Probably no other stallion in recent times can emulate the remarkable ups and downs in the fortunes of Zed.
His story is unique and perhaps the very reason numerous equine scribes have delivered on his life events as they have unraveled. And his story is by no means over yet.
A foal of 2002 vintage by Zabeel out of the Danehill mare Emerald Dream who's 3rd dam is Eight Carat, one could not get more "Cambridge Stud" than this in his pedigree which is appropriately described by Wanganui racing journalist Paul Vettise as "Born of royal parents".
Bred by the Carter's Jomara Bloodstock ( of Humidor notoriety ) and a $400,000 purchase at the Karaka Yearling Sales, Zed was originally destined for the Australian stable of Lee Freedman but cut legs in an early float mishap ( not his fault ) saw an early change of plans.
Zed entered Murray Baker's stable at Cambridge from where he won on debut over 1600 metres at Hawkes Bay in January 2006.
A former one time pre-post favourite for the New Zealand Derby, Zed ran a respectable 6th at his second start in the Waikato Guineas before having a couple of starts later in the year at Egmont where in his fourth raceday start he incurred ligament troubles.
Despite being well-rested attempts to get him back racing were unsuccessful.
Hence a new chapter was to begin in the life of Zed as his illustrious bloodlines could not be seen to be going to waste.
Zed commenced his stallion career at the Little Avondale Stud in the Wairarapa at the paltry introductory Stud Fee of $500+gst. Despite a blueblood pedigree, Zed was lacking in race performance and Little Avondale were keen to give him a fair chance of success given the plethora of imported stallions that he was going to be competing with in a declining seasonal local breeding industry.
Whilst syndicated and with shareholder breeding entitlements which would ensure a base level of mares' in his sophamore season, Zed's low fee also came with inherent risks in that he was unlikely to attract much in the way of Commercial mares, if any, primarily because of his lack of race performance.
This all added up to Zed having to do it the hard way hoping that his illustrious bloodlines would influence his progeny and also that he may get that precocious early runner to put him on the map.
After a very respectable first breeding season covering 131 mares, Zed's numbers then dropped to 68, 61 and 49 mares in following seasons, enough to give him a chance of success based on the numbers but no precocious types shone through from his first crop.
Zed's progeny were obviously going to require a little time.
It was time for Little Avondale Stud to move him on as they had a new stallion arriving in the form of Nadeem.
With little on track evidence of his progeny even at this relatively early stage Zed was already developing a reputation as a sire of "late maturing progeny" and therefore it was not the least surprising that no other New Zealand stud was interested in his re-homing.
Through South Island contacts, Little Avondale Stud were able to re-home Zed to the headwaters of the Rangitata River at Erewhon Station where one of his new missions in life was to contribute to the breeding of cross-bred horses, serving the Station's Clydesdale and Clyde-Gisborne cross mares. And breed some beauties did he.
During the brief time Zed spent at Erewhon Station he was also openly available to serving outside thoroughbred mares at a Fee of $1000+gst. He is recorded on the NZ Thoroughbred records as having served 30 thoroughbred mares in the 2012/13 season.
Wisely though, Zed's syndicate of owners retained the rights to re-secure him if his progeny fortunes were to take a sudden change on the racetrack's of Australasia.
And change they did.
The full maturity of his first crop saw immediate performance on the racetracks of New Zealand and Australia including at Group 1 level the emergence of horses like Survived, Usanity and Absolute Champion leading the way.
At a time when Waitotara studmaster Mark Corcoran of Grangewilliam Stud was going through " a changing of the guard" with the loss of fellow Zabeel stallion St Reims and the retirement of Thano, there was room for one more stallion and a quick phone call to Sam Williams at Little Avondale Stud culminated in Zed going on the move once more, back to the North Island and back to serving just thoroughbred mares.
Zed was on a roll once more.
With a new home and a new Stud Fee of $4000+gst life was looking up for Zed thanks to the racetrack performances of his sons and daughters and his first season at Grangewilliam Stud saw him serve a record 168 mares in the 2013/14 breeding season. Subsequent seasons have seen his numbers fluctuate with 58, 56, 47, 49, 81 and 63 mares served with current 2020/21 breeding numbers not to hand yet, Zed having moved to a $6000+gst Stud Fee from the 2019 breeding season.
At the time of writing this article, Zed has 12 individual Stakes winners of 27 Stakes races, easily led by his 6 times Group 1 winning daughter Verry Elleegant, a winner of a modest $17,000 in New Zealand and a whopping $6,730,575 in Australia to date.
So good has been the performance of Zed's daughter Verry Elleegant that we thought her pedigree may provide some clues on what may work with Zed to produce superior performance.
A quick perusal of Verry Elleegant's 7-generational pedigree profile threw no surprises to us here at Premier Pedigrees as this is the way we also like to breed successful horses where the opportunity prevails.
Being 3x3 reverse-sexed to Danehill is a very good start allowing Verry Ellegant not only a breeding core but also paving the way for a likely engine room at it's position within the pedigree.
This is opportunely supported by a resultant cross-duplicated 4x4 Rasmussen Factor to broodmare gem Cotehele House ( a daughter of bluehen Eight Carat ) through her daughters the half-sisters Theme Song ( granddam of Zed ) and Chalet Girl ( granddam of Opulence ).
As this duplication occurs in the direct maternal line of both sire ( Zed ) and dam ( Opulence ) it is known as "Breeding Back Into The Herd" ( aka BBITH ).
This form of breeding has some big fans in the breeding world including Leon Rasmussen ( founder of the Rasmussen Factor ) and former Australian pedigree guru Mr Gordon Campbell who both contended that it most closely resembled that which occurs naturally in the wild where superior speed and stamina saw only the toughest and the fittest survive against predators and relating these qualities as also being required in battle out on the racetrack. An article on Gordon Campbell can be found in the Standardbred dropdown box elaborating a little more on this also under Thoughts and Observations header.
But for now, back to the pedigree of Verry Elleegant.
The above two core breeding features are admirably reinforced by further female cross-duplications to bluehen Special at 5x6 ideally sex-balanced through son Nureyev ( Zed ) and daughter Fairy Bridge ( Opulence ) as well as to broodmare gem Flower Bowl at 6x6x7 where Zed's single male line of Flower Bowl ( via His Majesty ) receives sex-balance from Opulence's rare female line of Flower Bowl ( via Bowl Of Flowers ) as found behind Whiskey Road in Opulence's own sire Danroad.
As if this is not enough, just to put "icing on the cake" Zed's male line of Crafty Admiral is also well-placed to relish the rare female line of Crafty Admiral that Opulence carries via her damsire King's Theatre who's granddam Dennis Belle is a daughter of Crafty Admiral.
This particular mating is that good in our opinion that it is one where the breeder should be applying Mendel's Law of Genetic Variation in accompany with the Law Of Probability and going at least four times to Zed. Even the great Federico Tesio would be an advocate here.
Due to different gene inheritance, these laws identified that one outcome will be well above average, two outcomes will produce useful to fair types and one outcome will produce a horse that cannot run fast enough to get warm.
In the case of Opulence, from the New Zealand Stud Book we can deduce that this advice has been adhered to. In fact, Opulence has been to Zed six times to date for a dead foal in 2012, in 2014 she had a colt foal Verry Flash who to date has amassed 7 wins and $145,150 ( perhaps better than an average performer ), in 2015 she had Verry Elleegant ( the standout performer, see details above ), in 2017 she missed to Zed, in 2018 she had a colt named Affluential ( now in Australia ) and in 2019 she had another colt to Zed which is currently a yearling.
The latter two will be watched closely as they get nearer to racing but do not be surprised if they perform beyond the predictions of Mendel.
Still going strong and now a sprightly 18 year old, let's hope Zed is around for many years to come such are the versatility of his progeny both as racehorses and as station hacks with that royal blood running through their veins.
Premier Pedigrees was born out of Ken Mackay's passion for horse pedigrees to offer a very affordable pedigree matching service and valuable recommendations to new and existing Australian and New Zealand clients for both thoroughbred and standardbred mares.