Good old fashioned kiwi ingenuity came to the fore, after the cancellation of the NZTR Horse of the Year presentations because of COVID-19.

The presentations would have been where New Zealand champion mare Melody Belle would receive her second successive Horse of the Year crown.

Te Akau Stables, where Melody Belle calls home, stepped up to the plate to host their own celebrations at the Waikato Racecourse.

This dovetailed in with the NZTR (New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing) virtual awards ceremony.

Sideline Sid has a small insight into the Melody Belle journey to double Horse of the Year success, courtesy of a share the size of a few hairs in a horse’s tail, in a Fortuna Thoroughbred Syndicate horse trained in Singapore by Te Akau Singapore trainer Mark Walker.

Fortuna Thoroughbred Syndicates was established by John Galvin in 2007, after he had experienced the thrill of racing success, with shares in 2002 joint champion two year old Kapsdan and champion two and three year old and multiple Group 1 winner Darci Brahma.

The Fortuna Syndicate purchases for New Zealand Racing are almost exclusively purchased by Te Akau principal David Ellis, while John Galvin and Fortuna Singapore trainer Mark Walker put their heads together to select Singapore options.

The Melody Belle story began at the 2016 Karaka yearling sales, where Ellis purchased a Commands filly out of Melka Belle for just $57,500 on behalf of Fortuna.

Much of the appeal to both David Ellis and John Galvin, was that the filly was descended from the well renowned "Belle" family started by James and Annie Sarten decades previously.

Just where Melody Belle stands amongst her thoroughbred contemporaries, can be seen from her list of Group 1 victories, which currently stands at 11. Just two behind champion Sunline and equal with the mighty Rough Habit.

Melody Belle finished her two-year-old season with the Group 1 Manawatu Sires Produce Stakes and the Karaka Millions under her belt.

Over the last three years, the Matamata trained thoroughbred has 'owned' the Hawke's Bay Spring Triple Crown series, with six Group 1 victories from six starts.

The Jamie Richards trained mare won the 2018 Tarzino Trophy and Windsor Park Plate over 1400 and1600 metres.

Twelve months later, she became the first thoroughbred to take out the triple crown series, going back to back in the Tarzino Trophy and Windsor Park Plate, before stepping up in distance to win the 2040 metre Livamol Classic.

The mare's outstanding will to win was shown just a couple of weeks ago, when she returned from racing in unsuitable conditions in Sydney to take out the Windsor Park Plate for the third successive year.

Twelve months ago, Melody Belle showed the Aussie's how good she is, when she headed the best in Australia in winning the Group 1 Empire Rose Stakes on Derby day at Flemington.

While trainer Jamie Richards puts the work and finishing touches into the mare and David Ellis oversees the Te Akau operations, the architect of Melody Belle's success is without doubt Fortuna's John Galvin.

His record as a syndicator speaks for itself with 105 syndicates (and counting) with 182 individual wins since 2007.

Multiple Group winner Tell A Tale, who won $1.5 million, stakes winners Zabene, Darcis Dream, Windborne and Melody Belle, along with multiple Singapore winners Eaton’s Gold and Hidden Promise, are just some the Fortuna winners selected by John Galvin

The 34 members of the Melody Belle ownership group can testify to Fortuna's John and Jessica Galvin in making thoroughbred racing dreams come true.


Sideline Sid
Sports correspondent & historian