Homebred filly the Belle of the ball

Maven Belle
Maven Belle winning the Group 3 2YO Classic (1200m) at Te Rapa. Photo: Trish Dunell

The tangerine and blue silks of Te Akau Racing are a familiar sight in Australasian racing circles and on Saturday they lodged a special victory.

Maven Belle’s win in the Group 3 2YO Classic (1200m) at Te Rapa was Te Akau Racing’s 20th New Zealand stakes win for the season (Self Obsession added another to that later on the card in the Group 2 David and Karyn Ellis Fillies Classic (2000m)) and the talented filly is also a homebred for David Ellis, Karyn Fenton-Ellis and trainer Mark Walker who is due to return as head of the Matamata-based racing operation in the coming months.

The smart juvenile is a daughter of the late Redoute’s Choice stallion Burgundy who was purchased by Ellis as a yearling for NZD$1.3m out of the New Zealand Bloodstock Yearling Sales and went on to win seven races, five at stakes level including the Group 2 Cambridge Thoroughbred Breeders’ Stakes.

He is currently the sire of eight stakes winners including Group Two winners Dijon Bleu, Hard Merchandize, Belle En Rouge, and Brandenburg.

“I’ve really supported Burgundy from day one sending six or seven mares to him each year,” Te Akau principal David Ellis said. “I think he is a hell of a loss to the industry, at the moment he has the leading filly in the New Zealand Filly of the Year Series that I bred, he now has a stakes winning two-year-old and he sired the New Zealand Cup winner as well (Mondorani).”

Ellis purchased Maven Belle’s dam Doyenne as a weanling at Westbury Stud’s Unreserved Mixed Bloodstock Sale in 2005 for NZD$4,500 and she went on to perform with credit on the track, winning on six occasions and finishing runner up in the Listed CJC Spring Classic.

Maven Belle is Doyenne’s only winner to date though Ellis holds a high opinion of her three-year-old son Xtravert who also races out of the Te Akau Racing stable and is currently spelling on the farm.

Not served in 2020, Doyenne was covered by Embellish in 2021.

Not only did the pedigree page receive a black-type boost on Saturday through Maven Belle’s efforts but also through Levante, Doyenne’s half-sister, who won the Group 1 BCD Group Sprint (1400m) later on the card.

Island Doy was a two-time winner in Ireland and is the dam of five winners including Levante who was her final foal.

You don’t have to look far through the stallion register to see a sire that spent their racing career with Te Akau and Ellis said their breeding operation aims to support those that posted success from their training ranks.

“We like to support the studs that buy our stallions,” he said. “At the moment we have Xtravagant doing so well at Newhaven with Cool Aza Beel there as well and Heroic Valour in Queensland.

“We have Noverre at Waikato Stud, Darci Brahma at the Oaks, Embellish at Cambridge and we had Burgundy. We like to support these stallions and mate them accordingly.”

Te Akau have around 22 broodmares on their books though only retain a small portion of their progeny to race.

“Mainly we sell as our core business is racing,” Ellis explained. “We finish up with about 12 foals a year after that, we syndicate the best three or four and race the rest ourselves.

“Winning a race with one we have purchased is incredibly satisfying, at the moment we spend every minute of every day looking at yearlings and it is a hell of a time commitment but it is something we love doing.

“To win a race with one we have bred is also incredibly satisfying and hopefully we can continue to breed and race Group winners.”

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