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Zouzarella vindicating Corrigan's breeding call

6 min read
Dale Corrigan's decision to branch his racing interests out into breeding is paying early dividends, with smart filly Zouzarella (Zoustar) now a Listed winner after just two starts following her emphatic success in Saturday's Atlantic Jewel S. at Moonee Valley.

Cover image courtesy of Bronwen Healy

Corrigan, who runs a Melbourne software business, had often harboured ambitions to breed thoroughbreds and the ideal opportunity presented itself in 2016, when Zazparella (Al Maher), a mare he had raced with success as a part-owner, came up for sale.

"I was in a syndicate which raced her. We tried to buy her out of the syndicate and they wanted to send her through the sales. Through Sam Pritchard Gordon, who I knew well, I asked him how I go about buying her. He put me onto Duncan Grimley," Corrigan told TDN AusNZ.

Zazparella at the 2016 Magic Millions National Broodmare Sale

"Duncan bought her for me at the sales on the Gold Coast and took her back to Glastonbury."

Zazparella had won six races and nearly $200,000 in prizemoney for her ownership group and trainer Mike Moroney. That was a good return on her $30,000 purchase price by Paul Moroney as a yearling at the 2011 Inglis Classic Sale.

Bred by Emirates Park, she is a sister to the stakes-placed Almachino (Al Maher) and a half-sister to Let’s Get Nauti Gal (Harbour Watch {Ire}), but it was her race performance as much as her pedigree that convinced Corrigan to chance his hand with her as a broodmare.

"I had been racing quite a few horses in syndicates with mates for a while and decided I wanted to have a crack at the breeding side of it." - Dale Corrigan

"I had been racing quite a few horses in syndicates with mates for a while and decided I wanted to have a crack at the breeding side of it. The reason I picked her was that she was a good, solid staying mare," he said.

"She'd won up to 2400 metres, she loved Heavy ground and she was a big, scopey horse, very much like Zouzarella is now. If you go back and look back at her photos, you can see that.

"So I thought she'd make a decent broodmare. I tend to like the ones that have never had many injuries in their careers. That's what they tend to throw, good solid horses, which she was done."

Corrigan paid $45,000 for Zazparella in foal to Zoffany (Ire) at the 2016 Magic Millions National Broodmare Sale. She delivered a colt, Misterzee, who he has retained to race with a couple of mates. Having won two races with Kris Lees, the 5-year-old recently transferred to Clinton McDonald's stables.

The late sire Zoffany (Ire)

Searching for a star

With close counsel from Grimley, Corrigan decided to send Zazparella to Zoustar.

"We just wanted to see if we could find something to put that turn of foot into her," he said. "Unfortunately, she lost the first foal. Then Zouzarella was the second. She was a stunning-looking foal as well, which she seems to produce.

"We always knew early on she was going to be good and at that stage, early in my breeding career, we thought we would be better off getting some dollars in the bank to allow us to keep breeding."

Offered through the Glastonbury Farms draft at the 2020 Magic Millions Gold Coast Yearling Sale, the Zoustar filly proved quite popular and sold to Cambridge Stud for $250,000.

Zouzerella as a yearling

"That was purely on type that she got that price. Duncan always said that when they go through the sales ring, they can be the best on paper, but it is still how they look which will determine if they get the better dollars. It was a good result," Corrigan said.

Zouzarella joined the Sam and Anthony Freedman stable and Corrigan has kept tabs on how she has been progressing.

"I have been watching and waiting for her to come out. It doesn't completely surprise me that she didn't run as a 2-year-old. Her mum didn't run as a 2-year-old either. She didn't really furnish until she was a 3-year-old and then got better as a 4-year-old. I would think with Zouzarella, she might be the same," he said.

"Just watching the race, you knew before the bend she was going to win." - Dale Corrigan

That Zouzarella might have substantial improvement in her bodes well for a filly who backed up her fast-finishing win on debut at Moonee Valley in late August, with a swooping 2l victory in a strong edition of the Listed Atlantic Jewel S. at the same track on Saturday. As a result, she is now outright favourite for the G1 Thousand Guineas next month.

"Just watching the race, you knew before the bend she was going to win," Corrigan said of Saturday's performance." - Dale Corrigan

"I said to my wife, she is just going to run over the top of these. Brett Prebble was easing up on her and patting her on the line. She had plenty left and more to come."

More to come

Zazparella moved to Swettenham Stud last year and delivered a So You Think (NZ) filly, which is expected to go through one of the major yearling sales next year.

"She looks a beautiful type as well. Inglis have come through and said she will either make the Premier Sale or the Easter Sale. Magic Millions have said that on type, she'd go to any sale in Australia," Corrigan said.

She is now in foal to Swettenham resident Highland Reel (Ire) with a decision on where she goes in 2021 to be made after she foals in the comings days or weeks.

"With that mating last year, I thought I would go to Highland Reel because mum was so good over a distance. We would get a good staying type horse. I guess you always dream of a Cups horse, so if you go to a stallion of the class and quality of Highland Reel, you may end up getting that type of horse," he said.

"Who knows for this year? She's due any time now and we will wait and see and work out where we go with her."

As well as owning Zazparella, Corrigan has a few other mares in partnership with Grimley. Given the way his breeding venture has started, it would be no surprise to see him ramp up his interests in the coming years.

"I thought it would be a 10-year plan and I thought it could be a retirement strategy, something I could generate an income out of in time," he said.

"It’s probably more the pedigree side of things that has got me interested. I enjoy the racing side, but it's the breeding side which appeals to me. There's lots of satisfaction in seeing something that you have thought about and getting to see your plan come to fruition."

Zouzarella
Zazparella
Dale Corrigan
Duncan Grimley
Atlantic Jewel Stakes
Anthony and Sam Freedman