Multiple Champion Sire Zabeel, foaled on the day of Bonecrusher’s 1986 Cox Plate victory, died at the age of 29 on 25 September at Sir Patrick & Lady Hogan’s Cambridge Stud with many tributes and honours deservedly heaped upon him.
The Group 1-winning son of Sir Tristram and Lady Giselle was bred by Swettenham Stud’s joint venture bloodstock partnership with Arrowfield Stud – which is why Zabeel carried the Jockey Cap over Diamonds brand.
Trained by Colin and later David Hayes for Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Zabeel won seven of his 19 starts including the 1600-metre VRC Australian Guineas G1 and Craiglee S. G2 during a three-season, $1.1 million career.
He retired to Cambridge Stud in 1991 and made an immediate impact with Jack & Bob Ingham’s champion colt & 1996 Horse of the Year Octagonal in his first crop. However, it was not until 1997 that Zabeel’s star really began to rise.
That year began for Zabeel with a sensational sequence of six Group 1 victories over six weeks by Octagonal and his year-younger brother Mouawad.
Then a 3YO gelding named Might And Power emerged from Jack Denham’s stable to run second in Intergaze’s track record-setting Canterbury Guineas G1, and fourth in Ebony Grosve’s Australian Derby G1 before an eye-catching victory in the Frank Packer Plate G3 on 5 April.
4YO Cronus added the Adelaide Cup in May and Zabeel ended the 1996/97 season with the second of what would eventually be 15 Dewar Stallion Trophy awards, for the New Zealand-based sire with the highest Australasian earnings.
It was like the cork popping out of a bottle of the best champagne, which flowed freely over the next dozen years. During the 1997/98 season Might And Power won the Caulfield-Melbourne Cup double and three other Group 1 races, sealing the Australian Horse of the Year title that he would claim again the following year after winning the 1998 Cox Plate.
He wasn’t alone. Dignity Dancer, Sky Heights & Zonda, Champagne, Inaflury & Zacheline added 10 Group 1 victories by the end of the 1998/99 season, Bezeal Bay won the VRC Emirates S. G1 and Jezabeel became the only horse to win the Auckland-Melbourne Cup double.
They all helped Zabeel win the 1998 & 1999 Australian General Sires’ Premierships, the last New Zealand-based sire to do so, and in both seasons defeating Danehill at the peak of his long Australian ascendancy.
Zabeel’s legendary status was secure well before his death, thanks to 27 stallion titles, 44 Group 1 winners among 156 stakeswinners (8.2% of his named foals, 10.5% of his runners), more than $180 million prizemoney, 26 Group 1 winners from his exceptional broodmare daughters (including Samantha Miss by Redoute’s Choice, and Arrowfield’s young sire Dundeel), eleven $1 million-dollar yearlings, a champion sire son in Savabeel and a champion sire grandson, Lonhro.
Zabeel has been laid to rest alongside his champion sire Sir Tristram at Cambridge Stud while his dam Lady Giselle, who died in 2003, is buried in the Arrowfield graveyard.