A remarkable era in New Zealand thoroughbred breeding history has ended with the death of the champion stallion Zabeel.
The son of another great sire in Sir Tristram, Zabeel died peacefully at the age of 29 on Friday night, September 25, in the paddock he has occupied at Cambridge Stud since 1991.
Cambridge Stud principal Sir Patrick Hogan said the sire of 44 Group One winners “passed away peacefully in his paddock” during the night.
A son of the French-bred mare Lady Giselle, by Nureyev, Zabeel began his stallion career at Cambridge Stud in 1991 and was retired in 2013. He sired four Cox Plate winners and three each of the Melbourne and Caulfield Cups among his 44 individual Group One winners.
“He was a sire who excelled at the very highest level and was able to carry on where his own great sire Sir Tristram had left off,” Hogan said.
Zabeel was buried alongside Sir Tristram, standing up with his tail facing the sunrise and his head facing the sunset, the same as his sire.
Hogan said after the burial, he stood over the grave. “I’m a very superstitious person. I said ‘Zabeel, your job’s not done, Sir Tristram’s wasn’t done; he was asked to pass on all that good stuff that he had in himself on to you. He did that. Now, Sir Tristram’s job is done – you need to do exactly what your father did and pass this on to Tavistock.
“Zabeel gave so many people through his progeny the greatest thrill of winning so many races at the highest level. He surpassed all stallions that have come before him, past and present in New Zealand. So a big thank you from us all and God bless, rest in peace,” Hogan said.
Might And Power, the horse rated by Hogan as Zabeel’s greatest son, counted the Moonee Valley, Flemington and Caulfield features among his seven top flight victories.
“If I had to be on the panel of judges then I would put Might And Power on top. It was just the way he raced with that great cruising speed that won him a Caulfield Cup, the Cox Plate and the Melbourne Cup,” Hogan said on Zabeel’s retirement from stud duty. “I’d put him in front with Octagonal a close second.”
Other outstanding sons have included the multiple Group One winners Octagonal, Savabeel, Sky Heights, Efficient, Maldivian, Greys Inn, Vengeance Of Rain, Reset, Mouawad, St Reims, Dignity Dancer, Greene Street, Dignity Dancer, Zonda, Zavite, Railings and Fiumicino.
His flagship daughters feature Champagne, Jezabeel, Bazelle and Zachaline.
Zabeel won a remarkable fifteen Dewar Stallion Trophies, he was a four-time champion New Zealand sire and twice won the Australian title. Three times he was the champion broodmare sire of both New Zealand and Australia. His son Savabeel is the reigning New Zealand champion sire.
So long the star turn at the New Zealand Bloodstock National Yearling Sales, Zabeel was responsible for ten $1 million yearlings including the highest ever price – $3.6 million paid for Don Eduardo in 2000, an Australasian record that stood for 13 years.
Paddock accident claims life of No Excuse Needed
The New Zealand thoroughbred industry was dealt a second blow on the same day as Zabeel’s death, with the loss of Waikato Stud’s Group One sire No Excuse Needed, who suffered a fatal paddock accident on Friday afternoon. He was aged 17.
No Excuse Needed was the leading first season sire in 2006/07 and won the champion New Zealand two-year-old sire title the following season.
He sired 17 stakes winners, with leading Group One ambassadors including the AJC Oaks-winning champion New Zealand three-year-old Daffodil and another Chittick family home-bred in I Do. She won fifteen races, the most of any horse to sport the Waikato Stud silks, six of which were at black-type level.
“No Excuse Needed was a sire who gave us some great thrills,” Waikato Stud principal Mark Chittick said.
“He left the two Group One winners I Do and Daffodil and it was a real privilege to have raced both of these horses ourselves.
“Up until last year, he was also responsible for the stud’s $480,000 yearling price high, thanks to his son out of Lodore Mystic who was bought by Peter and Kim McKay.”
Peter McKay also prepared No Excuse Needed’s Karaka Million winner Vincent Mangano.
The handsome Machiavellian sire came to stand at Waikato Stud on the recommendation of New Zealand Bloodstock’s Andrew Seabrook.