b c Gone West – Zaizafon (The Minstrel)
Zafonic was European Champion Two-Year-Old, Champion Three-Year-Old, Juddmonte’s first homebred winner of the Gr.1 2000 Guineas and leading British-based first season sire.
Trained in France, Zafonic first showed his potential when making a winning debut at Deauville – and at the same course just 10 days later, he made the huge leap in class to land the Gr.1 Prix Morny. In his following race, the Gr.1 Prix de la Salamandre at Longchamp, he gave the leaders a five-length start, but sped past them in the final furlongs to win by three lengths, defeating Kingmambo. His stunning turn of foot was again on show in the Gr.1 Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket, in which he was soon clear and won by four lengths. Unsurprisingly, the unbeaten colt was Europe’s leading two-year-old of 1992.
In a shock result, Zafonic lost by a short head to Kingmambo in his seasonal return in a Listed race at Maisons-Laffitte. Although he had now lost his unbeaten tag, he was still the short priced favourite for the Gr.1 2000 Guineas – although a thick fog on the day meant that Zafonic’s plane was late to land at Cambridge Airport. In an incredibly fast-paced renewal, Zafonic stormed clear to win by three-and-a-half lengths, in doing so breaking the course record.
After a break, Zafonic returned to the racecourse in the Gr.1 Sussex Stakes at Goodwood. However, heavy rain on the morning of the race rendered the ground unsuited to Zafonic, and he trailed in seventh, subsequently found to have broken a blood vessel. He was thereafter retired to Banstead Manor Stud.
As a sire, Zafonic sired a Champion Two-Year-Old in Xaar from his first crop – who emulated his sire by completing the Salamandre-Dewhurst double. He was responsible for 53 stakes winners in total, but his career as a stallion was unfortunately cut short. In 2002 aged 12, Zafonic shuttled to Arrowfield Stud in Australia for the first time, but died following a paddock accident not long after his arrival. Juddmonte’s General Manager at the time, Philip Mitchell, said: “He’d been at Arrowfield for a week and he’d covered four mares. Obviously I feel sorry for everyone there. It’s not a nice thing to witness and everyone here is totally devastated.
“He’d been with us for eight seasons and had become a friend, so it was shattering news to say the least.”