Red And White – The Tait Success

The remarkable influence of Godolphin/Darley on Australia’s racing and breeding landscape was on full display at Rosehill Gardens on Saturday with four winners all sporting the famous royal blue silks of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. Old North (Tulloch Stakes), It’s Somewhat (Neville Sellwood), Havana Cooler (Doncaster Prelude) and Federal all saluted, while Old North and Federal are also by two of their Australian based stallions.

The operation is massive, with equine representation by the hundreds in every major thoroughbred industry throughout the world.

Darley also played a strong hand in Saturday’s Group Two Emancipation Stakes with the winner, Zanbagh, a daughter of resident stallion, Bernardini.

However, instead of the royal blue, Zanbagh carried a set of colours that have been equally synonymous with success and, certainly as far as this corner of the globe is concerned, a formidable presence for many decades.

The red and white cap livery of the Tait family has been well tried for a number of years – nearly a century in fact – and rose to national prominence in 1970 with an exceptional two year old by the name of Baguette.

Becoming the first horse to win Sydney’s juvenile triple crown, Baguette would also capture a Newmarket, a Doomben 10,000 and a George Main in an illustrious career.

Hailing from the Tait family mare, Dark Jewel (by Star Kingdom), Baguette’s full sisters Birthright and Heirloom would win VRC Maribyrnong Plates, with the latter adding a Thousand Guineas to her resume … his half brother Betelgeuse was a multiple Group winner … and yet another half brother in Cabochon was one of the finest sprinter/milers of his day, with an Epsom and a Stradbroke to his name.

Baguette also made a substantive contribution from the breeding barn, being both the sire of 1980 Golden Slipper winner Dark Eclipse and grandsire of 1985 winner, Rory’s Jester.

“Dark Jewel was the only racehorse my father ever purchased,” Sandy Tait recalls. “Paid about 1,000 pounds from memory, which was quite a lot of money in those days.”

She was worth every shilling though, particularly given that her legacy includes such racetrack luminaries as Tait’s 13-time Group One winner, Tie The Knot (whose third dam is by Baguette), while their dual Mankato Stakes and Lightning winner, Spinning Hill, traces directly back to Dark Jewel.

Yet, while 60 years is a long time to be still unearthing ‘Jewels’, the Taits have also been utilising one family that traces back even further – all the way to Theophane who was foaled in 1913.

“My grandfather, Oliver Osborne acquired the mare in the 1920s and the family has been with us ever since. Theophane’s granddaughter Loyal Lass is the dam of In Love who won a Doomben 10,000 and finished second in both the Epsom and Doncaster …”

And on it goes: In Love’s half sister Stewardess was the dam of two year old stakes winner, Attentive, in turn the dam of Flight Stakes and Silver Slipper winner, Fiancee (by Baguette), in turn the dam of stakes winner Zip Me Up and granddam of Taits’ sole Oaks winner Wild Iris.

As for Wild Iris, her stint in the breeding barn has produced two winners from as many to race, including Saturday’s Emancipation Stakes winner, Zanbagh, who came close to emulating her mother by finishing second in both the VRC and ATC Australian Oaks.

“There is a lot of speed in that family,” Tait points out, “and Zanbagh’s sire Bernardini really adds a lot of quality – I think he’s a fantastic sire.”

Perhaps the most amazing aspect of the Tait success though is the ‘base’ from which the family operates.

You might think the Tait broodmare band should number, at the very least, into the dozens: an obvious requirement to meet the prevalent theory that consistent quality can only be derived from quantity.

However, reality – like a lot of Tait horses – trounces theory: “we only breed to around eight mares every year,” Tait advises.

Sure, that kind of success from such small numbers is hard to comprehend, but it’s all there … in red and white.

The Power of Passion