By Ben Caluzzi
In the wake of the late and great Sunline, Jamie Richards’ thirteen-time group 1 winning champion Melody Belle has long been thought of as New Zealand Racing’s heir apparent. But in the midst of battle for superiority, Te Akau Racing has had another star mare flying the Kiwi flag down under.
On October 23, in 2004, a three-year-old colt by the name of Savabeel won the Cox Plate, beating a star-studded field which included the likes of Fields Of Omagh, Starcraft, Grand Armee and Elvstroem.
The lone three-year-old in the race, it was an upset result at the time and it paved the way for a successful stallion career ahead which has seen him go on to become Champion New Zealand sire an astonishing six times.
Twelve years on from that Cox Plate victory, the champion stallion paired up with a New Zealand mare named Far Fetched and in November of 2016 Probabeel was born.
They say fate is a funny thing, but with rich bloodlines cemented in Australian Racing history, Probabeel has been destined for our shores ever since her induction.
Her father won the Cox Plate, her grandfather won the Australian Guineas, and with a record that speaks for itself it is of no surprise she will run as one of the leading fancies in this year’s $5 million All-Star Mile at The Valley.
The daughter of Savabeel wasn’t able to emulate her sire’s feats in last year’s Ladbrokes Cox Plate, but a gallant seventh in testing conditions ensured it wouldn’t be the last time she graced the famous Valley turf.
Trainer Jamie Richards began planning an All-Star Mile campaign soon after that Cox Plate, and with unfinished business he plotted a path to get his star mare back to The Valley.
A three-step approach was initiated ascending from 1200m at Caulfield to 1600m at The Valley, and with back-to-back wins already banked this preparation, Probabeel is only one step away from delivering a famous victory and returning to the accolades of her home track at Matamata.
“Too classy” was the phrase used by Matt Hill when Probabeel won on resumption carrying 60 kilograms in the Group 3 Bellmaine Stakes, and that win put to rest any concerns that her moderate Geelong trial may have raised.
Impressive trials can often be misleading, and disappointing trials can often be an illusion. Some of the fastest horses in work fold when race-day pressure is applied, and others thrive on it and save their best efforts for when it matters most.
Probabeel falls under the latter. She is a genuine racehorse, and when the leading trainer of New Zealand applies the blinkers to her on race-day she knows it is her time to shine.
She has gone from strength to strength since crossing the ditch, and given she’s campaigned here in Australia for most of her career, we’ve come quite accustomed to seeing those black and gold checkered silks fighting out the finish.
She has conquered both of New Zealand’s richest races, the two-year-old Karaka Million and three-year-old Karaka Million Classic, and she is the only horse to have completed the double.
She is a dual Group 1 winner at 1400m, an Epsom Handicap winner at 1600m, and an All-Star Mile victory will only enhance an already decorated trophy cabinet.
Her ability to sit forward or tail off at the back of the field and still produce the same scintillating turn of foot is an ability reserved only for the elite, and we have seen her win Group 1 races in both scenarios.
Like a W.S. Cox Plate, the pressure is going to be applied a long way out in this year’s All-Star Mile, and when jockey Damian Lane pushes the go button The Valley crowd is going to erupt in a cacophony of noise that we haven’t heard for some time due to the pandemic that struck in early 2020.
From flashy filly to certified weight-for-age star, Probabeel’s popularity has echoed across Australia over the past year. 14,503 votes saw her finish third in All-Star Mile voting, only narrowly behind Arcadia Queen on 15,105 votes and Behemoth on 14,699 votes.
From fillies’ grade to open age, Probabeel has passed every test that has been put in front of her with flying colours, but her toughest test to date will be when she steps out against the best milers in Australia on All-Star Mile Day.
The land of the long white cloud will be rocking by the millions come March 13, and we can’t wait to see her back at The Valley when she aims to write her name into All-Star Mile history.