Published: April 2017
Whether it’s through the hustle his stock show on the racetrack, the demand for his progeny in the sales ring or the clamour from breeders determined to claim a prized service to the stallion for their broodmare, Tavistock remains the focus of much flurry.
Last year Cambridge Stud boss Sir Patrick Hogan had no choice but to close Tavistock’s book well before the breeding season had even kicked off, the cause of widespread disappointment from breeders – and that despite his service fee skyrocketing from $NZ15,000 plus GST to $NZ65,000.
And to think a service to Tavistock the previous season cost just $NZ7000.
But that was the calm before the storm that saw Volkstok’n’barrell, Tarzino, Tavago and Werther all become Classic winners in quick succession.
Not a lot has changed this season.
Tavistock’s service fee will again stay around the same ballpark figure – Sir Patrick will announce it mid-April – and the stallion has continued to be a reliable source of winners at all levels.
The Group One wins have kept coming – and notably his proven elite-level performers have illustrated their longevity in the top grade, surely a point not lost on breeders wanting gallopers which can train on past their four-year-old seasons.
After a long injury break, reigning Hong Kong Horse of the Year Werther bounced straight back into winning form with a gutsy performance to claim the Gr.1 Citi Hong Kong Gold Cup (2000m) at Sha Tin in February, attracting an international rating of 118 to thrust him back inside the world’s top 15 racehorses.
Werther had climbed as high as equal third in the world last year after he won the Gr.1 Queen Elizabeth II Cup by 4½ lengths, a performance preceded by his Gr.1 Hong Kong Derby triumph.
Whether Werther can regain a ranking of that level in the wake of his suspensory injury last year is yet to be determined but his Hong Kong Gold Cup win again elevated him to world class.
Injury setbacks plagued Tavistock’s first Group One winner, Volkstok’n’barrell, this season but couldn’t prevent him from claiming his fourth win at racing’s top level when he surged to a narrow victory in New Zealand’s richest weight-for-age race, the Herbie Dyke Stakes (2000m) at Te Rapa.
It was Volkstok’n’barrell’s third straight season of securing Group One success, having won the Rosehill Guineas (2000m) at three and the Haunui Farm Weight-For-Age Classic (1600m)-New Zealand Stakes (2000m) double at four.
The win showed Tavistock to be a sire not only adept at producing a Classic winner but also one capable of leaving a hardy, older campaigner and, in Volkstok’n’barrell’s case, one still far from a spent force past the halfway mark of his five-year-old season.
Sir Patrick Hogan, who stands Tavistock at Cambridge Stud, was thrilled with stallion’s ongoing success but hardly surprised.
“He’s been a great stallion, always with a top performer on the racetrack and one that has provided lucrative rewards for the breeders who have supported him,” the studmaster said.
“In Werther, he shown he’s capable of siring a world-class racehorse but we’ve seen a string of Classic winners by him and there’s several more bubbling just beneath the surface.
“Volkstok’n’barrell encompasses everything about a Tavistock racehorse – a good-looker with a great turn of foot and plenty of courage.
“There’s no doubt in my mind that the best of Tavistock is yet to come because the book of mares he served in 2016 was by far the best quality he has been paired with so far.”
Among the mares Tavistock served this season were Group One winners Provocative, Elegant Fashion, Seachange, Pondarosa Miss, Guiseppina, Banchee, Soriano, Veloce Bella and Shez Sinsational, as well as others the quality of Abidewithme, November Rain, La Sizeranne, Kind Return, Tarzino’s dam Zarzino, Lovetrista, Diamond Like, Tavago’s dam Sara Ann and Kawi’s dam Magic Time.
Sir Patrick has already earmarked several of his best mares for matings with Tavistock this year and has fielded enquiries from breeders with star racemares in their possession.
Cambridge Stud this week announced that applications for a Tavistock service would close on May 5.
By then, Tavistock’s own star might have taken on an even brighter glow.
Several trainers have identified the Gr.1 Queensland Derby as a target with emerging Tavistock three-year-olds, while gallopers such as Harlow Gold, who claimed her second Group One placing in the Vinery Stud Stakes at Rosehill to go with her Victorian Oaks runner-up finish, six-length last-start Te Rapa winner Hiflyer and impressive Singapore Group Two winner Infantry have promised much for their autumn campaigns.
Infantry, in particular, looks progressive, having landed the Merlion Trophy (1200m) fresh-up over a distance shorter than his optimum.
He pushed Singapore Horse of the Year Debt Collector when second in the Sng-Gr.1 Singapore Guineas last year over 1600m and looks capable of snaring a major in that country over more ground this preparation.
“Seldom a week goes by without a trainer somewhere revealing Group race plans for their winner by Tavistock,” Sir Patrick said.
“He just keeps raising the bar, whether that be through promising Classic-type horses like Tavidream and Bedford or through his proven weight-for-age performers like Werther and Volkstok’n’barrell.
“We are already seeing that overflow into interest for the upcoming breeding season. We’re getting approached by breeders already asking about getting mares to him – and you can’t blame them for registering their interest early.
“It’s a reflection of how highly Tavistock’s stock are regarded in the marketplace and of the job his racehorses are doing on the track.”
Tavistock’s sales ring results have been just as impressive as his racetrack record.
In the premier session of New Zealand Bloodstock’s sales at Karaka in January, 39 Tavistock yearlings went under the hammer at an average of $148,589, with a top-price of $425,000 for the Cambridge Stud-sold colt out of On Arrival, knocked down to Yu Long Park Investment, while a Cambridge Stud-sold filly out of Ana Zeel fetched $400,000, the winning bid going to Melbourne trainer Ciaron Maher.
A remarkable aspect of Tavistock’s impressive sales statistics was that his service fee for that season was just $7000 plus GST.
From the premier and select sessions of the sale, the international demand for Tavistock yearlings was clear, with 36 youngsters – 22 colts and 14 fillies – bought for Australia, five for Hong Kong and two for Singapore, the highest demand of any New Zealand stallion from offshore interests.
Tavistock stands at Cambridge Stud alongside Keeper, Power and Burgundy.