Kiwi Chronicles

Eight Straight

What seemed impossible midway through last century, now seems possible.

The number eleven, a historical benchmark for premierships by New Zealand-based sires, might be under threat.

Eleven is the number achieved by the great Foxbridge (Foxlaw) and is looking more and more likely to be matched, perhaps even bettered, by Waikato Stud’s own Savabeel (Zabeel).

In Foxbridge’s case, his 11 were consecutive (1940-41 to 1950-51) and far outstrips any other sire in New Zealand history. Certainly, it was a different era, affected by the Great Depression and World War II, but using a golf analogy, Byron Nelson’s 18 PGA tournament wins in a single season, including 11 (there’s that number again) in succession, were also achieved at that time. His record stands, as does Foxbridge’s.

Prior to Savabeel’s current dominance, the most recent run of multiple premierships was by Windsor Park’s Volksraad (Green Desert) with six in succession ending in 2006-07. Waikato Stud’s O’Reilly (Last Tycoon) spoiled his party in 2007-08.

Volksraad returned for two more premierships the next two years for a total of eight and therefore fully deserves a very honourable mention.

It’s safe to say that Savabeel’s eighth successive premiership sets him up with a strong chance of equalling, or surpassing, the benchmark.

We know he can sire Group 1 two-year-olds but, like most New Zealand-based sires, his stock improve at three for the Classics and then they keep winning Group and Listed stakes as older horses.

He has plenty in the wings too. Given his coverings and fertility, there are well over 200 foals that have yet to make it to the racetrack and as long as he is healthy, more crops can be expected.

Comparisons with former champion sires are inevitable but in Savabeel’s case, his are with his own sire, Zabeel (Sir Tristram), and his own grandsire, Sir Tristram (Sir Ivor).

All the stats quoted here are courtesy of Arion Pedigrees’ superb data base and Savabeel currently sits on 125 stakes winners, just five shy of Sir Tristram and this coming spring, or early summer, might see him take over second spot on the all-time New Zealand rankings. Zabeel’s total of 166 is way out there on the distant horizon.

Savabeel’s elite winners total 27. Twelve of his Group 1 winners are bred along Waikato Stud lines, incorporating former successful sires that they stood. The dams of Mo’unga, Diademe, Embellish and The Perfect Pink are by O’Reilly from Centaine (Century) mares. Probabeel’s and Brambles’s dams are bred on the Pins (Snippets) – Centaine cross.

O’Reilly features nine times in the 27, Centaine six and Pins four, so the stud is front and centre of Savabeel’s success.

Perhaps overlooked is Savabeel’s winners to runners ratio of 71 per cent, an outstanding level given his volume of runners.

Regarding benchmarks, Waikato Stud’s Garry Chittick has long held the belief that 10 per cent stakes winners to runners is the test. Savabeel’s is 11.04 per cent and his black-type performers to runners ratio is 18.28 per cent.

Sir Tristram’s ratio of stakes winners to runners is an even healthier 13 per cent whereas Zabeel’s is 10.88 per cent.

Sir Patrick Hogan did the Australasian bloodstock industry a huge favour with his determination to make Sir Tristram so successful. No other son of 1968 Epsom Derby (Gr 1, 1m 4f) winner Sir Ivor (Sir Gaylord) has made anything like the impression that Sir Tristram has made here, and remember that Sir Ivor sired 89 stakes winners.

Compared to Sir Tristram, but trailing in the dust, are Bates Motel (33 stakes winners) and Ivor Prince (20) as next best but neither has created a dynasty.

We are five generations removed now but his line is very well established. Grosvenor, Kaapstad and Marauding each became sires of sires but Zabeel stands alone as the line which will continue the dynasty. A total of 1025 individual stakes can claim a direct male line to Sir Tristram.

Zabeel’s sons Savabeel and Octagonal are proving to be the most dominant with the latter responsible for Champion Australian Sire Lonhro, whose 94 stakes winners include sires Pierro and Denman.

It remains to be seen whether Savabeel’s sons will achieve what Lonhro has. Novara Park’s What’s The Story has had a couple of runners while Embellish, Cool Aza Beel and Noverre will certainly be given every chance.

Who is Keano?

To answer that question we need look no further than Waikato Stud, who are responsible for a very large portion of this week’s digressions.

We are so used to casting our eyes over the sires of, particularly stakes winners and metropolitan winners, but when an uncommon name pops up, it causes one to stall.

That is exactly the case regarding Cross Talk, a four-year-old son of Keano (Pins) who is putting together an impressive race record of four wins and two placings in only six starts.

Cross Talk showed promise on debut, winning easily by four lengths at New Plymouth in May of last year. That win was his only New Zealand start before he found his way to the Waterhouse/Bott stable in Sydney from where he maintained his unbeaten record with another easy victory, streeting his opponents by four and three-quarter lengths at Newcastle in November.

His third start, later that same month, resulted in a third placing at Canterbury over 1550 metres which he found too far. He was spelled until late May, resuming with yet another very convincing  1250 metre win, back at Canterbury, this time coming off the pace but bolting away over the final 200 metres.

His first attempt in town on a Saturday took place over 1400 metres on June 11 at Randwick where he led soon after the jump and led them into the straight. Although caught at the 200 metres, he never lay down and was not at all disgraced in running second.

And so to last Saturday, again at Randwick and again over 1400 metres, where he sat a handy third rounding into the straight, took over at the 200 metres then ran away for another big win. This fellow is pretty good and is only getting better.

He is one of two winners from three to race from his unraced dam Mrs Cross (Cape Cross). His third dam is the smart two-year-old and Sweet Embrace Stakes (Gr 3, 1200m) winner Postage Due (Luskin Star), herself a half-sister to the very good filly Copperama (Comeram).

Copperama won Caulfield’s One Thousand Guineas (Gr 1, 1600m), one of her six wins before her export to the US. One of her daughters, Listed-placed Stormy Exchange (Storm Bird) is the dam of Australian Oaks (Gr 1, 2400m) winner Danendri (Danehill), in turn the grandam of VRC Oaks (Gr 1, 2500m) winner Faint Perfume (Shamardal).

Danendri’s Listed stakes-winning daughter, Banc De Fortune (Galileo) is the grandam of Bonham (Per Incanto), the Levin Classic (Gr 1, 1600m) winner in 2021. Another US-bred daughter, Shalbourne (Nureyev), a winner in the UK at two, was exported to Australia where she produced Brisbane Cup (Gr 1, 3200m) winner Danestorm (Danehill).

Cross Talk’s sire Keano was bred by Waikato Stud’s Garry Chittick and was sold at the 2007 Wm Inglis Easter Yearling Sale for $450,000. He went on to score six wins including the Lightning Handicap (Listed, 1000m) at Eagle Farm and placed at Group 3 and Listed level.

At four, his connections brought him to New Zealand for two races, the Telegraph Stakes (Gr 1, 1200m), in which he finished fifth behind Vonusti (Ustinov), then seventh to Tavistock (Montjeu) in the Waikato Draught Sprint (Gr 1, 1400m).

The following year he was sold at auction for $92,000, starting his stud career in Australia but has been in New Zealand, at the property of Jeff Bliss of Sentry Hill Farm in New Plymouth, Taranaki, since 2015.

The stallion is not at all well patronised but from very limited opportunities is doing a marvellous job with 22 individual winners from just 34 starters, or 64.7 per cent winners/runners.

Should Cross Talk take the next step to stakes class, the stallion might attract more attention than he has so far, for, as the saying goes, no one really knows from where the next good horse will emerge and CrossTalk is a top advertisement.

Bloodlines wise, Keano has a lot going for him. His sire Pins  can claim 88 stakes winners while his dam is a winning Centaine half-sister to champion sire O’Reilly.

His grandam, Courtza (Pompeii Court), was the brilliant winner of both the Golden Slipper Stakes (Gr 1, 1200m) and the Blue Diamond Stakes (Gr 1, 1200m). His third dam, Hunza (Pakistan II), was also a very smart juvenile, the dam of five individual stakes winners and was named New Zealand Broodmare of the Year in 1989.

Metro success

Another smart effort recorded at Randwick on Saturday was from Waihaha Falls (Sacred falls), who was not only bred by Waikato Stud in partnership with Guy and Bridget Lowry, but also races in the stud’s familiar white with blue and green logo colours.

The four-year-old is in sparkling form and Saturday’s big victory, by nearly five lengths in the Bowermans Handicap (1200m), might be his best yet.

“The horse is flying, and I don’t think he got out of second gear today,” said winning trainer John O’Shea stable representative Alex Maher, a comment backed up by apprentice Reece Jones who said: “I let him cruise around them and he’s put them to the sword. He’s a horse going places.”

This preparation, the rising five-year-old’s eighth and ninth starts were won in much the same fashion, racing away from outside the 200 metres and giving his opponents no chance. He has put together four wins and based on the above observations, there are more in store.

His liking for rain affected tracks should come as no surprise as his sire, the late Sacred Falls (O’Reilly) was adept in such conditions and won two Doncaster Handicaps (Gr 1, 1600m) in testing conditions at Randwick.

Waihaha Falls is the second winner from his dam, Mink (Scaredee Cat), herself twice a winner in Sydney. His grandam is a half-sister to Western Australian St Leger (Listed, 2100m) winner Crumpet O’Reilly (O’Reilly) while his fourth dam is Tiara (Noble Bijou), a sister to the outstanding weight-for-age performer and three-time Group 1 winner Prince Majestic (Noble Bijou), the winner of 19 races.

Prince Majestic is out of 1982 New Zealand Broodmare of the Year, Princess Mellay (Mellay), twice winner of the New Zealand Cup (Gr 1, 3200m) as well as the New Zealand Oaks (Gr 2, 2400m).

Waikato Stud lost Sacred Falls in 2019 but he continues to sire plenty of winners (more than a hundred to date). In addition to Waihaha Falls he sired Duke Of Hastings, who, in a stop-start race, found a split along the inner soon after straightening and showed good spirit to score his second win from six starts in the Neds Fully Loaded Handicap (2000m) at Caulfield on Saturday.

Bought cheaply for $10,000 at the 2020 NZB Karaka Yearling Sale (Book 1), Duke Of Hastings was passed in at the 2020 NZB Ready To Run Sale. He was bred by Graham and Helen-Gay Bax of Blandford Lodge but is not from their foundation family of Polly Soleil (Roi Soleil), covered in detail in last week’s Kiwi Chronicles.

Instead, the gelding is a son of Listed winner Fairygem (Viscount) whose five wins included three in Melbourne and Sydney. Fairygem is a half-sister to Penny Gem (Pentire), a Captain Cook Stakes (Gr 1, 1600m) winner who was also four-times Group 1 placed.

Winners flowing

Although the Kiwis were shut out of all five stakes races run at Caulfield, Randwick, Doomben (2) and Belmont, they did register an undercard treble at Randwick. Cross Talk and Waihaha Falls as well as Monfelicity (Vadamos) completed a good day and the filly was very game to the line in the Benchmark 72 handicap (1600m) to cause a mild upset, her second win in eight starts.

A $1900 purchase off Gavelhouse Plus at the NZB South Island Yearling Sale, Monfelicity falls into the category as a bargain buy, having taken her earnings to more than $82,000. She took three starts to earn a stake but in her last six starts has the two wins and three successive second placings.

Over in Perth, at a rainy Belmont, Westbury Stud’s Reliable Man (Dalakhani) was represented by Reliable Star who added win four at start 17, going back-to-back, having won a similar race at Belmont two weeks prior.

Reliable Star was purchased by popular Karaka visitor, Perth agent John Chalmers, who bought the filly on behalf of Bob Peters for $100,000. She has a Listed placing to her name and is a consistent performer with eight placings to go along with her four wins and stake earnings of over $247,000.