Kiwi Chronicles

Repeat, no change

Multiple champion sire Savabeel (Zabeel) ended January with his 27th Group 1 winner, The Chosen One. Half the stakes season is over but the second half, which started on Saturday, continued in much the same way when Savabeel’s Hasabro was too classy in the deep south’s premier weight-for-age race, the White Robe Lodge Stakes (Gr 3, 1600m).

The abandonment of racing at New Plymouth meant that just three stakes races were run in New Zealand during the weekend, the focus therefore being on Wingatui’s annual Cup meeting.

Perseverance

A $220,000 purchase from Waikato Stud’s draft at the 2017 Karaka Premier Sale, Hasabro took some time to learn to be a racehorse. Stepped out just eight months after his purchase, he finished a solid second on debut, one of three starts he had at two.

At three, he added three consecutive spring placings and then was taken to Australia, the Victoria Derby (Gr 1, 2500m) being the target. In three attempts he was unable to break through, although his connections would have been encouraged by his second at Geelong prior to two also-rans.

Returning home, his 11th start finally resulted in an overdue maiden win, an easy, all-the-way success over 1600 metres at Tauranga. Two races later he was a game fourth at Ellerslie in the Championship Stakes (Gr 2, 2100m).

At four and five he added three wins but the highlight was a brave second in Ellerslie’s Easter Handicap (Gr 2, 1600m).

Relocated to the south for his six-year-old season, Hasabro has thrived, doubling his win tally to eight and achieving stakeswinning status in the Hazlett Stakes (Listed, 1200m) at Wingatui on Boxing Day. In just seven southern starts he has added four more wins, culminating with Saturday’s classy victory at weight-for-age.

The Go Racing Syndicate races Hasabro and manager Albert Bosma reflected that the horse has taken some time to realise his early potential. 

“That trip (to Australia) might have taken a bit out of him. We tried to qualify for the Victoria Derby and it didn’t quite work out but he’s racing better now, as a six-year-old, than he ever has,” Bosma said. 

From the same 2015 crop as The Chosen One, Hasabro may be back in the North Island quite soon. “His rating now means he’ll be topweight in any handicap he runs in, but I wouldn’t mind having a look at the Group 1 weight-for-age at Otaki on February 26,” Bosma said.

Beyond that, Bosma is considering the Bonecrusher New Zealand Stakes (Gr 1, 2000m) at Ellerslie next month given the gelding’s affinity for the track. 

His dam, Halloween (Encosta De Lago), has a very interesting history, beginning with her purchase as a yearling at the 2007 Inglis Australian Easter Yearling Sale. She was knocked down to BBA (Ireland) for $725,000 from Swettenham Stud and, while she was placed as a racemare, she subsequently passed through several ownerships.

Two years later, Jamison Bloodstock found her at the 2009 Inglis Australian Easter Broodmare sale for $54,000. She was later sold to Hallmark Stud for $80,000 at the 2010 Karaka May sale. The mare was carrying her first foal, a filly by Sakhee’s Secret (Sakhee).

Three years after that, Halloween was back at the Karaka National Broodmare Sale and Waikato Stud picked her up for $11,000 – a result that now looks like an astonishing bargain. She was carrying a filly by Alamosa (O’Reilly).

Two breeding partnerships followed, the first with Mrs I E O’Shea, which resulted in three foals. Dragon Robe (Alamosa) was foaled in 2013 followed by the New Zealand One Thousand Guineas (Gr 1, 1600m) winner Hasahalo (Savabeel), who also raced under the Go Racing banner. The very next year (2015) she foaled Hasabro.

The second partnership was with Rosemont Stud in Victoria, resulting in four more foals, including two Group winners, All Saints’ Eve and All Hallows’ Eve, both by Sacred Falls (O’Reilly). Her last two foals, colts by Savabeel, were foaled in 2018 and in 2019 but Halloween died in 2020.

What a fabulous mare she proved to be. Not only did she produce four Group winners, she produced a foal each and every year of her nine years as a broodmare.

Bred by Swettenham Stud, Halloween is a daughter of La Lagune (Danehill), twice a Listed winner in Melbourne and Adelaide, with her premier performance being a runner-up finish in the 2001 Blue Diamond Stakes (Gr 1, 1200m).

La Lagune’s breeding record did not match her race record and from nine foals to race she produced just four winners. Two of her daughters, however, have more than made up for what might be considered a disappointing broodmare career.

The introduction of Savabeel to this line has been a revelation. Of the six stakes winners descending from La Lagune, four are by Waikato Stud’s pre-eminent stallion. Halloween’s half-sister, Generous Nature (Carnegie), has produced Group winners Savvy Nature and Addictive Nature, while Halloween herself has produced Hasahalo and Hasabro.

Milan Park will offer a three-quarter brother to Hasahalo and Hasabro at next month’s NZB Karaka Yearling Sale. The colt is from Dragon Robe (see above) and is catalogued as Lot 211. A Savabeel colt from this family would seem to be a no-brainer and should command a great deal of interest.

Essentially an American family, the Australian-New Zealand branch of this line began when California Listed winner Commercial Choice (Knight’s Choice) arrived in Australia during the 1990s. She produced two stakes winners.

Commercial Choice was joined by her older half-sister, Gold Tunic (Stage Door Johnny), but was much more successful, producing Titanic Jack (Encosta De Lago) and Sober Suit (Noalcoholic), both Group 1 winners. The former won the Emirates Stakes (Gr 1, 1600m) and the latter bagged the Toorak Handicap (Gr 1, 1600m).

Halloween is bred on a very similar pattern to Titanic Jack. Both are by Encosta De Lago (Fairy King). Halloween’s grandam and Titanic Jack’s grandam are half-sisters.

Shocking too

Waikato Stud was joined by Rich Hill Stud in kicking off the second half of the season in similar fashion. Their Shocking (Street Cry) was responsible for Wellington Cup (Gr 3, 3200m) winner Lincoln King and on Saturday he sired his 18th individual stakes winner when Kilowatt outstayed his opponents in the Dunedin Cup (Listed, 2400m) at Wingatui.

The experienced Kilowatt, now an eight-year-old, had four southern country Cups to his name prior to lining up at Wingatui as well as a third in the Riverton Cup (Listed, 2147m) in 2019.

Like Hasabro, he took some time to break his maiden (eighth start) but has been a solid earner with ten victories and over $230,000 in the bank. He was catalogued twice, once as a yearling (passed in) before he was later withdrawn from the 2015 NZB Ready to Run Sale.

His dam, Princess Latifah (Flying Spur), did not race but is a half-sister to American triple Grade 2 winner Quest Star (Broad Brush). His grandam, Tinaca (Manila), is a half-sister to Mariah’s Storm (Rahy), the dam of champion racehorse and sire Giant’s Causeway (Storm Cat).

Reputation growing

White Robe Lodge’s Ghibellines (Shamardal) is steadily making a name for himself. The good looking, well-related son of Shamardal (Giant’s Causeway) has sired 40 individual winners with three full crops to the races, his oldest now being five

By Ghibellines, Ruby’s Lad started favourite for Saturday’s Dunedin Guineas (Listed, 1500m) but instead, Ghibellines’ representative Palmetto stole the show by powering out of the pack for his maiden stakes win and taking his sire’s total to four, including three this season.

Ruby’s Lad is one of four stakesplaced winners for the stallion, having finished a game second in the Gore Guineas (Listed, 1335m) prior to the Dunedin Guineas.

Like Kilowatt, Palmetto hails from an imported family, in his case, predominantly French. Both his dam and grandam were winners; his grandam, Virginia Key (Mark Of Esteem), provides the link to France as she scored there. 

Virginia Key is very well connected. One of her half-sisters is the French Group 3 winner In Clover (Inchinor), herself the dam of three Group 1 winners, namely With You (Dansili), Call The Wind (Frankel) and We Are (Dansili).

A second half-sister, Listed winner Bellona (Bering), is the grandam of Hong Kong Vase (Gr 1, 2400m) winner Dominant (Cacique) and a third half-sister is Forty Belles (Forty Niner), the grandam of the 2018 Poule D‘Essai Des Pouliches (Gr 1, 1600m) winner Teppal (Camacho).

Virginia Key is not the first from this family to find her way to New Zealand. Two former stallions, Roi Lear (Reform) and Val du Fier (Bon Mot), both stood here during the late 1970s.

Virginia Key’s third dam, Lalika (Le Fabuleux), was a half-sister to Roi Lear. Their dam, Kalika (Beau Prince), was a half-sister to Val Du Fier.

Although foaled two years apart, both began their New Zealand stud careers in the same year, 1977. Roi Lear stood at Ardsley Stud while Val Du Fier took up residence at Trelawney Stud.

Roi Lear, winner of the Prix Du Jockey Club (Gr 1, 2400m), had three seasons in the northern hemisphere and also only three in New Zealand as he died in 1980.

Who knows if Roi Lear would have made a bigger impression had he lived, but from 84 to race he sired eight stakes winners, a decent ratio of stakes winners to runners.

Val Du Fier fared far worse. His 124 runners from five crops resulted in just three stakes winners.

Coincidence or pattern?

It’s an old saying: if something (usually negative) happens once, it is considered an accident. If the same thing happens a second time, it is considered a coincidence. If it happens a third time, it’s a habit or a pattern.

Applying the adage to horse breeding might be a folly but Saturday’s Inglis Millennium (RL, 1100m) winner Xtravagant Star (Xtravagant) falls into the bracket of the second leg

A first mating between Xtravagant (Pentire) and She’s A Danica (Sebring) produced He’s Xceptional, winner of the Mitchell McKenzie Stakes (Listed, 1200m) at Moonee Valley last August to provide Xtravagant with his first stakes winner. 

A follow-up mating has produced Xtravagant Star, the impressive Millennium winner. She gave her opponents a galloping lesson at Randwick and looks to be set for the Golden Slipper (Gr 1, 1200m). Victory in the flagship juvenile contest would be an incredible boost for her sire.

There is a third, another filly, born last spring. She might be retained, especially if big sis goes on with it and lands a Group 1.

At the time of her brother’s maiden stakes win, Kiwi Chronicles devoted several paragraphs to the stallion, asking if Xtravagant was the one that got away. This was aimed at New Zealand studs.

In reprise, two of Xtravagant’s performances remain fresh in the minds of many racegoers, mainly due to the way he completely blitzed his own age group in the New Zealand Two Thousand Guineas (Gr 1, 1600m) then showed up in February against the older horses in the NRM Waikato Sprint (Gr 1, 1400m), where he utterly destroyed his well-credentialled opponents.

In the Guineas he was merciless, streaking away to an eight-and-a-halflength win when let go from the top of the straight.

At Te Rapa in the Sprint, he sat third past the 600 metres, hugged the fence rounding into the straight then turned on the afterburners to again bolt clear by eight lengths in a slashing 1:21.92 for the 1400 metres.

Hugely versatile

Rich Hill Stud, mentioned above via their stallion Shocking, was also home to Xtravagant’s hugely versatile sire Pentire (Be My Guest). He could throw brilliant sprinters such as NZ Hall Of Famer Mufhasa, winner of ten Group 1 sprints (and miles), two of which were against the best that Australia could serve up.

New Zealand Derby (Gr 1, 2400m) winner Xcellent raced just 13 times, won eight (four Group 1s) and ran third in the Melbourne Cup (Gr 1, 3200m).

Pentire sired four further Derby winners. Zarita, Pentire’s best filly, topped the boys in the South Australian Derby (Gr 1, 2500m). Pantani won the same race, as did Volatile Mix, while Markus Maximus took out the Western Australian Derby (Gr 1, 2400m).

Add Group 1 milers such as Rangirangdoo, winner of the Doncaster Handicap (Gr 1, 1600m), plus Ferlax, Penny Gem and Say No More, while quality mare Recurring was another adept at the shorter distances, such as her Railway Stakes (Gr 1, 1200m) victory.

His ability to sire stayers was never in doubt and his Group 1 winners include Melbourne Cup winner Prince Of Penzance, Adelaide Cup (Gr 1, 3200m) winner Pantani (see above) and two Auckland Cup (Gr 1, 3200m) winners, Chenille and Pentane.

A possible explanation for his versatility might be found in his own race record. He scored at six furlongs up to a mile and a half. The class factor is easier to explain, landing two Group 1s, two Group 2s, a Group 3, two Listed races and was twice Group 1placed, all from just 18 starts.

Xtravagant is out of a Zabeel (Sir Tristram) mare, begging the question: where does this speed come from? Or is it simply class?

Has anyone forgotten that Zabeel’s brilliant son Octagonal ran second in the Golden Slipper?

Family twist

Xtravagant Star is out of the Sebring (More Than Ready) mare She’s A Danica, whose three wins included one as a juvenile.

She’s A Danica’s grandam is Ballroom Babe (Citidancer), bred in New Zealand and an especially good filly and racemare, winning eight of her 23 races. Her two-year-old season saw her ranked as the champion filly of her crop courtesy of wins in the Ellerslie and Manawatu Sires’ Produce Stakes (Gr 1, 1400m).

At four, she added the Captain Cook Stakes (Gr 1, 1600m) in the autumn and backed up seven days later to capture the New Zealand Thoroughbred Breeders’ Stakes (Gr 2, 1600m). At stud, she produced three stakes winners but none as good as herself.

Her background has an interesting twist as Ballroom Babe’s grandam, Miamian (Clem), was bred in the USA but raced in Ireland where she was placed.

However, Miamian’s dam, Holiday (Summertime), was bred in New Zealand and was one of the better three-year-old fillies of her year, winning the Kewney Stakes (Gr 2, 10f) and placing in the VRC Oaks (Gr 1, 12f) and the One Thousand Guineas (Gr 1, 8f).

Holiday was exported to the USA but her daughter, Miamian, found her way to New Zealand via Ireland in 1976 to produce Reingard (Rapier II), winner of the Canterbury Gold Cup (Gr 2, 2000m).

Ballroom Babe aside, two further Group 1 winners descend from Miamian. Dandy Andy (Three Legs), a grandson, caused a massive upset when relegating champions Vo Rogue (Ivor Prince) and Bonecrusher (Pag Asa) to the minor placings in the 1988 Australian Cup (Gr 1, 2000m). Vo Rogue would win the next two Australian Cups.

Polanski (Rakti), who fetched a miserly $4,000 as a yearling and won the 2013 Victoria Derby, is from Citrium (Citidancer), a three-quarter sister to Ballroom Babe.