The undisrupted portion of New Zealand’s 2019-20 racing season marked the 48th year of New Zealand Bloodstock’s highly prestigious Filly of the Year Series.
The coveted honour endowing thoroughbred excellence was presented by NZB’s Kane Jones to 2019-20 Series winner Jennifer Eccles’ (NZ) (Rip Van Winkle) winning connections at Shanue Ritchie’s racing stable in Cambridge last Friday.
Once described as New Zealand’s best maiden, the Shaune Ritchie-trained Jennifer Eccles made her first appearance on the Filly of the Year table after placing second in the Group One New Zealand 1000 Guineas (1600m) at Riccarton in November 2019.
Onwards from there she was unstoppable, subsequently winning the Group Two Eight Carat Classic (1600m), Group Two David & Karyn Ellis Fillies’ Classic (2000m) and Group Two Little Avondale Lowland Stakes (2100m).
She outclassed her rivals again winning a Trentham classic, the $400,000 Group One Al Basti Equiworld Dubai New Zealand Oaks (2400m), which cemented her Filly of the Year Series title by a margin of 22.5 points.
After an impressive crusade, Jennifer Eccles finished the series on top with a total of 44.5 points claiming this year’s title. The only other filly in the last two decades who reached 40 is Justa Tad (NZ) (Istidaad), who scored 42 in 2004-05.
Bred by Sue and Peter Westend, Jennifer Eccles was a $5,000 purchase by syndicator Adrian Clark at the 2017 National Weanling, Broodmare & Mixed Bloodstock Sale. She has now won four of her 12 starts and NZ$507,650 in stakes for the Challenge No.10 Syndicate, more than 101 times her purchase price.
“She’s a spectacular filly and has a great turn of foot,” said trainer Shaune Ritchie, who was thoroughly impressed with her campaign.
“There has been a quality bunch of fillies in New Zealand this year, with the likes of Two Illicit (NZ) (Jimmy Choux), Probabeel (NZ) (Savabeel), Travelling Light (NZ) (El Roca), Loire (NZ) (Redoute's Choice) and Showbeel (NZ) (Savabeel), so to win that title in such a strong year is a tremendous achievement,” he said.
There are eleven races in the 20120-21 NZB Filly of the Year Series, with significant prizes for the owner, trainer and breeder of the ultimate Series winner.
The NZB Filly of the Year winner immediately becomes a highly valuable breeding proposition and earns her connections $50,000 in bonus cheques including $10,000 for her breeder, $10,000 for her trainer and $30,000 for her owner(s).