In the first stakes race of the new New Zealand season, Major Tom (Red Giant[USA]) belied his preferred wet-track form with a game win in the 1600 metre Group Three feature to score his maiden stakes success.
The Riccarton Park track, rated as a Dead 5, was in great shape for the 123rd running of the Winter Cup and attracted a decent field in which Major Tom, a raider from the far north of the country, took over soon after straightening and was tenacious to the line, holding off two serious late challenges.
With nine of his previous ten wins on rain affected tracks, including two immediately preceding this run, Major Tom sat in seventh, one off the fence until the home straight where jockey Sam Weatherly had a great view. They lodged their claim inside the 400m then the seven-year-old clung on very well in his career-best effort.
Major Tom represents a branch of the “Belle” family, made famous by James and Annie Sarten and continued by their daughter Marie Leicester. The first three generations of this particular branch have not been as stakes prolific as most of the others but there are still plenty of winners.
His first dam Letsgoparty (Oregon[USA]) won seven including the Whangarei Cup – a race also won by Major Tom in 2018 -adding victories at Ellerslie and Avondale. Her first foal Party Crasher (Scaredee Cat) won three and her second foal Playboy Prince (Great Britain[GB]) has won four. Her next foal didn’t race, Major Tom is her fourth foal, and he was followed by Roctheparty (Roc de Cambes) an unraced five-year-old mare. Her last two foals a four-year-old gelding by Super Easy and a three-year-old colt by Falkirk are both yet to race as well.
Letsgoparty ranks as a three-quarter blood sister to Party Belle (Oregon[USA]) a Sydney Listed placed winner of six. His grandam, Party Jet (Jetball[AUS]) and third dam, Garden Party (Grosvenor) did not race.
Neither did his fourth dam Elite Belle (Brigand[USA]). However, Elite Belle was half-sister to VRC Queen Elizabeth Stakes (Gr.2, 2500m) winner Janneau (Sir Tristram[IRE]) and to the first rate producer Heidi Belle (Copenhagen II[GB]).
Heidi Belle has established her own dynasty, being the dam of multiple Group winner Finezza Belle (Sir Tristram[IRE]) whose daughter Christiana Belle (Sackford[GB]), granddaughter Zino Belle (Success Express[USA]) and great granddaughter Silver Eclipse (Darci Brahma) all won at either Group or Listed level.
Another daughter of Heidi Belle is Kirin Belle (McGinty), dam of Queensland Guineas (Gr.2, 1600m) and three-times Group One placed Winning Belle (Zabeel), whose daughter Plucky Belle (Mossman[AUS]) won the Coolmore Classic (Gr.1, 1500m).
Major Tom may have had to wait until seven to chime in with a stakes win but he represents a family that keeps on giving. -Lloyd Jackson