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Team Te Akau’s One To Watch – Nicole Shailer

22 Jul 2022

Welcome to our new series where we highlight some of our promising gallopers!

In this series, we will profile our “Team Te Akau’s One To Watch” as identified by one of our team members.  We are so proud of our people, our team members are so crucial in nurturing our horses, ensuring they thrive in the stables, leaving no stone unturned in helping every horse to reach their potential.

This week we’re catching up with Nicole Shailer who is an integral part of Te Akau’s Matamata team.

Nicole runs the middle barn at the racecourse, having learnt her trade in the Central Districts. From Feilding, she worked in her school holidays for Bruce Marsh at Woodville, at a time when great galloper, and million-dollar earner, Hail (Stark South) was in the stable. Nicole also gained valuable experience as a track work rider in Matamata, and has previously worked as foreman at local stables. Within the Te Akau team Nicole has looked after the likes of Melody Belle, Probabeel, Avantage and Gingernuts who all called the Middle Barn home.

David Ellis CNZM adds: “Nicole is the epitome of dedication when it comes to dealing with horses and we are lucky to have people of her experience, drive and passion.”

Nicole touches on some of her best memories in racing as well as her ‘ones to watch’ – Maven Belle and Angels Wings.

A Te Akau homebred filly, Maven Belle (2 f Burgundy – Doyenne, by Kilimanjaro) is a Te Akau Stud ‘home-bred’ filly who was syndicated amongst Te Akau owners.  She is raced by the Te Akau Maven Belle Racing Partnership (Mgr: Karyn Fenton-Ellis MNZM).

With size, quality, class, presence, and the temperament to match, Maven Belle packed plenty into a 12-week campaign that took her from debut winner to Group 1 Queen.

She quickened clear for a smart debut win over subsequent Wellesley Stakes (Listed, 1100m) winning stable-mate Hanalei (Darci Brahma) when debuting on 3 January at Te Aroha.

Her second start resulted in a Group victory, when primed and ready she won the Platinum Homes 2YO Classic (Gr. 3, 1200m) on Legends Day (12 February) at Te Rapa.

On 26 February at Matamata, she became the seventh Matamata Breeders’ Stakes (Gr. 2, 1200m) winner for Te Akau, drawing clear to win, easing down by two and a half lengths, in a exceptional performance.

She was tops again when finishing third in the Sistema Stakes (Gr. 1, 1200m) on 13 March at Ellerslie, a race where astute judges say only bad luck prevented her winning.  However, revenge is sweet and she made it four wins from five starts when claiming victory in the Manawatu Sires’ Produce Stakes (Gr. 1, 1400m) on 2 April at Awapuni.

In doing so, she became the second Te Akau home-bred filly to win at the elite level this season, after Belle En Rouge (Burgundy) won the NZ Oaks (Gr. 1, 2400m) to tie stable-mate Self Obsession (Shocking) for NZB Filly of the Year honours, while becoming the 35th stakes’ winner for the stable this season and eighth at Group 1 level.

She also notched the seventh Sires’ Produce Stakes win for Te Akau, and fifth in a row following On the Bubbles, Yourdeel, Avantage and Melody Belle. Previously, Te Akau had won the race with Kindacross and Maroofity, both trained by Mark Walker.

By five-time stakes’ winner Burgundy (Redoute’s Choice), from stakes’ placed winner of six to 2000 metres Doyenne (Kilimanjaro), Maven Belle is bred for further but showed her class over 1200m/1400m as a two-year-old and shapes for an exciting three-year-old season.

Ellis purchased Burgundy as a yearling, along with his three-quarter brother and Champion Sire Darci Brahma (Danehill).

Nicole’s other ‘one to watch’ is Angels Wings (2 f Heroic Valour – Gowana, by More Than Ready).

She was purchased by David Ellis CNZM and Andrew Williams Bloodstock for $100,000, from the draft of KBL Thoroughbreds, at the 2021 Gold Coast National Yearling Sale, and owned by Fortuna Angels Wings Syndicate (Mgr: John Galvin).

In three trials to date, Angels Wings worked home without much room on 29 November at Matamata, did well when held together in photo-finish for third on 14 February at Te Rapa, and shut out when looking to mount a run and finished fifth on 1 March at Avondale.

David Ellis CNZM also purchased her sire Heroic Valour (Fastnet Rock) as a yearling at Karaka, and known for his consistency at top level he was rewarded with victory in the Diamond Stakes (Gr. 1, 1200m) at Ellerslie.

Heroic Valour competed at stakes level in 16 of 19 starts, winning four, runner-up seven times, and fifth or better 18 times.

That reliability has seen him make a grand beginning to his stallion career in Australia, currently third Leading First Season Sire. Heroic Valour is the only Group 1 winning two-year-old son of Fastnet Rock at stud in Australia.

“There is a lot of talk by trainers about the progeny of Heroic Valour and they’ve got them going very well,” Ellis said. “And the trainers themselves are putting mares to him, which is a very good sign.

“I liked him (Heroic Valour) enormously as a yearling and bought him for our breeding syndicate. He was very professional, sensational temperament, had a beautifully relaxed demeanour and we rated him one of the best Fastnet Rock (Danehill) colts in the sale.”

Heroic Valour is a half-brother to Triple Honour (Honours List), who won three times as a two-year-old, a top horse in any language, and culminated his career winning the Doncaster Handicap (Gr. 1, 1600m) at Randwick. Dam, Myrrh (Nassipour), left nine individual winners of 32 races.

Their dam-sire, Nassipour, has always been regarded as a great stallion and famous for siring the terrific race mare Let’s Elope, who was very impressive winning the Melbourne Cup for trainer Bart Cummings.

Angels Wings carries a Danehill cross through the sire line of Heroic Valour and dam line of Gowana.

Gowana, by exceptional Australian broodmare sire More Than Ready (Southern Halo), won over 1100 metres and already left listed winner and twice Group 1 placed Harmony Rose (Glass Harmonium).

Of note, legendary New Zealand stallion Sir Tristram sired the third dam.

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