Originally printed in the ANZ Bloodstock News
An old trick question used to be: Can you name the 1957 Auckland Cup winner?
It was a trick question because for the four-day carnival of the 1957-58 racing season the Auckland Racing Club switched their annual feature two-miler from Boxing Day to New Year’s Day.
There was no Auckland Cup run in 1957.
In case you were wondering, the ‘56 Cup was won by Yeman (Sabaean), and the ‘58 version by Red Eagle (Revelation).
On similar lines, the annual New Zealand Broodmare of the Year Award was not awarded in 1960. Sixty years on it is highly unlikely that any of the NZTBA panel, responsible for deciding such honours, is alive to explain why.
Inaugurated in 1953, the award recognizes outstanding broodmares, is very prestigious and the title is even added to a mare’s performance record where she apperas in tabulated catalog pedigrees.
Australia has no equivalent award.
Broiveine (Broiefort), dam of champion Dalray (Balloch), was the first of now 56 winners spread over 68 years. In 1980-81 the panel was torn and could not separate the deeds of Taiona (Sovereign Edition) and The Pixie (Mellay), they being declared joint winners, the one and only year for that to have happened.
Had the award been initiated in 1952, Broievine would most likely have joined Imitation (Oakville), Benediction (Day Is Done) and Triassic (Tights) as back-to-back winners because Dalray’s three-year-old season was almost on a par with his four-year-old season.
The great Sunbride (Tai-Yang) was the first dual winner and her feat was all the more remarkable because she achieved her second seven years after her first.
If the NZTBA had decided that 1950 should be the beginning they would probably have chosen Mabel Rose (Nightmarch) dam of champion Beaumaris (Beau Repaire). Manaroo (Siegfried), dam of the freak Mainbrace (Admiral’s Luck), would have bolted in as the 1951 victress.
Three mares: Eight Carat (Pieces Of Eight), Songline (Western Symphony) and Flying Floozie (Pompeii Court) were so dominant in their time that they achieved three successive titles.
Within the space of 13 years and proving just how strong her entire family was, Dulcie (Duccio), her daughter Micheline (Le Filou) and Dulcie’s granddaughter Belle Cherie (Sovereign Edition) can claim the distinction of the first family to be so honoured. The Pixie (see above), her daughter The Fantasy (Gate Keeper) and her granddaughter The Grin (Grosvenor) equalled Dulcie’s feat.
Family representation over multiple generations is what prompted this article.
Was Meleka Belle (Iffraaj), the 2020 winner, the first of the famous “Belle” family to have her name on the Broodmare Honours Board? As it turns out, the answer is yes, which is a little surprising given the fabulous history of her family.
You might ask: What about the 1966-67 season? Star Belle (Summertime) put together a glorious three-year-old season, winning 10 times, eight being stakes races including the Great Northern Triple Crown – the Great Northern Guineas (Gr.2, 8f), Great Northern Derby (Gr.1, 12f) and Great Northern St Leger (Gr.2, 14f).
When races such as the Riccarton New Zealand Oaks (Gr.2, 12f), Wellington Derby (Gr.2, 12f), Desert Gold Stakes (Gr.2, 8f), North Island Challenge Stakes (Gr.3, 7f) and Ellerslie’s Ladies Mile (Listed, 8f) are added, there would appear to be a very good case for her dam Belle Rosa (Instinct) to receive the award for 1966-67.
The following spring Star Belle ventured very successfully to Victoria and showed her class by taking out the JJ Liston Stakes (Gr.2, 7f) plus an attractive Flemington double, the Craiglee Stakes (Gr.2, 8f) and Turnbull Stakes (Gr.2, 12f).
Meleka Belle and Star Belle are closely linked. Belle Time (Summertime), Meleka Belle’s fourth dam, is a three-quarter blood sister to Star Belle.
Unfortunately, Belle Rosa would not be named Broodmare of the Year and that was due to a Trelawney-bred gelding by the name of Galilee (Alcimedes). He also managed to win eight stakes races, four of which are now classified Group 1. In order, Galilee took out the Toorak Handicap (Gr.1, 8f), the Caulfield Cup (Gr.1, 12f), the Melbourne Cup (Gr.1, 16f) and the following autumn the Sydney Cup (Gr.1, 16f). Consequently, his dam Galston (Balloch) was honoured instead. Against such competition, second wasn’t all bad for Belle Rosa.
While scanning the list of honourees, a myterious gap (1960) was revealed. No award was made that year.
So, the writer decided to retroactively research the 1959-60 season’s major race winners and perhaps arrive at a possible award winner.
And the nominees are:
LADY FOX by Foxbridge - Lady Marie (Romeo). Bred by Mr G Courtney.
Dam of Macdougal (1953g by Marco Polo II).
In the 1959-60 season Macdougal won the VRC Melbourne Cup (Gr.1) and the AJC Metropolitan Handicap (Gr.1).
Outside of this season he also won the QTC Brisbane Cup (Gr.1), the AJC Queen’s Cup (Gr.2) and the VRC Victoria Racing Club Handicap (Listed).
In all, Macdougal won 11 times (3-Gr.1s, 1-Gr.3, 1-Listed).
Lady Fox also produced Master Robin (1942c by Robin Goodfellow) who won the Wellington Guineas (Gr.2).
MERE-ANA by Foxbridge - Konneta (Bulandshar). Bred by Mrs GM Otway.
Dam of Travel Boy (1956c by Marco Polo II).
In the 1959-60 season Travel Boy won the Victoria Derby (Gr.1), the Queensland Derby (Gr.1) and the AJC Craven Plate (Listed). His placings included seconds in the AJC Derby (Gr.1) and the STC Rosehill Guineas (Gr.1).
The previous season Travel Boy won the VRC Sires’ Produce Stakes (Gr.1), the VRC Ascot Vale Stakes (Gr.2) and ran second in the AJC Sires’ Produce Stakes (Gr.1).
In all, Travel Boy won six times (3-Gr.1, 1-Gr.2, 1-Listed).
KING’S LADY by Sun King - Lady Rampion (Rampion). Bred by Mr JEP Cameron.
Dam of Lord Sasanof (1956c by Fair’s Fair).
In the 1959-60 season Lord Sasanof won the ARC Great Northern Guineas (Gr.2), the Wellington Guineas (Gr.2), the WRC Gloaming Stakes (Gr.2), the ARC King’s Plate (Gr.2) and the CJC Churchill Stakes (Gr.3).
Outside of this season he also added the ARC Clifford Plate (Gr.2), the Waikato RC Foxbridge Plate (Gr.3), the Te Aroha JC Thames Valley Stakes (Gr.3) and the Ohinemuri JC Queen Elizabeth II Plate (Gr.3).
In all, Lord Sasanof won 15 times (5-Gr.2, 4-Gr.3).
King’s Lady also produced Apa (1958g by Gabador) who won the Auckland Cup (Gr.1), the QTC Brisbane Cup (Gr.1) and the Waikato Gold Cup (Gr.3).
Three worthy nominees and no easy choice.
During the last 60 years there has been a change in how the industry views the major races. Cups, especially the Melbourne Cup and Caulfield Cup, were the most desirable. The Weight-For-Age WS Cox Plate (Gr.1) and Queen Elizabeth Stakes (Gr.1) have supplanted the cups as being the pinnacle of performance.
In modern times the classic three-year-old races, such as the Caulfield Guineas (Gr.1), seem to hold more prestige given the huge stud values of its winners.
This new prestige has spilled over into races like the Golden Slipper Stakes (Gr.1) for two-year-olds or the Coolmore Sprint (Gr.1) for three-year-old sprinters. Even The Everest, which does not have stakes status attached to its enormous prizemoney, has somewhat suddenly become a sire-making event.
Additionally, stayers were held in higher regard then whereas sprinter-milers and Group 1 2000 metres performers are looked upon more favourably of late.
On that basis, the panel in 1959-60 might possibly have favoured a Melbourne Cup victory over a Victoria Derby victory and they might have given the nod to Lady Fox.
What do you think?
If the award was to be retroactively awarded, should the decision be based on views held at the time? Times change. It’s an interesting conundrum.
Further to the above research, details backing the Broodmare Honours Board have been upgraded. The award is a high honour and the recipients deserve their accolades. Their produce records are amazing and certainly worth more exposure. After all, they set the standard.