Kiwi Chronicles

Zabeel flies New Zealand flag in dual Group 1 scalp

New Zealand breeders proudly hoisted their flag at Saturday’s delayed Rosehill meeting and, unsurprisingly, Zabeel (Sir Tristram) had much to say about two of the five Group 1 contests.

In this column a few weeks ago, considerable space was given to “under appreciated” sire Zed (Zabeel), who stands at Mark Corcoran’s Grangewilliam Stud in South Taranaki. That apparent lack of enthusiasm for Zed will likely not alter that much but savvy breeders might now start to look for Zed mares and fillies.

To bag eight Group 1s is a special achievement and Verry Elleegant (Zed) is fast becoming Australia’s favourite girl, respectfully receiving the baton from the great Winx (Street Cry).

Racing needs champions and Verry Elleegant clearly fits that description, underlined by her great spirit when fighting off a very determined Addyebb (Pivotal) in Saturday’s Ranvet Stakes (Gr 1, 2000m) and reversing last year’s result.

Already proven at 2400 metres from her mighty Caulfield Cup (Gr 1, 2400m) win last October, yet with the turn of foot to handle 1400 metres, Verry Elleegant is the epitome of versatility, grit and class, which was exhibited in the Ranvet.

Among the great mares of Australasia, eight Group 1s is a fair way short of Winx (25) but is within the reach of Sunline (Desert Sun) whose 13 wins at the elite level was recently surpassed by Melody Belle (Commands). Beyond that, the Black Caviar (Bel Esprit) total of 15 is also not out of the question.

Recent talk of Verry Elleegant’s possible sojourn to France and a tilt at the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (Gr 1, 2400m) is very exciting. Nothing gets the colonials more passionate than taking on the best of Europe. Let’s hope it is more than just talk.

Zabeel’s Savabeel, along with Waikato Stud, are in full-flight and still in the glow of a super New Zealand Oaks (Gr 1, 2400m) victory by their very good filly Amarelinha just a week ago.

Bred on the same Savabeel-O’Reilly (Last Tycoon) cross as the filly, Mo’unga becomes the sixth of Savabeel’s 23 Group 1 winners to be bred this way.

Taking this cross one generation further, Mo’unga’s granddam is by Centaine (Century). Cambridge Stud’s classic winner Embellish (Savabeel) plus his Group 1 sister Diademe, are bred on this identical Savabeel-O’Reilly-Centaine cross.

The unluckiest of seconds in the Randwick Guineas (Gr 1, 1600m) at his previous start, Mo’unga was also well back in the Rosehill Guineas (Gr 1, 2000m) field but Tommy Berry knew how much horsepower he had and this time circled the field wide and unleashed down the middle of the track.

The Guineas drew an excellent field, probably the best for the three-year-olds this season, and, even if Mo’unga had only a long head to spare he looked to have the measure of Skylab (Real Impact) over the final 100 metres.

The next New Zealand-bred home was Lion’s Roar (Contributer) and he lost few admirers with his chequered run. A promising gap opened then closed near the 200 metres yet he kept finding the line. It is safe to say that Lion’s Roar is right up with the best three-year-olds and if he and Mo’unga clash again it should be a race to treasure.

Mo’unga, a November 20 foal, was bred by Waikato Stud and his dam Chandelier (O’Reilly) was allowed a year off in 2018 before producing a Savabeel filly in 2019 and a colt by the same sire in 2020. Last spring she was covered by Waikato’s newest acquisition Super Seth (Dundeel).

On a visit to the stud last week, Kiwi Chronicles had the pleasure of meeting Mo’unga’s baby brother, whose best buddy in their weaning paddock is a colt by Ardrossan (Redoute’s Choice) from Miss Rule (Bachelor Duke).

Full of personality and extremely inquisitive, Mo’unga’s little brother nudged me along, his nose in my back, checking out what I had in my hand (a tablet for taking photos). This guy is quite the character but has no idea how much his value has increased within a matter of days.

Kiwi Chronicles caught up Waikato Stud’s bloodstock manager Kerrie Cox and of the colt foal she said: “He’s a beauty and quite cheeky. He has an older (yearling) sister and we have kept her. She is beautiful. We identified her as one to race with even before Mo’unga came on the scene, just on type alone.”

Of Chandelier, Cox said: “She’s lovely too, quite a character, a nice strong scopey O’Reilly mare, typical of him. She is easy to work with and no trouble getting into foal. Just a pleasure to have around and she’s only eleven. It’s exciting to know that she can leave such beautiful horses and they can run.

“She is in foal to Super Seth and she always leaves a lovely horse so I’m sure the result will be another lovely foal,” said Cox. “We’ll keep our fingers crossed for another filly. We haven’t gone through all our foals yet but I imagine her colt, the one you saw, will go to one of the sales.”

“We have a sister to Chandelier at the stud, Bride To Be and we sold a Tivaci colt foal last year and he went on to Karaka in January. Bride To Be is in foal to Savabeel,” said Cox. The result will be a blood-brother or sister to Mo’unga.

“We have to keep our broodmare numbers in check because the numbers can grow exponentially. So, when anyone buys a filly or a mare, or any horse from us they can be sure that it’s because we have too many, not because there is something wrong with them. We are breeders and there is usually a lot happening within the family,” she continued.

In closing, Cox said: “We send our mares to good stallions and we are always keeping daughters or sisters, so there’s always a lot of upside to the pedigrees.” 

In a short ten-race career, winner Chandelier managed a Group 3 placing in the Lowland Stakes (2100m) and ranks as a sister to Irlanda (O’Reilly) whose six wins included three stakes, the best being the Auckland Thoroughbred Breeders’ Stakes (Gr 2, 1400m). Irlanda achieved a Group 1 second in the New Zealand Thoroughbred Breeders’ Stakes (1600m).

Seraphic (Imposing), the granddam of Chandelier and Irlanda, was an eight-time winner, succeeded at Group 3 level and ran second in the Air New Zealand Stakes (Gr 1, 2000m).

Seraphic is also the granddam of Auckland Cup (Gr 1, 3200m) winner Chenille (Pentire) as well as dual Group winner Chintz (Savabeel). The next dam, Torquay (Wharf), won Ellerslie’s Great Northern Oaks (Gr 2, 2400m).

Although Australian bred George Ryder Stakes (Gr 1, 1500m) winner Think It Over owes much of his existence to New Zealand as his sire So You Think is all-Kiwi (by High Chaparral) plus his dam is by Zabeel. The magic High Chaparral-Zabeel cross very much in play here.

This is a cross that has produced five of High Chaparral’s 23 Group 1 winners, including Dundeel and Vinery Stud Stakes (Gr 1, 2000m) winners Fenway and Hiyaam, as well as this year’s Waikato Guineas (Gr 2, 2000m) winner Tokorangi (Redwood), who is out of Savabeel (Zabeel) mare Agent Diva.

Highs and Lows

The sires and dams of the two Rosehill Group 1 Kiwi-bred winners are still standing and producing but, sadly, both the sire and dam of Epona Stakes (Gr 3, 1900m) winner Polly Grey (Azamour) have been lost to the industry.

Champion and four-times Group 1 victor Azamour (Night Shift) stood just the one season at Nick and Anne-Marie King’s Brighthill Farm in 2013 then returned to his northern home at Gilltown Stud in County Kildare, Ireland. There, he stood alongside Dalakhani (Darshaan) and Sea The Stars (Cape Cross) but suffered a horrific injury in his box the following April and had be put down.

His sire record of 43 stakes winners in nine years is more than worthy.

Polly Grey’s dam, Allanah (Zenno Rob Roy) didn’t enjoy the best of stud careers either.

Despite valiant efforts to produce a sibling, Polly Grey is her only foal. After a race career of four wins (three at Ellerslie) Allanah produced Polly Grey with her first mating but her next three foals did not survive and neither did she, passing away in 2019.

As breeders all know, along with the highs one must stomach the lows. Allannah does have a half-sister, Lady Assassin (Stark South) who produced four fillies. Between them and Polly Grey herself, the family has a chance of continuing.

Allanah’s two half-brothers are Pasta Post (Postponed) and Don Domingo (Don Eduardo). The former won the Easter Handicap (Gr 1, 1600m) while the latter took out the Group 3 Hawkes Bay Gold Cup (2200m).

Their granddam, Lyphinale (Lypheor) was a Listed-placed half-sister to 2,000 Guineas (Gr 1, 1m) winner and sire Mystiko (Secreto).

Gold In Bendigo

Mention of Dalakhani (above) is a reminder that his son Reliable Man, who resides at Westbury Stud, sired new stakes winner Annavisto. She led almost all the way in the Bendigo Guineas (Listed, 1400m) on Saturday.

A winner on debut in August, Annavisto now has three wins in only six starts and joins a list of 16 stakes winners including nine stakes winning fillies by Reliable Man.

Her dam, Avisto (Tavistock), won three Listed races, two at Ellerslie including the Great Northern Foal Stakes (1200m) at two. Avisto’s half-brother is Morphettville Guineas (Listed, 1600m) winner Celtic Tiger (O’Reilly) and Avisto’s yearling half-sister by Almanzor (Wootten Bassett) was purchased by Te Akau’s David Ellis for $380,000 at January’s Karaka Book 1 sale.

Derby more than doable

Bob Peters’ Western Empire (Iffraaj) is well on track to bag the Western Australian Derby (Gr 2, 2400m) after the easiest of runs in the Melvista Stakes (Listed, 2200m) at Ascot on Saturday. 

The Melvista was his third successive stakes win and, after reaching the front with his ears pricked, Willy Pike dropped his hands and let him coast to the line. Expect the same in the Derby. He is proving too good for WA’s staying three-year-olds.

The Local Scene

Little Avondale Stud’s Sam Williams has been ever-loyal to his stallion Per Incanto (Street Cry). Sam’s enthusiasm and belief in the stallion has not only always been apparent for all to see but is also fully justified.

If you want a winner, look at Per Incanto. If you want a runner that keeps coming up season after season, look at Per Incanto. A case in point is ten-time winner Belle Fascino who at seven is in the best form of her life. Her last two starts have resulted in victories in the White Robe Lodge Stakes (Gr 3, 1600m) and, at Riccarton on Saturday, an all-the-way victory in the South Island Thoroughbred Breeders’ Stakes (Gr 3, 1600m).

Belle Fascino’s fourth dam Fair Eve is by Sovereign Edition (Sovereign Path) from Fyfe (Gabador), thus a sister to Abdul, winner of the 1970 WS Cox Plate (Gr 1, 1m2f). Abdul was a star, winning 17 times and his Cox Plate win was achieved as a three-year-old.

Immediately prior to this year’s Karaka Yearling sale, the stats on Per Incanto were 19 winners in 19 days. That grew during the sale to 24 winners in 24 days. Since March 3 he has sired 18 winners.

At Trentham, two weeks back, Per Incanto featured in the finish of three of the five stakes races run that day. Charms Star charged home strongly for second in the New Zealand Oaks (Gr 1, 2400m), Bonham did likewise in the Wellington Guineas (Gr 2, 1400m) and Roch ’N’ Horse had the Lightning Stakes (Listed, 1200m) won everywhere but the post.

In Sydney last Thursday, Lost And Running, from the John O’Shea stable, made it four from four, bolting in by three and a half lengths.

His progeny is winning in droves in Hong Kong where he is currently the leading sire of winners and by wins there. Last December Per Incanto sired not one but two winning trebles.

The stallion currently leads re wins in New Zealand and is the leading sire of winners in Singapore.

The sprinting ability of Packing Rockstar (Fastnet Rock) was put to good use in Saturday’s Japan Cup (Gr 2, 1600m). His recent runs in several of the country’s premier sprints might have put some off regarding his chances over the mile but rider Leith Innes was able to give him a breather at the right time. When they turned for home he slipped clear then had enough in the tank to hold off a barrage of challenges.

He is only five and has had just 14 races for five wins. His dam Anabandana (Anabaa) was the NZ Champion Two-Year-Old of 2010-11 as a result of a Group 1 double. His granddam is a Nureyev (Northern Dancer) sister to the dam of King’s Rose (Redoute’s Choice), New Zealand Filly of the Year the same season.

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