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Savaria and the history of her ancestry

Savaria wins the 2015 Group One New Zealand Oaks
Savaria wins the 2015 Group One New Zealand Oaks

Following the success of Savaria, the 2015 group one New Zealand Oaks winner, much has been said about her ancestress Princess Patine, the fabulous foundation mare of the Moore family's Soliloquy Lodge.

Princess Patine's sire, Pakistan II(GB), may well have provided the spark that ignited almost 50 years of unabated success yet there was another stallion, the great Sobig, by Summertime(GB), who provided the fuel and who, coincidentally, lived less than a kilometre from Pakistan II in Longburn, a little south of Palmerston North.

A total of 29 stakes winners descend from Princess Patine (ten group one winners) yet 22 of the 29 descend from Soliloquy as do eight of the ten group one winners.

Before undertaking a very successful stud career, Sobig had plenty of work to do on the track and much to live up to based upon his fabulous pedigree. He was sufficiently precocious to win the Musket Stakes at Ellerslie as early as October of his two-year-old season but at three quickly rose through the ranks in the spring, taking out the Waikato Guineas and Thames Valley Stakes (in track record time) before triumphing in the Great Northern Derby (in race record time) on Boxing Day.

Remaining at Ellerslie, on New Year's Day of 1965 he faced the older horses scoring the King's Plate. Later that month at Trentham Sobig raced all three days of their Cup carnival finishing second to the brilliant Rio in the too-short Wellington Stakes but turned the tables two days later in the last running of the Gloaming Stakes (run the following years as the Wellington Derby). Just five days after that he again took on and beat all-comers at weight-for-age in the Trentham Stakes. Needless to say he was named Champion Three-Year-Old of his year.

In his last racing season he franked some of his three-year-old form with wins at weight-for-age in the Harcourt Stakes (Trentham) and the Clifford Plate (Ellerslie) as well as two listed handicap races, retiring to his breeder's property, Santa Rosa Stud, with 12 wins from five furlongs to a mile-and-a-half.

If Sobig were about to begin his stud career today, thoroughbred marketers would be falling over themselves in their praise for his outstanding potential. To quote a common modern saying - "he ticked all the boxes," possessing an excellent race record backed with a superb pedigree.

Himself: Champion 3YO, 12 wins including the Gr.1 Gt. Northern Derby

Sire: Summertime(GB) - multiple Champion Sire of 59 stakes winners.

Dam: Passive - Champion 3YO, 13 wins including the Gr.1 Gt. Northern Derby

Dam's Sire: Ruthess(GB) - twice Champion NZ Sire of 37 stakes winners

Grandam: Zenith - Champion 3YO, 12 wins including the Gr.1 Gt. Northern Oaks

Grandam's Sire: Foxbridge(GB) - 11 times Champion Sire of 74 stakes winners

Third Dam: Anteroom(GB) - unraced, dam of four winners

Third Dam's Sire: Fairway(GB) - Champion Sire

The big question regarding Sobig's first crop, to be offered at the 1969 Trentham Sales, was: Would the Aussies buy them? Historically, "colonial-bred" sires were passed over, there being a pronounced preference for those with a direct link to Europe. If there was no sea-water in his veins, a stallion was viewed as inferior, both here and in Australia. The fact that Sobig raced exclusively in New Zealand might also have been considered a negative, although many buyers would have experienced his racing talent at Trentham four years previously.

A huge positive was his sire, Summertime, whose yearlings they purchased in large numbers. Also, Summertime's final crop had been offered the year before Sobig's first - almost an accession to the throne.

Any doubts were proven to be misplaced because among his first three crops that were exported across the Tasman were Gr.1 stakes winners Sobar (Caulfield Cup and Guineas), Knee High (Doomben Cup), Gladman (Australian Cup) and South Australian Oaks winner Little Papoose.

Here in New Zealand those same first three crops included Kirrama and Corroboree, each winners of the Gr.1 Great Northern Derby, plus Rustler (Wellington Cup) and the classy fillies Devante and Reachfar.

Such a strong start laid the foundation for increased demand from Australia and further afield. His fourth crop included back-to-back Melbourne Cup winner Think Big and the top class filly Sobeit while his fifth crop included Soliloquy (the reason for this article) and the talented Gr.1 Two-Year-Old stakes winner Black Willow.

Crop six featured the South African champion Gigantic as well as the excellent racemare Harp, who was bred on the same Sobig-Pakistan II cross as Soliloquy.

From Sobig's seventh crop emerged the super stayer (Our) Big Gamble and from crop eight Cox Plate winner So Called.

Disappointingly, Sobig sired just ten crops but if his numbers were small, quality was high in that his ratio of stakes winners to runners was an excellent 11.7%.

Sobig's female family had closer ties with the northern hemisphere than most at that time, his third dam, Anteroom(GB) also by a champion sire Fairway(GB), being imported during the Second World War.

Two of Anteroom's half-sisters were similarly banished to foreign lands but of the three, New Zealand got the best of them and while she never raced she certainly made a name for herself in the stud book. She produced four winners from her six foals, her first three foals all being by Balloch(GB) including Ballinagh, a twice stakes placed winner of four races including open handicaps at Riccarton and Hastings. Another colt, Ruling Prince, won at open handicap level and later, at stud, sired three stakes winners.

Anteroom's 1947 foal changed everything. Zenith, by undisputed Champion Sire Foxbridge, put together a wonderful race record. In three seasons she scored five times at two and blossomed at three to take both the Great Northern Oaks and New Zealand Oaks double as well as Trentham's Desert Gold Stakes. At four, she finished second behind Classowa in the 1951 Auckland Cup beating the 1952 winner Rev.

Anteroom returned to Foxbridge in 1950 and the following year dropped The Summit, an open mile winner at Ellerslie and who would ultimately sire more than 40 winners, five at stakes level.

By the time Zenith embarked upon her first season of racing she could claim a close connection with Star King, a top class two-year-old in England who was later exported to Australia as Star Kingdom, perhaps the greatest sire in Australia's history. Zenith's grandam Termite and Star Kingdom's third dam Virgin's Folly were out of full sisters.

Zenith's owners would no doubt have been looking forward to racing her progeny and in 1953 she dropped a filly foal (Passive) to champion sire Ruthless. The February following Passive's birth, Zenith was dead.

Passive inherited every ounce of Zenith's racing ability, outperforming not only her dam but also her peers. The Manawatu Sires' Produce Stakes was one of three wins at two but at three she truly dominated the classics and semi-classics. In the spring of her three-year-old season she added the Gold Trail Stakes - Hawke's Bay Guineas double at Hastings plus the Wellington Guineas - Desert Gold Stakes double at Trentham before heading to Riccarton for a third double - the New Zealand Derby and New Zealand Oaks.

She was not finished. On Boxing Day she took on the boys, adding the Great Northern Derby and repeated that effort the following month in the Gloaming Stakes at Trentham. In the autumn she almost pulled off another double, winning the New Zealand St Leger at Trentham but finishing second in the Great Northern St Leger, efforts split by a second placing in the Great Northern Oaks - run just two days before the St Leger.

As a four-year-old Passive, like her dam, was given her chance in New Zealand's premier race, the Auckland Cup, the 1958 running being the first to be run on New Year's Day, and like her dam, finished second (behind Red Eagle).

Passive's broodmare career did not start well as her first foal, a colt by Alpenhorn(GB), died. Her 1961 foaling made up for any disappointment because the covering by Summertime produced Sobig. She missed in 1962 but then in successive years produced New Zealand St Leger winner Jay Ay by Macquario(IRE) in 1963 and Moonee Valley Gold Cup winner Impetus (a full brother to Sobig) in 1964. Between 1965 and 1970 Passive produced four more foals - all colts - including Anguston by Agricola(GB) and Umteen by Alcimedes(GB), who each sired approximately 60 winners and three stakes winners apiece. Umteen began his stud career in Western Australia but ultimately returned to New Zealand, also to stand at Santa Rosa.

After her last foal, a colt by Idomeneo, Passive was covered six times in seven seasons but passed way in 1978 at the age of 24. She tried her best but Mother Nature had spoken. There were to be no fillies to carry on the line.

We have to go back to Anteroom to find a filly to keep the family flag flying. Her name is Eileen Douglas, by Balloch, foaled in 1945, whose daughter Maryanne Douglas was bred on a similar pattern to Sobig being by Count Rendered (a son of Precipitation, as is Summertime), from a daughter of Anteroom. WATC Australian Derby winner All Ashore and Gr.3 Thompson Handicap winner Stanmarric are grandsons of Maryanne Douglas and her branch is the only active branch in terms of black-type performers, the most recent being the Malaysian listed winner Yastrzemski (Keeper[AUS]) and the Iffraaj (GB) filly Gr.2 placed Liberating.

Fifty years removed from his efforts to support Passive's and Zenith's legacy, Sobig's presence can be found in the pedigrees of many of our racing heroes.

His daughters produced 34 stakes winners, ten of group one quality including New Zealand Oaks winners Solveig (Soliloquy's daughter), Aulyn and Pride of Rosewood, winner of the Gamely Handicap at Hollywood Park, not forgetting her brother, Australian Cup winner Admiral Lincoln. Victoria Derby winner Big Print and New Zealand Two Thousand Guineas winner Random Chance deserve honourable mentions.

His granddaughters have been responsible for seven group one winners, headed by the outstanding mare Miltak, one of 27 stakes winners. Underlining the strength of Soliloquy's influence, five trace directly to her.

Sobig's great-granddaughters have produced 11 group one winners of which four trace directly to Soliloquy, making her an amazing ancestress indeed.

Princess Patine, her daughter Soliloquy, Pakistan II and Sobig - without doubt a magnificent combination that refuses to fade away.

(Facts and statistics courtesy of Arion Pedigrees)

- Lloyd Jackson


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