Zabeel - Australasia's greatest sire?

11 Sep 2017

By Brian Russell

There's ample data to make a strong case for Zabeel being one of Australasia's most influential sires of all time.

Savabeel's third successive New Zealand champion sire title, the consistent success of Reset, one of Victoria’s top sires from use at Darley’s Northwood Park Stud, and the dashing 4 1/4 lengths victory at Gosford by Bold Chance, a gelding by the much lesser exposed Zabeel sire Bryannbo’s Gift, a resident at New South Wales' Shipton Lodge, adds to the suggestion that Zabeel has been one of Australasia’s greatest ever sires.

Bred in New Zealand for the late Robert Sangster’s Swettenham stud and foaled at Sir Patrick Hogan’s all-conquering Cambridge Stud, the base also for his sire - the imported Sir Ivor giant of Australasian breeding Sir Tristram - and himself used there all his sire career, the September 2015 deceased Zabeel so far has been represented by 1524 starters (84.5% of foals), 1106 winners (72.2%), a massive 3740 wins and over A$189 million. 

As his last crop, a small one, are four-year-olds and the Zabeels can keep going as aged performers, more wins and earnings are certain to be added to his statistics.

It is the quality of the performers that bestows greatness on sire and few anywhere in the world have done better than Zabeel by black-type achievers. His scoreboard reads 163 stakes winners (11% strike rate), headed by 110 (7.4%) Group race winners, 47 Group One, 29 Group Two and 35 Group Three.

He is equal sixth with Danzig and Mr. Prospector on the world list of sires of Group One winners and is second most successful for Australasian sires. 

On top of both the Australasian and world lists is Danehill, by Danzig, with 89, but they were supplied from use twice a year, in Australia and Ireland.

Danehill left 49 Group One winners from his Australian use, including The Oaks Stud stallion Darci Brahma, a five time Group One winner and sire of seven Group One winners, produced by a Zabeel mare, Australasian Oaks winner Grand Echezeaux. 

She is also dam of Burgundy, a very smart Redoute’s Choice colt who has taken Zabeel’s place in the stallion yards at the Cambridge Stud. 

His first crop are three and include Hard Merchandize (a stakes winner in New Zealand) and Bringer Of War (winner Singapore, third Aushorse Golden Horseshoe).

Zabeel is now one of the southern hemisphere’s top broodmare sires, his latest Arion stats in this sphere being 1178 winners (72.2%) of 5446 races and over A$215 million. 

He is broodmare sire of 174 stakes winners, 107 at Group level, including 36 in Group One races and his name is being carried on at a high level through sires out of them. 

Besides Darci Brahma, they include Dundeel (by High Chaparral; six Group One wins to 2400m, standing Arrowfield Stud, NSW, first crop 2yo); Alpine Eagle (High Chaparral; MRC Australian Classic, second VRC Australian Guineas, retired to stud this year, Armidale, Tasmania); Xtravagant (Pentire, New Zealand champion 3yo Newhaven Park, NSW, first season), Ready For Victory (More Than Ready, Melbourne Listed winner, third Caulfield Guineas, first progeny foals, Sun Stud, Victoria).

The offspring of Zabeel reads like a who’s who of middle distance and staying excellence, contributors including winners of 90 Group One races, among them the Auckland Cup (five), Australian Derby (four), Melbourne Cup (three), Cox Plate (three), Australian Guineas (three), New Zealand Derby (three), Australian Guineas (three), Sydney Cup (two), Adelaide Cup (two), New Zealand Derby (two), Caulfield Cup (two), Oaks Classics in New Zealand, Sydney and Brisbane (four), the Hong Kong Cup, Dubai Sheema Classic and South African Derby.

His most memorable performers included Octagonal (10 Group One wins, Australian Horse of the year), Might and Power (seven Group One wins, Australian Horse of the Year), Savabeel (Cox Plate, Spring Champion Stakes), Sky Heights (Australian Derby, Caulfield Cup, Rosehill Guineas), Efficient (Melbourne Cup, Victoria Derby), Jezabelle (Auckland Cup, Melbourne Cup) and Champagne (Mackinnon Stakes, Ansett Australia Stakes, neck second to Jezabelle in the Melbourne Cup). There are many more.

A tragedy of the reign of Zabeel, one in which he has been four times champion New Zealand sire by earnings, five by broodmares, twice champion Australian sire and leading Australian broodmare sire in three years, has been the small number of his sons that have received quality opportunity at stud.

Three exceptions have been Octagonal (sire of Australian Horse of the Year and a champion sire Lonhro), Savabeel (three time champion New Zealand sire) and Reset.

There are only three of his sons in the 2017 edition of NZ Stallion Register, Savabeel, Zed (dam by Danehill; sire of Group One winner Survived) and Verdi (dam by Marscay sire Paris Opera; first season at stud) and the only one in Stallions books published in Australia is Reset (dam by Zeditave), a former Melbourne performer who won all his five starts, including the Australian Guineas and Futurity Stakes. He has sired over 380 winners with 31 successful in stakes races, including Fawkner (in Melbourne winner Makybe Diva Stakes, Caulfield Cup, Caulfield Stakes, second Cox Plate), Rebel Raider (won Victoria Derby, South Australian Derby), Pinker Pinker (filly: like Savabeel from a Success Express mare; Cox Plate winner, second in the Epsom and Futurity), Hauraki (won Epsom, second ATC Australian Derby) and Set Square (won Victoria Derby).

The Reset daughters could be a good avenue of access to Zabeel in the future. They have already produced over sixty winners and earners of A$4 million. Four successful in stakes are the The Soultaker (by Iffraaj), Madeenaty (Exceed And Excel), Houtzen (I Am Invincible) and Fixation (Jet Spur).

Also his classic winning son Rebel Raider, a resident on A$6600 at the Wyndholm Park Stud, Miner’s Rest, Victoria, is sire of stakes horses Waging War (Group Three winner Adelaide), Pretty Punk (Listed winner Adelaide), Rockstar Rebel (second Queensland Derby), Ace Attack (winner Adelaide, third Morphettville Guineas) and Danger Deal (second Magic Millions Adelaide 2YO Classic, fourth SAJC Sires’ Produce Stakes).