Kiwi Chronicles

Faith, a promise and a bond

Successful men seem to separate themselves from the rest. An invention or a discovery may be at the heart of one man’s enormous success. In Sir Patrick Hogan’s case it was drive, dedication and innovation, assisted with huge faith, then spiced with some Irish luck.

The year 1976 was supposed to be a new beginning for Patrick Hogan. A 40-strong syndicate had been assembled to purchase a yet-to-bedecided stallion. Sir Tristram (Sir Ivor) duly arrived at Fencourt Stud. He had survived a stable fire while in quarantine and was kicked by a mare in the most important part of his anatomy in the aftermath of the fire.

Sir Tristram’s problems were not over even when he arrived at his new home. Come parade day, industry heavyweights were largely very disappointed and several expressed a wish to get out of the syndicate. On behalf of the shareholders, Fred Bodle of Whakanui Stud, took Hogan aside to explain that many thought that he had made a mistake, that he’d bought a shocking-looking horse. The fire was merely one hurdle along Sir Tristram’s unlikely pathway to being the most influential stallion in New Zealand’s thoroughbred industry.

Immediately following the parade, bookings for the stallion dropped from 68 to 54 mares and two shareholders Bodle included elected to give Sir Tristram a pass altogether, while many remaining shareholders re-evaluated which mares they would send to the stallion. In other words, lesser-bred and performed mares.

Severely shocked, Hogan and Paddy (Sir Tristram’s stable moniker) had a heart-to-heart – a serious chat. Still trying to recover from the parade day disaster, Hogan made a promise to Paddy that he would have a paddock at the farm for the rest of his life, no matter what; success or failure. An indelible bond was formed.

Hogan had been advised against purchasing the unruly, bad-tempered entire, for a number of reasons and by a number of people, yet his faith in the horse never wavered. On pedigree, Sir Tristram was everything Hogan desired. Despite all the negatives, such as the stallion’s behaviour, conformation (especially behind the saddle) and ordinary race record, he was driven to give Sir Tristram every opportunity.

The following year, Sir Tristram found himself at Hogan’s new property, named Cambridge Stud. It wasn’t long before he changed everyone’s perception.

Good deed

A cancelled sale and subsequent refund may have been another turning point in Sir Tristram’s and Hogan’s career. Trainer Geoff Murphy called Hogan from Melbourne to advise that a colt by Hermes (Aureole), purchased at the 1976 Trentham sale by Murphy for $14,000, was found to be broken-winded and therefore unlikely to race. Murphy had bought the colt on spec.

Although under no obligation, Hogan arranged for the auctioneers to refund Murphy and from then on scoped all his yearlings and sold them with a three-month guarantee of wind soundness.

The Hermes colt, named Semreh, ultimately did race, winning three minor races in Victoria, but the refund was to have major ramifications even though Sir Tristram was not on the radar at that point.

Hogan and Murphy had a history. Murphy trained the fabulous filly Surround (Sovereign Edition) which Hogan co-bred and owned, but the trainer more than repaid Hogan’s magnanimous refund by showing up at Trentham the following year with his own guarantee. Murphy would purchase at least three yearlings after spying six in Hogan’s draft that he was interested in. Bidding to the reserve, Murphy ensured that, even if he was the underbidder, Hogan was assured of a sale, the $14,000 refund turning into $80,000 worth of sales.

First success

The Knight was Sir Tristram’s first stakes winner, landing back-to-back stakes in Melbourne, the St Albans Stakes (Listed, 1000m) on Cox Plate Day at Moonee Valley, then the Flemington Stakes (Listed, 1200m) on day four of the Melbourne Cup carnival. Sir T (as he was to become known within the industry), was literally off to the races.

Geoff Murphy became instrumental in Sir Tristram’s success when, at Wrightson Bloodstock’s 1979 Waikato Year Sale, he purchased a colt from his first crop. The chestnut was from Taiona (Sovereign Edition), whose dam, Vickeyjoy (Sabaean), was also the dam of the Hermes colt whose purchase price was refunded.

Not selected for the Trentham National Sale, the colt was knocked down to Murphy for $6,000. Murphy was at Cambridge Stud the following year and enquired if Taiona had produced another foal. She had but the colt was a mess, having tangled with a fence, cutting his front legs badly and was not entered for any sale.

Hogan explained the now yearling’s sad history, which included operations to tidy up his legs and to stop him crib biting. He was also gelded. Hogan held little hope of selling the youngster, but Murphy offered to buy him for the same $6,000 he had outlayed for Taiona’s first foal. Hogan jumped at the offer.

Not long after, Hogan had an enquiry regarding Taiona herself, who was available for sale. Murphy also called when he heard that Taiona was for sale. This raised questions in Hogan’s mind, as he knew Murphy did not own broodmares.

Hogan explained that there had been some interest, but no further contact to which Murphy strongly advised Hogan not to sell. The reason Murphy called was mostly down to their strong friendship, suggesting that he really didn’t want to buy the mare but that Hogan would be making a mistake in selling her.

In that conversation Murphy made a prediction that Taiona’s first foal, subsequently named Sovereign Red, would win the Victoria Derby (Gr 1, 2500m) and would win a Group 1 before the Derby.

Sovereign Red would take out both the Caulfield Guineas (Gr 1, 1600m) and the Victoria Derby, added two Group 1s in Perth and, at the end of his three-year-old season, trekked to Brisbane where he bagged the Doomben Hundred Thousand (Gr 1, 1350m).

At four, he was back in Melbourne to land two Group 2s, the Underwood Stakes (Gr 1, 1800m) and ran second to champion Kingston Town (Bletchingly) in the Caulfield Stakes (Gr 1, 2000m). Sovereign Red put Sir Tristram on the map and his career never waned from that moment.

October/November of 1982 stands out as the period when Sir Tristram took the racing and breeding world by storm. Grosvenor won the Caulfield Guineas and the Victoria Derby. Dalmacia won the Epsom Handicap (Gr 1, 1600m).

What happened to Sovereign Red’s fence-fighting baby brother? That spring, racing as Gurner’s Lane, he not only won the Caulfield Cup (Gr 1, 2400m), but the Melbourne Cup as well. Sovereign Red’s and Gurner’s Lane’s dam, Taiona, would be named, not once, but twice, New Zealand Thoroughbred Broodmare of the Year.

The 1982-83 Australian season saw Sir Tristram’s first Australian Sire Premiership. He would add a further five in a span of eight years.

Eating crow

Whakanui Stud’s Fred Bodle had not sent a mare to the stallion in 1976 or 1977. He was not planning to support the stallion in year three either. Hogan asked why and the reply was that Bodle believed that his mares were too good and that Sir Tristram was not good enough.

With that, Hogan suggested that Bodle sell his share for $4,000, the original purchase price of each share. The share was sold to Peter (now Sir Peter) and Phillip Vela.

As is often the case, horses can make we humans look somewhat foolish and Bodle was forced to “eat crow” a few years later, calling at Cambridge Stud to arrange a booking to Sir Tristram. Hogan remarked that Bodle’s mares were “not good enough for Sir Tristram”, repeating similar but reverse comments from years prior. Joke over, Bodle then asked what the service fee would be, to which Hogan replied: “It’ll cost you what he stands for – $100,000”.

Bodle was mortified since he’d been an original shareholder and could have sent a mare each season at no cost other than the original $4,000.

Nevertheless, Hogan stuck to his guns, the $100,000 was exchanged and Bodle’s mare, Summer Fleur (Sovereign Edition) produced a big filly foal in 1982.

The story did not end there. The filly won the 1988 Melbourne Cup (Gr 1, 3200m). Her name, of course, was Empire Rose. The Melbourne Cup was one her nine career wins, scoring the LKS Mackinnon Stakes (Gr 1, 2000m) three days earlier, defeating the champion Vo Rogue (Ivor Prince). In the 1987 version of the cup, she ran second behind Kensei (Blarney Kiss).

By the time Summer Fleur visited Sir Tristram, the stallion was in huge demand, a demand that had its roots in faith, a bond, integrity and strong friendships.

Pure gold

Sovereign Red’s dam, Taiona, did Hogan proud. Broodmare of the Year is a highly sought-after award. In sale catalogues, the title appears in a broodmare’s produce record forever. To own one winner is significant, as is two awards for the same mare, achieved via Gurner’s Lane’s exploits, but Hogan was to enjoy even greater success in that department when the wondrous Eight Carat (Pieces Of Eight) won three awards on the trot – 1995, 1996 and 1997.

Two mares have since equalled Eight Carat’s three successive awards. They are Sunline’s dam Songline (Western Symphony) and Starcraft’s dam Flying Floozie (Pompeii Court), but Eight Carat also achieved further recognition as a member of the New Zealand Racing Hall of Fame, joining the incomparable Eulogy (Cicero). Eulogy, ¬†Eight Carat, and the Williams family’s great producer, Sunbride (Tai Yang), are the only three mares inducted due to their incredible breeding records.

Unsurprisingly, both Sir Tristram and sire son Zabeel are also members, along with Foxbridge (Foxlaw) and O’Reilly (Last Tycoon), the only four stallions to be so recognised.

Hogan didn’t acquire Eight Carat until 1985, although the mare was sent to New Zealand in 1983 to be covered by Sir Tristram. By that time Eight Carat had produced Cotehele House (My Swanee) and Diamond Lover (Sticks And Stones) in Australia, the latter imported to New Zealand (by Hogan) in 1984.

Cotehele House would foal five-time Group 1 winner Danewin (Danehill) as well as successful sire Commands (Danehill). Her daughter Chalet Girl (Imposing) would become the great-grandam of champion mare Verry Elleegant, who was by Zed (Zabeel), himself a great-grandson of Cotehele House.

Diamond Lover almost deserves a chapter of her own. Her racing ability included Ellerslie’s premier sprint, the Railway Handicap (Gr 1, 1200m), but her own produce record of four stakes winners including Australian Derby (Gr 1, 2400m) winner Don Eduardo (Zabeel), a $3.6 million yearling, was excellent. Diamond Lover’s Antwerp (Sir Tristram) produced triple Group 1 winner Viscount (Quest For Fame).

Kaapstad (Sir Tristram) was Eight Carat’s first New Zealand foal; the mating arranged by Robert Sangster’s Swettenham Stud. Kaapstad was a Group 1 stakes winner at two of the VRC Sires’ Produce Stakes (1400m) and would later become a very successful sire when standing at Windsor Park Stud.

Kaapstad was followed by two Sir Tristram sisters, both stakes producers, then Eight Carat foaled three successive Group 1 winners, namely Marquise (Gold And Ivory), ten-times elite winner Octagonal (Zabeel) and Mouawad (Zabeel), who raced just eight times for seven wins including three Group 1s.

Octagonal was in a class of his own, finishing second in the Golden Slipper Stakes (Gr 1, 1200m), quite an achievement for a Zabeel at two, before taking out the WS Cox Plate (Gr 1, 2040m) at three. His son, Lonhro, would go one better, taking a magnificent 11 Group 1s and following his grandsire, Zabeel and great grandsire, Sir Tristram, as Champion Sire of Australia.

In less than 40 years, Eight Carat is responsible for 65 stakes winners, 18 of which have scored at Group 1 level. Her influence is not only apparent through her daughters and granddaughters. Several sires, all direct descendants, have enjoyed outstanding success, including Commands (80 stakes winners), Kaapstad (46), Danewin (30), Octagonal (25), Deep Field (23), Viscount (17) and Zed (16).

Second strike

Proving that lightning can indeed strike twice, (or the luck of the Irish knows no bounds), Sir Tristram’s son Zabeel not only carried on his sire’s fantastic success, but took things to another level by siring a New Zealand record 166 stakes winners. Unlike Danehill (Danzig), he achieved his numbers without shuttling between the two hemispheres.

Remarkably, Patrick Hogan was again front and centre, overseeing a second sire phenomenon. Who knew there were paddocks of four-leaf clover in Cambridge?

Round two was different, however. Zabeel was a joy to be around, the image of his sire, but without the attitude. He was quiet and laid back. Foaled at Cambridge Stud in 1986, his dam, Lady Giselle (Nureyev), was tiny yet he grew to 16 hands and 2.5 inches, and Hogan never forgot him.

When Robert Sangster formed a partnership with Arrowfield Stud, his mares were transported to Ra Ora Stud and Zabeel was sold at the inaugural Karaka Yearling Sale in 1988, offered by Ra Ora as Lot 280. The big bay realised $650,000, purchased by Angus Gould on behalf of Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum. Later, Zabeel was to completely dominate the same Karaka sale ring.

A career of seven wins, including the Group 1 Australian Guineas (1600m), and earnings of $1.1 million saw the stallion retired. On several occasions, Hogan had enquired about Zabeel as a stallion prospect but was informed that he was not for sale and when retired, would stand at Lindsay Park Stud in South Australia.

Mindful that Sir Tristram could not live forever, Hogan was always on the lookout for a replacement, but sons Grosvenor (foaled in 1979) and Kaapstad (1984) came along too early.

At the 1991 Magic Millions Sale, Hogan was approached by Gould, suggesting surprise that Hogan had not shown any interest in Zabeel, whose owner was looking for a home for him. This prompted Hogan to explain that he had shown deep interest, but was informed that the horse was not for sale.

In a closed bidding duel, Gould asked Hogan to put his bid in an envelope, as did Colin Hayes, and Gould would advise the winner the following day.

Hogan outbid Hayes by $50,000, and, as is often said, the rest is history: a history that continues to a third generation in the form of eight-times Champion New Zealand sire, Savabeel.

The sire line

Zabeel stands head and shoulders above Sir Tristram’s other sire sons, but several have proved highly successful. First was Grosvenor whose grandam, Gay Poss (Le Filou), was co-bred and raced by Hogan’s wife Justine. Grosvenor, foaled in 1979, sired 54 individual stakes winners. Next was Military Plume, a 1983 foal (26), then from the 1984 crop were Kaapstad (46) and Marauding (32).

By comparison, Zabeel’s son Savabeel is churning out stakes winners to the degree that he sits just one behind Sir Tristram’s 130, having racked up number 129 just this past Sunday, with Cruz Missile’s win in the Gingernuts Salver (Listed, 2100m).

Coincidentally, Zabeel’s son Reset, also sired a new stakes winner, now totalling 36, with Mission Phoenix taking out Saturday’s January Cup (Listed, 2000m).

Apart from Savabeel in New Zealand, the Zabeel line is set to continue through Octagonal’s son Lonhro, himself the sire of 94 stakes winners. Lonhro’s outstanding son, Pierro, is going strong, has been supported with the very best mares in the Australian Stud Book and is progressing nicely with 32 stakes winners. That number can only grow and he looks the best chance to ensure that Sir Tristram lives on.

Grosvenor and champion racehorse and sire, Lonhro, are closely related, Grosvenor being Sir Tristram’s son whereas Lonhro is by Sir Tristam’s grandson, Octagonal. Lonhro’s grandam, Concia (First Consul), is a half-sister to Grosvenor.

Legacy

Karaka will be slightly different this year. Certainly, reflective of the huge influence that the two knights, Sir Patrick Hogan and Sir Tristram, have created over the last 40 years. When Wrightson Bloodstock saw the need to move the National Yearling Sales from Trentham in 1988, the two had a major say in that decision. During the 1980s they drew buyers, especially Australian buyers, to Trentham and Karaka in unprecedented numbers.

Zabeel took over and brought buyers to Karaka in much the same manner. Savabeel has followed suit, single-handedly attracting buyers for the last decade.

If not for Sir Patrick Hogan and his faith in Sir Tristram, the industry may have been wildly different. How different, no one knows. What we do know is that the two of them, Patrick, Paddy plus their bond, have made the New Zealand industry what it is today.