NZB Graduates Shine at New Zealand Horse of the Year Awards

A brilliant three-year-old season by Karaka graduate Bonneval (NZ) (Makfi) was honoured with four awards at Sunday evening’s New Zealand Thoroughbred Horse of the Year Awards, including the coveted Horse of the Year title.

Purchased by Baker Racing for $150,000 at the 2015 Premier Sale, Bonneval earned more than six times that amount during a spectacular four-race winning streak between February and April. She won the Group 2 Sir Tristram Fillies’ Classic at Te Rapa, the Group 3 Lowland Stakes at Hastings and the Group 1 New Zealand Oaks at Trentham, then travelled to Sydney for a brilliant and dominant come-from-behind win in the Group 1 Australian Oaks at Randwick.

With her three victories in New Zealand Bloodstock Filly of the Year Series races, along with a placing in the Group 3 Desert Gold Stakes, Bonneval clinched that title easily with 27.5 points – almost twice as many as her nearest challenger.

She was also voted New Zealand’s Champion Three-Year-Old, scoring 30 votes with nearest rival and fellow Karaka graduate Gingernuts (NZ) (Iffraaj) on 24, and her two Oaks wins also earned her the title of Champion Stayer (races over 2101m and further) with 37 votes.

Most importantly, she was named New Zealand Horse of the Year with 27 votes.

Bonneval is the first three-year-old filly to be voted New Zealand’s Horse of the Year since the legendary Sunline in 1999. She also took the title over from her former stablemate Mongolian Khan (Holy Roman Emperor), a Ready to Run Sale graduate who won the New Zealand Derby, Australian Derby and Caulfield Cup for back-to-back Horse of the Year titles in 2015 and 2016.

Bonneval’s influence did not end there. Her trainers Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman were voted New Zealand’s champion trainers, and her dam Imposingly (Zabeel) – who has had seven progeny catalogued at New Zealand Bloodstock sales – was Broodmare of the Year. Imposingly is also the dam of fellow Karaka graduate Imposing Lass (NZ) (Makfi), who was a Group 3 winner during the 2016-17 season.

The award for Champion Two-Year-Old went to Melody Belle (NZ) (Commands), who was bought by Te Akau principal David Ellis for $57,500 at the 2016 Premier Sale. She won four of her seven starts in 2016-17 including scintillating victories in the Karaka Million 2YO at Ellerslie, the Group 1 Manawatu Sires’ Produce Stakes at Awapuni and the Group 2 Sires’ Produce Stakes in Brisbane. She earned more than $865,000 in prizemoney – 15 times her purchase price – for her owners in a Fortuna Syndicate.

Melody Belle is the latest in a long line of award-winning Karaka graduates for Ellis, who has had over a decade-long reign as leading buyer at the National Yearling Sales Series. His other award-winning purchases include Xtravagant, Darci Brahma, King’s Chapel, Warhorse, Maroofity, Flying Fulton and War Affair.

Another of his purchases, the $42,500 Ready to Run Sale graduate Gingernuts, won the Group 1 New Zealand Derby and Rosehill Guineas and earned more than $1 million in prizemoney last season for his syndicate, many of them new to racehorse ownership.

Ellis’ immense influence as a buyer and syndicator of racehorses in New Zealand was honoured with the Outstanding Contribution to Racing Award. He has spent more than $60 million at the Karaka Sales Centre in the last 12 years.


Breeder of the Year was Goodwood Stud, founded 10 years ago by William Fell and his late father Rex. They bred their first Group 1 winner with Gingernuts last season, and their other black-type performers included fellow Karaka graduate Nicoletta (NZ) (Savabeel). 

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