 54 votes.

Melody Belle  – Tarzino Trophy  – Group One 1400m  – 31st August 2019 – Michael McNab in the saddle

Fortuna Syndications Director, John Galvin, on accepting the Awards on behalf of the Melody Belle Syndicate, an ownership Group comprising 33 individuals around NZ and 1 from Australia, paid tribute to Te Akau supremo, David Ellis, who had purchased Melody Belle for $57,500 on behalf of Fortuna at the 2016 Karaka Million Sale, Trainer Jamie Richards, all of the Te Akau staff who had worked with her and the two riders who rode her her in her Group One victories during the season, Opie Bosson and Michael McNab.

Melody Belle is the ninth horse to win the title more than once. Sunline took the title four times with Show Gate, Rough Habit, Xcellent, Seachange, Mufhasa, Mongolian Khan and Bonneval the other dual winners.

Apart from Melody Belle’s dominance in her various categories, other highlights of the evening were the Te Akau trained 2yo, Cool Aza Beel, winning the Champion 2yo Award, Te Akau Trainer, Jamie Richards, for winning both the Trainer Of the Year and Trainers Premiership Awards, Te Akau Stable rider, Opie Bosson, winning the Jockey Of The Year award (for the 6th time) and Julia Rose Hayes of Te Akau Racing taking out the Award for Contribution to Media, Digital & Content, Julia-Rose emulating her Mother (Karyn Fenton-Ellis) who had won the award in 2012.


See the full list of Awards recipients below:

New Zealand Horse of the Year:

Melody Belle (54 votes).

Also: Catalyst (3), Probabeel (1), Te Akau Shark (1), Wise Men Say (1).

NZTR Award for Outstanding Contribution to Racing:

Kevin Gray.

Champion Two-Year-Old:

Cool Aza Beel (61).

Other finalists: Play That Song, Vernazza.

Champion Three-Year-Old:

Catalyst (35).

Other finalists: Probabeel (16), Quick Thinker (3), Jennifer Eccles (2), Sherwood Forest (1), Travelling Light (1), Loire, Two Illicit.

Champion Sprinter-Miler (up to 1600m):

Melody Belle (37).

Other finalists: Te Akau Shark (16), Bostonian (4), Avantage (3), Julius.

Champion Middle-Distance Horse (1601m-2200m):

Melody Belle (57).

Other finalists: True Enough (4), Avantage (1).

Champion Stayer (2201m and further):

The Chosen One (45).

Other finalists: Roger That (9), Platinum Invador (7).

Champion Jumper:

It’s A Wonder (36).

Other finalists: Wise Men Say (13), Bad Boy Brown (12).

Trainer of the Year – sponsored by Dunstan:

Jamie Richards (only finalist).

Jockey of the Year:

Opie Bosson (49).

Other finalist: Lisa Allpress (11).

Jumps Jockey of the Year:

Shaun Fannin (39).

Other finalists: Aaron Kuru (17), Shaun Phelan (5).

Owner of the Year:

Brendan and Jo Lindsay (47).

Other finalists: Dick Karreman (7), Trelawney Thoroughbred (3), Joan Egan (1), JML Bloodstock (1), NZ Thoroughbred Holdings (1), Hermitage Thoroughbreds, Kevin Hickman, OTI Management, Sir Peter Vela.

Stablehand of the Year– sponsored by Majestic Horse Floats
Lisa Kennedy (employed by Kevin Myers).
Other finalists: Mette Mosebo (Te Akau Racing), Tracy Affleck (Ellis Winsloe).

NZTR Award for Contribution to Media, Digital & Content:
Julia-Rose Hayes (Te Akau Racing).
Other finalists: Aidan Rodley, Jo Starr (NZ Horse Ambulance Trust) and Scott Freeman, Danny Hunter and Josie Murphy ( Trackside).

Trainers’ Premiership:

Jamie Richards.

Jockeys’ Premiership:

Lisa Allpress.

Apprentice Jockeys’ Premiership:

Kozzi Asano.

Owners premiership:

Brendan & Jo Lindsay.

Newcomer to Training – sponsored by
Chrissy Bambry.