Racing: The future without Zabeel

By Mike Dillon

Cambridge Stud principal reflects proudly on his contribution to the breeding industry.

The Melbourne Cup, Sir Patrick Hogan and Zabeel make a perfect trifecta. Photo / Christine Cornege
The Melbourne Cup, Sir Patrick Hogan and Zabeel make a perfect trifecta. Photo / Christine Cornege

Not a teary eye nor a gram of regret when possibly the last Zabeel yearling went through the Karaka sale ring last night.

Sir Patrick Hogan, not too far short of 75 and looking 64, was beaming.

"How can I be sad?" he said as the last of the Zabeels, the Eloa colt from Little Avondale Stud, made $270,000 as the eighth-last lot to go through the ring at the end of the premier section last night.

There are only five live foals from the now-retired Zabeel's last crop and who knows which of them, if any, will go through the Karaka sale next year?

Hogan was revelling in the glory of Zabeel's Hall Of Fame sire Sir Tristram, who rewrote most of the records in this part of the world.

"How can I be sad?" he asked as he reflected on the horse he affectionately calls Sir T, the horse that creates his car registration plate.

"When I used to walk his yearlings through the ring I thought I was equal to any star in Hollywood. I felt like I was performing on stage.

"That was a huge, huge buzz and I miss that."

The Cambridge Stud breeder says he can't remember the last time he took one of his horses through the ring. "But I think it was probably the last Sir Tristrams I took through the ring in Sydney - a great moment."

Hogan added something that was unnecessary: "I have always strived for perfection," as if a lifetime of breeding didn't tell us that.

"I've had a job to do and I wanted to do it better than anyone."

In global terms as well as domestic appreciation, it's difficult to argue that wasn't achieved.

The spring in the step of champion Te Akau trainer Jason Bridgman told the story at Karaka yesterday.

As the last of the 36 yearlings bought by Te Akau principal David Ellis at premium level at Karaka walked out of the auction ring the Matamata horseman knew he had the best bunch of blue-bloods probably any trainer has had access to.

Opportunity is the name of the racing game and $6.42 million buys you a lot of it.

"No, I can't say I have a favourite out of all those horses yet," said Bridgman. All horsemen have different preferences.

Ellis was totally delighted. "I have a lot of confidence in the New Zealand racing industry. At Te Akau we want to make more Darci Brahmas and we've bought some nice colts with stallion potential.

"If you want horses that are in races like the Sires Produce next year then the Guineas series you have to buy at this sale. This is where our breeders bring their best horses."

Ellis said he ended up with pretty much what he and his Singapore-based trainer Mark Walker anticipated.

"We were lucky that we bought 26 of the 36 on the first day when the market was softer. There is no question the market is much stronger today, it definitely picked up."

He calculates that he already has "around 60 per cent" of the purchases syndicated. "I've had record numbers of people approach me in the last few days wanting to be involved.

"So many of them are telling me they get more fun out of being involved in a horse than playing the stockmarket."

Developing potential stallions is a major Te Akau focus and several of yesterday's purchases fall into that category. They include the $500,000 Savabeel-Splashing Out colt and the $700,000 Fastnet Rock-Beyond The Sunset colt.

For one of the few times Ellis met the formerly invincible Australian bench on a level playing field.

You can't beat simple mathematics as the two days have proved.

Last January, one New Zealand dollar bought 76 Australian cents.

Right now that dollar buys 92 Australian cents.

That local monetary strength put strain on Australian purchasing power at Karaka on Monday and yesterday and the results underlined that. The Australian buyers' bench still operated, but buyers were more selective in numbers.

- NZ Herald

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