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Tavistock’s best moments on an Australian racetrack came at Flemington and the famous racecourse could be the scene of the greatest moment of the late sire’s breeding career.
Raced as Lord Tavistock in Australia – there was a filly of the same name foaled the same year – Tavistock had six starts on Australian soil with both of his wins coming at Flemington.
The first came for his adopted trainer Mick Price in a three-year-old 1400-metre race, while the second was for his New Zealand trainer Andrew Campbell as a five-year-old in the G2 Blamey Stakes.
With a name derived from that of his breeder, Lady Bedford, the former Marchioness of Tavistock, he was offered as a yearling as part of a dispersal sale for her Bloomsbury Stud at Karaka. Campbell was there to secure the son of Montjeu for NZ$85,000.
Also sold by Bloomsbury through that Sale was a Zabeel colt from the same family named Precedence. Purchased by Duncan Ramage and sent to the great Bart Cummings, he would run in four Melbourne Cups, becoming his trainer’s final Cup runner in 2014.
Tavistock did not have the stamina to contest a Melbourne Cup, but instead a brilliant turn of foot which earned his two Group 1 victories in New Zealand and the admiration of New Zealand’s greatest breeder, Sir Patrick Hogan.
It was not surprising that Sir Patrick ensured that Tavistock would retire to his Cambridge Stud, adding another string to the famed farm’s stallion roster.
The track success of Precedence, who Sir Patrick part-owned, had proved a portent to a secret to Tavistock’s own success as a stallion – the combination of the blood of Cambridge Stud champion Zabeel with that family.
There have been 13 stakes winners by Tavistock out of Zabeel mares including this year’s Melbourne Cup runners Tralee Rose and Stockman. Five of those 13 stakes winners have been Group 1 winners, including Hong Kong star Werther.
It is one of the most successful ‘nicks’ – that is the combination of sire and damsire – in Australasian racing, and it should be no surprise that it was masterminded by Sir Patrick, the most influential studmaster in the past 40 years of the Melbourne Cup.
It is 40 years since Gurner’s Lane began a stunning run of success in the Melbourne Cup for Hogan and his Cambridge-based sires. Hogan had bred Gurner’s Lane, who became the first star of his sire Sir Tristram, helping deliver the Irish-bred stallion the first of six Australian Sires Championships.
Sir Tristram’s daughter Empire Rose (1988) and son Brew (2000) would also win Melbourne Cups, while Sir Tristram’s son Zabeel would join him as a three-time Melbourne Cup producing stallion thanks to Might And Power (1997), Jezabeel (1998) and Efficient (2007).
Cambridge Stud’s domination of the Cup at the turn of the century included Ethereal’s win in 2001. She became the fourth Cup winner in five years by one of the famous stud’s stallions, in her case Rhythm, and was out of a Sir Tristram mare.
Tavistock’s opportunity to join that list of Cup-winning Cambridge Stud stallions has been limited to just two runners to date. Both of them were last year, with the Symon Wilde-trained Tralee Rose returning to contest this year having finished a creditable ninth in 2021.
Stockman, trained by Joseph Pride, gets his first shot at the race at age six, having built a workmanlike career. With 36 starts, he is the most experienced horse in the race.
Young Werther, who was denied a spot in last year’s Cup because of the RV scanner, is the third of Tavistock’s progeny in this year’s race. Unlike the other two, who are out of Zabeel mares, he is out of a mare by Fastnet Rock, from a female family which would seem more suited to a Golden Slipper than a Melbourne Cup.
Incredibly all three were bred by Sir Patrick and Lady Justine Hogan in their final years before selling up Cambridge Stud to Brendan and Jo Lindsay in late 2017.
Sadly, Tavistock died in late 2019 after complications from a freak accident. He was aged 14, relatively young for a stallion of such promise, and his impact on the Australasian breeding scene will be missed.
It was part of a horrendous spring for the new owners which saw them lose three active stallions Tavistock, Burgundy and Roaring Lion, in the space of three months.
But just as Cambridge Stud’s staying legacy passed from Sir Tristram to Zabeel and on to the likes of Zabeel, there is another emerging sire ready to assume the Cambridge mantle.
Last Saturday, French-bred shuttler Almanzor produced his first Group 1 winner, the Victoria Derby victor Manzoice, giving a sign that Cambridge Stud’s extraordinary connection with Australia’s best staying races is far from finished despite the Hogans’ retirement.
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