Kiwi Chronicles

Savabeel setting the pace

For the Kiwis, a good number of highs, combined with several honest stakes performances, could be taken from Australian stakes racing over the past weekend.

Making a strong statement is Waikato Stud’s Savabeel (Zabeel) who is on a roll two months into the 2021-22 season. In terms of individual stakes winners his four is headed only by Australian-based Snitzel (Redoute’s Choice). 

Currently, he lies third on the money list but his total is a result of 81 runners whereas Snitzel has had 131 runners while second placed I Am Invincible (Invincible Spirit) has had 136 runners.

All his four have won at Group level and the win by Forgot You in Friday night’s Stutt Stakes (Gr 2, 1600m) brought up career stakes winner 116.

Early on, Forgot You must have made an impression on his trainers Trent Busuttin and Natalie Young. At just his second start, off a third place debut at Ballarat, he was assigned a tilt at the VRC Sires’ Produce Stakes (Gr 2, 1400m).

A strong finish to land his maiden at Moonee Valley on September 4 heralded Friday night’s step up to Group class where he lifted gamely to secure his maiden stakes win and appears firmly on target for the Victoria Derby (Gr 1, 2500m) to be run Saturday, October 30.

Forgot You is the 33rd stakes winner to descend from Waikato Stud’s foundation mare Georgina Belle (Pakistan II). The stud has good reason to name one of their paddocks in her honour. 

Forgot You is her fifth by Savabeel and the first stakes winner from Simply You (O’Reilly), a threequarter sister to Rare Insight (O’Reilly), the stakes winning dam of Group 1 winner Steps In Time (Danehill Dancer). 

His grandam, Glamour Puss (Tale Of The Cat) was a champion sprinter, winning nine times, twice at Group 1 level including the Salinger Stakes at Flemington.

Glamour Puss’s halfbrother was the grand miler Vision And Power (Carnegie) whose ten wins included the Doncaster Handicap (Gr 1, 1600m) and the George Ryder Stakes (Gr 1, 1500m), they descending from Georgina Belle’s daughter Celia Leigh (Sound Reason).

Another descendant, but from the Habania (Habat) branch, Probabeel (Savabeel) was gallant in her bid to upset hot favourite Zaaki (Leroidesanimaux) in Saturday’s Underwood Stakes (Gr 1, 1800m). From the 400 metres she tried to sneak through along the inner but the winner was too strong.

Backing up, as well as stepping up an extra 400 metres, from an unlucky fifth in the Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes (Gr 1, 1400m) the previous Saturday, was always going to be a tough ask but you had to admire her fighting spirit. She tried hard all the way.

No shock

Except for rolling away from the rail and allowing Superstorm (Sebring) a dream run through in the Feehan Stakes (Gr 2, 1600m) three weeks earlier, Elephant (Shocking) might still be unbeaten.

The star Kiwi had a much easier time of things on Saturday and had the Sandown Stakes (Gr 3, 1500m) under control once he took over inside the 300 metres. He may have had just five opponents but there were no slouches among them so the win has much merit.

The five-year-old was originally being set for next month’s Cox Plate (Gr 1, 2040m) but that second in the Feehan meant a change in plans.

After witnessing the ease of the Underwood Stakes victory by Zaaki, Elephant’s connections may be slightly relieved at not having to raise their game against what looks to be a foregone conclusion.

Nevertheless, Elephant has made a huge impression since arriving in Melbourne and it is easy to forget that his most recent win was only start seven. The five-year-old has the world at his feet plus major spring riches to look forward to.

Caulfield’s Toorak Handicap (Gr 1, 1600m) is likely to be his next assignment.

His speed is very likely due to his dam Ticklish (Maroof), a very speedy mare whose best performance was over the 1000 metres of the Listed Pegasus Stakes which is run immediately prior to Riccarton’s premier sprint, the Stewards’ Stakes (Gr 3, 1200m) each November.

Ticklish won nine times, two of them Listed wins. She placed at Group 1 level at Flemington and also enjoyed success at Moonee Valley. At stud she has produced two Group winners, the other, dual Group 3 winner Melt (Iffraaj). 

From the same stable as Elephant is Rhinoceros (Vadamos), a strong maiden mid-week winner at Sandown earlier in September. Rhinoceros is from Hot In Pink, a Lonhro (Octagonal) half-sister to Elephant.

Ticklish’s grandam Real Charmer is a sister to Victoria Derby winner Omnicorp (Grosvenor), one of three Group 1 winners to descend from Bourbon Lass (Prince Bourbon), Elephant’s fifth dam.

The second Group 1 winner is dual Doncaster Handicap hero Sacred Falls (O’Reilly) who died early in his Waikato Stud career in 2019.

The third is Telegraph Handicap (Gr 1, 1200m) winner Vonusti (Ustinov).

Bourbon Lass was an open class sprinter (13 wins) and is responsible for a total of 42 stakes winners since she went to stud in 1971. The most recent stakes winner from the family, prior to Elephant, is Caloundra Cup (Listed, 2400m) winner Stockman, this past July. 

Added shock

Rich Hill Stud’s Shocking (Street Cry) may well have a second representative lining up in the Toorak, in the form of I’m Thunderstruck.

A slashing third in the Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes at his second attempt at stakes class, I’m Thunderstruck was also having just his seventh race. His finish was electric and especially so, considering he was virtually knocked off his feet at the top of the straight.

His four wins have all been as a result of strong finishes and should he make the field will have the benefit of no weight. Can we anticipate a Shocking quinella?

During this month, Shocking has sired 11 winners including Saturday’s Matamata open handicap winner Manrico.

Kiwi Chronicles contacted Rich Hill Stud’s John Thompson regarding the exciting form of Elephant and I’m Thunderstruck: “Elephant’s win was certainly well deserved. His run in the Feehan looks even better post-race. The form is excellent. Sierra Sue had no luck then won the Group 1. The winner, Superstorm ran a mighty third in the Underwood.

“As for why Shocking has suddenly got these two sprinter-milers, the stallion’s range of mares altered after his first few seasons here. Many won’t know that he sired six stakes winners in his first crop and that led to broodmare owners sending along a different range and some better quality mares. We are seeing the results of those in the form of Elephant,” said Thompson. “His mother was an out-and-out sprinter and ran third in the Lightning at Flemington.

“As a sire, Street Cry himself started strongly, went a shade quiet then came back. Shocking is doing the same,” continued Thompson. “It’s great to see him have his day though. We all understand the ups and downs of this business so to see Shocking in the headlines again is quite gratifying.

“According to his trainer, Mark Kavanagh, Shocking showed plenty as a two-year-old but due to the equine influenza at that time the colt was stranded in Queensland and therefore his preparation was delayed,” said Thompson. “That’s why he was an autumn three-year-old versus a spring three-year-old. To come back from a Melbourne Cup win and take a 1600metre Group 2 then a Group 1 over 2000 metres, indicates his class and speed.”

In conclusion, Thompson said: “The Toorak could see an exciting clash between the two and with Riodini in next week’s Epsom, we at Rich Hill, have plenty to look forward to.”

Black type achieved

In scoring in the Metric Mile (Gr 3, 1600m) at Awapuni on Saturday, winner House Of Cartier (Alamosa) checked off an important milestone, that of being a stakes winner, before she heads off to stud.

Now in her last season of racing, the six-year-old was conceived in New Zealand but foaled in Australia and already had plenty going for her before Saturday’s breakthrough.

Recording a Group 2 second in the Eight Carat Classic (1600m) at Ellerslie plus a Group 1 third in the Australasian Oaks (2000m) at Morphettville, the Group 3 win is now a bonus. Her next race is another step up, the Group 1 Livamol Classic (2040m) next month.

Her bloodlines alone make her an attractive proposition as a broodmare as her half-sister is the Listed winner Sinarahma (Darci Brahma).

If that wasn’t enough, her dam, Shez Sinsational (Ekraar) won no fewer than four Group 1s and a total of 12 races. Three were at weight-for-age and she took her obvious class to a 3200- metre victory in the Auckland Cup (Gr1), taking home Champion Stayer honours in 2011-12 in the process.

Shez Sinsational is one of three Group 1 winners to descend from King’s Desire (King Legend) a mare imported to New Zealand during the early 1950s.

King’s Desire produced the Brisbane Cup (Gr 1, 16f) winner Galleon King (Golden Galleon) and Regal Lady (High Rank), the grandam of Marlboro Mile (Gr 1, 1600m) victor Brutus (Balios). House Of Cartier’s third dam, Hope Chest, is a sister to Brutus. 

King’s Desire’s dam Aragon (Windsor Lad) has some outstanding connections.

Aragon’s half-sister Lady Sybil (Nearco) is the dam of champion New Zealand sire Count Rendered (Precipitation). Another half-sister is Sybil’s Sister (Nearco), grandam of Great Nephew (Honeyway) while a further half-sister, Lady Angela (Hyperion), left Nearctic (Nearco), sire of Northern Dancer.

House Of Cartier brought up stakes winner number 20 for her sire Alamosa (O’Reilly). Sadly, Alamosa seems to have lost favour with breeders. He is listed as standing at Wellfield Stud in Palmerston North but has been relegated to the list of stallions yet not among those with a two-page spread in the latest New Zealand Stallion Register.

His first six seasons Alamosa averaged 109 mares. The last six that number has dropped to 37 with just eleven mares last year.

There is likely no coming back from those numbers for the now 17-year-old.

Westbury winners

Westbury Stud’s El Roca (Fastnet Rock) continues to churn out the winners with six in the last week, headed by Esta La Roca, taking her record to five wins (four in Melbourne) in 13 starts.

Her Benchmark 90 win at Sandown on Saturday was on the back of a very good pace-making fourth in the Group 2 McEwen Stakes (1000m) behind Everest place-holder The Inferno (Holy Roman Emperor). Prior to that she had finished second and third in Listed company at Morphettville and Moonee Valley.

Barn mate Reliable Man (Dalakhani) has the promising Benaud who finished a solid third from well back in the Group 3 Gloaming Stakes (1800m) at Rosehill.

Benaud is a half-brother to the topclass mare Tofane (Ocean Park), a triple Group 1 winner. He has a lot to live up to but third in a Group 3 at only his second start would suggest that he has inherited some of the family class.

Their dam Baggy Green (Galileo) is a three-quarter sister to Funstar (Adelaide) and half-sister to Youngstar (High Chaparral), both Group 1 winners.

He joins a list of 43 stakes horses (27 stakes-placed runners) sired by Reliable Man whose tally of winners, all around the globe this month alone, is 18.

Cool purchase

Coolmore’s Tom Magnier was strong in his determination to secure Avantage (Fastnet Rock) at last Wednesday’s online gavelhouse.com auction. It took $4.1 million to add the mare to their stable, his $100,000 online bids sharp and snappy, sending the auction into overtime from its original 7PM (NZ time).

In a whirlwind of events, only five days prior, the mare returned from a light workout showing signs of lameness and was immediately retired.

Had her injury taken place in, say, the autumn, the same urgency to find a new owner would not have been necessary. Such a valuable mare combined with major commercial considerations saw Te Akau principal Davis Ellis and company quickly swing into gear and make the mare available to, essentially, the world.

When interviewed soon after his buy, Magnier confirmed the commercial aspect of the purchase by discussing possible matings for the nine-times Group 1 winning daughter of Fastnet Rock (Danehill).

At Coolmore’s disposal is an outstanding array of stallions however, it is difficult to imagine that Avantage would visit an unproven stallion, regardless of his potential.

Kiwi Chronicles is betting that Wootton Bassett (Iffraaj) is the most logical choice. He fits the category of proven. He has a growing record in the northern hemisphere, his sire Iffraaj (Zafonic) is well known in the southern hemisphere and his part-time New Zealand-based son Almanzor has a “buzz” about him.

Avantage’s former stablemate Melody Belle (Commands), who was sold in May, is to visit Written Tycoon (Iglesia) and now, a few weeks later, Avantage, will also begin the next chapter of her already exciting life.

Te Akau’s two champion mares have more in common than being purchased by Ellis, syndicated, then trained by Jamie Richards. Their bloodlines are remarkably similar.

Both are by sons of Danehill (Danzig). One generation further back, both share Sir Tristram (Sir Ivor) in their dams’ pedigrees. Avantage is from a Zabeel (Sir Tristram) mare whereas Melody Belle’s maternal grandam is by Sir Tristram.

A mating with Wootton Bassett would yield Melody Belle’s blood make-up after adding Iffraaj into the mix. If the result was a filly it would be almost as if Coolmore bought the two mares together.

Kiwi Chronicles had the forlorn hope that a consortium of New Zealand studs might have collaborated to keep at least one the mares here but it was not to be.

The Australian industry is experiencing boom times so we will merely have to follow their progress from afar.

Both mares gave our local racing a real lift. Their stud careers will be watched with interest.