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Treadmill trims up super Savabeel

4 min read

Written by Paul Vettise

A new fitness regime is rolling back the years for Waikato Stud’s stallion marvel Savabeel (Zabeel {NZ}). The champion sire has thrived since the Matamata farm invested in a piece of equine gym equipment that has the 17-year-old in outstanding condition.

“At the encouragement of (father) Garry, we put it in a treadmill for all the stallions, but especially for Savabeel as he’s such a good doer,” Mark Chittick said. “He loves it and just looks fantastic. He’s never been better and he’s fitter now than he’s been since he was in full work.

Savabeel at Waikato Stud

“He’s a great character, a very intelligent horse and we just have to manage his condition. We were saddling him up and riding him up until we got the treadmill and we’ve got more control now. We put it in last October and it’s the best thing we’ve ever done.”

“He’s a great character, a very intelligent horse and we just have to manage his condition.” Mark Chittick

While delighted with Savabeel’s health, the stud is still mindful of managing his book. “We are conscious that he is a bit older so he’ll only serve 30 outside mares and a book of 130 in total,” Chittick said.

Another clean sweep

Savabeel is coming off another magical season and one that ensured he made a clean sweep in all stallion divisions for the third consecutive time. At Sunday’s New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing Awards, Chittick will accept the Grosvenor Award, Dewar Stallion Trophy and Centaine Award.

His progeny earned $3,396,125 in New Zealand, nearly $1.5 million clear of nearest Grosvenor Award rival Iffraaj (GB) (Zafonic {USA}). In the Dewar Trophy standings, Savabeel finished with more than $8 million while his earnings in the Centaine Award were in excess of $13 million.

Savabeel, who has produced 17 individual Group 1 winners, provided the stud with a memorable celebration at Riccarton last spring. “The Guineas double with horses born and bred here out of young mares was the highlight for me and one of them was the highest-priced yearlings we had sold at that stage,” Chittick said.

“The Guineas double with born and bred horses out of young mares was the highlight for me and one of them was the highest-priced yearlings we had sold at that stage.” Mark Chittick

He was referring to G1 NZ 2000 Guineas hero Embellish, who was purchased at Karaka by Te Akau principal David Ellis for $775,000 in 2016, while the G1 NZ 1000 Guineas winner Hasahalo was secured for $110,000 by Albert Bosma’s Go Racing. “And then to get a third classic winner with Savvy Coup in the New Zealand Oaks was outstanding,” Chittick said of the $65,000 purchase.

Embellish pictured as a yearling

Upgrading families

“There’s no doubt we are going to see more serious horses by Savabeel as he’s always giving mares a great opportunity and continually upgrading families. The unwritten rule is anything above five per cent of stakes winners to runners and you have a successful stallion. I think he's one of only three in Australasia at 10 per cent or higher.”

“Savabeel was the first $10 million stallion to come to New Zealand and I’m so proud of him." Mark Chittick

Another satisfying aspect is Savabeel’s ongoing success with his 2-year-olds and Sword Of Osman became his second Group One-winning juvenile, Pasadena Girl was the first when she won the 2015 Champagne Stakes, when he triumphed in the Sistema Stakes.

“His record with 2-year-old stakes winners has been a good selling point for us,” Chittick said.

WATCH: Sword of Osman wins G1 Sistema S.

That was further emphasised at Karaka earlier this year when Savabeel smashed another barrier. He sired his first million-dollar yearling when a colt out of the multiple Group 1 winner Katie Lee was knocked down to Ellis for $1,025,000.

“Savabeel was the first $10 million stallion to come to New Zealand and I’m so proud of him, particularly given that he had a difficult time at the beginning of his career,” Chittick said. “People were expecting him to get a load of 2-year-old winners, but he’s by Zabeel and we knew they had to be a bit more patient.

“At that time the global financial melt-down happened so it was a double challenge and that year he only served 75 mares and it was hard to get them into the top sales. He’s come a long way since then.”