Bazelle provided Zabeel with his 30th group I winner with his win in the Auckland Cup Jan. 1. Worth $350,000 (NZ funds), the 3,200 meters Cup is the most important long distance event in New Zealand and has fallen to the Zabeel tribe four times in the past eight years.
As if to punctuate the occasion, Zabeel veteran Super Impressive signed off a long career with a grand win to pass $800,000 (Aust. funds) in the Standish Handicap (Aust-III) at Flemington.
The Melbourne Cup (Aust-I) over 3,200 meters of Flemington is the target for Bazelle, a 5-year-old distaffer trained by Brian Jenkins. If the goal seems a way off, there is a strong precedent. The Jenkins-prepared Jezabeel won an Auckland Cup on her way to wider fame in the 1999 Melbourne Cup. She's also by Zabeel, who succeeded his sire Sir Tristram (Sir Ivor) at Cambridge Stud in the Waikato.
Bazelle was bred by Melbourne resident Lorna Moore. She races the mare with several friends including accountant Maxine Glennan, who has an involvement with Australia's Racing Museum in Melbourne. She only squeezed into the field with a qualifying win on Boxing Day.
The 14-1 chance was superbly ridden by Mark du Plessis. The Zimbabwean is about to return to Singapore, but calls New Zealand home. His brother-in-law Laurence Erasmus is a farmer there, his farm in Zimbabwe confiscated by the government.
Bazelle exploded away soon after the 18 runners made the final bend and easily held on by 1 1/2 lengths from Australian 5-year-old Bondy, by Entrepreneur. Gelded Rhythm son Zabeat was third 4 1/2 lengths away, the 3:29.45 a fair time on a dampened oval.
Australian trainer Gerald Ryan missed the main prize with Bondy, but the Gold Coast handler gained a wonderful consolation when Recurring landed the Railway Handicap (NZ-I).
Partnered by Hayden Tinsley, the 5-year-old Pentire distaffer won the $200,000 feature sprint by a half-length from Gee I Jane (Jahafil). Sedecrem (Faltaat) closed late nearer the rail a long head away. The 1,200 meters was run in 1:10.12. Pentire supplied the New Zealand Derby (NZ-I) Xcellent on the opening day (Dec. 26) at the Auckland Racing Club's summer carnival.
Recurring races for Australia's Eliza Park Stud, the N. Brand-bred mare harvested by Denis Roberts at the 2001 New Zealand premier sale for $40,000. The South Australian agent had just taken up a position with the Victorian farm, the southern base for shuttlers Black Hawk, Grass Wonder, and Desert Sun.