Kiwi Chronicles

Amarelinha’s Oaks win has Chittick jumping for joy

With her strong victory in Saturday’s New Zealand Oaks (Gr 1, 2400m), inventively named Amarelinha (Savabeel) not only wrapped up the coveted New Zealand Bloodstock Filly of Year title but also ensured that the Savabeel (Zabeel)-Waikato Stud roadshow continues.

Amarelinha in Portuguese means hopscotch, the name given to her dam Hopscotch (O’Reilly) and in adding her maiden Group 1 to two previous Group 2s, plus a Group 3 in only seven starts, the filly easily claimed the Filly of the Year series, accumulating 34 points from her four wins from the 11 eligible races.

The series was not done and dusted prior to the Oaks however as Amarelinha had a seven- point lead on Kahma Lass (a non-runner in the Oaks) and nine points on Needle And Thread (Makfi) who gave her a torrid battle in the penultimate race, the Sunline Vase (Gr 3, 2100m). A Needle And Thread win worth 12 points, plus an Amarelinha fourth or worse, was the only other possible result.

Needle And Thread compounded while Amarelinha shot to the front soon after straightening, led by two lengths at the 200 metres and was in no real danger after that.

Charms Star (Per Incanto) cut the lead from two lengths to a length at the line but the damage was done a fair way from the post. Lowland Stakes (Gr 2, 2100m) winner Llanacord (Contributer) could be considered a little unlucky, being pocketed until the 300 metres before finishing well for third, the first three clear of the rest.

For Savabeel (Zabeel) it was his second NZ Filly of the Year. His first, two seasons ago, was Diamond Queen who shared the title with Imelda Mary (Ferlax). Sharing the title has taken place on four occasions in 49 editions of the award.

Zabeel (Sir Tristram) never sired a Filly of the Year winner but his sire, Sir Tristram (Sir Ivor) holds the record at three: Noble Heights, Royal Heights and Tri Belle. Sires with two are Taipan II (Bold Ruler), Jetball (Marscay), Encosta De Lago (Fairy King), the recent back-to-back success by Makfi (Dubawi) and now Savabeel.

For Savabeel, Amarelinha is his third New Zealand Oaks winner in the last seven runnings, the other two being Savvy Coup (2018) and Savaria (2015).

Savabeel’s total Classic winners now stands at eight. Group 1 winners number 22. He is a certainty to add New Zealand Champion Sire title number seven this season.

Collating all the above, he is the glue that has held the New Zealand stallion industry together for some considerable time – but he is also no spring chicken at age 19.

In Australia the Sir Tristram–Zabeel sire line is being maintained by Pierro (Lonhro) through Zabeel’s son Octagonal and the latter’s son Lonhro. There is one son of Lonhro in New Zealand (Sweynesse) but Savabeel’s lineage is currently hinging largely upon Cambridge Stud’s Embellish, whose first crop are now foals.

Waikato Stud became involved in Amarelinha’s family in 2002 when they acquired her grandam Jacqwin (Bluebird), a three-time winner in Hong Kong and half-sister to Goodwood Handicap (Gr 1, 1200m) winner Keeper (Danehill). The latter stood at Cambridge Stud, siring 35 stakes winners.

Their dam Nuriwah (Pleasant Colony) ranks as a half-sister to Louju (Silver Hawk), dam of another New Zealand-domiciled sire, Castledale (Peintre Celebre), twice a Group 1 winner including the Santa Anita Derby (Gr 1, 9f).

From Jacqwin Waikato Stud bred two fillies by Zabeel but her 2005 colt by their Danasinga (Danehill) resulted in the top-class Metal Bender (Danasinga). He headed the Australian 3YO Classification for 2008-09, earned $1.9 million and succeeded in four Group 1s including the Rosehill Guineas (Gr 1, 2000m) and Randwick Guineas (Gr 1, 1600m).

After Metal Bender she produced two Savabeel colts then a succession of five fillies, four by O’Reilly (Last Tycoon) and her last foal, a filly by Ocean Park (Thorn Park).

Amarelinha’s breeder, Waikato Stud’s Mark Chittick chimes in: “She’s out of a great family, and she’s a filly with remarkable strength, power and athleticism. On top of that, she seems to love racing as well, which is such an important part of it. She’s been exciting to watch.”

Of Hopscotch, her dam, Chittick added: “It’s a fantastic start for a young mare. This story goes back to the early 2000s, when we bought a package of mares off Roy Potter – a supermarket owner. He wanted to cut down his numbers. One of them was Jacqwin, who had a Zabeel filly at foot and was in foal to Zabeel again. 

“We bred a number of horses from her over the next few years, including Metal Bender, who won four Group 1 races in Australia. We also managed to keep four of her daughters by O’Reilly – Hopscotch, Sitting Pretty, Polish, and Relentless Desire. After Metal Bender, there was a little bit of a gap between absolute top-class horses in the family, but we always knew that with those four mares, it was a no-brainer that the family would bounce back.

“Hopscotch produced Amarelinha with her first foal, while Sitting Pretty’s got the Sydney Group 3 winner Missybeel. Breeding from these quality O’Reilly mares, and sending them to Savabeel, it’s no surprise to get good horses as a result,” said Chittick.

The family is very current. Jacqwin’s 2009 filly by O’Reilly is Sitting Pretty, dam of Missybeel (Savabeel) who took out her second Group 3 just two weeks ago, the Aspiration Stakes (1600m). Sitting Pretty has also produced two younger sisters to Missybeel making them all sisters-in-blood to Amarelinha, they being by Savabeel from full sisters.

Prior to Waikato Stud’s involvement with the family Jacqwin also produced Love The Limelight (Octagonal), dam of Group 1 placed sprinter Spin Doctor (Pins) and this season, her grandson North Pacific (Brazen Beau) bagged the Up And Coming Stakes (Gr 3, 1300m) in the spring, ran second in the Golden Rose (Gr 1, 1400m) and finished second to Aegon (Sacred Falls) in last month’s Hobartville Stakes (Gr 2, 1400m).

When asked about Hopscotch Chittick explained: “Hopscotch is quite a heavy topped mare and as we had a few O’Reilly fillies from Jacqwin. I like having some younger mares and get them going.

“Jacqwin was one of my favourites. Just a beautiful mare, easy to work with and a very good breeder. Earlier in her career she also produced Blessed to Zabeel. Blessed was an enigma and it took us three or four years to figure her out but finally we got an O’Reilly filly which we named Holiness. Blessed died having produced just the one filly but that makes Holiness a three-quarter to Hopscotch.

“Holiness is here at the stud and she has an absolutely cracking foal at foot by Tivaci,” said Chittick.

The stud has the family well covered as they are also breeding from Polish, who has produced two Savabeel fillies, and Relentless Desire, who has produced one Savabeel filly. Both mares are sisters to Hopscotch and Sitting Pretty.

Hopscotch herself has visited Savabeel four times for four fillies and is in foal to Savabeel again. Amarelinha is her only named foal. Apart from her, there are six sisters-in-blood in existence, so this family is going to be around for some time.

Amarelinha becomes the fifth Group 1 winner and third Classic winner to be bred on the Savabeel-O’Reilly cross. Of the 13 Group 1, 2 and 3 winners bred on this cross, ten are fillies. The total stakes winners number 20 with a further 14 that have placed in stakes company.

“It’s an amazing cross,” Chittick said. “Mo’unga is another one from that same cross, and he’s the favourite for the Group 1 Rosehill Guineas. 

“Something that we are really, really proud of at Waikato Stud is that we’ve bred three individual Group 1 winners this season – Aegon, Probabeel and Amarelinha, who are obviously all pretty serious horses,” concluded Chittick.

The local scene
Wellington Guineas
The Guineas drew a top field but Te Akau’s Need I Say More (No Nay Never) won like a professional.

In three of his seven successes he has led from the jump but has proved he can also take a sit, even be caught wide, yet has the class to score from anywhere.

His nine starts have brought seven wins for six stakes, his only real blip being the New Zealand Two Thousand Guineas (Gr 1, 1600m) in which he found the 1600 metres a tad far, wilting over the final 150 metres. His only other defeat, fourth in the Hawke’s Bay Guineas (Gr 2, 1400m), saw him less than a neck behind the winner Aegon (Sacred Falls).

As he matures and strengthens it would be no surprise to see him get the mile and under the right conditions, 2000 metres as a four-year-old or older. Meanwhile, there are plenty of valuable races up to a mile and there appears no reason why he wouldn’t measure up to Australian stakes class.

Bonham (Per Incanto), winner of the Levin Classic (Gr 1, 1600m) in January, returned after a short break. After a slow start she finished very strongly but simply had too much ground to make up in the straight. Like Need I Say More, she is a real talent. Their four-year-old seasons are going to be highly anticipated.

Cuddle Stakes
Winner Coventina Bay (Shamexpress) is building a nice race career and a very good strike- rate. In 13 starts she has never been further back than fifth, has won eight times, including twice at Group 3 level, and placed twice. The way she forged through a gap then braved it out once in front was the mark of a good horse.

She is pure Windsor Park. Her sire Shamexpress (O’Reilly) is one of their current line-up at the stud. Her dam’s sire High Chaparral (Sadler’s Wells) stood there. So did her grandam’s sire Casual Lies (Lear Fan) as well as her third dam’s sire Star Way (Star Appeal), and that is just the sires.

Her distaff line is no different and is all Windsor Park as well. Her third dam Nimue (Star Way) was the 1993 New Zealand Filly of the Year and a classic winner of the New Zealand One Thousand Guineas (Gr 1, 1600m). Nimue’s dam Eustaci (Sir Tristram) produced three Group 1 winners, Nimue, Sirstaci (by Windsor Park’s Silver Dream) and Smiling Like (Star Way).

New Zealand St Leger
Waisake (Zed), winner of the Wellington Cup (Gr 3, 3200m) seven weeks ago, might be the equal best stayer in the country. Certainly he can be regarded as on a par with Ocean Billy (Ocean Park) who followed up a Waikato Cup (Gr 3, 2400m) victory in December with an easy win in the recent Auckland Cup (Gr 1, 3200m).

Waisake’s trainer Allan Sharrock may well be thinking that instead of the New Zealand St Leger perhaps the nine-times richer Auckland Cup might have been worth a shot? Judging from the way Waisake dominated over the 2600 metres, the Auckland Cup might have gone begging.

It was a super training effort to bring the six-year-old back from the let-up yet be so strong at the finish. Apprentice rider Hazel Schofer also made the right decisions at the right time to put him in the race. Trainer, jockey and horse proved an unbeatable combination.

Lightning Handicap
Sometimes, you just have to wait.

Waiting is something that Grand Mayson (Power) has become used to. The instructions to his jockey, Lisa Allpress, were to wait until the last possible moment to charge home and that is exactly how the six-year-old won his fifth race. He sat last until very late but once he saw the much-needed gap he flew between runners to get up on the line.

Grand Mayson also waited to get his breakthrough stakes win. This, his 27th start, was his first attempt at stakes class and his career is one of “what if?” because he also has been second eight times and third five times.

His dam, Java Silk (Kashani) fits a similar category. She had 12 foals, nine to the races for seven winners and finally, a stakes winner.

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