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Champions again: Snitzel, Savabeel in rare air as a new season dawns

Champions again: Snitzel, Savabeel in rare air as a new season dawns

By Andrew Hawkins

Champion sires Snitzel (Redoute’s Choice) and Savabeel (Zabeel) have added to their title reigns on both sides of the Tasman as the 2019-20 racing season came to a close yesterday.


Arrowfield Stud’s Snitzel won his fourth champion Australian sire title in succession with his runners earning $17,863,769 in the 2019-20 season. He joins Danehill (Danzig), Star Kingdom (Stardust) and Delville Wood (Bois Roussel) as the only stallions to win four consecutive titles in the last 80 years.


Snitzel, who turned 18 today, had more than $2 million to spare over his nearest chasers I Am Invincible (Invincible Spirit) and Pierro (Lonhro), whose progeny earned $15,853,261 and $15,791,748 respectively. 


Among his best performers of 18 stakes winners were bombproof filly Away Game, winner of the Magic Millions 2YO Classic (RL, 1200m) and two Group races as well as finishing second in the Golden Slipper Stakes (Gr 1, 1200m) and fourth in the Blue Diamond Stakes (Gr 1, 1200m); Arrowfield 3YO Sprint (Gr 2, 1200m) conqueror Splintex; and I Am Excited, who retired to the breeding barn after her win in The Galaxy (Gr 1, 1100m) at Rosehill. 


Arrowfield Stud principal John Messara believes that Snitzel’s fourth title is all the more satisfying given that he didn’t have the boost of Redzel’s winning cheque from The Everest this season, as he did in 2017-18 and 2018-19.


“He’s a horse that, for some reason, people don’t fully appreciate his deeds and his achievements,” Messara told ANZ Bloodstock News. “I think he’s etching his place in history now quite seriously, as very few horses have won four consecutive seasons.


“People will sit back on the results this year and think to themselves, hang on, this guy’s won four in a row in an unbelievably competitive market with only access to a small proportion of mares. It’s very gratifying.


“I think in his first and fourth years, he’s done it the hard way. And he’s done it by a pretty big margin this year, a couple of million dollars, which I think is a great achievement. 


“The other thing is that he hasn’t got access to all the Danehill-line mares which represent a pretty big swathe of the Australian gene pool. So he’s doing it with a couple of hands tied behind his back and he’s still beating all of the competition and it is a pretty competitive situation.”


Arrowfield Stud also claimed the leading broodmare sire title with the late Redoute’s Choice (Danehill) making it two trophies in a row. The three-time Australian champion sire was the damsire of 20 stakes winners in 2019-20, including four at Group 1 level: Caulfield Guineas (Gr 1, 1600m) victor Super Seth (Dundeel), Thousand Guineas (Gr 1, 1600m) scorer Flit (Medaglia d’Oro), The Goodwood (Gr 1, 1200m) hero Trekking (Street Cry) and Regal Power (Pierro), triumphant in the Railway Stakes (Gr 1, 1600m) and also his highest earner through his success in the All-Star Mile (1600m) at Caulfield.


While Snitzel has now eclipsed Redoute’s Choice with his fourth champion sire title, Messara still believes that this season’s title-holder has some way to go to match his sire and his grandsire Danehill – although he does believe he has the potential to join that pantheon.


“I think he probably still sits third to those two (Danehill and Redoute’s Choice) but there’s nothing to say that he won’t climb,” Messara said. “And I say this, because he’s had a harder task than the other two and it’s nearly impossible for him to do what they did. 


“Danehill had, like Star Kingdom before him, a totally open book. Danehill came here to a totally virginal population, he got all the outcrosses, it was all there for him. He could access every mare in the country and see what worked and what didn’t work. 


“Redoute’s was much the same because, while Danehill did impact a lot of mares and he had some decent-sized books, there was still a great proportion of the population that was still available.


“This poor guy is limited to all the non-Danehill line mares but half of them are Danehill. It’s difficult. He’s had to do it with all those sons and grandsons of Danehill, fusing their genes and all those mares that can’t really go to him. So give him a lot of credit for that. 


“But those other two did it earlier than he did: Danehill did it first season, Redoute’s did it second season. This guy worked into it over a number of years. 


“So perhaps we’re judging him harshly; perhaps we should be more generous towards him.”


With a new season now upon us and a clean slate across the board, Messara is looking forward to the challenge ahead with Snitzel seeking to keep hold of his title. 


“Frankly, I know this might sound a bit cheeky but I can’t see any reason why he wouldn’t do it again next year,” he said. “He’s had a large number of two-year-old winners, 30-odd, it’s not his record number of two-year-old winners but it’s a large number. He’s got a bunch of nice three-year-olds around as well that are going to go on. 


“The work in progress is there and his yearlings, too, I’m aware of a number of nice yearlings going through as well so he’s got two- and three-year-olds from the year just ending and he’s got yearlings, good numbers from good quality mares. So why won’t he continue?


“We’ve got to try and elongate his useful life as best we can, not give him too much to do but give him enough to get a nice spread of mares. That will be the challenge now. But he’s very fertile and he’s in very good fettle.” 


Snitzel will stand for $165,000 (inc GST) this season, headlining an Arrowfield roster that also includes rising star Dundeel (High Chaparral). His 2019-20 was highlighted by Rosehill Guineas (Gr 1, 2000m) winner and Cox Plate (Gr 1, 2040m) runner-up Castelvecchio, who joins his sire at Arrowfield, as well as Waikato Stud newcomer Super Seth. 


“Dundeel had a crop last year that was extraordinary, far better quality than previous crops; obviously, because he came out with those Group 1 winners,” Messara said. “And again this year, he’s going to have a big book with enormous quality among the mares too. Dundeel is on the launching pad well and truly.”


Dundeel will stand for $66,000 (inc GST) in 2020.


For the second year in a row, Yarraman Park Stud’s I Am Invincible has just edged out Snitzel by winners, 183 to 175, continuing his incredible rise that has seen him take all honours bar a champion sire title.


Loving Gaby has been the flagbearer for I Am Invincible with her pair of Group 1 wins in the Manikato Stakes (Gr 1, 1200m) and the William Reid Stakes (Gr 1, 1200m), while Group 1 placegetters Libertini and Miss Leonidas were also among his winners last season.


Sweet six for Savabeel in New Zealand

In New Zealand, a shortened season due to the Covid-19 pandemic has seen Waikato Stud’s Savabeel wrap up his sixth consecutive Grosvenor Award as champion New Zealand sire.


Savabeel joins Volksraad (Green Desert) as the only stallion to win six champion New Zealand sire titles in a row since the great Foxbridge (Foxlaw) won 11 straight between 1940-41 and 1950-51.


Savabeel’s progeny won NZ$3,108,669 in 2019-20, finishing ahead of Darci Brahma (Danehill) with NZ$2,015,075 and Fastnet Rock (Danehill) with NZ$1,682,075. 


His winners were led by Diamond Stakes (Gr 1, 1200m) victor Cool Aza Beel and top filly Probabeel, who was his second-highest earner in New Zealand despite only racing in the country twice, winning the Karaka Million 3YO Classic (RL, 1600m) and an Awapuni three-year-old plate.


However, while Savabeel stands alone as champion New Zealand sire, it is his fellow Waikato Stud stallion Ocean Park (Thorn Park) who will take out the Dewar Award which is determined by progeny earnings in both New Zealand and Australia.


Kolding’s win in the inaugural Golden Eagle (1500m) and the Epsom Handicap (Gr 1, 1600m) proved decisive, as did Tofane’s win in the All Aged Stakes (Gr 1, 1400m).


“We’re just extremely proud to have two stallions clean up all of the awards again this season,” Waikato Stud’s Mark Chittick said earlier this week.


“Obviously Savabeel has been doing that by himself over the last few years, and he’s had another great year in 2019-20 and earned another champion sire title in New Zealand. But it’s really nice to be able to share those awards between multiple stallions on our roster this year.”


Savabeel will stand for NZ$100,000 (plus GST) at Waikato Stud this season, with Ocean Park’s fee set at NZ$20,000 (plus GST).


Pride from Coolmore as Dubai lands first season honours

Since I Am Invincible’s breakout season in 2013-14, only once has a champion first season sire not been a graduate of Australia’s five juvenile Group 1 races – that being Smart Missile (Fastnet Rock), who was scratched at the barriers before the Golden Slipper Stakes (Gr 1, 1200m).


Pride Of Dubai (Street Cry) continued that streak when the Blue Diamond Stakes (Gr 1, 1200m) and ATC Sires’ Produce Stakes (Gr 1, 1400m) winner added the champion first season sire title, by earnings, to his resume.


The Coolmore Australia stallion had 11 winners with his progeny earning $1,311,389; the late Spill The Beans (Snitzel) and one-season shuttler Night Of Thunder (Dubawi) filled second and third with $1,033,561 and $925,392 respectively.


Among Pride Of Dubai’s leading lights were Debutant Stakes (Listed, 1000m) winner Tanker, the Listed-placed Dubai Star and two-time victors Sense Of Honour and Maha.


However, his highest earner, Bella Nipotina, remains a maiden after seven starts, having finished second in the Inglis Millennium (RL, 1100m) and the Inglis Banner (RL, 1000m) and fourth in four stakes races, including the Sweet Embrace Stakes (Gr 2, 1200m).


“Pride Of Dubai is a particularly exciting young sire who has gone from strength to strength this season,” Coolmore Australia stud manager John Kennedy told ANZ Bloodstock News. “We expect him to kick on to the next level with his rising three-year-olds as he has a host of contenders for exciting races in the spring. He is extremely popular with both breeders and yearling buyers and is one of many exciting young stallions on the Coolmore Australia roster.”


Coolmore Australia will stand Pride of Dubai for $38,500 (inc GST) in 2020.


Aquis Farm’s Spill The Beans, who died in November, and Vinery Stud’s Headwater (Exceed And Excel) shared the spoils as far as numbers of winners, with both first crop stallions recording 13 victors apiece.


Spill The Beans began strongly with his first winner in late October, but within days he was gone, leaving just three crops on the ground and having served his last mares, ensuring a fourth crop this spring.


“Spill The Beans has done everyone proud, especially with Aquis having the equal champion first season sire (by winners) this year,” Aquis Farm chief executive Tony “Tubba” Williams told ANZ Bloodstock News yesterday. “Being a son of Snitzel, being a really good Group horse himself and unlucky not to be a Group 1 winner, with him standing in Queensland he got a lot of nice mares. It’s a good feather in the cap for everyone involved that first got hold of Spill The Beans and stood him at stud. Aquis are very happy that he’s reached that level in his first season.”


Spill The Beans was the third straight Queensland-based stallion to top the first season sire list by winners, following in the hoofprints of Spirit Of Boom (Sequalo) and Better Than Ready (More Than Ready), and while he won’t be able to build upon that success beyond his next three crops, Aquis Farm hopes they have a ready-made replacement in Dubious (Not A Single Doubt).


“There’s no doubting, over the last three or four years, with Spirit Of Boom, Better Than Ready and Spill The Beans – that’s actually a pretty good record for Queensland to have,” Williams said. “We feel that Dubious is the ideal horse to follow on from those three to complement the broodmare band in Queensland. He’s by one of the hottest stallions in the country in Not A Single Doubt, record-breaking Breeders’ Plate winner, Group 2 winner here in Queensland of the Champagne Classic. 


“He was a very hardy and honest horse. He raced in a Coolmore in Melbourne in the spring, he raced in Perth in December, he raced up here in the Magic Millions in January as a three-year-old. It just goes to show how hardy he was. He is without a doubt the quintessential two-year-old type horse and we think he’s the type of horse Queenslanders require for their broodmare band up here. I can’t see why he won’t be as successful as some of these horses I’ve mentioned.”


The headline over the last three months of the season, though, has been the surge of Headwater. 


In mid-May, Headwater had had just three winners, led by Magic Millions 2YO Classic fourth Wisdom Of Water, and sat equal seventh on the table by number of winners. However, ten winners through late May, June and July – taking him to 13 – have catapulted him to the top and have given him momentum heading into the upcoming season, where he will stand for $13,750 (inc GST).


“He did get a few early – Wisdom Of Water was out early and he had a few others early,” Vinery Stud bloodstock manager Adam White told ANZ Bloodstock News. “It’s good for him to follow it up late in the season and there’s a few that, just lately, have looked like they’d get a good 1400 (metres) to a mile which is a good sign as well. So we’re looking forward to them turning three and seeing how they train on.


“The breeders were pretty astute in finding him pretty early. It didn’t take long for him to get his full book and he’s got a nice group of mares. He’s always been an easy horse for us to sell because he’s good-looking, he’s got the pedigree, he could run and now they are running. It’s great to have a young horse on the rise like him.”


Wisdom Of Water is set to be Headwater’s banner horse this spring. Formerly trained by Toby and Trent Edmonds in Queensland, the Aquis Farm acquisition has been transferred to Mick Price and Michael Kent Jnr in Melbourne with a light campaign aimed at the Coolmore Stud Stakes (Gr 1, 1200m) on his agenda.


“We’re really keen to see what he does in Melbourne, he’s obviously being aimed for the Coolmore,” White said. “He’s a very fast horse, he’s very effective over 1200 metres so it will be great to see him run up that Flemington straight and just seeing what he can do.”


Vinery Stud was also represented last season by another first-crop sire in Press Statement (Hinchinbrook), who recorded five winners. 


“We’re very happy with how he’s going too,” White said. “He was a later two-year-old himself. He’s had five winners, four of those have been in Sydney and the other one (Incredulous Dream) was at Bendigo and that filly later ran in a stakes race. His winners have been good winners and I think, once they turn three, hopefully he will be able to follow his sire Hinchinbrook and what his progeny did when they got a bit older. We’re really happy with how he’s started and how they are going to come along as three-year-olds. 


“He’s always been a popular horse, he’s a horse that a lot of people have labelled a bit of a smokey and a dark horse. I quite like that. He’s got a good supporter base there and he’s getting another good book this year so we’re as excited with him as we are with Headwater.”


Press Statement will also stand for $13,750 (inc GST) this term.


Novara Park celebrates as Sweynesse stands tall

Sweynesse (Lonhro) has added his name to the list of champion New Zealand first season sires, continuing to stamp fledgling farm Novara Park Stud as a leading identifier of emerging stallion prospects.


Novara Park’s foundation stallion, the late Jakkalberry (Storming Home), finished second on the ladder in 2017-18 and their second acquisition, the two-time Group 1 placegetter Sweynesse, managed to go one better, producing three winners and the earners of NZ$124,980. 


Wellfield Lodge newcomer Vespa (Elusive City) was hot on his heels with his progeny earning NZ$121,695, the pair well clear of third-placed No Nay Never (Scat Daddy) on NZ$51,465.


“Novara Park is extremely proud that Sweynesse has won the leading New Zealand first season sire on winners, stakes-winners and earnings,” Novara Park principal Luigi Muollo told ANZ Bloodstock News. “The leading first season sire award is very encouraging and we expect Sweynesse’s progeny to excel as three-year-olds over 1600 metres and beyond, as he did himself.


“I am very thankful to my stud manager Ray Knight and the team on the farm for the great job they have done as well as the syndicate of breeders behind the stallion.”


Knight added: “It’s a really good result, and a great way for the stallion to start his career. It’s been a funny old year for everyone with Covid-19, but it’s been very encouraging for us to see his first progeny perform as well as they have.


“The particularly exciting thing is that we’ve heard a number of very positive reports about some of his other progeny who are still in the wings and haven’t yet stepped out on the racetrack.”


Sweynesse is aiming to follow in the footsteps of his sire Lonhro and that stallion line of Octagonal, Zabeel and Sir Tristram. Pierro has been the leading son of Lonhro at stud, with the Coolmore Australia stallion producing six Group 1 winners to date.


“Sweynesse continues the tradition of his successful sire line in New Zealand and Australia,” Muollo said. “His grandsire Zabeel was dominant for many years and Savabeel has continued that dominance. Sweynesse’s sire Lonhro has been an outstanding sire and is a proven ‘sire of sires’ with Pierro leading the way in Australia.


“We left Sweynesse’s service fee unchanged at NZ$6,000 (plus GST) for the upcoming breeding season and he offers incredible value with upside to breeders. Bookings have been very good and we expect him to be fully booked at some stage in the season.”


Meteor eclipsed by record second season effort from Field

In a season of notable achievements, one of the premier accolades fell to Newgate Farm’s Deep Field (Northern Meteor), who was named champion second season sire by winners. 


His 86 individual winners was the best second season sire performance on record, taking him past his own sire Northern Meteor (Encosta De Lago) who produced 80 winners in his second year in 2013-14.


Deep Field has already struck success abroad, as well, as he has had the best start to a stallion career with his runners in Hong Kong as well.


He will stand for $55,000 (inc GST) at Newgate Farm this year.


On earnings, though, Deep Field had to settle for second behind Coolmore’s Rubick (Encosta De Lago), whose prize-money figures were boosted by The Everest (1200m) success of his roster mate Yes Yes Yes. In total, Rubick’s progeny earned $10,765,806 throughout 2019-20.


Rubick will stand for $33,000 (inc GST), with Yes Yes Yes given an introductory fee of $38,500 (inc GST).


Across the Tasman, Windsor Park Stud’s shuttle stallion Charm Spirit (Invincible Spirit) was named champion second season sire, adding to his first season sire success last year. 


“After being champion first season sire last year, it’s great to see Charm Spirit follow that up with the second season title as well,” said Windsor Park’s general manager Steve Till.


“We’re delighted with how well his progeny have performed. To have four Group-winning three-year-olds in New Zealand and Australia this season is fantastic, and they’ve won from 1200 to 2200 metres. They’re very versatile fillies and colts.


And so, just like that, the starting gun has been fired on the race for the 2020-21 titles.