Garry Chittick has a motto that goes something like: make a decision and make it work.

It's been a mantra that's looked after him well over the years of guiding Waikato Stud to becoming the world-class stud farm it is today.

But with every significant decision, there's a risk of something going wrong. So when it came to the purchase of Cox Plate-winning Zabeel stallion Savabeel for $10 million, there was a significant risk factor.

"At the time, it was either very courageous or very stupid if it didn't work out," Chittick reflected this week.


While most of Chittick's decisions have proven well-calculated, the move to buy Savabeel could have been one of the most savvy of the lot.

In the past three seasons, Savabeel has reigned supreme among New Zealand sires, sweeping all three stallion categories for the third successive year at the New Zealand Thoroughbred Awards in September.

Last season he was represented by six group one winners to take his career tally to 17 and he has maintained his elite level strike rate of better than one in 10 stakes runners.

He currently leads the domestic sires' tally - the Grosvenor Award - by $300,000, is $1.7 million clear in the Centaine Award standings and nearly $1.2 million clear in the Dewar Award category.

Not that he needed it, but this week has proved a timely reminder of Savabeel's influence on the New Zealand breeding, racing and sales scene. At this week's Ready-To-Run Sale of Two-Year-Olds at Karaka, Savabeel was the dominant sire, selling 11 youngsters for $3.445 million at an average of $313,182. Not bad considering the average sale price was $96,530.

The four highest-priced lots of the sale were Savabeel colts, the brother to dual group one winner Costume fetching the top price of $525,000.

On the racetrack, New Zealand's feature race of the weekend, today's group two Dunstan Feeds Auckland Thoroughbred Breeders' Stakes (1400m) at Pukekohe, features one-third of the field as daughters of the supersire.

"It's not an easy time for racing in New Zealand at present but we're very lucky we've got a horse of his influence that can create enough interest in our racing," Chittick said.


"He's producing quality horses and we all know that when the ratings and quality drops off our horses, it has an adverse perception of the racing here. We all know we need another stallion to pop up in New Zealand and that's not to denigrate some very good stallions doing a job just below the surface, but we need a couple more like him. With Savabeel, it's his versatility as a sire. He's 17 now but hopefully we'll get a few more years out of him yet. He looks great. We got the treadmill installed for him and that's keeping him in great trim.

"When we bought him, the breeders were prepared to support him and they are the beneficiaries of that support now."

But no shareholder has benefited from Savabeel's success more than Waikato Stud, the powerhouse Matamata breeding ground these days under the guidance of Chittick's son Mark.

Two of the four Savabeel mares in the Auckland Breeders' Stakes were bred at Waikato Stud, Love Affair and Save The Date, with Garry Chittick retaining Love Affair to race.

A winner of five of her 11 starts for trainers Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman, Love Affair was unsuited in a slowly-run group two Tauranga Stakes (1400m) under jockey Opie Bosson last week and Chittick was hoping for a more genuinely-run race at Pukekohe today.

"I said to Opie before the race 'there's the winning post, make sure there's no arses in front of you when you go past it'. Opie came back and said all he could see in front of him at the end were arses," Chittick said.

"They jumped and went pretty slowly and he got into an awkward spot. We ended up back second-last in what became a sit-sprint.

"She's been a good mare. Murray rates her highly.

"It's too late to get her in foal now so we'll race her through till next autumn and then look at mating her next spring.

"Let's hope she can race well on Saturday and pick up a good race somewhere along the way."