Would you believe me if I were to tell you that a stallion whose descendants made a huge impact on Qipco British Champions Day once failed to sire a single stakes winner in four consecutive crops? Well, it’s the truth but the bare facts don’t tell anything like the full story.
The stallion in question is Zamindar who pulled off a remarkable Group 1 treble at Ascot as the broodmare sire of New Bay and Kingman. The 2015 Prix du Jockey-Club winner New Bay triumphed with Bayside Boy in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes and with Bay Bridge in the Qipco Champion Stakes, while Kingman scored with the in-form Kinross in the Qipco British Champions Sprint.
Coincidentally, it had been Kingman’s dam Zenda who helped Zamindar make an eye-catching start with her victory in the Poule d’Essai des Pouliches in 2002, becoming one of four black-type winners from a first crop of 65. However, at the time of Zenda’s Classic victory, Zamindar was standing his second season far away, at Marablue Farm in Florida where he was priced at only €5,000. He’d had only 39 foals in his second Banstead Manor crop, which contained a couple of Group-placed animals in Germany and Italy, and then he’d been laid low by a health issue which meant that Zamindar missed most of the 2000 season and sired only one foal. His two seasons in Florida also bore little fruit on the racecourse, though they did contain a total of 75 foals.
Zamindar’s success with Zenda wasn’t the only reason for Zamindar making the return trip to England. His older brother Zafonic had met with a fatal accident in the summer of 2002, soon after his arrival in Australia, where he was scheduled to stand his first southern hemisphere season.
Priced at £10,000 on his return, Zamindar justified the strong support he received and rewarded the Aga Khan with Darjina, who numbered the Poule d’Essai des Pouliches and Prix du Moulin among her three Group 1 successes. The Haras du Mezeray-bred Coquerelle also enjoyed Group 1 success, taking the Prix Saint-Alary. When Coquerelle gained her second victory as a juvenile, she won by half-a-length from another of Zamindar’s daughters. This was Juddmonte’s Cinnamon Bay who went on to win a mile Listed race at three before disappointing in the Prix de Diane. And it is Cinnamon Bay, of course, who produced the up-and-coming New Bay.
Zamindar’s next crop supplied the Aga Khan with another star, one even better than Darjina. This was the extraordinary Zarkava, whose brilliant career saw her progress from winning the Prix Marcel Boussac at two to taking the Poule d’Essai des Poulices, Prix de Diane, Prix Vermeille and Arc at three. While Darjina’s time as a broodmare was short and disappointing, Zarkava has had none of the problems which sometimes blight the broodmare careers of exceptional distaffers. Her 2021 Siyouni colt was her 12th consecutive foal and three of his predecessors have become black-type winners. Pride of place here belongs to her Dubawi colt Zarak, winner of the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud.
The fact that shares in Zarak sold of €350,000 and €380,000 towards the end of last year reflects the excellent start he made with his first juveniles, one of which – Purplepay – sold for €2,000,000 at Arqana. Purplepay duly became a Group 2 winner in the Prix de Sandringham and there has also been black-type success for Baiykara, Haya Zark and Zagrey in France and for Lizaid, Lavello and Parnac in Germany. Best of them all, though, is La Parisienne, who ran Nashwa to a short neck in the Prix de Diane before being narrowly beaten again when third in the Prix Vermeille. Times Square, another filly from this crop, was good enough to be second in the Prix Marcel Boussac and a close third in the Poule d’Essai des Pouliches.
With 20 fewer foals in Zarak’s second crop, it hasn’t so far matched the success of the first, though Rashford was beaten only a neck in the Prix de Conde. Even so, there is every reason to hope that Zarak can follow in the footsteps of Kingman and New Bay as the third major stallion out of a Zamindar mare.
To return to Zamindar’s record as a stallion, a few unproductive years, such as those he suffered early in his career, tend to have a knock-on effect, causing further peaks and troughs. Although Zarkava was one of 55 foals in the 2005 crop, the next three crops numbered just 26, 36 and 38 foals. The small 2007 crop was led by another good filly in Timepiece, winner of the Falmouth Stakes. Then Zarkava’s successes came into play. With his fee raised to £15,000, Zamindar sired a couple of crops which each contained just over 100 foals, but there were to be no more Group 1 winners by him. With his fertility waning, he was pensioned towards the end of 2013, at the age of 19.
Although Zamindar had a lengthy innings, his total output was 865 foals. All five of his Group 1 winners were fillies, the best of his colts being the Group 2 winner Crossharbour. This goes a long way towards explaining why his success hasn’t been as a sire of sires but as a sire of broodmares. The 2022 Poule d’Essai des Pouliches winner Mangoustine is another out of a Zamindar mare, as are her fellow 2022 French Group winners Pretty Tiger and Rosacea. The last two have also performed well at Group 1 level, with Pretty Tiger being runner-up in the Prix Ganay, while Rosacea was third to Nashwa in the Prix de Diane. The luckless Mojo Star, runner-up in the Derby, St Leger and Gold Cup, also has a dam by Zamindar, as does this year’s Grade 3 American two-year-old winner Nagirroc.
As Bette Midler might have said, it must have been cold for Zamindar in the huge shadow cast by his older brother Zafonic. Whereas Zafonic numbered the Prix Morny, Prix de la Salamandre and 2,000 Guinea among his four stunning Group 1 victories, Zamindar finished second, third and fifth when he contested the same races four years later. There were some though, including timing expert Michael Tanner, who thought Zamindar’s record would have been better had he been ridden with more restraint. After being caught close home and beaten a short neck by future Middle Park Stakes winner Bahamian Bounty in the Morny, Tanner wrote: “It is difficult to see how much more use could have been made of Zamindar in the Prix Morny, unless it was right from the gate. After Bahamian Bounty had registered a typically French-style 14.2 [seconds] furlong, the odds-on favourite Zamindar proceeded to reel off untypically Gallic figures of 11.0, 11.4, 11.0 and 11.9. That mid-race half-mile of 45.3, for example, compares to 47.2 in the Maurice de Gheest. Zamindar was ready to be taken after that stint of front-running.”
Tanner thought that Zamindar’s rider again expected too much when he started at odds-on in the Salamandre, so that rider – Thierry Jarnet – had to try something different when Zamindar stepped up to a mile in the 2,000 Guineas. Unfortunately, he took restraint a bit too far, causing one analyst to wrote: “That he got as close as he did is testament to his speed. He showed as good a burst as any Guineas winner when getting clear…He must have taken all the beating if Jarnet had tracked the winner.”
So Zamindar’s racing career was one of what might have been, but the reality was that his Timeform rating was no higher than 116, compared to Zafonic’s 130, and he had only one Group success, in the Group 3 Prix de Cabourg, compared to Zafonic’s four Group 1 victories. This meant that Zamindar started his stallion career at Banstead Manor at a fee of only £7,000, whereas Zafonic started at £30,000.
The odds, therefore, were heavily stacked against Zamindar in the contest with his older brother. Sure enough, Zafonic proved to be a more reliable source of black-type performers, with eight per cent – something which could be attributed to the difference in their fees (Zamindar never stood for more than £15,000, while Zafonic spent much of his career at fees of £25,000 or £30,000). However, Zafonic left only four Group 1 winners, admittedly from a smaller number of foals (656, compared to Zamindar’s 865). His star of the show was Xaar, a champion two-year-old who impressively emulated Zafonic’s wins in the Prix de la Salamandre and Dewhurst Stakes.
Although Xaar genrally disappointed as a sire, the Zafonic male line is still very much alive and kicking, thanks to his Group 2 winner Iffraaj, whose son Wootton Bassett commanded a fee of €150,000 this year.
At the time of writing, the 2023 fees for European stallions had largely not been announced but there’s every chance that the influence of Zamindar and Zafonic is going to be very noticeable among the stallions in the upper echelon. In Ireland, there’s Wootton Bassett and New Bay; in France there’s Zarak; and in Britain there’s Kingman and Showcasing, the latter being the best stallion out of a Zafonic mare. After Qipco Champions Day, New Bay had moved up to sixth on the leading sires’ list, with Kingman in seventh. In France, Zarak is the leading second-crop sire, even though his number of runners is less than half that of the four other French-based stallions in the top ten. And the European list of leading sires of two-year-olds shows that only No Nay Never has sired more juvenile black-type winners than Showcasing, whose five black-type winners include Belbek (Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere), Swingalong (Lowther Stakes), Dramatised (Queen Mary Stakes) and the big-earning Listed winner Cold Case.
Showcasing, together with Zafonic, Zamindar, Kingman and New Bay, were all bred and raced by Juddmonte. It must be a source of some frustration to the Juddmonte team that Showcasing and New Bay were sold at the end of their racing careers, although breeding rights were retained in both horses. When Showcasing was sold in 2010, Banstead Manor had a full complement of stallions, including Showcasing’s ten-year-old sire Oasis Dream and Zamindar, so his sale was understandable, especially when this winner of the Gimcrack Stakes didn’t possess the Group 1 victory which usually opens the door to a place in the Juddmonte team.
I must admit, though, that I never understood the decision to sell New Bay, even though it no doubt made sound financial sense. I suspect it might have been different had New Bay retired at the end of his three-year-old season, instead of a year later. As a three-year-old New Bay had few equals in France, where he won four of his six starts, including the Prix du Jockey-Club, Prix Guillaume d’Ornano and Prix Niel. The first of his two defeats that year came in the Poule d’Essai des Poulains, when – on only his third start – he put up an excellent performance to finish second when drawn 16 of 18. The Racing Post reported that he had sat last off the modest pace from his outside draw, before being switched wide in the straight, and that he did extremely well to pass all bar his stablemate Make Believe.
New Bay’s other defeat came in the Arc, when he finished third of 17 to Golden Horn. I always thought that a mile-and-a-half was just beyond his optimum distance, so it isn’t so surprising that the likes of Saffron Beach, Bayside Boy and New Mandate have proved best at a mile, while Jumby won the Hungerford Stakes over seven furlongs.
New Bay had a physical problem over the winter between three and four and didn’t reappear until late-May. He never recaptured his best form, even though he landed a Group 3 at odds of 30/100, and Timeform dropped his rating from 128 to 123. That disappointing season knocked some of the gloss off his previous efforts and he was sold to Ballylinch Stud.
It is worth reminding everyone that New Bay’s dam Cinnamon Bay was a grand-daughter of Bahamian, as was Kingman’s dam Zenda, and that Kingman’s second dam Hope also produced Oasis Dream. Kingman’s pedigree also contains some of the same main elements as Showcasing’s. Each of them was sired by a son of Green Desert and the third generation of each stallion contains Danzig, Foreign Courier, Gone West, Zaizafon, Dancing Brave and Bahamian. With Commissioning, Noble Style and Nostrum among his four juvenile Group winners, Kingman also ranks among Europe’s leading sires of two-year-olds.