IN Our Horses
Prestige and Profit can follow a New Zealand Oaks win
The $400,000 Group I Oaks is the richest fillies race in New Zealand.
Tim Barton for LOVERACING.NZ | March 18, 2022
Candide following her win in the New Zealand Oaks. Photo: Race Images

There will be more than the $230,000 first prize at stake in the Al Basti Equiworld Dubai New Zealand Oaks at Trentham on Saturday.

The $400,000 Group I Oaks is the richest fillies race in New Zealand and a win can bring both fame and fortune to the horse and her connections.

It is one of the most treasured wins on the domestic calendar for riders, trainers and owners and a prestigious and often profitable accolade for the breeders.

The Oaks, which is traditionally run over 2400m, has been a blue riband race for three-year-old fillies around the world for centuries, with the inaugural running of the Epsom Oaks, in England, staged in 1779.

The first NZ Oaks was run in 1887 and won by Enid. Till 1974, the Oaks was run at Riccarton, though by then the Great Northern Oaks at Ellerslie was regarded as the principal fillies race and the Wellington Oaks was added to the mix in 1969.

The New Zealand classics were rationalised in 1973-74 season and the NZ Oaks was switched to Trentham and replaced the Wellington Oaks. The Great Northern Oaks continued for a time, but with a Group II rating, and was last run in 1988.

An Oaks win usually results in a sharp rise in value for any filly, along with her close relations.

Top class mare Princess Coup, winner of the 2007 NZ Oaks was sold at auction for A$3 million at the end of her race career and Savvy Coup (2018 Oaks winner) was sold for A$1 million in 2019. Jennifer Eccles (2020 Oaks) and Sentimental Miss (2019 Oaks) were both sold last year, with Jennifer Eccles making $800,000 and Sentimental Miss A$470,000.

Dual NZ Horse of the Year and 2017 Oaks winner Bonneval changed hands privately after her race career, for what would have been a substantial amount.

These sales were all based on their value as future broodmares, so how have past Oaks winners performed as broodmares?

Of the 48 Oaks winner since 1974, at least 15 have produced horses who were Group winners or Group I-placed, and four - Maurita, Domino, Savannah Success and Candide – have left Group I winners.

The most significant impact has been made by Savannah Success, who left the Cox Plate winner and champion sire Savabeel.

A Group I winner in New Zealand and Australia, Savannah Success was trained and part-owned by Graeme Rogerson, who was also the co-breeder and part-owner of Savabeel.

Savabeel, a Zabeel colt, also won the Group I Champion Stakes and was runner-up in the VRC Derby and Orr Stakes. He was syndicated to stand at Waikato Stud in a deal which valued the horse at $10 million.

It was a big investment at the time, but the returns have been huge and Savabeel has also been a wonderful asset for the New Zealand breeding industry in general.

Savannah Success left seven other winners, the best of those being Arlington, who is now at stud in Australia after being Group I-placed in Australia and a Group II placegetter in New Zealand.

Candide, who completed the NZ One Thousand Guineas-Oaks double, also ran third in the Australian Derby and fourth in the NZ Derby.

One of her early foals was the high-class Hong Kong galloper Billion Win but the Sound Reason mare left the best to near last, with her 11th foal, the Redoute’s Choice colt Nadeem, winning the Group I Blue Diamond Stakes in Melbourne at two, beating Miss Finland.

The Blue Diamond win ensured Nadeem of a stud career and he has been a consistent source of winners and stakes performers, originally in Australia and now at Little Avondale Stud in Wairarapa.

Maurita, the 1982 Oaks winner and a sister to the dual Avondale Cup winner and successful broodmare Maurita, spent her stud career in the northern hemisphere and achieved the notable feat of leaving two Group I winners. Grand Flotilla was a Group I winner in California and Marvelous Crown won the Japan Cup.

Princess Coup has had 11 foals, including Thewizardofoz, who was a Group winner in Hong Kong, but her leading performers might be still to come.

She is the dam of the three-year-old Frankel filly Argentia, a A$670,000 yearling buy, who has had a Group III win and two Group II placings from five starts. Argentia was runner-up in the Group II Kewney Stakes at Flemington last weekend and a Group II winner at Caulfield in February.

Princess Coup is also the dam of Golden Passport, a two-year-old Sebring colt with Gai Waterhouse, who ran fourth on debut. An I Am Invincible filly from Princess Coup is entered in next month’s Sydney Easter yearling sale and the mare foaled a Dundeel colt last year and was served by Snitzel.

Staring, the 1992 NZ Oaks winner, won six group races and is the dam of six winners, though none of real note. However, she has still left a significant legacy through her unraced Zabeel filly Stareel, who became the dam of champion racehorse and now prominent sire Dundeel.

Tycoon Lil, who was named NZ Horse of the Year following her spectacular three-year-old campaign in the 1997-98 season, had eight foals, none with near her quality, though she left Estee who ran second in the Australasian Oaks and Empress Lily who ran third in the VRC Oaks.

La Mer, another outstanding Oaks winner, spent her breeding career in the northern hemisphere and left six winners, the best of them being a Group III winner in Ireland.

The more recent Oaks winners have not had time to establish their credentials as broodmares, but most are likely to get every chance.

Bonneval’s first foal is a two-year-old I Am Invincible filly, named Cassadee, and the mare has since had fillies by Savabeel and Super Seth and returned to Super Seth last spring.

Savvy Coup’s first foal, a colt by Justify, made A$400,000 at the Magic Millions yearling sales in January and the mare is also the dam of a Fastnet Rock filly and was served by Zoustar last year.

Fanatic, who followed her 2016 Oaks win, with victory in the 2018 Adelaide Cup, is the dam of a US Navy Flag colt who will be offered at the Sydney Easter sale and has since had a filly by Justify.

Jennifer Eccles was served by the Golden Slipper winner Farnan last spring and Sentimental Miss was served by Blue Diamond Stakes winner Tagaloa.

Al Basti Equiworld New Zealand Oaks Gr.1 Al Basti Equiworld Dubai New Zealand Oaks