Within one special hour on Saturday, Waikato Stud graduates Probabeel and Aegon flew the New Zealand flag high across the Tasman with a superb stakes-winning double.
Probabeel was up first, adding a third Australian Group One victory to her collection in Caulfield’s Futurity Stakes (1400m). Despite a less-than-ideal run from a wide draw, the exceptional mare unleashed a withering finish to score by half a length from star Perth mare Arcadia Queen.
A perfect Sydney debut for Aegon followed 60 minutes later. The undefeated Kiwi three-year-old made a huge first impression on Australian audiences with a dominant performance in the Gr.2 Hobartville Stakes (1400m) at Rosehill. He had previously won all of his four starts on home soil, including the Gr.1 New Zealand 2000 Guineas (1600m) and the Karaka Million 3YO Classic (1600m).
It was a proud day for the New Zealand industry, and for Waikato Stud in particular. Both standout performers were bred by the world-renowned nursery, and both are by Waikato Stud stallions – Probabeel is by the champion Savabeel, while Aegon is a son of Sacred Falls.
The dams of both horses are also Waikato homebreds. Probabeel’s dam Far Fetched was a stakes-placed daughter of Pins, and Aegon is out of the Zabeel mare Toss Up.
Finally, both Probabeel and Aegon were sold through Waikato Stud’s yearling drafts at Karaka, with Probabeel bought by Te Akau Racing’s David Ellis for $380,000, and Aegon a $150,000 purchase by co-trainer and part-owner Andrew Forsman.
“It was a very special hour for us as a stud, but also for us as the New Zealand thoroughbred industry,” Waikato Stud’s Mark Chittick said.
“We’ve always been able to produce quality horses that can go over to Australia and perform against their very best, and yesterday gave us two great examples of that.
“Both Probabeel and Aegon proved yesterday that they’re super horses. They didn’t get it easy, but their sheer quality got them home.
“Probabeel is outstanding. The way she was wide up to the turn like that and totally dominated them down the straight, it was great to watch. She’s won three Group Ones in Australia now and has the All-Star Mile (1600m) coming up next month, and I don’t think she’ll stop there either.
“And now there’s no question about Aegon being a super horse too. When the New Zealand fraternity has an exciting three-year-old like that, and we know their ability, we can be a bit nervous when they cross the ditch for the first time. He was up against Sydney’s A-team in that race, and he delivered. It was fantastic.
“As a stud, we had a number of representatives throughout Australasia yesterday, and in some ways it was typical of the way things can go in racing – a few of our graduates were disappointing, and some others didn’t have a lot of luck go their way. But then there was Probabeel and Aegon. You have to take the good with the bad, and those two were very, very good.”
But both triumphs were tinged with a touch of sadness for Waikato Stud. They lost Aegon’s sire, the homebred Sacred Falls, at the age of just 10, while Probabeel was the only foal out of Far Fetched, who died at the age of seven.
Waikato Stud is continuing to breed from Aegon’s dam Toss Up, but again there has been some recent misfortune.
“Toss Up was in foal to Almanzor this season, but unfortunately she lost it towards the end of last year,” Chittick said. “But she’s still only a young mare, and we’re looking forward to getting her going again in the spring.
“We don’t know yet which stallion we’ll send her to – we’ve got a bit of time to make up our minds about that. But unfortunately it won’t be Sacred Falls.
“Losing him was a major blow for us and we certainly miss him. Being born and raised here on the farm, he was a pretty special horse for us. He had terrific success on the racetrack in New Zealand and Australia, and it meant a lot for us to be able to retire him back to stand at stud here. It’s a real shame that we’ve missed out on the rest of his stud career, but that’s the way it goes in this industry sometimes.
“It’s the same with Far Fetched, who unfortunately didn’t get the chance to produce any more foals after Probabeel. But we’ve had that family for up to 40 or 50 years now, and we’re still going with a fair bit of it.”
Aegon is the best of four winners from five foals to race for Toss Up, who is out of the stakes-placed Heads or Tales. A daughter of Tale of the Cat, Heads or Tales is a half-sister to Group One winner Good Faith, and to Spring, the dam of exceptional Waikato Stud mare Daffodil.
Since producing Aegon in 2017, Toss Up has had two filly foals by Tivaci. The first was sold to Redgum Racing in Victoria for $110,000 at Karaka 2020. Named Single Tail, she finished sixth on debut at Ballarat on February 7.
The other Tivaci filly was offered during last year’s online National Weanling Sale on Gavelhouse Plus, where she was bought by Craig Hunter for $13,000. – NZ Racing Desk.