Villiers Stakes 2015: Zanbagh’s resurgence thrills connections

Reports of Zanbagh’s retirement have proved premature and her owner Sandy Tait is excited to see his family’s famous red and white colours back at Randwick.

The mare runs in Saturday’s Group Two Villiers Stakes (1600m) in what will be her third start for trainer John Thompson.

After the sudden death of Guy Walter 18 months ago, Zanbagh was sent to Patrick Payne at Ballarat but failed to recapture the form that brought her four wins and second placings in both the VRC and Australian Oaks.

“I think when I had a conversation with Patrick I wasn’t sure whether to try again and she was listed as retired,” Tait said.

“But we had never gone as far as making arrangements for a stallion.

“Perhaps Ballarat might have been a bit cold for her but she has really thrived at Randwick and John is a very good trainer, especially with fillies.

In Thompson’s care, Zanbagh has produced a win and a fast-closing fourth in the Festival Stakes to earn her place in Sydney’s summer showpiece.

Zanbagh is by shuttle stallion Bernadini out of Wild Iris, winner of the 2004 Australian Oaks.

Wild Iris was one of a host of winners from the long association between Walter and the Taits, headlined by 13-time Group One winner Tie The Knot.

Breeding and racing is part of Tait’s DNA with his father Griff establishing a dynasty when he bought Dark Jewel, a moderate performer on the track but a star in breeding barn.

Dark Jewel’s 10 foals included Sydney’s first juvenile triple crown winner Baguette, Cabochon and Heirloom.

Group One winner Whisked, the dam of Tie The Knot, is a grand-daughter of Baguette mare Not Enough.

Tait retains a keen interest in breeding and hopes one day to watch the progeny of Zanbagh race.

But for now he is just happy to enjoy the five-year-old’s resurgence.

“She is beautiful filly and is definitely the star at the moment,” he said.

“We’ve got some young horses on the property and we’ll see what happens but for now we’ll enjoy her.”


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