harbinger racehorse
harbinger racehorse


(Photo : Racing International)


We all know it, the Japanese brought us Toyota, Nissan and Sony, and Shadai Farm gave us Sunday Silence. We’re more interested in horses though, and the Sunday Silence story is a compelling one. As good as he was in earning himself the status of America’s Horse Of The Year, when it came to his retirement to stud, Sunday Silence was blacklisted by American breeders.

It was said that he was too slight, too light of bone, it was said he was crooked in the knees and trailed his hocks. In fact, he was condemned for every possible reason, despite the fact that he was the best horse, by far, of his generation. Frustrated by the lack of appreciation his colleagues exhibited for the horse, Arthur Hancock III took the next best option: he sold the horse to Japan’s most famous breeder, Zenya Yoshida of Shadai Farm. The Japanese have an appreciation for a horse with the stamina to go 2400m, and the ability to beat all-comers, whatever his make or shape.

History tells us this was one of breeding’s most successful gambles, and Sunday Silence went on to wow the rest of the world with a succession of exceptional performers. They ran at two, they ran short and long, they ran on the turf and the dirt, and they excelled at home and abroad. There were simply no limits for the Sunday Silences, and those of us who have them, should cherish the moment. Summerhill’s acquisition of Admire Main in a venture with Shadai Farm is an expression of its appreciation of this great stallion’s legacy. Admire Main’s record may be uniquely Japanese, but the Sunday Silence story is universal.

This week’s announcement of the acquisition of the world’s highest-rated racehorse, once again highlighted the Japanese propensity for a good deal, as well as their appetite for risk, as Shadai Farm outpointed the world in acquiring Harbinger. After suffering a career ending injury following his emphatic win in Ascot’s King George VI & Queen Elizabeth II Stakes (Gr1), has been sold to stand in Japan.

According to Highclere Thoroughbred Racing’s website, the deal to sell the four-year-old to the Shadai Group “values the horse as one of the highest-priced transactions in recent times”. Director John Warren explained, “There were a number of top stud farms from both home and abroad involved in the negotiations, and there was a very strong bid to keep the horse in England. Unfortunately for the British bloodstock industry, the final bid from the famous Shadai Group, where Sunday Silence stood, was far too strong to be able to compete.” Harbinger is currently in recovery following the condylar fracture he sustained to his near-fore cannon bone at the start of last month when being prepared for York’s Juddmonte International (Gr1).