The Emancipation Of Zanbagh

Zanbagh recorded her second consecutive victory in the Group Two Emancipation Stakes on Saturday (Lisa Grimm).


For those who seek a little rhyme for their wagering reasons, the tongue twisting pair of Daysee Doom and Dixie Blossoms appeared to be solid bets in Saturday’s Group Two Emancipation Stakes (1500m) at Rosehill Gardens.

They were, respectively, first and second favourites, with Daysee Doom fresh from a Group One fourth (beaten just over a length) while Dixie Blossoms was a Group Two winner two starts back.

What’s more, both of them are trained by Ron Quinton, the champion jockey turned trainer who piloted Emancipation to many a famous victory.

But it was Zanbagh who would upset the party by storming home to oust the Quinton pair, recording her first victory since … well, since last year’s Emancipation Stakes.

And there was an omen there too of sorts in that Zanbagh is the third mare in a row to win successive Emancipations after Skyerush (2012-13) and Catkins (2014-15).

Fittingly, Zanbagh carries the famous red jacket, white cap of the Tait family – one of the most famous set of silks to grace the nation’s racetracks and dating back almost a century.

They’re certainly familiar to anyone that remembers the deeds of Baguette in the early 70s, who won Sydney’s juvenile triple crown (the first to do so), along with a Newmarket, a Doomben 10,000 and a George Main.

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 … their 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. “He paid about 1,000 pounds, 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 Manikato Stakes and Lightning winner, Spinning Hill, traces directly back to Dark Jewel.

(Interestingly, while Zanbagh claimed a double of her own, Rosehill’s feature event on Saturday – the BMW – was last won in successive years by Tie The Knot, back in 1999-2000).

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,” Tait adds. “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 2YO 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 the Taits’ AJC and VRC Oaks winner Wild Iris.

As for Wild Iris, her stint in the breeding barn has produced three winners from as many to race, including Zanbagh.

“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 would tend to believe that 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 the 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.

HOOFNOTE: Sandy Tait’s son, Olly, has been Aushorse’s representative in Europe for the past 18 months but is returning to Australia this week to take up the reins at Twin Hills Stud, a 1011 hectare property at Cootamundra in NSW he purchased from Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid al-Maktoum earlier this year.

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