“If we were going to war, he’d be our General.”
Those are the words of Summerhill stud master Mick Goss, who has never been shy of singing the praises of Mr Prospector’s son Muhtafal, now firmly ensconced as the leading stallion standing in KwaZulu-Natal. The farm’s stalwart has been making steady progress up the stallion ranks over the past few seasons and has reached another important milestone - he cracked fifth place on the General Sires list in 2007.
Ranked 17th in 2004, tenth in 2005 and sixth in 2006, the now 16-year-old sire enjoyed a stellar season which yielded six stakes winners and culminated in total progeny earnings of more than R8.1 million, placing him behind only ‘big guns’ Jet Master, Western Winter, Jallad and Fort Wood.
This achievement has resulted in a significant revision to his service fee and the chestnut will command a fee of R60,000 in 2008, up from a previous high of R40,000.
Muhtafal was bred for success - he is a full-brother to Canadian Horse of the Year and Champion three-year-old Afleet and is out of 1988 Canadian Broodmare of the Year Polite Lady, who in turn is out of another Broodmare of the Year, Friendly Ways. Free of Northern Dancer blood, his pedigree carries duplications of both Bull Dog and Nasrullah in the fifth remove.
Muhtafal raced in the colours of Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum and such were the expectations for the son of Mr Prospector that in his debut outing, he was pitched against allowance company at Churchill Downs. The result, a facile victory recorded in a time just outside of the 1200m track record. Another victory followed, this time at Keeneland when powering home by five lengths in what was then the fastest six-furlong time ever recorded by a sophomore at the historic track. On the strength of such form, the colt started favourite for the Gr.3 Kentucky Derby Trial, but suffered a leg injury which ultimately put paid to his racing career. Following two unsuccessful starts at four, the chestnut was retired to his owner’s Shadwell Stud in Kentucky in 1997. From two relatively small crops, he sired stakes winners Charmu, Polite Lil Lady, Winter Leaf and X Country.
Muhtafal exchanged the Kentucky bluegrass for the lush green hills of KwaZulu-Natal and arrived at Summerhill Stud in time for the 1998 breeding season, boasting credentials tailor made for South Africa: he was a son of the great Mr Prospector, a full brother to a champion and successful sire in Afleet, and most important, he possessed brilliant speed.
Muhtafal was quick off the mark with his first South African-conceived crop, which yielded three stakes winners. Tuscan Elegance clearly inherited her sire’s brilliant speed, winning six races over the minimum trip, including the Gr.3 Southern Cross Stakes, the Goldfields Sprint and the Gardenia Handicap. Side By Side won the Gr.3 Umzimkhulu Handicap, while The Waltz improved with age to end his career a ten-time winner, which included two runnings of the Gr.3 Christmas Handicap.
Muhtafal’s first Gr.1 winner emerged from his second crop in the shape of Disappear, who defeated the mighty Nhlavini in the 2005 Mercury Sprint at Clairwood. Also a winner of the Gr.2 Post Merchants, this fine sprinter has likewise proven to be a durable performer, for he is still in training and has amassed stakes just short of the million Rand mark.
Muhtafal sired yet another Gr.1 winner in Let’s Rock’N Roll, a foal of 2002, whose victory in the Gr.1 Golden Horse Casino Sprint earned him the title of Champion three-year-old male sprinter.
Four-year-old daughter Outcome became her sire’s third Gr.1 winner with a handsome victory in the prestigious Garden Province Stakes at Greyville on July day.
Muhtafal was expected to deliver stock noted more for speed than stamina and results have indicated that his progeny generally take after their sire, carrying their speed up to 1600m, with the notable exception being Veiled Essence, who scored a come-from-behind victory in the 2006 Gr.2 Gold Circle Oaks.
Muhtafal has to date shown a preference for mares from the Northern Dancer tribe - Gr.1 winner Outcome and Mauritian stakes winner Flaminglight are both out of Elliodor mares, while Gr.3 winning sprinter Fair Brutus, dual stakes winner Nottgalashia and Battlestar Express were bred from daughters of Danzig’s son National Assembly. As expected, he is proving to be a perfect foil for the daughters of Summerhill foundation stallion, Northern Guest, a son of Northern Dancer. All of Let’s Rock’N Roll, Side By Side, The Waltz, Hot Reception and Alejate are out of mares by the multiple champion broodmare sire.