Jackie Nelson’s love of Chocolate = winners

By Duane Ranger

The last two foals out of Jackie Nelson’s seven-win 2004 Man Around Town mare, Minty Mellow, are really starting to hit their straps in the central South Island.

After consecutive seconds on the West Coast (Westport March 10 and Reefton March 12) the Murray Pash trained Archie went one better winning at Methven on Sunday (March 16) and then five days later repeated the dose on Nelson’s hometown course of Geraldine.

Jackie Nelson with Tiger Lou

Tim Williams and Sam Thornley were the respective drivers. They also provided Archie (Sportswriter – Minty Mellow (Man Around Town) with his first two career wins since he made his race debut at Addington Raceway in July 2021.

The Colin and Julie De Filippi trained Choco Lou finished fourth in his big brother Archie’s race, and then at Geraldine he finished a head second as favourite in race four.

Another close relative, Press Play (cousin), finished second behind Itz Magical Meg in race 11 at Methven, and then took no part at Geraldine after being stirred up by two false starts in race nine.

The black 7-year-old three-win Shadow Play cousin, Press Play, who is leased and trained by Joseph Gray at West Melton, is the last of three foals (and only racehorse) out of the 2000 Cameleon one-win mare, She’s Sweet – who is a half-sister to the 1992 Save Fuel maiden mare, Sweet Lady.

Both mares came from Nelson’s foundation mare, the 1981 Noodlum – Quite Brigade (Light Brigade) chestnut mare, Chocolate.

“Chocolate was a beautiful old mare. Sadly, she died at the amazing age of 37 and died in December 2019.Sweet Lady is 30 now and is with us in the back paddock. I’m not sure she will see another birthday, but we hope so. She’s Sweet is the only one who is no longer with us after dying earlier this year.

“We would have had no winners at all if it wasn’t for our foundation mare, Chocolate,” Nelson said.

Murray Pash and Tim Williams after Archie’s Methven win

She said her parents, Jack and June, inherited Chocolate off her mother’s brother, Uncle Colin Walker, when he passed away.

Chocolate won one race and was then put to Nua Rival in 1990. She then left five more foals, including foal three Sweet Lady (foal three) and She’s Sweet – the last of Chocolate’s six foals.

“We landed the breed when Uncle Colin passed away, but Dad always liked the trots. He used to take us to the New Zealand Cup as kids, as well as the local Geraldine and Timaru meetings,” said Nelson.

She said Creme De Coco is also the paddock with the other broodmares. She’s a 2010 Badlands Hanover – Sweet Lady mare who is 12 now. She got injured and never raced, but has left some nice foals,” Nelson said. Sweet Lady’s other 5 foals were all winners.

They are a 5-year-old He’s Watching gelding named Louis, a Sunshine Beach 2-year-old colt, and a Sky Major weanling colt.

In 33 years of breeding, Nelson said Archie’s mother, Minty Mellow, would be one of the best horses they had bred and raced.

“She is 18 now. She was a lovely pacer who won seven races and more than $50,000 for us. Even winning a Geraldine Cup which was a massive thrill. Now she’s an equally good Mum, leaving us three lovely foals.

“Sadly, her first foal died (Bettor’s Delight), and then in 2015 What The Hell (Art Major) was born. We gave him to the Chatham Islands where he’s now racing. Colin (De Filippi) said he just wasn’t going to make the grade here,” Nelson said.

Archie was born on November 30, 2017 and has now won two of his 19 starts and placed in seven others for $21,180 for Murray Pash and his syndicate of owners.

“With Colin’s help we leased out Archie and Louis last year when I was cutting back on numbers.

“Since leaving Choco Lou (by Sweet Lou) in 2019, Minty Mellow had difficulty getting in foal, missing to Rocknroll Hanover and Sweet Lou (twice).

“But thankfully Gael Murray stepped in and has solved the problem. The mare had an undetected fungal infection and after missing for three years we are hopeful she will get back in foal to Sweet Lou next breeding season.”

Nelson was born in Geraldine and educated at Geraldine High School. She grew up riding ponies and is glad her parents took over her uncle’s breed more than three decades ago.

“Breeding can be very fulfilling. It’s always a buzz when one of the foals goes on and becomes a racehorse.

“Like most breeders we are still waiting for that Group One champion to come along. I just want to thank the trainers and drivers and owners who are involved with our horses. They are all a credit to the breed,” Nelson said.

“I’m sure Dad and Uncle Colin will be watching down and smiling at the success,” she added.