Zabeel's Heir Apparent?

Sir Patrick Hogan and Tavistock at Cambridge Stud |


Sir Patrick Hogan knows a good sire when he sees one.

In his six decades in the Thoroughbred business, the owner of Cambridge Stud has launched and fostered the careers of such sire legends as Sir Tristram (Ire) and his son Zabeel (NZ), and while understandably somewhat hesitant to name Tavistock (NZ) (Montjeu {Ire}–Upstage {GB}, by Quest for Fame {GB}) as the latter's heir apparent, it is clear he believes the sky is the limit for the 10-year-old stallion.

“Certainly, he's going to make a really big contribution to the Thoroughbred racing industry,” Sir Patrick commented when reached by phone early Monday in New Zealand.

It was a sensational weekend for Tavistock, who was represented Saturday by Tarzino (NZ), last year's G1 Victoria Derby winner who cemented his status as favorite for the G1 AJC Derby at The Championships with an impressive victory in the G1 Rosehill Guineas. Werther (NZ) made it two big-race wins in Sunday's Hong Kong Derby at Sha Tin, adding to the recent success of Volkstok'n'barrell (NZ), who won the G1 Haunui Farm Classic (1600m) and G1 New Zealand S. (2000m) a few weeks back.

“That's just about unheard of to be able to get four Group 1s in three countries in a three-week period. That's a big result and we are, of course, thrilled to bits,” Sir Patrick enthused.

Both Tarzino and Werther are out of mares by Zabeel, who anchored the operation at Cambridge Stud until being pensioned from stud duties in 2013. Zabeel passed away in his paddock last September.

An NZ$85,000 graduate of the 2007 New Zealand Bloodstock Select Yearling Sale, Tavistock excelled over shorter trips in spite of a much longer-winded pedigree. At home, he won the G1 Partsworld S. and G1 Waikato Draught Sprint, beating the likes of Mufhasa (NZ), and was runner-up in the G1 Thorndon Mile. He also successfully raided Australia for a victory in the G2 Blamey S. in 2010.

“Tavistock as a racehorse got the honor of being the champion sprinter/miler of his year, but he was a horse that set off the pace every time and he was able to come with a scintillating burst at the end of the races,” Sir Patrick explained. “I think for me, being by Montjeu the way he was bred, it appealed to me enormously for leaving weight-for-age, 2000-metre, mile-and-a-half horses. He's been able to transmit that turn of foot into his progeny, which has been the key to his success. And he's a real Montjeu type of horse and we all know what a great stallion Montjeu is at throwing Derby winners.”

It stands to reason, statistically, that the bigger the numbers, the greater the chance for success. Long set in his ways, Sir Patrick admits that Tavistock has caused him to rethink his approach.

“He served a couple of big books–against my policy,” he acknowledged. “I've never seen a stallion like Tavistock for fertility. Unbelievable fertility. The reason I did that was because his fertility is so good. He doesn't shuttle, so he's not going through the pressure of a shuttle season, so he gets six months' rest. He has served 190 mares the last two seasons and both those seasons and he's managed to achieve 180 mares in foal. That was when he was standing at NZ$5,000. I took all the mares that I could lay my hands on. Last year he went to NZ$15,000, the demand was again very strong and he served 190 mares. But this year, he will have his book completed by the end of April and he will be restricted to 160 mares from now on. Naturally his service fee will go up, to what figure I'm not sure.”

From three crops of racing age, Tavistock is the sire of 71 winners, seven of which have annexed black-type races and five of those at the group level.

So, can Tavistock fill the considerable hoofprints of Sir Tristram and Zabeel? Only time will tell, but Sir Patrick Hogan isn't ruling out the possibility.

“We had Sir Tristram and his heir apparent became Zabeel,” he commented. “They were champions of their time and, of course, still are. It's a hard call to say that Tavistock will be another Zabeel, but it's been just fabulous to see what he's done so far.”

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