VOTE | Who gave the most outstanding performance at Ellerslie in the 2020/21 season?

21 May 2021
Auckland Thoroughbred Racing

Each season we ask our friends to vote for who they think is worthy of the title “Outstanding Performance of the Year”.


This season, we have five finalists (listed below) in this category which is part of the 2020/21 Ellerslie Awards.

Each finalist has been selected by our Executive General Manager – Racing & Operations, Craig Baker, with his decision based on their remarkable effort to achieve victory.

Current members of the Auckland Racing Club, eDM subscribers OR fans of our social media accounts are entitled to one vote each.

To vote, send an email containing the name of the horse you wish to vote for to [email protected]

  • You may only vote once – multiple votes will result in disqualification

  • Voting closes at 5pm, Wednesday 26 May – so get in quick!

The winner, along with all other 2020/21 Ellerslie Award Winners, will be announced on Awards Raceday, Saturday 5 June, in the Takanini Room (open for Club members and their guests).

Outstanding Performance of the Year 2020/21 finalists

The finalists, complete with Craig’s comments on their performances, are below and listed in chronological order of their nominated performance:


In the: Sistema Railway

On: Friday, 1 January 2021

This year’s Sistema Railway was built up as a match race between Avantage and the “promising mare with the whirlwind finish”, Levante.

With a long season ahead of her, the Te Akau stable was open in saying that Avantage was not completely screwed down for the G1 sprint feature. However, that didn’t stop the flow of money, with Avantage starting the $2.10 favourite.

Because of the concern that she wasn’t 100% fit, this author went with Levante. How wrong!

From a good barrier, Opie Bosson was able to position Avantage in the trail, hook out on the corner, and kick away in the straight to beat Julius with Levante roaring home for third.



In the: Karaka Million 3YO Classic

On: Saturday, 23 January 2021

Like the Sistema Railway 22 days earlier, the Karaka Million 3YO Classic was built up as a match race between New Zealand’s best male racehorse in Aegon and New Zealand’s best female racehorse in Amarelinha.

In racing, match races are often built up on paper, but rarely play out. This one was different.

From a handy draw, Aegon was able to find a midfield position one off the fence.

Conversely, Amarelinha, who had drawn wide in eleven, raced three wide (outside of Aegon), albeit with cover. As they came to the turn, Leith Innes waited for runs and was able to push into the clear at the 300. When tackled by Amarelinha, Aegon fought hard to fend off the filly.

It was a classic race and highlighted the toughness and ability of Aegon.



In the: Sistema Stakes

On: Saturday, 13 March 2021

The word “wow” sprung to mind after watching Sword Of State dominate his rivals in the Group I two year old feature.

Opie Bosson was able to find the lead quite easily on Sword Of State with On The Bubbles sitting outside him.

Prior to the turn, Bosson quickened the pace which resulted in many of his rivals coming off the bridle.

In the straight, it looked as though the DoubleTree By Hilton Karaka Million 2YO winner, On The Bubbles, would make a real race of it. However his effort was short-lived as Sword Of State powered clear to win as he liked.




In the: Bonecrusher New Zealand Stakes

On: Saturday, 13 March 2021

Prior to the running of the Bonecrusher New Zealand Stakes, Melody Belle was seeking two things – redemption after she was well beaten in the Herbie Dyke Stakes at Te Rapa and the New Zealand record for the most victories in a Group 1 race – a record that was held by the incomparable Sunline.

By the end of the race, Melody Belle had ticked off both.

A change of rider meant that Troy Harris was onboard and, from a midfield draw, Melody Belle settled second last, importantly, right behind arch-rival, Avantage.

Troy tracked Avantage until just before the turn when he angled Melody Belle into the clear and powered down the outside to beat Avantage.

Melody Belle signed off her New Zealand racing career in a style befitting a true great of the New Zealand turf.



In the: Barfoot & Thompson Auckland Cup

On: Saturday, 13 March 2021

Ocean Billy is a horse from a bygone era. You know the one I mean – the rugged stayer that keeps getting better with age and is trained by a gentleman with only a handful in work.

Leading up to the Barfoot & Thompson Auckland Cup, Ocean Billy had won the Waikato Cup and was a fair sixth in the Wallen Concreting Avondale Cup.

On jumping, Jonathan Parkes allowed the chestnut gelding to find his feet, settling fourth from last with a lap to go.

At the 1400m Parkes let him stride, finding himself midfield, three wide with cover.

On straightening, they found themselves challenging for the lead.

When Parkes then asked Ocean Billy for the supreme effort, the son of Ocean Park dashed three lengths clear and never looked like stopping.

It was a staying performance of some class.

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