Kiwi Chronicles

Ambitious plan

Most local eyes were on the Matamata Breeders’ Stakes (Gr 2, 1200m) and its dominant winner, Captured By Love (Written Tycoon). However, Savaglee (Savabeel), successful in the Matamata Slipper (Gr 3, 1200m), is more interesting from a New Zealand industry perspective and the result may be the beginning of a long term plan, hatched just over a year ago.

At the 2023 New Zealand Bloodstock (NZB) Karaka Yearling Sale, Tim Rowe of ANZ Bloodstock News and myself were doing the rounds of the Karaka complex, delivering printed copies of our daily publication. We had completed A Barn (our last stop) and were making our way back to the auditorium. We had one copy remaining and gave it to Rick Williams of The Oaks Stud.

After the usual pleasantries were exchanged the subject of Darci Brahma (Danehill) came up as the stallion had enjoyed previous-season Australian Group 1 success courtesy of Sierra Sue. As Darci Brahma was getting on in age the next question was: “What’s next?”

Williams then revealed the stud’s plan: they were going to have a go at buying a future stallion as a yearling since trying to buy one off the racecourse was proving to be extremely difficult, not to mention hugely expensive.

Kiwi Chronicles caught up with Williams who confirmed that conversation: “Normally I buy a filly or two for Dick [Karraman] each year but at the 2023 sale he suggested a colt instead. So I said to him, well, if we are going to buy a colt it needs to be by Savabeel but we won’t get much change out of $500,000. He was okay with that.”

“I really liked the Glee colt. He was bred on the right cross from a top Waikato Stud family. But it was an impossible dream. We all know the odds of buying a stallion prospect as a yearling,” he continued.

“We didn’t expect him to win as early as he did on debut. He was at odds with the Ellerslie track in the Millions but it was good to see him get his mojo back on Saturday. He’s got talent and the Slipper win was quite professional. He’s learning. In the birdcage he looked the best he has ever looked and came through the race great.”

“We will leave it up to Pam [Gerard] ultimately but there is the Sistema on the 9th but a few weeks on is the Sires’ Produce which will be run at Trentham and he likes that place,” said Williams.

“Longer term we will point towards the Guineas in the spring. If he goes on we can look at Australia next year,” ended Williams.

Savaglee is now a Group 3 winner and has won twice in five starts and his Saturday win in the Slipper his best effort yet. The field he beat may have been on the small side but to his credit Savaglee was too good. The hot favourite, Te Akau’s reputational Move To Strike (I Am Invincible), was four lengths away in fifth.

A factor possibly glossed over is his winning time of 1:10.07 which was faster than Captured By Love’s 1:10.32, or by about four metres.

The blood is right
Since his purchase, Savaglee’s close-up family has gone on a rampagethe most prominent being the star three-year-old filly Orchestral (Savabeel) (pictured below). Savaglee’s dam is a sister to Orchestral’s dam Symphonic (O’Reilly), making them brother and sister-in-blood.

Orchestral’s fabulous Ellerslie wins, first in the Karaka Millions 3YO (RL, 1600m) then the Avondale Guineas (Gr 2, 2100m) have her among the country’s top three-year-olds. Equally prominent is dual Group 1 winner Atishu (Savabeel), winner of the 2023 Champion Stakes (Gr 1, 2000m), better known as the LKS Mackinnon Stakes, last November.

The relationship between Savaglee and Atishu is similar. Apart from being by the same sire, Atishu’s granddam Spring (O’Reilly) is a three-quarter sister to Glee and Symphonic. 

Savaglee is bred on the famous Savabeel (Zabeel)-O’Reilly (Last Tycoon) cross which is another plus. No fewer than eight of his 32 Group 1 winners are bred on that pattern and 31 individual stakes winners altogether. 

The Matamata Slipper win also realised another milestone for Savabeel, bringing up individual stakes winner 140. It was barely a year ago that the stallion equalled his grandsire Sir Tristram (Sir Ivor), with 130, or ten new stakes winners in less than 13 months. The living legend is certainly not showing any signs of slowing down.

Combining 140 stakes winners, a sire cross that is undeniable plus a family that thrives on Savabeel blood, The Oaks Stud’s ambitious stallion plan may be about to pay off.

The next level
The manner of Savaglee’s win suggests talent and he should only improve. He was out as early as September and won on debut over 900 metres at Trentham by four lengths.

His next start, in the Challenge Stakes (Listed, 1100m), was an enigma when he weakened to finish last of five at Pukekohe. However, at the same track on Boxing Day he was a much improved third. In the Karaka Millions 2YO (RL, 1200m) he was a fair fifth despite a slip at the start and was not all that comfortable in the shifty ground. There were a number of good performers behind him.

At Matamata he sat fourth (rails) past the 800 metres, was still fourth rounding the corner into the straight but pocketed. He took a split at the 200 metres, levelled up to the leader at the 100 metres and went to the line a convincing half length winner.

At the risk of stating the obvious, his three-year-old season could be even better as we know that the Savabeels have such scope at that age and beyond.

Westbury Stud’s Tarzino (Tavistock) was all the talk in the autumn/winter of 2022 when his Jungle Magnate landed the South Australian Derby (Gr 1, 2500m) then Gypsy Goddess took out the Queensland Oaks (Gr 1, 2400m). Tarzino was off to a fast start horses both were from Tarzino’s first crop.

At the June 2022 NZB Karaka Weanling Sale, Westbury’s GM, Russell Warwick, was not allowing those early results to get out of proportion: “One swallow does not a summer make,” said a wise Warwick at that time.

Gypsy Goddess was retired at four and sold to Japanese interests, while Jungle Magnate was sold to Hong Kong, won once there but has been deregistered after pulling up lame last week and thus retired.

Yes, it has been a while between drinks but at Caulfield, for Saturday’s Autumn Classic (Gr 2, 1800m), Tarzino sired the unbeaten Immediacy to a dominant win. Overdue, perhaps, but better late than never and three-year-old looks like he has a bright future.

Trained by Trent Busuttin and Natalie Young the gelding is nominated for the Australian Derby (Gr 1, 2400m) and has worked his way through the grades with a maiden win at his home track, Cranbourne, in late December, finishing strongly over 1500 metres.

At Sandown in mid-January he again put in a strong winning finish over 1800 metres. Between then and Saturday, Busuttin and Young outlayed $280,000 at the 2024 NZB Karaka Yearling Sales for Immediacy’s half-sister by Hello Youmzain (Kodiac) from Cambridge Stud.

Such a purchase can only be a sign that the trainers rate Immediacy quite highly. Saturday’s performance underlines that as the three-year-old bounded away from the 200 metres and waltzed to the line three lengths clear.

Originally sold out of Book 2 at the 2022 NZB Karaka Yearling Sale for just $15,000, he later showed up at the 2022 NZB Ready To Run Sale and fetched $200,000.

His dam is the three-times winning imported Pivotal (Polar Falcon) mare But Beautiful, herself a half-sister to two Listed stakes winners. His granddam, Group 3 placed Sweet Firebird (Sadler’s Wells), is a half-sister to dual Group 1 sprinter and successful sire Stravinsky (Nureyev).

Saturday’s Caulfield meeting saw three New Zealand-bred Group winners including Te Akau’s own Campionessa (Contributer), who only arrived at the stable’s new Cranbourne base on Wednesday evening in preparation for her maiden Australian success.

Last seen running a bold second in the Herbie Dyke Stakes (Gr 1, 2000m) behind the best horse in New Zealand, Legarto (Proisir), Campionessa’s form held up well in the Peter Young Stakes (Gr 2, 1800m) although she only had a nose to spare in a tight finish.

Handy but pocketed rounding into the straight she needed a run but didn’t get out until the 150 metres. Levelling up to take a narrow lead inside the 100 metres she then had a tough battle with 2019 Melbourne Cup (Gr 1, 3200m) winner Vow And Declare (Declaration Of War), the two going stride for stride to the line.

A Group 1 winner at Pukekohe on Boxing Day in the Zabeel Classic (Gr 1, 2050m), the six-year-old mare is in her career best form and took her record to 11 wins, banking more than $1.1 million.

If the same sale process used for Melody Belle (Commands) and Avantage (Fastnet Rock) is applied to Campionessa (pictured below), her value increased nicely with this Australian Group 2 win. If she were to add an Australian Group 1 she may be one of the star lots on offer this coming winter.

Class is permanent
A lengthy issue with her coronet has been the reason that La Crique (Vadamos) has been out of the winner’s circle since her Arrowfield Stud Plate (Gr 1, 1600m) victory in October of 2022.

Co-trainer Katrina Alexander explained the problems that the talented mare has had to overcome after a triumphant return in the Otaki-Maori WFA Stakes (Gr 1, 1600m). 

“She just had one of those annoying blowouts that happened as soon as she came into the stable at the beginning of her last preparation. Unfortunately it blew out of the coronet, and the hole that came out split horizontally around the coronet, so every time the hoof grew down, the gap got wider”, said Alexander.

“She’s put up with a lot. She’s very tough and she’s tried to battle her way through it. She’s been brave, she’s got here, and she’s just matured so much as well. I don’t think anyone other than the team at home will understand what’s gone into getting her here today. Inch by inch, we’ve improved her, tried to get her back on track and tried to get her back to the horse that we knew as a three-year-old,” ended Alexander

La Crique looked a lot like her old self at Otaki and after slicing through nearer the fence into the straight she grabbed the lead soon after and never looked like being caught.

The five-year-old’s bank is fast approaching the million from seven wins. Now that she is back somewhere near her best, a possible trip to Sydney or Brisbane is being considered.

Privacy Preference Center


Cookies that are primarily for advertising purposes



These are used to track user interaction and detect potential problems. These help us improve our services by providing analytical data on how users use this site.

_ga, _gid, _hjid, _hjIncludedInSample,