TDN: Sir Patrick Hogan: A Long Tradition Of Doing The Right Thing

1 Dec 2017

By John Berry

There’s an old bloodstock saying, generally ironic but not totally incorrect, that an expert is someone who has been right once.

If that is the case, how can we describe legendary New Zealand breeder Sir Patrick Hogan KNZM CBE, for whom Cambridge Stud and all its achievements pay testament to just how often he has been not merely right but spectacularly so?

Another old chestnut is that the way to end up with a small fortune in racing is to start out with a large one.

Hogan again is the exception who proves the rule, having built an empire out of next to nothing.

Hogan started out in the breeding game in the 1960s on the family farm, Fencourt Stud, where he and his brother John made their first venture into the stallion business by importing Hyperion’s grandson Hermes.

The horse did well, but when he died suddenly in 1973, Hogan was back to square one.

Leaving his brother to return the farm to agriculture, Hogan scraped together all that he had and more to buy a property at Cambridge in 1975.

Times were tough. He and his wife Justine must have felt that they were running to stand still. But his knack of being right, not merely once but repeatedly so, enabled a mighty oak to grow from the acorn which they worked so hard to plant and nurture.

Towards the end of the decade the seed began to burst into flower, albeit after a shaky start.

Having convinced a group of breeders to take shares in the horse, Hogan imported a seemingly unremarkable racehorse for stud duties in 1976. The theory was grand: the horse appeared to have ‘a stallion’s pedigree’ as he descended from Hyperion’s dam Selene and he came from the second crop of the transatlantic champion Sir Ivor (Sir Gaylord).

In practice, though, the project wasn’t going well. The young stallion’s unprepossessing appearance (which wasn’t helped by the fact that he had been injured by fire when in quarantine) when he arrived in New Zealand was enough to convince a couple of the investors (who, of course, had never previously seen him) to back out of the deal.

Hogan was left holding the baby, but had the last laugh when Sir Tristram went on to become the most successful stallion ever to have stood in New Zealand.

In fact, at one time (when he set a world record by siring 45 individual Group One winners) Sir Tristram could have been regarded as the most successful stallion ever to have stood anywhere in the world.

Each successful horse, of course, has two parents. And just as Hogan managed to develop Cambridge Stud by striking gold with his stallion, he doubled up by unearthing some diamond-like broodmares.

One of Sir Tristram’s early mates was one: Taino, dam of the Sir Tristram brothers Sovereign Red and Gurner’s Lane, making her NZ Broodmare of the Year in 1981 and ’83.

An even brighter jewel was Eight Carat, who is still revered as the most influential broodmare ever to have lived in New Zealand. She was thrice NZ Broodmare of the Year (1995, ’96 and ’97) and bred a total of five Group One winners.

Just as Sir Tristram descended from one of the greatest broodmares ever to have shaped the breed, so did Eight Carat descend from another: HH Aga Khan III’s foundation mare, the ‘Flying Filly’ Mumtaz Mahal.

 Like Sir Tristram, she hadn’t achieved much on the racecourse (in fact, while he had at least been a respectable racehorse, she was never placed) but her pedigree was strong.

Bought by BBA representative Lord Forres at Tattersalls December in 1979 for 9400gns, she was exported to the antipodes and passed on to Robert Sangster when she was still carrying what would be her first Group One winner, Diamond Lover.

Sangster, in turn, having sent Eight Carat to New Zealand to visit Sir Tristram to breed the mare’s second Group One winner Kaapstad, sold both Eight Carat and Diamond Lover to Hogan. More foundation stones of Cambridge Stud were now in place.

Sir Tristram dominated racing on both sides of the Tasman through the 1980s. He was Australia’s champion sire in six of the eight seasons between 1982 and 1990.

As his aura developed throughout the decade, the question was repeatedly raised as to when Hogan would stand one of his sons. The response was always the same: “When I have found the right one.”

The years passed, and still we waited for a son of Sir Tristram to join his father on the Cambridge Stud roster.

As the decade drew to a close, one of Australia’s stars of the 1989/90 season was the Swettenham Stud-bred, Colin Hayes-trained Zabeel, winner of the Gr.1 Australian Guineas for Sheikh Hamdan al Maktoum.

Hogan decided that this colt was the chosen one and bought his protege back.

In time, Zabeel did the impossible. He didn’t merely match his father’s achievements; he surpassed them.

He broke his father’s record of winning the Dewar Trophy (for leading NZ-based sire on total Australasian seasonal earnings) nine times by heading the list on 14 occasions. Furthermore, his total of 46 Group One winners was one more than that achieved by his father.

Just as Eight Carat had helped Sir Tristram to secure his spot in the pantheon, she did the same for Zabeel. He was in his first season at stud when, aged 18, she paid the first of her three visits to him in 1991. The result was Octagonal, who in time secured his place in history by becoming the first (and, to date, only) Australian Horse of the Year to sire an Australian Horse of the Year, Lonhro.

Her second mating with Zabeel yielded the three-time Group One winner Mouawad. The result of the third was Colombia, who never raced but became a decent stallion.

The success which the Hogans achieved at Cambridge Stud has made both the property and its proprietors New Zealand icons.

Hogan was knighted in 2000 for services to thoroughbred breeding. In 2005 he was inducted into the Australian Racing Hall of Fame. In 2006 he became one of the inaugural intake into the New Zealand Racing Hall of Fame.

That same year he reached another milestone when Cambridge Stud became leading vendor at New Zealand’s National Yearling Sale for an unprecedented 25th consecutive time (en route to an eventual total of 31 times).

The stud had already sold more sales-topping yearlings than any other vendor in New Zealand history, and Sir Patrick and Lady Justine had been voted NZ Breeders of the Year four times, a total which increased to five subsequent to the 2015/16 season.

Sir Tristram died in 1997. Eight Carat died in 2000. Zabeel retired from stud duties in 2013 before dying two years later.

These three immortals are buried together on the property, but their legacy lives on.

Cambridge Stud’s standards of excellence persist. Some of the most distinguished shuttle stallions of recent years have stood there, including Stravinsky (Nureyev) and Cape Blanco (Galileo).

The roster currently contains the hugely progressive young sire Tavistock (Montjeu), whose first crop has yielded four individual Group One winners.

For Cambridge Stud, success follows success. For a long time, though, the question of succession has been hanging in the air.

The Hogans have created a masterpiece.

Humans are mortal, but Cambridge Stud should live forever.

Time, though, waits for no man, and the property would eventually need new custodians.

As far back as 2006, Sir Patrick went on record ruminating: “I’d like to think nothing changes while I’m healthy enough to handle it, but I’m concerned for the future and what’s going to happen because Cambridge Stud is looking like being a one-generation set-up, established and built by Patrick and Justine Hogan.

"Our two daughters don’t have an interest in taking up the property and it won’t be the grandchildren. What will happen next? I’m not certain. It could continue under someone else but, as far as I see it, it won’t be under the name of Hogan.”

Just as Sir Patrick Hogan spent the 1980s searching for the right horse to take on the mantle of Sir Tristram, so he has spent the last 11 years waiting for stewards suitable to safeguard the future of Cambridge Stud to present themselves.

Now he has found them, as he announced last week: “It is no secret that there has been huge international interest in Cambridge Stud for some time now. Many different parties have made approaches to us. However, Justine and I were determined to wait for both the right time and the right people– that was non-negotiable for us.

"That right time has now come and the right people have now arrived. A new chapter begins for Cambridge Stud and is one that we firmly believe was worth waiting for.

“Cambridge Stud has been our lives for over four decades. We have nurtured it, been its guardians and have proudly seen it evolve into the globally respected operation it is today. As we pass the ownership baton on, we know that Cambridge Stud could not be in better hands.

"Everyone knows that Brendan and Jo Lindsay are deeply passionate about both our industry and our country, and Cambridge Stud certainly holds a unique place in both.

“For Justine and I, this is a dream come true: we can look ahead with great confidence to the future that Cambridge Stud is assured through its new ownership.”

That Sir Patrick and Justine, Lady Hogan have chosen to sell Cambridge Stud to the Lindsays is both a great honour and a great responsibility for the Auckland-based couple.

They now become custodians of one of the brightest jewels in the bloodstock crown, both within New Zealand and internationally.

It is, though, a racing certainty that they will be up to the responsibility.

We know that they will be because Sir Patrick Hogan believes that they will be; and, as results have shown us time and again over the past five decades, he very rarely gets things wrong.