The Corner with Garry Chittick

We who stand stallions need the resilience of battle-scarred Army Commanders. The knocks we have all encountered in our quest for the right career-changing animal entitles one to reflect on the experts who have never reached for the stars. No, I am not complaining, because life is a series of choices, I didn’t have to choose to travel the path I have, just as those who pontificate over our stallion selection don’t have to breed to them.

I would prefer not to share all the advice we received in our case after we had committed, but there are one or two standouts. Our decision to travel down the so-called colonial sire line evoked dramatic views of our future.

At the Te Teko trials, I was informed by the lost client that Australia was his only option as a direct result of our stallion choice. I reminded him that whilst we would appreciate his support, as the owner of 200 mares it was imperative we were happy with our decision bearing in mind the long-term effect it could have on us. Our choices were for us.

Years ago, a new sire for us meant we chose not to support the influx of highly-rated dual hemisphere sires. We missed the yearling hype but bred better horses. Not my opinion, but rather the opinion of our peers (check out the Breeder of the Year Awards).

I could go on and on but there is a point to this. I was delighted to see Tarzino’s autumn success. Out of a Zabeel mare – surprise, surprise – and so a continuation of New Zealand’s most influential breed for the last 50 years.

So, back to the breeders who lacked the patience required if you are breeding the horses that we all take credit for when they reach their mature best. They all deny it when rushing back, but the numbers don’t lie. I could name a number who jumped ship, jettisoning their Sir Tristram shares way too soon. It was his sixth crop, when the rising four progeny hadn’t hit the tracks, when his book dropped away. They were soon back.

At Karaka with a couple of Zabeel’s, his oldest three, when leading trainers said, ‘Don’t get them out, they are mad, untrainable!’ Have a look at the sixth year – down again. They all returned with the same old story: ‘Remember us? We helped get him off the ground.’

I thought six two-year-old winners for Savabeel, including two stakes winners, was a great result, not so. Breeders, including shareholders, said ‘You must be disappointed.’ Have a look at his sixth year where the book dropped and sale difficult. But faith we had, so much so that I offered a shareholder back his initial investment. Lucky for him he declined.

The Zabeel influence will be around for many years. Tarzino good on you, I see you didn’t dodge the customary dip, but they will be back. 


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