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New Zealand's Point of Difference

Of Zabeel's sons, Savabeel now heads the list with 39 stakes winners. - (Photo courtesy of Trish Dunell)
Of Zabeel's sons, Savabeel now heads the list with 39 stakes winners.

(Photo courtesy of Trish Dunell)

The phenomenon that is Danehill [USA] seems to be endless. His sons and grandsons crowd the current and recent Australian sires lists.

Nine Australian premierships (six in succession) in an 11 year stretch (the last in 2004-05) has laid the foundation for Danehill's subsequent champion sire sons Redoute's Choice [AUS], Fastnet Rock [AUS], and Flying Spur [AUS], with Redoute's Choice topping the list four times.

A seventh Australian premiership for a Danehill son is virtually certain this season. Still four months remain but the top three positions are held by Fastnet Rock, Redoute's Choice and Exceed and Excel [AUS].

Aussie buyers, essential to the New Zealand breeding industry, have access to all the best of Danehill back home, so what do we need to do to attract their attention? Offer them our point of difference (a common marketing term) through our solid core of classic producing families bolstered by layer upon layer of strong, sound sire bloodlines.

All things must pass......

Before Danehill, Sir Tristram [IRE] (six Australian premierships) and Zabeel [NZ] (two) reigned supreme. But before Sir Tristram, Star Kingdom [IRE] was indeed King, his sons and grandsons flooding the sire ranks. Star Kingdom, Biscay [AUS], brothers Todman [AUS] and Noholme [AUS] plus Kaoru Star [AUS]: Combined, they sired 211 individual stakes winners. Star Kingdom's grandsons include Champion Australian Sires Marscay [AUS] (68 stakes winners) and Bletchingly [AUS] (63), both by Biscay. In North America Noholme's Nodouble [USA] sired 71 stakes winners and topped the North American sire list in 1981.

Three generations removed from Star Kingdom, Canny Lad [AUS] and Lord Ballina [AUS] (both by Bletchingly) sired 54 and 44 individual stakes winners respectively.

Such a record is stunning yet the tail-mail line descending from Star Kingdom is struggling for survival, its fate hinging upon an unlikely Toorak Toff [AUS], who is six removes from Star Kingdom. After Marscay's two sires' titles during the early nineties on top of Bletchingly's three consecutive titles during the 80s, Toorak Toff's direct male-line connection to Star Kingdom would have been considered the least likely to prevail. The King is (almost) dead.

....all things must pass away.

However unlikely it appears right now, the Danehill line will, too, eventually suffer the same fate. The Northern Dancer [USA] dominance via Danzig [USA] already appears to be under serious threat from Danzig's paternal half-brother Sadler's Wells [USA].

Yet, bucking the trend and maybe highlighting a point of difference is Lonhro [AUS], the son of Octagonal [NZ] and grandson of Zabeel [NZ], who, in 2010-11, broke a Northern Dancer-line sequence of 11 Australian Sire Premierships (preceded by Zabeel's back-to-back titles in '98 and '99).

Something very similar is about to take place regarding the New Zealand Sires' Premiership. With a little less than four months of the current season remaining, Savabeel [AUS] has a $700,000 lead over Danehill's Darci Brahma [NZ] and if maintained, would halt a run of 13 consecutive titles by Northern Dancer-line sires (also preceded by Zabeel's four successive titles, the last of which took place in 2001).

Unlike Australia, however, that decade-plus run has been achieved without Danehill as Volksraad [GB] (eight titles), O'Reilly [NZ] (four) and Thorn Park [AUS] do not connect with Northern Dancer via Danehill. This, in no way, suggests that Danehill has not been a factor. Prominent - yes. Dominant - no. Northern Dancer - yes. Danehill - not so much.

Zabeel aside, Sir Tristram's most successful sire sons have been Grosvenor [NZ] (54 stakes winners) and Kaapstad [NZ] (46). Next are Marauding [NZ] (32) and Military Plume [NZ] (26). All have performed admirably as sires yet none has sired sons that have been able carry his blood with the same level of success to the next sire generation.

Of Zabeel's sons, Savabeel now heads the list with 39 stakes winners, a number that is certain to grow. The most under-rated Reset [AUS] (30) and Octagonal (25) are the only other sons with 20 or more.

With double the number of stakes winners sired by his own sire Octagonal, Lonhro provides perhaps the leading link to the Sir Tristram line, especially via champion Pierro [AUS]. If any stallion will be given the utmost opportunity to sire sons capable of landing classic two and three-year-old races and capable of siring commercially viable stallions, it is Pierro. Therein lies the great unknown of bloodstock breeding. Its far easier to fail than it is to succeed but Pierro is Sir Tristram's/Zabeels's standout Australian bet, by far.

In order to avoid what has happened to the Star Kingdom line, action is needed soon. Otherwise, Sir Tristram's and Zabeels's fabulous legacies might be in jeopardy - and that would be a travesty. Their twin influence deserves to be preserved, maintained and promoted.

Rising 17, Lonhro may have been foaled in Australia but practically everything else about him is full-blown Kiwi and hopefully he'll be around long enough to throw another Pierro or two. Being by a grandson of Sir Tristram from a grand-daughter of My Tricia [NZ], Lonhro is bred on the same pattern as his close relative Grosvenor with the added bonuses of Eight Carat [GB] (Octagonal's dam), Nureyev [USA] and Mr Prospector [USA]. Should a New Zealand stud take on a son of Lonhro he is certain to find ready support from broodmare owners.

The New Zealand Lonhro

The Lonhro/Pierro source looks promising, however, we have another source - a great source, a generation closer to Sir Tristram, waving the flag right here in the Waikato. Savabeel is not short of bonus blood either, his dam being by strong influence Success Express [USA], sire of Mossman [AUS] (31 stake winners including Buffering and Mossfun) plus dam's sire of ten Gr.1 stakes winners. Savabeel's female family features an intriguing double up of Star Kingdom via brothers Todman and Noholme.

Fellow Cox Plate winner Pinker Pinker [AUS] shares very similar bloodlines to Savabeel's, being by a son of Zabeel (Reset), from a Success Express mare who is a grand-daughter of the Todman sire Jevington.

Where is he?

We need a Savabeel colt with striking looks from a great family who can run. It's not much to ask is it? There must surely be more than one or two that fit that bill and therefore worthy of maintaining the dynasty. He may be in Australia right now, eating his head off and getting ready to take out a brace of group ones during the next few seasons.

Just as Waikato Stud's Garry Chittick identified O'Reilly very early as a stallion prospect, we can only hope that a New Zealand Stud Masters' Round Table can find a worthy Sir Tristram heir, not only to succeed Savabeel, but a stallion capable of taking on the heavy responsibility of attracting buyers; buyers looking for our point of difference sire-line: Zabeel/Sir Tristram blood.

(Sire statistics courtesy of Arion Pedigrees)

- Lloyd Jackson


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