By NZ Racing Desk
New Zealand: Champion racemare Melody Belle created a piece of NZ racing history in Auckland on Saturday when she recorded her 14th G1 victory – surpassing the mighty Sunline’s mark for G1 wins to become the nation’s number one for victories at the top level.
Ridden by Troy Harris, the dual NZ Horse of the Year stormed home in the G1 Bonecrusher New Zealand Stakes at Ellerslie by a length and a quarter over her Jamie Richards-trained stablemate Avantage, who is an eight-time G1 winner in her own right.
Melody Belle was sent off second favourite behind odds-on Avantage, her having attracted her share of doubters since following last month’s defeat at Te Rapa over the same 2,000-metre (1m2f) distance. But the six-year-old daughter of Commands sparked emotional scenes in the Ellerslie birdcage as she strode away for a record-breaking success.
The world record for Group or Grade 1 wins stands at 25, achieved by the legendary Winx before her retirement in April 2019.
Most Group or Grade 1 wins (Flat only)
Richards was clearly affected by what he had just witnessed as he paid heartfelt tribute to his champion galloper. “She is such a wonderful mare,” said New Zealand’s dominant trainer.
“All of the talk that she wasn’t going well enough and all that crap … well she is a champion and champions bounce back,” he added. “It wasn’t her fault at Te Rapa and I’m just proud of her and the whole team. It was a fantastic win and I’m also just thrilled for Troy, it’s just a feelgood story.”
Richards will now shift his focus with Melody Belle to a final trans-Tasman raid before she is likely to be retired at the end of this campaign.
“She is sound, happy and easy to train and loves going about her business,” he said. “I’m really proud of her and she loves to prove people wrong.
This is her farewell tour, but I’m not too sure just where she will go from here. We are looking at races in Sydney and in Brisbane – 2000m is her pet trip now, so we will be targeting races like that for her.”
Bred by Marie Leicester, Melody Belle was a $57,500 purchase by David Ellis CNZM at the 2016 Premier Yearling sale at Karaka from the Haunui Farm draft for owners, the Fortuna Melody Belle syndicate.
Her career record now stands at 19 wins and seven placings from 38 starts with all bar one of her career wins coming at stakes level including 13 G1 wins at home in NZ plus the Empire Rose Stakes at Flemington in November 2019.