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Fast & beautiful Veloce Bella thrills her owner-breeder

Almost a week after Veloce Bella's win in the AvJC Avondale Guineas 1600m G2 last Saturday, the excitement is still evident in the voice of her Hamilton breeder and co-owner Margaret Hardy.

"It's almost surreal, Veloce Bella's results have exceeded our expectations. It's indescribable really, a huge thrill!"



2006 Avondale Guineas G2 winner, and Volksraad's 40th SW, VELOCE BELLA
PHOTO: NZ Thoroughbred Marketing
The three-year-old filly by Volksraad from Wave To Lottie (by Crested Wave) is unbeaten in three starts this season, after being twice stakes-placed in three starts at two. Originally from Wanganui, Margaret and her husband Murray have lived in the Waikato for 20 years. They began breeding horses on their 15-acre property four years ago after purchasing Wave To Lottie (by Crested Wave) for $5,000 from fellow NZTBA member Peter Neilson at the 2002 New Zealand Broodmare Sale.

Says Margaret, "We fell in love with her, she's a beautiful mare with a good temperament, and leaves beautiful foals." The mare recovered her purchase price with the sale of her filly by Align for $22,000 at the 2004 New Zealand Festival Sale. That filly has not been named.

As a newcomer to the thoroughbred breeding industry, Margaret sought and found good advice and professional services. She joined the NZTBA, sent her sale yearlings to John and Karin Hogan of JK Farm, and commissioned Mark Brosnan to train her racehorses.
"We've also had huge support from Windsor Park and Curraghmore Studs, which has been really lovely. Without it, we'd have been at quite a loss."

It was Windsor Park's general manager Steve Till who suggested Volksraad as a good upgrading mating for Wave To Lottie and she produced Veloce Bella (Italian for "fast, beautiful woman"). The mare also has an unraced two-year-old filly Manata (by Kaapstad), a yearling colt by Daggers Drawn in the 2007 NZ Select sale and a colt foal by Daggers Drawn.

In fact, Margaret bred four foals in 2003 and three of them, Veloce Bella, Book Keeper (Keeper) and Nelson Bay (Danske) were all on last Saturday's Avondale card. Ironically, Veloce Bella is the only one of the trio that failed to sell as a yearling. She was subsequently sold to Case Lot Syndicate, comprising Margaret and five wine-loving friends who make a point of sharing lunch or dinner every time the filly races.

Since 2003 Margaret has sold or given away all her mares except Wave To Lottie, the non-winning daughter of a Sovereign Edition half-sister to late 1970s-early 1980s stakeswinners Fast Food (13 wins in Australia) and Tiger Jones (six wins in New Zealand and the United States). "The others were only Festival Sale mares, so it wasn't a sustainable investment." The Case Lot Syndicate intends at this stage to breed from Veloce Bella, and Margaret will probably also retain Manata and invest in other mares.

One reason the Syndicate members have so far refused to consider offers for Veloce Bella is their gratitude to Mark Brosnan.
"Mark is such a fantastic horseman and always puts what's best for the horse above everything else. We want him to share the pleasure of racing her as much as we do." Well aware of the risks of racing, Margaret and her fellow owners are happy to plan Veloce Bella's current campaign one race at a time, but hope that she will line up in the ARC Ladies' Mile (Eight Carat Classic) G2 on Boxing Day, with the New Zealand Oaks G1 as nothing more than a possibility at this stage. One thing is certain, though. Margaret, Murray and their friends are not going to stop breeding and racing horses. "This industry is incredibly addictive!"



- Susan Archer