A - Z of New Zealand greats - Vice Regal

NZ Racing Desk
2 July 2020

Vice Regal was a star on the racetrack and the breeding barn.

The good-looking colt, who made his race debut in 1976, was a life-changing horse for Cambridge horseman Jim Campin and his family.

Campin raced and bred Vice Regal, in partnership with Ewen Cameron, and also prepared the horse to win 21 races, before standing him at Chequers Stud.

Vice Regal was talented, versatile and tough galloper, who measured up in top company on both sides of the Tasman.

He was a Group I winner at two and three, was placed in a Cox Plate and won Group races in Australia at 1200m, 1400, 1600m and 2700m.

Overall, he won or was placed in 43 of his 59 starts and earned more than $200,000, a significant amount in that era.

A son of Bismark II, who stood at Chequers, Vice Regal was the second foal from the Great Northern Oaks winner Kind Regards, who also left the Grp I Railway Handicap winner Valencia.

Vice Regal won five of his eight starts at two, capping his juvenile campaign with a runaway win in the Grp I Sires’ Produce Stakes at Ellerslie, beating the subsequent New Zealand Derby winner Silver Lad by eight lengths.

Vice Regal won five successive races as a three-year-old, with the run including the Great Northern Guineas and Wellington Guineas and climaxing with victory in the Grp I Two Thousand Guineas at Riccarton.

However, the Riccarton trip temporarily derailed Vice Regal’s campaign, as two days after his Guineas win he bolted on the training track and did three rounds at Riccarton at a good clip. He was below his best at his next two starts and Campin was forced to give the horse a break, before resuming in March.

In his autumn campaign, Vice Regal emphasised his potential when the runner-up to Grey Way in a famous edition of the Easter Handicap, was runner-up again, behind Kiwi Can, in the Japan Trophy and then promoted to first in the Grp II Avondale Championship Stakes, at his middle-distance debut.

By this stage, most of the Australian three-year-old features had been run but Campin grabbed the chance to run Vice Regal, in the Grp III South Australian St Leger (2700m), just eight days after his Avondale outing.

Vice Regal coped with the travel and the sharp step up in distance and comfortably beat Yashmak, who later won an Adelaide Cup.

Vice Regal campaigned in Melbourne as a spring four-year-old, with considerable success. He recorded Grp II wins in the Liston Stakes (1400m) and Feehan Stakes (1600m), was runner-up to Denise’s Joy in the Grp I Underwood Stakes and ran third, behind Family Of Man, in the Cox Plate. He demonstrated his versatility again when running second over 1400m in the Grp II Linlithgow Stakes, just 12 days after his Cox Plate run.

Vice Regal raced in Melbourne again as a five-year-old. He won the Grp II Freeway Stakes (1200m) – now the Grp I Manikato Stakes – at Moonee Valley first-up and followed with two group placings, before a hoof problem affected his form.

He had a final campaign at home, the following autumn, and completed his race career with three wins – all at black type level – and a third from his last four starts.

Vice Regal made a sensational start to his stud career and was the leading first crop sire in Australia in 1982-83. His first crop contained three Grp I winners and a Grp II winner, from just 31 individual starters. All bar one of those 31 starters was a winner and between them won 143 races.

There were 34 winners, from 39 runners, in his second crop and his first three crops produced 14 individual stakes winners.

His early stars included Vite Cheval, Prolific, Eva Grace, Princess Dram, All Glory and Richebourg.

 Vite Cheval was a group-winning juvenile on both sides of the Tasman, before winning the Doncaster, All Aged Stakes, Futurity Stakes and Manikato Stakes.

Prolific, another from the first crop, won the AJC Derby, Regal Advice was a Grp II juvenile winner in Australia and Eva Grace won an Avondale Cup.

As a result, Vice Regal became a boom stallion, and in both 1986 and 1987 had the biggest representation at the national yearling sale.

He did not maintain the success of his early crops but left further Grp I winners, including Reganza and Sapio and significantly boosted the cause of New Zealand-bred colts as stallion prospects.

In addition, Vice Regal, who died in 1997, emerged as an outstanding broodmare sire and became the damsire of 13 individual Grp I winners.

The Zabeel-Vice Regal cross was particularly potent, producing Melbourne Cup winner Jezabeel, NZ Derby winner Hades and Group I winners Greene Street, Our Unicorn and Grand Echezeaux.  Vice Regal was also the damsire of Domino, Flitter, Romanee Conti, Critic, Lovely Jubly and VRC Oaks winner Kensington Palace.

Lovely Jubly was a dual Grp I winner and left champion sprinter Chautauqua, Grand Echezeaux left Darcii Brahma and Burgundy, and Romanee Conti is the dam of Ethereal.

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