Mata­mata well recog­nised at awards

Matamata Chronicle - - Motoring - DEN­NIS RYAN

For the third year run­ning the supreme award went to Cam­bridge, but Mata­mata par­tic­i­pants were still well recog­nised when the 2017 New Zealand Thor­ough­bred Horse of the Year awards were an­nounced in Auck­land on Sun­day night.

The big talk­ing point ahead of the an­nual func­tion was which way the vot­ing panel would judge be­tween the coun­try’s two dom­i­nant three-year-olds from last sea­son – Bon­neval or Ginger­nuts. Both were clas­sic win­ners in New Zealand and Aus­tralia, and the end it was the Mur­ray Baker/ An­drew Fors­man-trained Bon­neval who came out on top over the Stephen Autridge/Jamie Richards-trained Ginger­nuts.

In the three-year-old cat­e­gory Bon­neval took 30 of the 57 votes and Ginger­nuts 24, while Bon­neval also took the stay­ers’ tro­phy and the supreme Horse of the Year award, by 27 votes to Ginger­nuts’ 15.

It was a com­pre­hen­sive vic­tory for the Cam­bridge mare, whose Mel­bourne spring cam­paign be­gan in su­perb style on the week­end when she won the Dato’ Tan Chin Nam Stakes at Moonee Val­ley.

I have to ad­mit to some sym­pa­thy for no tro­phy find­ing its way to Ginger­nuts, who in just about any other year would have gained due recog­ni­tion for win­ning the New Zealand Derby and the Rose­hill Guineas, but the out­come un­der­lines the strength of the three-year-old crop.

Team Te Akau didn’t go home empty-handed, tak­ing the twoyear-old award with the For­tuna Syn­di­ca­tions-owned Melody Belle, win­ner of the Gr. 1 Mana- watu Sires’ Pro­duce Stakes, Gr. 2 BRC Sires’ Pro­duce Stakes and the Karaka Mil­lion.

As well as that, David El­lis, the prin­ci­pal of New Zealand’s dom­i­nant race­horse syndication model, was recog­nised for his in­put to own­er­ship, ad­min­is­tra­tion, breed­ing and over­all in­dus­try mat­ters with the award for Out­stand­ing Con­tri­bu­tion to New Zealand Rac­ing.

From small be­gin­nings as he dab­bled in own­er­ship in his 20s, for the last decade or more David has been the lead­ing buyer at the Na­tional Year­ling Sales and heads one of the coun­try’s big­gest rac­ing op­er­a­tions, with around 100 horses in train­ing in Mata­mata com­ple­mented by another premier­ship-win­ning sta­ble in Sin­ga­pore.

Ap­pren­tice Sam Weather­ley was recog­nised for his achieve­ments last sea­son with the cham­pion ap­pren­tice tro­phy, while Waikato Stud stal­lion Sav­abeel again scooped the pool in the breed­ing cat­e­gories by claim­ing all three tro­phies as the cham­pion sire on the do­mes­tic, Aus­tralasian and global pre­mier­ships.

The big wet con­tin­ues to dis­rupt rac­ing. In the 2016-17 sea­son no less than 13 race meet­ings and 133 races were aban­doned due to weather or track re­lated is­sues.

Six weeks into the new sea­son and there’s been no im­prove­ment, with the Mata­mata race meet­ing on Au­gust 30 con­ducted on a sat­u­rated Heavy11 track, and the prospect of the same for this week’s sched­uled meet­ing draw­ing a mea­gre 35 nom­i­na­tions and there­fore be­ing scrapped.


Star filly Melody Belle was voted cham­pion two-year-old in the New Zealand Thor­ough­bred Horse of the Year Awards.

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