Belle En Rouge – Group 1 Glory & Joint Filly of the Year
20 Mar 2022
Resulting in an incredible outcome, Belle En Rouge (3 f Burgundy – Cavendish Belle, by Thorn Park) was brilliant in victory in the $400,000 Al Basti Equiworld Dubai New Zealand Oaks (Gr. 1, 2400m) on Saturday at Trentham, while dead-heating with her stablemate and race runner up Self Obsession for first in New Zealand Bloodstock Filly of the Year Series.
Belle En Rouge, after winning the Eight Carat Classic (Gr. 2, 1600m), plus registering thirds in the 1000 Guineas (Gr. 1, 1600m) and the Soliloquy Stakes (Gr. 3, 1400m), led with three races of the 11-leg series remaining.
However, victory by stable-mate Self Obsession (Shocking) in the Lowland Stakes (Gr. 2, 2100m), after wins in the Royal Stakes (Gr. 2, 2000m) and the David & Karyn Ellis Fillies Classic (Gr. 2, 2000m) put her ahead in the Series prior to the Oaks, but a one-two finish in of favour Belle En Rouge tied them at the death with 31 points apiece.
Not ending there for Te Akau, 1000 Guineas (Gr. 1, 1600m) winner The Perfect Pink (Savabeel) finished third in Filly of the Year, Imperatriz (I Am Invincible), who earlier on the card won Levin Classic (Gr. 1, 1600m) grabbed fourth, and Shepherd’s Delight (Rip Van Winkle) was fifth.
Owned by the Te Akau Beautiful in Red Racing Partnership (Mgr: Karyn Fenton-Ellis MNZM), Belle En Rouge was bred by David Ellis CNZM & Karyn Fenton-Ellis MNZM.
Her sire, Burgundy (Redoute’s Choice), purchased as a yearling by Ellis, won five stakes’ races before standing at stud and having his first three two-year-olds to race win on debut.
Out of Thorn Park mare, Belle En Rouge is from family of smart gallopers Filante Etoile (Soviet Star), Valbuena (Darci Brahma), and Star Dancer (Starwatch).
“I’m quite taken aback, really, as it’s just such a special thrill to breed an Oaks’ winner,” Ellis said. “We syndicated her to some really good clients and although she didn’t race as a two-year-old she’s been a revelation this season.
“I’d like to congratulate John Elstob and his partner, Denise, in particular, because they’ve shared in both our Group 1 winner’s today. They put so much in to racing. Not just ownership, but through sponsorship with their SVS Veterinary Supplies’ business, and also with John as Chairman of the Waikato Racing Club.
“It’s incredibly rewarding for Jamie (Richards) to have secured a further two Group 1 wins in a day. It shows our owners that he and all our team are humming and are doing things right.
“All our staff worked incredibly hard over the last few months, they’ve given it their all, and Karyn and I are just so proud to be part of the team.
“I was watching the races today at home because we have been flat out selling shares in all our new yearlings. Karyn and I agreed she would represent us in Wellington and some friends including with Mark Walker, Marcus Corban, David Peacocke, Gilbert Southworth and Ian Farrelly joined me to watch the day’s racing. It was so exciting to be surrounded by such great friends to cheer home a homebred filly in the Oaks. It couldn’t have been scripted any better.
“She (Belle En Rouge) looked as though she could win halfway down the straight and I was so pleased for Jason Laking, who rode her. He’s done an incredible job for us when we’ve had horses stabled in the South Island.
“Jason had already won a Group 1 with The Jewel in the 1000 Guineas, and now he’s won the Oaks. He’s a terrific person, a very good jockey and he deserved another Group 1 win and I am thrilled it is in the tangerine.
“Winning the Oaks really caps a great season for our homebred fillies. It’s remarkable how well the likes of Belle En Rouge, Maven Belle, and Burgundy Rose have performed. It’s a real credit to Steph (Hyde-Richards) and Deane (Lowcay) who have reared, looked after and broken in all these horses at Te Akau Stud. They’re champion people and we’re lucky to have them.
“It’s also incredible to have given Burgundy his first Group 1 winner. I bought him as a yearling and he was such a high quality galloper that we probably didn’t see the best of, even though he won five stakes’ races.
“His progeny have proved extremely versatile, especially through the deeds of Belle En Rouge and Maven Belle, but he’d already sired another NZB Filly of the Year, too, when Dijon Bleu won. It’s such a shame he’s no longer with us to breed from.
“To finish first equal for Filly of the Year is a great honour. Self Obsession, a filly we train for David Price in Hong Kong, had an outstanding season and to be honest the result reflects how well both fillies have raced.
“It’s our seventh (eighth if you could both fillies) NZB Filly of the Year victory in the past 15 years, and we’ll be trying hard to add to that.
“Full credit to New Zealand Bloodstock for having created this series of races for three-year-old fillies and the $50,000 bonus for owners, breeders, trainers is fantastic, and it doesn’t go unnoticed how much they put back into this industry. We’re very grateful and proud to be part of it all.”
While winning three of five stakes’ races on offer, trainer Jamie Richards could have claimed a clean sweep had it not been for narrow defeats of Mai Tai (Atlante) in the Cuddle Stakes (Gr. 3, 1600m) and Burgundy Rose (Burgundy) in Race A Horse with Te Akau No. 1 Stable Lightning Handicap (Listed, 1200m).
But having Leaderboard (Street Cry) win New Zealand St Leger (Listed, 2500m), Imperatriz (I Am Invincible) the Levin Classic (Gr. 1, 1600m), and New Zealand Oaks (Gr. 1, 2400m) with Belle En Rouge, to notch his 53rdGroup 1 – seventh this season – it’s doubtful he would be complaining.
Drawn (3) to get a soft trip, Belle En Rouge was positioned seventh for most of the journey, tracked up as the pace quickened inside the 600m and with steely determination she arrested the lead to beat a game Self Obsession, while Aspen Colorado (Proisir) and The Perfect Pink (Savabeel) closed late for third and fourth, respectively.
On Dead4 footing, Belle En Rouge, somewhat forgotten in betting following sixth in Sunline Vase (Gr. 3, 2100m), paid $26.70 & $5.40 on NZ TAB tote, after running 2400 metres in 2:31.0.
“It was 50/50 whether we would run her after Ellerslie, but I was confident she has so much toughness about her that she would be able to overcome things that hadn’t been going her way,” Richards said.
“Full credit to the team at home because we’ve been under the pump with everything that happens with Covid and the staff has done an amazing job to stand up even more so than they have all season.
“Jason (Laking) was able to capitalise on a good draw and gave her a lovely ride. She went to sleep in midfield. Jason’s a great rider and for both of us growing up in Wingatui, where he did his time down the road at Hec Anderton’s place, it’s special. Mum and Dad were just down the road and I was growing up.
“I think Jason might have even been driving Dad to the races, when Dad was in the backseat having a couple of quiets, and Jason was driving as an apprentice. I’ve known him for a long time and he’s been a quality jockey all the way through. I can’t thank him enough for the lovely ride that he gave her.
“Self Obsession has been up a long time and had a few aches and pains along the way, so she’s done a wonderful job. The whole team has stood up and been counted today.
“It’s great to come down here and get a couple of Group Ones. But it’s not just about me, but rather the team at home, our wonderful owners, vets, and farriers and all those sorts of people that make these big occasions possible.”
On dismounting, Laking said: “I got a nice run, four back and one off the fence, and she just went to sleep. But all credit goes to Jamie and his staff. They put in hours and hours and said she’d be a really good chance today. I got her out into the open, she toughed it out and won bloody well. It’s bloody awesome to win it.
“He (Richards) gives me a chance whenever he can, which I really appreciate and happy to repay him for it.
“I remember when we were kids and I was in the sauna and he used to sneak in and turn the bloody thing off. But he does a terrific job and I hope he does well over in Hong Kong.”
Belle En Rouge and Self Obsession tied honours in becoming seventh Filly of the Year for Te Akau, following Oaks’ winning stable-mate Amarelinha (Savabeel) last year, Costa Viva (Encosta de Lago), King’s Rose (Redoute’s Choice), Insouciant (Keeper), Princess Coup (Encosta de Lago) and Shikoba (Chief Bearhart).
Belle En Rouge was strapped by Lauren Russo.
Photo credit – www.raceimages.co.nz