Tavistock, Untypical Montjeu Son Rising to the Stars

One of our first Weekly Columns, published in November 2013 and entitled “Montjeu’s Sons on the Rise”, was dedicated to sons of the legendary Montjeu, who had a successful season. Just a few week before, Motivator’s daughter Treve won her first Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, Authorized had just his best season as sire and Hurricane Run saw his first Gr.1 winner when his son Ector won Criterium International just a few days before the article. Today, two and a half year later, Montjeu would deserve a new article as the sire of sires, celebrating the achievements of his sons at stud. The main star of the article would be the New-Zealand bred Tavistock, a rather untypical but currently the most successful son of Montjeu at stud.

Photo Cambridge Stud

Montjeu made his name at stud mainly as the sire of stayers. He was the first stallion after Blandford to produce four Epsom Derby winners, his progeny won the Irish Derby four times, Coronation Cup five times and Irish Oaks twice – all of these being races over a mile and a half. Often, however, we will find his progeny among the winners of even longer races such as the St Leger, Gold Cup, Melbourne Cup and also Sydney Cup, Gold Vase in South Africa or Gold Bowl Vase. In short, Montjeu was renowned as an excellent sire of stayers and most of his successful progeny scored on distances around the classical 2,400 metres. But there are exceptions. Do you know how many of his 120 black-type winners managed to win at three plus a black-type race over a distance shorter than a mile? You may find the answer surprising – a single one: Tavistock.

In this respect an exceptional son of Montjeu, he debuted in December 2007 over 800 metres and as a two-year-old won also over 1,000 and 1,100 metres. The highlight of his career were two victories in Gr.1 races over 1,400 metres in the Mudgway Stakes (Hawke’s Challenge) in August 2009 and Waikato Sprint in February 2010, which won him the champion sprinter title in New Zealand. A rather unbelievable title for Montjeu’s son although there is one more champion sprinter among Montjeu’s progeny - Golden Eagle. He won the title in the Czech Republic, a country with no black-type races, but Golden Eagle himself proved his black-type class by his third place in the Bayeriches Fliegerpreis in Germany.

Why a son of Montjeu, the sire of four Epsom Derby winners, born out of a daughter of Quest for Fame, who himself also won the most prestigious Derby in the world, and whose granddam is a daughter of another stayer High Line, achieved his best results over 1,400 metres? The answer lies, probably, in the family, namely its founder in the Southern Hemisphere, the England-imported Mrs Moss, a winner at two in England and a granddaughter of the sprinter Whistler, the son of Panorama, an excellent source of speed. Quest For Fame’s sire, the great miler Blushing Groom, may have contributed too.

When Tavistock was bought in early 2010 by Sir Patrick Hogan for his Cambridge Stud for $3.2 million he said that Tavistock was one of two sons of Montjeu who had tremendous turn of foot and another reason for the selection was the fact that Tavistock was successful mainly on solid and fast courses. Today we can see that Sir Hogan, the “creator” of such aces among sires as were Sir Tristram or Zabeel, hit the bull’s eye again. Tavistock is currently the hottest sire in New Zealand and his results in the last days are really impressive. On March 12, his son Volkstok’n’barrell took the Gr.1 New Zealand Stakes at Ellerslie. The following weekend Tavistock achieved even Gr.1 double when his son Tarzino won the Rosehill Guineas by 1 ¾ lengths and a day later Werther triumphed in the Hong Kong Derby. Tarzino was the hot favourite of the Australian Derby (Gr.1) on Saturday, in which he finished fourth but this was set off by another Tavistock’s son Tavago, who won easily by 3 ¼ lengths.

Tavistock, who has the second crop of three-year-olds on the racecourse, has already produced seven black-type winners of whom four won a Gr.1 race and more six placed in black-type races. Distance-wise their spread is rather wide, from 1,400 to 2,500 metres. He performs very well with mares who have the blood of the former ruler of Cambridge Stud, Zabeel. He was given the most numerous opportunity with his daughters but the success rate in this connection is much higher than with other stallions. Zabeel is the sire of dams of Gr.1 winners Tarzino and Werther and also the sire of the granddam of the third from four Tavistock’s Gr.1 winners Tavago. He has a very interesting pedigree indeed since in it we can fin inbreeding to Blushing Groom and in the pedigree of his dam inbreeding to Nureyev, Zabeel’s damsire, and 4x5x6 inbreeding to Special. Zabeel is also the damsire of the Gr.2 winner Hasselhoof, third in the Queensland Oaks (Gr.1) Imperial Lass and the Gr.3 placed Diamond Valores. His blood can be found in the pedigree of the twice listed winner Avisto. Zabeel’s blood is thus present in seven of thirteen Tavistock’s black-type progeny.

Sir Patrick and Lady Hogans have thus found not just an excellent stallion but also a brilliant partner for daughters of their previous champion-sire Zabeel. His performance is great, especially if we take into account that his starting fee was 12,500 NZ$ and the prices of his soon-to-be successful progeny were not that high in the ring. The stallion’s fee was this year is to be announced in a few weeks and it is certain that it will grow steeply, same as the price of his yearlings – understandably.

Miloslav Vlček

"Do you know how many of his 120 black-type winners managed to win at three plus a black-type race over a distance shorter than a mile? You may find the answer surprising – a single one: Tavistock." Bracelet won a 7f G3 as a 3yo.
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