Tribute to Zabeel, 1986-2015

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.

Dundeel's dam booked to Redoute's Choice

The dam of Arrowfield’s new stallion, the six-time Group 1 winner Dundeel, will visit the Stud’s flagship sire Redoute’s Choice this coming Spring.

Murray & Jo Andersen, breeders and part-owners of Dundeel, confirmed earlier this week their decision to send Stareel (Zabeel-Staring by Fiesta Star) to the champion son of Danehill.

Murray explains, “Redoute’s Choice is a great sire and sire of sires, and becoming an equally valuable broodmare sire, and I am very happy to support Arrowfield too.

“It’s an excellent match on type and on pedigree, as Zabeel mares have such a good record with Redoute’s Choice.

“I’d be happy to get a colt or a filly, but I’m really keen to have a Redoute’s Choice filly from this family for future breeding.”

The Andersens have worked with Dundeel’s female family for almost 30 years after purchasing his third dam Sweet Violet in the early 1980s. They bred and raced Sweet Violet’s daughter Staring who, like her famous grandson, won a Group 1 classic at three and then succeeded as a 4YO in Group 1 weight-for-age company.

Dundeel added the Randwick & Rosehill Guineas and the Spring Champion Stakes at three, and last Spring lowered the colours of champion mare Atlantic Jewel in the MRC Underwood S. G1.

His climactic Group 1 victory in last Saturday’s Queen Elizabeth Stakes has earned him a Timeform rating of 129, ranking him alongside past champions such as Placid Ark, Northerly, Makybe Diva and Sunline.

The Australian Timeform ratings are compiled by Gary Crispe of Racing & Sports. Click  here for the current 4YO ratings.

Murray Andersen says of Dundeel’s Queen Elizabeth Stakes triumph, “Without doubt it couldn’t get any better than that. The Australian stage is where we breed to race and winning the biggest race in our own backyard is a bigger thrill for us than winning overseas.

“We always wanted Dundeel to win the race for Arrowfield, they have so much confidence in him as a stallion prospect, and it has given his stud career the perfect launch.”

The Andersens have always operated as private owner-breeders from their Hawke’s Bay base, usually mating no more than a couple of mares each year.  Their new status as stallion shareholders will only slightly change that long-standing strategy. 

“We don’t want to be large-scale breeders, but we will be supporting Dundeel and we are currently looking for a small number of mares especially for him. We may sell one or two of his progeny, but we’re mainly owners so we want to race most of them.”

A recent UK broodmare purchase is Michikabu, a Grand Lodge half-sister to Irish Group 3 juvenile winner Luminous Eyes (dam of this season’s Australian 2YO Group performer Lumosty), from the family of champion Pilsudski.

While Murray is excited about Dundeel’s stud future, the memories of Dundeel’s racing finale won’t be erased.

He says, “It was magic, he looked the best I’ve ever seen him. Murray as trainer and Emily as strapper have done an absolutely fantastic job, James rode him brilliantly and Dundeel put up his best-ever performance. We simply couldn’t have wished for more.”

Dundeel’s 2014 fee is $27,500 inc. GST, and Redoute’s Choice will stand at a fee of $110,000 inc. GST.