Zabeel just gets better with age as his precious daughters prove

In demand … While some stallions go off the boil in their later years, Zabeel remains a potent force.There is usually some horse, sire, trainer or jockey that dominates the Melbourne spring carnival, leaving a lasting impression, and this year that dominating force has been champion New Zealand stallion Zabeel.

Aged 26, the Cambridge Stud stalwart might be in the twilight of his long and glittering career at stud, but his influence has never been stronger.

Last year Zabeel took out his first champion Australian broodmare sire title, fathering the dams of 192 winners of $12.5 million in prizemoney, led by 14 stakeswinners, including group 1 winners Southern Speed, Atlantic Jewel and Invest.

His achievement was remarkable as he dethroned the mighty Danehill (US), which had held the title for the previous six seasons.

Some thought it might have been an anomaly, but looking at the spring carnival results, Zabeel would now be hot favourite to retain his crown.

The veteran son of Sir Tristram (IRE) has already sired the dams of 75 winners of $7.3 million in prizemoney, including eight stakeswinners, led by Cox Plate winner Ocean Park, VRC Oaks winner Dear Demi, Spring Champion Stakes winner It’s A Dundeel and Thousand Guineas winner Commanding Jewel, plus high-class mares Silent Achiever and Midnight Martini, which scored group 2 wins in the Crystal Mile and Matriarch Stakes respectively.

Nearest rival Danehill (let’s disregard Green Moon’s dam sire Green Tune) is some $4 million astern of Zabeel, having sired the dams of winners of $3.2 million.

While some stallions go off the boil in their later years, Zabeel remains a potent force and is the oldest stallion in the top 20 on the Australian general sires list, holding down 12th position with 17 winners of $1.7 million led by group 2 winners Zydeco and Zurella.

Just in front of him in 11th spot is his unbeaten group 1-winning son Reset, which has carved out a successful career at stud for Darley, and in third spot is his grandson Lonhro, a champion Australian sire for Darley which had a group 1 winner in Mental at Flemington last Saturday.

The presence of Zabeel in a pedigree is a licence for owners to dream and dream big. His name equates to quality, stamina and toughness, attributes that can be lacking in the modern commercial Australian thoroughbred, which has far too often been bred generation upon generation for speed.

John Singleton’s home-bred Oaks winner Dear Demi is a glowing example of what Zabeel can bring to a pedigree. She is by a successful shuttle sire Dehere (US), which, for all his achievements worldwide, has not been noted for stayers and her female family is awash in brilliant fillies, including Golden Slipper winner Merlene, Newmarket Handicap winner Miss Pennymoney and Magic Millions winner Bold Promise.

It’s a pedigree laced in speed with one glaring exception, Zabeel, the sire of Dear Demi’s mother Shirley, a mare said to be ”too slow to race”.

While Zabeel might not have helped Shirley, he has certainly been the catalyst in making a group 1 winner of her daughter.

Over the final furlongs of the 2500 metre VRC Oaks, when the need for speed has slipped away, leaving just the grim necessity to keep your legs running, those Zabeel genes kicked in and Dear Demi surged away, ironically beating a daughter of Zabeel in Zydeco.

Yours truly is lucky enough to be heading to New Zealand next week for a media tour of studs and training centres as the guest of New Zealand Thoroughbred Marketing, and a visit with Zabeel at Cambridge Stud is high on the agenda.

During my years in racing, I’ve seen Danehill, made the acquaintance of Redoute’s Choice, patted Galileo and had a cuddle with his extraordinary sire Sadler’s Wells, so for me Zabeel will be the highlight.

Ready to rumble

Sales action next week will focus on the ”Ready to Run” offering in New Zealand where 407 two-year-olds will be offered over two days on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The sale has a great record for producing top-class gallopers, including last year’s Victoria Derby winner Sangster, and buyers keen to pursue the Zabeel dream would do well to take a look at the catalogue.

The sale features four youngsters by the champion sire, all colts and geldings, as well as 14 two-year-olds from mares by Zabeel, including the half-brother by Sakhee’s Secret (GB) to group 1 New Zealand Derby winner Silent Achiever.

Champion Australian sire Fastnet Rock will make his presence felt with five entries.

Charging ahead

The group 3 Maribyrnong Plate at Flemington last Saturday proved a bonanza for Arrowfield sires, which provided the trifecta in the juvenile sprint when Charge Forward had the first two over the line in Direct Charge and Crack A Roadie and Snitzel colt Shamus Award finished third.

The Robbie Laing-trained Direct Charge could only finish fourth to Crack A Roadie when the pair met in the $250,000 Inglis Banner at Moonee Valley, but the wide open expanses of Flemington helped the tough colt to turn the tables.

A $105,000 buy for his trainer from the Huntworth Stud draft at this year’s Inglis Classic yearling sale, Direct Charge has already won more than $100,000 in prizemoney for his large group of owners.

Direct Charge is the 10th stakeswinner for Charge Forward, which has been in hot form this spring with a string of new stakeswinners in Urban Groove, Cavalry Rose and Crack A Roadie.

His juveniles have been particularly strong and last Saturday, Charge Forward also sired two-year-old filly Assail to win the juvenile event at Warwick Farm in Sydney and two-year-old colt Zaragoza to win at Te Rapa in New Zealand.

The group 1-winning son of Red Ransom (US) has taken an early lead on the Australian two-year-olds sires’ list and stands at the affordable service fee of $24,750.

Lonhro returns to US

Champion Australian sire Lonhro is set to return to the US for Darley in the new year, where he will stand his second season in Kentucky.

The former champion racehorse covered 102 mares in the US last year and will stand again at the bargain fee of $US30,000 ($28,700), a fraction of his Australian service fee, which was set this year at $110,000.

Bernardini (US) tops Darley’s US roster at a fee of $US150,000, yet in Australia his fee is $55,000.

* John Holloway is on leave

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The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.

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