Iconic is a word which is, in my humble opinion, rather overused. Yet, when it comes to Cambridge Stud what other description is there?
Today’s news that Sir Patrick and Lady Hogan’s property will change hands next April left me feeling somewhat melancholic at the approaching of the end of an era.
We all realised Sir Patrick wasn’t going to be at the helm forever but there is a sense of finality in the fact he is stepping down and handing over the jewel in New Zealand’s breeding crown to Brendan and Jo Lindsay. Obviously, not “literally” handing it over – the money involved would not be insubstantial and Sir Patrick could probably still teach lesser mortals a thing or two about the art of the deal!
I had cause to visit Cambridge Stud recently after a substantial lull – I think the previous occasion was the launch of Sir Patrick’s biography many years earlier – and there was still that feeling of history combined with familiarity. The magnificent drive, the stable block which in early days the occasional visitor mistook for a residence, and just the sense of place that this property has carved out over the years.
A couple of years earlier, through a comedy of errors which I will claim were totally intentional, an old friend and I managed to seal our own part of Cambridge Stud history when purchasing a yearling from their draft. To prove that the magic pixie dust comes as part and parcel of the CS brand, said yearling evolved into yet another of the Group One winners to be reared and sold under their banner.
Long before this though, Cambridge Stud was part of my daily life as I worked at BloodHorse magazine and the NZ Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association. These were the glory years of Sir Tristram and his phenomenal offspring. They were heady days as the Group One winning tally climbed and the desire to own a son or daughter of Sir Tristram saw the magic $1million mark broken at the yearling sales.
Sir Tristram was, in journalistic terms, the gift that kept on giving as each new Group performer allowed us to write yet another chapter in his remarkable history!
The Sir Tristram juggernaut rolled on as his sons and daughters also dominated at stud – his dynasty was well and truly established. And then along came Zabeel. Continuing Cambridge Stud’s fairy-tale story, in March this year Zabeel overtook Sir Tristam’s benchmark of 45 Group One winners when Lizzie L’Amour took out the Bonecrusher Stakes.
“I doubt very much if there will ever be two stallions, a father and son standing at the same farm, that can leave 45 and 46 Group One winners in New Zealand again,” Sir Patrick said at the time. “It’s a tremendous achievement.”
It is also a rather large feather in the cap of the man who selected first Sir Tristram as his foundation stallion in 1976 and then chose exactly the right son in Zabeel, to take over his sire’s mantle.
Sir Patrick not only gave us two of the all-time greats he also put an indelible mark on the way we sell horses in this country. In every area from professional marketing to hospitality and staff livery he set the bar.
In the history of New Zealand thoroughbred breeding Sir Patrick Hogan’s Cambridge Stud was epoch-making. Next April a new era will begin.