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Irish Thoroughbred Breeders



Jim Bolger
Jim Bolger

Jim Bolger

(Photo : Horsepedia)


County Kildare, Ireland

3-4 October 2012

The Goffs Orby Sale got off to a strong start Wednesday in Kildare, with healthy increases across the board. A total of 152 yearlings sold for €13,553,500, compared to 175 grossing €10,686,00 in 2011. The average of €89,168 was up by 46% on last year, while the median of €55,000 rose by 31% and the clearance rate was 84%.

The only one happier than sales officials may have been Jim Bolger, who enjoyed a day of days Wednesday when selling three of the leading seven lots, including the €775,000 (US$1,000,186) topper. While Teofilo (Ire) put the maestroof Coolcullen firmly back on the map with his champion-making juvenile exploits six years ago, Bolger came to kill that fall to pay €430,000 for a chestnut he was to name New Approach (Ire) and therest is history.

Yesterday’s opening session at the flagship auction saw the story come full circle, as his Redmondstown Stud was on the other side of the fence as vendor, and fittingly, it was a daughter of New Approach who led the way. A full-sister to this year’s top-ranked 2-year-old Dawn Approach (Ire), who remains unbeaten through two stern tests in the G1 Vincent O’Brien Stakes and G2 Coventry Stakes, the May-foaled bay entered the ring as hip 12 with a weight of expectation on her shoulders and she did not disappoint. After a frantic round of bidding involving Kirsten Rausing, Peter Doyle had the final say before revealing that she is to join her full-sibling at Coolcullen. “I’ve bought her for a group of people who were looking for a potentially top-class filly,” Doyle said. “She fit the bill and she will be going into training with Jim Bolger.”

Extract from Thoroughbred Daily News




Chinese Horseracing Delegation visit to South Africa
Chinese Horseracing Delegation visit to South Africa

Mick Goss hosts the Chinese Horseracing Delegation,

Box 3A Racing and Peter Gibson (Racing South Africa)

(Photo : Summerhill Stud)

“A bit of a tough weekend for the Old Country”

The headline to this article could be misleading, so don’t show it to persons under the age of 18. That said, while the Irish economy may well be under the “kosh”, you can’t get the Irish spirit down. About a month ago, we penned a piece about a €40 billion export success which Irish Thoroughbred Marketing had engineered with the Chinese authorities. Whatever else may be wrong with the finances of that remarkable little country, they continue to dominate the thoroughbred world in a manner no other country has done in modern times. As mankind’s history has taught us so many times, it’s often down to the labours of a few, and that’s very much the case with Ireland, where John Magnier’sCoolmore group have led the charge.

Nonetheless, this little country of ours, at the southernmost tip of what the civilized world to the north of us likes to call the “darkest continent”, has a more impressive history in the broader commercial world. Professor Nick Binedell (who’ll be a keynote speaker in our School of Excellence on Wednesday 11th July), head of the Gordon Institute of Business Studies (one of the top twenty business schools on the planet,) likes to remind us that South Africa has produced more great companies than any other country of its size. That says something for the courage, the sense of enterprise and the pioneering spirit of this nation.

You might say then, that it’s hardly surprising we were one of the first countries in the world (after Ireland) to receive an official government delegation of citizens from the People’s Republic of China, but that’s not only to do with enterprise. It must be seen in the broader context of the value of our membership of the BRICS group of countries, and the fact that, of the bigger thoroughbred producing countries of the world, we’re better placed politically than most. The Americans and the Chinese are competitors; the Europeans are sceptical about Chinese money, and while they might have to take it one day, they’ll do so with reluctance; the Australians have been battling the Chinese about access to their mineral resources, and the Japanese have been at war with China for several centuries. It makes sense then, for China to talk to us about horse matters, hence the first delegation’s visit last week.

They were at Summerhill on Sunday, and we couldn’t have had a better group to accompany them. The fellows from Box 3A, are the new hopes for racehorse ownership among young people in this province. These fellows bring the camaraderie and the fresh spirit to racing that our generation once knew. If you haven’t yet heard of them, go to Greyville - you’re bound to hear them.

We did say at the outset that the title to this piece could be misleading. The reason is, if you’re a rugby man, you were watching the Springboks flatten the English on Saturday, and the Baby Boks take Argentina apart (35-3) on Sunday evening (if you weren’t in the blackout zone on the outskirts of Mooi River.) Both teams are in sublime form (in patches,) and while the Springboks need to put together 80 minutes of the kind of football they played in the first half of Saturday’s test, the fact is they’ve got the Poms cold. It will take a miracle turn-around to change next week’s outcome. Before we get too cocky though, remember the old bugbear, complacency.

And back to the Irish. Their junior team also gave England a good slap Sunday evening, so it was a bit of a tough weekend for the “Old Country”.




China and Ireland Horse Racing
China and Ireland Horse Racing

Multi-billion €uro deal between China and Ireland

(Image : IJ/Guardian)

“Irish racing will receive a much-needed boost to its economy”

We’ve been saying for some years now, that if China gets to the races, the world would not be able to supply the demand for racehorses. There’ve been several attempts on the part of private individuals or companies to kick start a racing industry in China, but their government has stifled all of these efforts by refusing to sanction any betting outside of the two former colonial enclaves, Hong Kong and Macau. The government knows how strong the Chinese propensity for gambling is, and until now, they’ve taken the view that these two meccas of the betting world already offer enough to satisfy an insatiable betting gene. As it is, there are strong restraints in place against mainland Chinese gambling even in Macau and Hong Kong, yet somehow legislation is no more than a case of plugging the dyke. If people want to bet, they’ll find a means of doing so, and no amount of rule-making will stop it.

We all know that despite the enormous cash pile the government is sitting on, the Chinese economy has shown worrying signs of overheating, and at the same time, it’s experiencing a steady decline in growth. So the government, to keep some form of stimulus in place, is compelled to look for other alternatives. China-watchers will tell you that a major part of the growth generated by government-controlled companies in the construction world, for example, has been driven by the development of enormous cities which stand empty, without a single inhabitant. Yes, these companies have been doing the building, but these cities presently have little purpose or meaning, and unless the population shows signs of growing again (there’s a one-child policy in China), it’s unlikely they will ever be fully occupied, unless they vacate existing ones. They obviously need to find other sustainable means to drive the economy, and racing, which is such an enormous job-creator, is an obvious way of achieving this. The lingering question though, has always been when they would press the trigger, and whose assistance they would solicit to achieve it.

Remember, the Chinese are not partial to the Americans (there seems to be a mutual distrust,) the Europeans are wary, they’ve been at war with the Japanese for centuries, and the Australians have been partisan in protecting their mining interests and preventing inward investment by Chinese companies into this sector. Of the major thoroughbred producing countries of the world, this leaves South America, New Zealand, Ireland and the long-shot, South Africa, remembering that both Brazil and South Africa are members of BRICS. Our problem of course, revolves around health protocols and African Horse Sickness, hence our “long-shot” status.

Although the UAE is not a producer of any magnitude, it was announced two years ago that Dubai’s Meydan, under the stewardship of Sheikh Mohammed, would be undertaking a major development just outside Beijing, but it seems the Irish have once again upstaged Dubai. We say “once again”, because for the past decade, Ireland’s Coolmore Stud has trumped the combined Dubai interests at the races, and now it seems they’ve got their foot in the Chinese door as the preferred partners.

Irish racing will receive a much-needed boost to its economy as a result of the announcement yesterday that a multi-billion €uro deal has been signed with China to launch the country’s Thoroughbred industry. Coolmore is at the forefront of the initiative to build a $2-billion equine centre over 3.3-million square meters in Tianjin, China’s fourth largest city, as early as next year. The Irish bloodstock industry will ship more than 100 broodmares and a selection of stallions over the next three years to lay the foundations, while Coolmore has offered training for a group of agriculture graduates from Chinese universities, who will eventually run the breeding operation.

Horse Racing Ireland’s Director of Marketing and Communication, Michael O’Rourke said “We have an international marketing wing, and we’ve been entertaining delegations from China for some years. They’ve been seeing our stud farms and coming to our sales. What is particularly exciting about this is that this is the first deal of its kind sanctioned by the Chinese government. That is a big plus. This has great potential. A few years ago, our export of Thoroughbreds was worth €200million a year. They are talking about this project alone delivering €50million in about three years time, so that shows the scale of it.”




Video tribute to racehorse, Vodka
Video tribute to racehorse, Vodka

Click above to watch a video tribute to Vodka

(Image : Fin Powrie - Footage : YouTube)


Seven-time Group 1 winner and highest-earning female racehorse of all time Vodka (Jpn) (Tanino Gimlet (Jpn)) has given birth to her first foal, a brown colt by champion Sea the Stars (Ire) (Cape Cross (Ire)).

The foaling occurred Monday morning at 9:55 am at the Aga Khan’s Studs in Ireland, where Sea The Stars stands since being retired to stud last year. The colt is reportedly a “lovely strong foal, with good scope,” and both individuals are doing well. Mr Yuzo Tanimizu’s mare will return to Sea The Stars this season.

Extract from Thoroughbred Daily News




Champion Racehorse Yeats
Champion Racehorse Yeats

Click above to watch a tribute to Yeats’ fourth Gold Cup victory

(Photo : Independent - Footage : TVG)


The seven-time Gr.1 winner Yeats, half brother to Summerhill resident, Solskjaer, sired his first foal at Coolmore Stud in Ireland. The bay colt is out of the unraced Rock Of Gibraltar mare Suma Flamenca and is from the family of Luas Line, Kingsfort and Prince Arch, all of whom are Gr1 winners of recent years.

Coolmore manager Christy Grassick commented: “We are delighted with Yeats’ first foal, he is a correct bay with plenty of quality, just like his sire. Yeats won more Gr1 races than any other son of Sadler’s Wells and he covered an excellent book of mares last year, so we hope to see many more classy foals by him this season.”

Yeats was one of the most popular stayers in recent times, winning 15 races including four consecutive Gr1 Ascot Gold Cups. His seven Gr1 wins also include victories in the Coronation Cup, the Irish St Leger and the Prix Royal-Oak, and he was twice crowned European Champion Stayer.

Extract from European Bloodstock News





casamento wins the racing post trophy grade 1
casamento wins the racing post trophy grade 1

Click above to watch Casamento winning the Racing Post Trophy (Gr1)

(Photo : Guardian - Footage : At The Races UK)



Britain’s last Group One race of the 2010 season took place at Doncaster on Saturday. There are two big trials for juveniles at the end of the racing year which provide clues for the following year’s Classics. The Dewhurst (seven furlongs) is generally accepted as the most reliable guide for the Guineas, and the Racing Post Trophy (one mile) served as a useful pointer for England’s most famous race, the Derby (now the Investec Derby).

A fortnight ago, we witnessed a command performance in the Dewhurst from Juddmonte’s Frankel, and this weekend we saw another quality effort (if not quite as blindingly brilliant) from Shamardal’s son, Casamento, who took his tally of victories to three from four starts, his only defeat coming narrowly in Ireland’s National Stakes (Gr1).

While Shamardal’s achievements have been overshadowed by his quite exceptional barn-mate, Dubawi this year, without a “Dubawi” on the scene, we would’ve been hailing Shamardal as the new prince in European stallion ranks. And what makes him all the more appealing is that his runners seem almost as effective in the southern hemisphere.

Followers of these columns will have read our various articles on the shifting of the balance of power in the stallion world, not only across the Atlantic, but in the on-going battle between Coolmore and Sheikh Mohammed’s Darley. Casamento, of course, carried the colours of Sheikh Mohammed this weekend, and was bred, among others, by Dermot and Meta Cantillon, ardent clients of Summerhill. The Cantillon connection with Sheikh Mohammed is an enduring one, as Meta provides a veterinary service to the Dubai Ruler’s Kildangan Stud in Kilkenny, while Meta’s brother, Joe Osborne is the boss at Kildangan, having succeeded his famous father, the late Dr. Michael Osborne, who vacated his post to champion the creation of the richest race meeting in the world, the Dubai World Cup.

Editor’s Note :

It is tempting to concentrate solely on the Dewhurst Stakes and Racing Post Trophy as Britain’s most prolific sources of classic winners. The last ten Dewhurst winners feature subsequent classic winners Rock of Gibraltar, Shamardal, Sir Percy and New Approach, whereas the Racing Post’s roll of honour features High Chaparral, Brian Boru, American Post, Motivator and Authorized.




dubawi stallion
dubawi stallion


(Photo : Darley) 


Visitors to this site will recall our story titled “The Balance of Power : Tipping the Scales”, which commented on the continental shift in stallion power from the United States to Europe. These things happen in all spheres of economic activity, and had a precedent when the American dollar was at its zenith during and in the decades following the Second World War. The purchasing power of the currency enabled American breeders to claim the jewels of European racing as their future stallion prospects, so the movement back to Europe is only a matter of history repeating itself, but in the opposite direction.

Within Europe itself, (and in this context, we speak of the broader European zone, including the United Kingdom and Ireland) there is a new play underway, with three chief protagonists in the ring. Traditional rivals Coolmore and Darley have fought a twenty year battle for stallion supremacy in that domain, and it has to be said, just about every round thus far has gone Coolmore’s way, best evidenced by the 14 Champion Sire’s titles that fell to Sadler’s Wells. The only horses to dethrone him at any point during his reign, Caerleon and the great Danehill, were both Coolmore-based themselves. The little real opposition from across the Irish Sea during the Sadler’s Wells era, came in the form of Cheveley Park’s Pivotal and Juddmonte’s Rainbow Quest, so the anticipation has revolved around how the modern day cards would stack up.

In the new scheme of things, there’ve been three distinct groups of emerging sires, a couple for each of the old “enemies”, and a couple again for Juddmonte. Coolmore have relied largely on the production of the great lines they’ve leaned so heavily upon in this time, so their ranks are filled with the exceptional likes of Galileo and Montjeu (both by Sadler’s Wells), and Danehill Dancer (Danehill,) among those already established, while you’d have to believe their hopes for the future are pinned on the magnificent racehorses, Dylan Thomas and Duke Of Marmalade (both Danehill).

Juddmonte have an outstanding pair in Oasis Dream (Green Desert) and Dansili (Danehill) and will be trusting that Dansili’s two younger brothers, Cacique and Champs Elysses, will emulate their brother.

At last though, there appears to be music in the air for a Darley operation which thus far has come up short on quality stallions, the standouts here being the quite remarkable Dubawi (by Dubai Millennium,) and ironically, because Coolmore have his sire on their roster in the United States, Shamardal (by Giant’s Causeway). The outcomes of the 2010 racing season suggest Dubawi could be a world-beater, though infatuation is easy when in a single weekend, a young stallion turns up three Group winners in a single day, as Dubawi did last weekend. On Saturday, the progeny of this massive prospect occupied the winner’s enclosure three times within the space of an hour and a half, and added a runner-up effort (unsurprisingly, to a son of Shamardal,) in another.

Dubawi’s stock already includes the top Three Year Old miler of this year, Makfi, winner of both the English 2000 Guineas and the Prix Jacques le Marois, and there are eleven others whose names henceforth will be cited in bold Black type in sales catalogues around the world.

Back in the United States, Darley also hold a significant hand, with Street Cry arguably the antidote to Coolmore’s Giant’s Causeway, among established stallions, but it’s among the younger horses that Darley arguably clench the stronger fist. Besides the promising Bernardini (by A.P. Indy), who already has a Group winner and a couple of Grade One performers to his first crop credit), they also have the class performers, Street Sense, Hard Spun, Any Given Saturday, and Street Boss, whose progeny still have to make their first racecourse appearances.

There is talk in the marketplace that Coolmore are winding down their United States operation, based at Ashford Stud. But then there’s always been conjecture about Coolmore, and what they’re doing. Those who’ve been around a while will recall that two decades ago, there was talk that the Anglo Irish Bank were going to recall their debt, and shut them down. Those who wished it were, as usually mainly competitors, but they hadn’t reckoned on the resolve of the Irish, either the bankers or the breeders. We’d be surprised if the sun was setting on Coolmore’s American operations. It may be so though, that they need to beef it up in order to remain competitive, as they cannot rely on Giant’s Causeway alone to keep the show afloat. Darley by comparison, have invested heavily in new prospects, and they’re well placed to dominate that market alongside Lane’s End, going forward.

Dubawi’s three Group winners on the weekend were :






Dubai Airport World Trophy (Gr.3)


3 Years Old


Prix Du Prince D’Orange (Gr.3)

1 Mile

3 Years Old


Firth Of Clyde (Gr.3)

6 f

2 Years Old



Sea the stars and urban sea
Sea the stars and urban sea

Sea The Stars with mother Urban Sea

(Photo : Supplied) 


A question that pops up with regular frequency, is if we know at birth whether a horse is destined for greatness.

While it’s true you can tip the odd one (we told Luke Bales that Dancing Duel would win the July the day he was born,) it doesn’t always follow, and we’ve had the occasional “ugly duckling” (Fillies Guineas winner, Mystery Guest) go on to fame and fortune.

One you wouldn’t have figured there and then, is the best horse in the world in 2009 (maybe the best ever?). Here’s what Sea The Stars looked like the day he popped out. And you’d certainly not’ve spotted his mother, Urban Sea, as an “Arc” winner in her time, nor as the dam of another legend, Galileo, who claims the mantle of the best stallion of his era.


sea the stars and mick kinane
sea the stars and mick kinane

Sea The Stars and Mick Kinane

(Image : ScottMultiMedia)


Sea The Stars, who was retired after a thrilling two-length victory over Youmzain in the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe on October 4, will enter stud in 2010 at the Aga Khan’s Gilltown Stud in Co. Kildare, Ireland.

The Bloodhorse reports that the announcement was made early this morning in a release from Gilltown Stud and the family of Christopher Tsui, in whose colors Sea The Stars raced while trained by John Oxx. As part of the announcement, the Aga Khan said he would breed his champion filly Zarkava, the 2008 Arc winner, to the champion son of Cape Cross.

“Gilltown is an ideal stud for Sea The Stars to thrive and develop as a stallion, and there is no more appropriate place for him to stand than in his homeland and close to Currabeg, where he was trained by John Oxx,” Ling Tsui, mother of Christopher Tsui, said in a statement. “His Highness was kind enough to let us stand Sea The Stars at Gilltown while keeping ownership of him, and we are most grateful. The staff and facilities at Gilltown are top class, and Sea The Stars will enjoy his stay there.”

“Mrs. Tsui and Christopher’s decision to entrust the future career at stud of Sea The Stars to Gilltown Stud farm brings to everyone at the Aga Khan Studs, as well as to me personally, the greatest happiness,” the Aga Khan said in a statement. “We are all proud to have such a remarkable athlete join the Aga Khan stallions at stud, and we are convinced that the Aga Khan mares, who have produced outstanding racehorses during the last 50 years, will breed very well indeed to Sea The Stars.

“Mrs. Tsui and Christopher’s decision is certainly one of the most important developments for my operation since I inherited it in 1960. I am also most pleased that Mrs. Tsui and Christopher will be developing their own breeding operation with the help of their magnificent horse, Sea The Stars. This horse could also help develop relations to bring Chinese investment into the European bloodstock market.

“In keeping with the motto of the Aga Khan Studs ‘success breeds success,’ I look forward to the earliest opportunity to send my unbeaten champion Zarkava to Sea The Stars. I believe the last two Arc winners were made for each other both in terms of ability, temperament, and conformation. The best needs to be bred to the best.”

During his 2009 season, Sea The Stars won the Two Thousand Guineas (Gr1), Investec Epsom Derby (Gr1), Coral-Eclipse (Gr1), Juddmonte International Stakes (Eng-I), and the Tattersalls Millions Irish Champion Stakes (Gr1) before completing his career October 4 with a two-length victory in the Arc. This season he has earned $6,797,494. In 2008, at 2, he won two of three starts, including the Juddmonte Beresford Stakes (Gr3).

Bred by the Tsui family’s Sunderland Holdings in Ireland, Sea The Stars is out of Urban Sea, the dam of six other stakes winners and three champions: Urban Ocean, champion 3-year-old male in Ireland in 1999; Galileo, champion 3-year-old male in England in 2001; and Black Sam Bellamy, champion 3-year-old male in Italy in 2002.

Urban Sea, who died this spring after delivering a colt by Invincible Spirit, was champion older female in France following her victory in the Arc, and was honored as Broodmare of the Year in England and Ireland in 2001.


sea the stars
sea the stars

Sea The Stars

(Photo : John Gichigi/Getty)

“Please click photo to enlarge…”


Christopher Tsui’s Sea the Starswill not race again after trainer John Oxx made the widely expected announcement.

Yesterday’s announcement brings to an end a run which may never be equaled, as Sea the Stars not only became the first in history to record the 2000 Guineas-Derby-Arc treble - Nijinsky narrowly failed at the final hurdle in 1970 - but also took in the three major 10 - furlong, all-aged contests of the summer in the Eclipse, Juddmonte International and Irish Champion Stakes.

John Oxx was left to reflect on a remarkable season later in the afternoon, and found it difficult to single out one of the six achievements as a personal favorite.

“It is hard to say there was any highlight with a horse like that, as they were all major races in their own right,” Oxx added. “When you win a Guineas and a Derby, it becomes even more important for him to win, and as the anxiety builds up as the year goes on, every race brings tremendous relief when it is over. I suppose winning the Derby was marvelous - the way he ran his race there was a joy to watch, with how he handled the track and coasted down the hill before sauntering up the straight waiting to go and win. That was a great sight, and it must be unusual for a trainer to watch his horse in the Derby and feel so comfortable with the way he is going right through the race. After that, he developed a great public following, and everybody quickly realised they were watching something special.

Oxx continued, “There has been great excitement every time from Sandown onwards, and he had a tremendous response from the crowds, and also the wider public towards the end as they realised that there was something special happening.

“In the Arc, I wasn’t as anxious as everyone else was, as although he ran along more strongly in the bridle than most people would like, he could do that and get away with it. I knew he had such a great turn of foot and he could get out of trouble. His success was down to a combination of everything, but mainly to his tremendous cruising speed. Ballydoyle tried their best to put in pacemakers and make it tough for him, but they could never get him off the bridle. He could just travel up behind any pace totally at ease - that’s his big thing - and then quicken up off it. He could do that because he has great heart and lungs, but he’s got this beautiful balance, lovely stride and a great length to him. He’s a big, strong horse – close-coupled in one way, but very long in another and he has this tremendous athletic stride. He also has a great temperament and never worries about anything, was always the calmest horse at the races, and it is courage and temperament at the end of the day that bring the best horses to a different level.”

On top of his unparalleled achievements at three, Sea the Stars also held a commendable record as a juvenile.

While he suffered a sole defeat on his debut when an eye-catching fourth at The Curragh last July, he was off the mark at Leopardstown the following month before registering his first black-type win in The Curragh’s G2 Juddmonte Beresford Stakes in September.

In total, the half-brother to leading sire Galileo (Sadler’s Wells) boasts a record of 9-8-0-0 while earning £

Stud arrangements have yet to be set, but there have been suggestions that the Tsuis are keen to stand him at the Irish National Stud. That County Kildare-based operation was the scene of his birth April 6, 2006, and currently houses Urban Sea’s final foal by Invincible Spirit. John Clarke, who is the chief executive of the Irish National Stud, also acts as racing manager to Ling Tsui and her son Christopher.

Extract from Thoroughbred Daily News


urban sea
urban sea

Urban Sea

(Photo : Irish National Stud)


In horse breeding, the great mare (or stallion) is as elusive as the needle in the haystack. While most of us like to believe we’re on the scent of one, truth is they are as much a product of happenstance as they are of design. Such a mare is Urban Sea.

The progeny of Urban Sea, who died earlier this year at the age of 20, have landed many of the world’s most prestigious prizes, but until Sunday none had emulated their mother by winning the G1 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. That changed when Sea the Stars went postward in Europe’s richest turf race as the heavy favorite.

Although she remains one of the most influential broodmares in modern history, the story of Urban Sea had humble origins. French breeder Michel Henochsberg needed only approximately $55,000 to acquire her dam Allegretta (GB) (Lombard), who was in foal to Irish Castle, at the 1984 KEENOV sale.

I wanted to buy [Alegretta] because she was quite a good performer,” said Henochsberg, the former chairman of the French and European Breeders’ Associations. “She was second in the [G3] Oaks Trial Stakes at Lingfield. She ran in the Oaks, but she was quite nervous - she was on her toes - and she didn’t perform well. She was sold to the United States, but she didn’t do much there, and they put her in the sale in foal to Irish Castle.”

It wasn’t just Allegretta’s racetrack performance that caught Henochsberg’s attention.

She was out of a fantastic German family that was not fashionable at the time,” he said. “I knew the main bloodlines in Europe, including those in smaller countries like Italy and Germany. This mare was coming from the “A” family, where the mares’ names start with the letter “A”.

“It’s the blood of the stud Gestut Schlenderhan.”

Her first three foals were unremarkable, with handicap horse Irish Allegre (Irish River {Fr}) being the best of the lot. That all changed when Henochsberg decided to send Allegretta to a son of Mr. Prospector.

[Irish Allegre] was a decent horse, but he was not brilliant,” he said. “The entire German family consisted of stayers, and I wanted some Mr. Prospector blood. At that time, he represented speed, at least for Europeans. Miswaki was a good performer in France, and he was a winner at seven furlongs.”

“[Miswaki] was starting to become quite highly regarded in the United States, as he was standing for $40,000 at Walmac Farm. Miswaki was not a big horse. Allegretta was a big mare - workmanlike.”

Getting a season to Miswaki wasn’t easy, but Henochsberg was able to obtain one from then bloodstock agent Barry Weisbord. The resulting foal was a chestnut filly.

“[Urban Sea] had a good structure and a good frame,” Henochsberg recalled. “She was not unfurnished, but she was not the most pleasant yearling. She was a very good walker and a good athlete.”

Like all other horses bred by Henochsberg at the time, she was sold at auction.

Henochsberg set a reserve of FF280,000 (about $50,000) when he offered her at the Deauville Yearling Sale, and she sold for that exact price.

“One bid less, and I would have kept her,” he noted.

Henochsberg admitted Urban Sea’s racing success surprised him, as she took the 1993 G1 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe en route to being named France’s highweight older mare at 11-14 furlongs.

“As a two-year-old, [Urban Sea] was nothing much,” he said. “As a three-year-old, she was a good group winner. At four, she became a champ. She was always very useful, but she improved. She had a big, big heart. She didn’t really have the structure to be a champion, but she wanted to win.”

Henochsberg, having missed the chance to campaign Urban Sea, attempted to buy an interest in her as a broodmare prospect.

“I had become friends with her current owner, Mrs. Tsui,” he said. “I proposed we make a partnership, breeding her on a foal share to Nureyev, who was one of the most expensive stallions in the U.S.

“We were very close to completing this deal, but she changed her mind.”

While fate worked against Henochsberg with Urban Sea, luck was on his side when he tried to sell Allegretta’s sixth foal, Allez Les Trois (Riverman). She failed to meet her reserve of FF550,000, and she would go on to win the G3 Prix de Flore and finish third in the G3 Saratoga Breeders’ Cup Handicap. As a broodmare, Allez Les Trois produced the 2001 G1 Prix du Jockey Club winner Anabaa Blue (GB) (Anabaa). Turbaine (Trempolino), also out of Allegretta, produced MGSW Tertullian (Miswaki) and GSW Terek (Ger) (Irish River {Fr}).

Allegretta saved one of her best runners for her later years when, in 1997, she foaled the eventual G1 English 2000 Guineas winner King’s Best (Kingmambo). Pensioned after coming up barren in 2000 and 2001, Allegretta died in 2005 at the age of 27. Despite having passed on, Allegretta’s impact on the breed has been guaranteed by Urban Sea, whose son by Sadler’s Wells, Galileo (Ire), has established himself as one of the finest young stallions in the world. Her son Black Sam Bellamy (Ire) (Sadler’s Wells) plies his trade in Germany. Stud plans for Sea the Stars have yet to be determined.

Henochsberg, a professor of economics at the University of Paris, credits Urban Sea for Sea the Stars’ brilliance.

“Sea the Stars looks like a typical Cape Cross or Green Desert,” he said. “He’s a very handsome colt with a lot of power, but obviously there is something inside that comes from Urban Sea. This mixture seems to be something great. I hope I’ll have another filly like her, but it’s very doubtful.”

Extract from Thoroughbred Daily News


sea the stars 2009 prix de l'arc de triomphe video
sea the stars 2009 prix de l'arc de triomphe video

Click above to watch Sea The Stars in the

2009 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe

(Footage : Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe)



It may be a day later, but revisiting the career of the biggest star in racing’s firmament (maybe of all time) has to be worth a read.

Guided by the incomparable nerve of Mick Kinane, Sea the Stars (Ire) (Cape Cross {Ire}) emerged from the cauldron of the G1 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe with a reputation pitched into the stratosphere, registering an emphatic two-length success in yesterday’s 88th renewal.

The Thoroughbred Daily News reports that despite the scarcely believable exploits of the Tsui homebred so far in 2009, there was no sign of any wear-and-tear.

The 4-5 favorite over-raced from the outset, and continued to pull even after his jockey had buried him in the pack against the fence. While that is the quickest way around Longchamp, it is not a route without anxiety, and for a brief period in early stretch with space in short supply, it seemed as though his quest for immortality was in jeopardy. When a half-gap appeared, the brilliant winner of two Classics and a total of five Group 1s delivered his spellbinding acceleration to cut a swathe between the G1 Prix Vermeille protagonists Stacelita (Fr) (Monsun {Ger}) and Dar Re Mi (GB) (Singspiel {Ire}), and once he was in front with 250 meters remaining, the story was told. In the end, it was Youmzain (Ire) (Sinndar {Ire}) who emerged best of the rest to fill the runner’s - up berth for the third consecutive year. Trainer John Oxx was typically calm afterwards when saying, “It’s just a relief that he came through it and it’s wonderful that it’s over. He had to have the gears to get out, and Mick wouldn’t panic, because he knew he had them. We were not too alarmed at any stage.”

Sea The Stars first came to attention when registering a smooth maidenwin at Leopardstown in August of 2008, each step ofthe journey for the latest productof the celebrated UrbanSea has been well-documented.

Following his comfortable win in The Curragh’s G2 Beresford Stakes - essentially a race for potential middle-distance prospects - the following month, John Oxx spoke of his desire to avoid pigeon-holing his rare talent. The G1 2000 Guineas was the first port of call this term. He proved at Newmarket he had the speed to sprint, and at Epsom on the first Saturday in June, he entered a small class of luminaries able to carry that pace over a mile and a half. Still in league with some past greats when adding the G1 Coral-Eclipse Stakes to both Classics, he began to distance himself from all but the very top runners in history by taking the G1 Juddmonte International and G1 Irish Champion Stakes with more than a degree of comfort.

Entering Europe’s endgame, which had proven a bridge too far for many of racing’s stars, the combination of perfect ground and his unshakable temperament kept confidence high. His enthusiasm was certainly intact in the first furlong, where only Dar Re Mi was ahead as he adopted his sprinter-miler persona and tugged for his head before calming to Mick Kinane’s hands as he found cover. Deep in the ruck on the final turn, his veteran jockey refused to give up the rail, and after being given the office, Sea the Stars skipped around the fading pacemakers with balletic poise before cutting down the competition in ruthless fashion.

The high-class fillies Stacelita (Monsun {Ger}) and Dar Re Mi (Singspile {Ire}) were the last rivals Sea The Stars saw as he raced into the lead, and although a batch of five Group 1 winners followed him home, he proved in a different category at the line.


conduit and tartan bearer king george vi and queen elizabeth stakes
conduit and tartan bearer king george vi and queen elizabeth stakes

Conduit and Tartan Bearer

King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes

(Photo : Bloodhorse)


We all know that the racehorse breeding game is a long one, and there are those who would believe that the senior years are an inappropriate time to kick off a breeding operation. Yet you only have to look at some of South Africa’s most celebrated breeders, Graham Beck and Bridget Oppenheimer, and what they’re up to right now in expanding their breeding holdings well into their 80’s, to know that the bug that drives mankind is a closer relative of emotion than it is a matter of cold logic.

We often have this conversation with one of our more “senior” clients at Summerhill, and we’re quick to remind him and ourselves of the story behind the Ballymacoll Stud in Ireland. Founded by the late Lord Albert Weinstock in his 69th year, here was one of England’s leading businessmen embarking on what some saw as a “madman’s folly”, at his County Meath farm in Ireland, yet by the time he passed away on July 23rd 2002, His Lordship had left behind a stream of world-class racehorses.

A man of humble beginnings, the success of Lord Weinstock’s breeding operation, largely conducted under the leadership of Peter Reynolds, has resulted in fifty Group One victories from twenty eight individual Group winners stretching back to 1966, following a founding investment in 1960.

From a scant twenty three mares, yielding on average 17 foals a year, this is a staggering success story by any standards. His legacy was never more evident than in the outcome of this year’s renewal of one of England’s greatest races, the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes (Gr.1), staged at Ascot at the backend of July, in which graduates of the farm, Conduit and Tartan Bearer, finished first and second.

“We’ve kept it going, and we need days like these. Lord Weinstock was nearly here for the last one (King George) when Golan won this race; he’d only been dead a week, God bless him” opined Reynolds.

“Conduit’s won a Classic, a Breeder’s Cup and now a King George, he can run at top speed for a very long time. He’s got great stamina, and when he kicks into gear, he keeps stepping up and up and finds plenty”.

“Obviously the Breeders Cup will be in consideration again. Conduit was supplemented last year, and is an automatic qualifier this year. The Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (Gr1) is the one race the team still has to crack, and personally, I wouldn’t mind if we had the two runners in it. It’s a race Lord Weinstock wanted to win really badly, and before the show goes off the road, we have to win the “Arc”. Conduit could go for both (the Arc and Breeders Cup); the timing is fine this year”.

Long live Ballymacoll, just as His Lordship did.


sea the stars
sea the stars

Sea The Stars

(Photo : Northfields Bloodstock)


There can be no bigger compliment in the sport of horseracing than Lester Piggott saying you’re one of the all time greats. As arguably the world’s most famous jockey, Piggott this week told the media that he counted this year’s standout European three-year-old, Sea The Stars, as one of those rare thoroughbreds you could mention in the same breath as Brigadier Gerard, Seabird and Mill Reef.

Already a five-time Group One winner this season, Sea The Stars faces what is arguably his sternest test on Sunday in the Parisian showpiece, the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (Gr.1) over the testing 2400m of the Boisdebollinge’s Longchamps circuit. “Toughest” not only because he takes on the best mile and a half horses in Europe of all ages, but because he’s been on the boil since March, and he’s already beaten the pride of Britain and Ireland.

The only thing that might stop him taking his place is soft ground, as his connections have made it known that they will not test him in heavy conditions, but the horse you really have to feel for in the field is Youmzain. Trained by the ex-English international footballer, Mick Channon, Youmzain must be counted among the unluckiest horses history has had cause to judge.

The last two runnings of the Arc have been won by two extraordinary performers, Dylan Thomas and Zarkava, the best horse in the world last year, and arguably the best filly of the last decade or two. Youmzain was runner up to both of them, so you might’ve thought the gods would allow him his break in 2009, without having to contend with a superstar on his way to the start.

That’s not the way it’s going to be though, and it’s not the way you’d expect to find the line-up for Europe’s finest contest, which includes the lofty likes of Conduit, Fame And Glory, Vision d’Etat, Sariska, Dar Re Mi etc.






(Cape Cross)




















(f. Monsun)&n




(El Prado)




(f. Pivotal
















(Peintre Celebre)





el prado stallion at adena springs
el prado stallion at adena springs

El Prado

Adena Springs

(Please click photo to enlarge…)

We were greeted this week with the news that America’s Champion Breeder and Summerhill client, Adena Springs, had sadly lost their resident and leading sire, El Prado, indeed one of the world’s elite.

The Thoroughbred Daily News reported yesterday that El Prado (Ire) (Sadler’s Wells - Lady Capulet, by Sir Ivor) died of aheart attack soon after being turned out into his paddockMonday morning. Still active at 20, the stallionstood for $75,000in 2009. Althoughwell accomplishedon the racetrack,El Prado scalednew heights atstud, siring eightGrade I/Group 1and 30 gradedstakes winners,and a total of 74horses who triumphedat thestakes level. The stallion’s leading earner is multipleGrade I winner Medaglia d’Oro.

On the track, the Darleystallion won the 2002 GI Travers Stakes, 2003 GI WhitneyHandicap and 2004 GI Donn Handicap, and was runner-up in both the2002 and 2003 GI Breeders’ Cup Classics, as well asthe 2004 G1 Dubai World Cup. Medaglia d’Oro’s racingaccomplishments helped El Prado earn leading sirehonors in 2002, and saw the grey’s stud fee increase to$75,000 in 2003. Medaglia d’Oro quickly assertedhimself as a leading sire in his own right with the likesof GI Preakness Stakes winner Rachel Alexandra in his firstcrop to race.

El Prado is also the sire of 2004 ChampionTurf Horse Kitten’s Joy, a top Freshman sire; PuertoRican Champion Mi Pradera; and Grade I winners Artie Schiller, Borrego, Asi Siempre and Spanish Moon. As abroodmare sire, he is represented by Grade I winners Bit of Whimsy (Distorted Humor) and Laragh (Tapit).

In the sales ring, El Prado was represented by his first seven-figure sales horse when This is That brought $1 million as a juvenile at the 2003 BESMAR Sale. In 2007, Asi Siempre sold for $3 million as a broodmare prospect at FTKNOV, and the following year, Flagship sold for $1 million at the 2008 Keeneland September Yearling Sale. Earlier this season, a juvenile colt by the stallion topped the OBS March Sale with a $450,000 final bid.

Group 1 winner El Prado was bred in Ireland by Lyonstown Stud and was campaigned by Robert Sangster and legendary trainer Vincent O’Brien. Out of 1977 Irish 1000 Guineas winner Lady Capulet, the gray is a half brother to 1987 Irish champion three-year-old Entitled (Ire) (Mill Reef). As a two-year-old, El Prado won four of six starts, including the G1 National Stakes, G2 Beresford Stakes and G3 Railway Stakes, and was named Ireland’s champion juvenile of 1991. 

Off the board in three starts in 1992, El Prado was retired to Brereton Jones’s Airdrie Stud in Midway, Kentucky in 1993, standing for the partnership of Sangster, O’Brien, Coolmore and Frank Stronach. Initially offered at a fee of $7,500, he ranked eighth on the 1996 freshman sire list with progeny earnings of $398,925. In 1998, after renovations on the farm were completed, the stallion moved to Stronach’s Adena Springs.


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gorella and xavier bozo
gorella and xavier bozo

Gorella and Xavier Bozo

(Photo : IBC/Summerhill)

Another two arrivals for this weeks “sports” include Xavier and Natalie Bozo, two of France’s foremost breeders, and now neighbours of Summerhill. Among many good horses, they are renowned for the fact that they bred one of the world’s top fillies, Gorella, three seasons back. They were part of the French breeder’s tour to Summerhill just over a year ago, and they were among the few who’ve believed our propaganda, to the degree that they recently acquired one of our neighbouring farms, a beautiful property with a good stretch of the Mooi River in its foreground.

Tomorrow we’re expecting one of the mainstays of the Irish racing and breeding industry’s, Dermot and Meta Cantillon, who make their maiden voyage to Summerhill after many years as clients. Apart from being one of Ireland’s most prominent horseman, Dermot also manages the thoroughbred affairs of the famed Smurfit family (of the Smurfit Kappa Group). Dermot’s wife, Meta, is a daughter of the Dubai World Cup’s first chairman and one of Ireland’s most famous vets and stud managers, the late Dr. Michael Osborne, who not only pretty much built Sheikh Mohammed’s Kildangan Stud in County Kildare, but his son Joe is Sheikh Mohammed’s present manager. Meta is a qualified veterinary surgeon in her own right, and they are here to brighten our lives over the weekend, including the stallion parade.

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wills racing writing awards
wills racing writing awards

Dermot and Meta Cantillon scored a major home-run this last month, when their eldest son, Jack, was a joint winner at the annual Martin Wills Racing Writing Awards.

Dermot is the manager for the Smurfitt family and continues to serve the racing and breeding industries in many other ways. Together with his wife Meta, he owns Tinnakill House Stud in County Laois, which they established in 2002.

click here
click here


SADLER'S WELLS : From Zero to Hero

bill oppenheim sadlers wells


From Zero to Hero

“Extract from the desk of Bill Oppenheim

In today’s Thoroughbred Daily News, the world’s premier stallion commentator, Bill Oppenheim, writes that Sadler’s Wells is arguably the greatest sire in European history.


A very high-class three-year-old of 1984 (the same crop as Rainbow Quest and Darshaan), he went to stud in 1985, and his first foals were born in 1986. At the time, European sire power was at its nadir, and he led the renaissance in European sire power that today keeps many more top European mares in Europe instead of Kentucky. He’s also probably the most prolific stallion in history.

In 21 crops of racing age through the end of 2008, Sadler’s Wells had sired a truly phenomenal total of 2,149 foals… yes, that’s an average of 102 foals per crop. Even more phenomenal, Equineline tells us he has sired 280 black-type winners worldwide (13 percent of foals), and he’s also the damsire of 183 black-type winners to date. He has been champion sire in Britain and Ireland 14 times, and Primus Advertising in Ireland, which keeps track of such things, estimates he has had over 200 sons go to stud.

Yet, on 1 January 2004, little more than five years ago, there was no Sadler’s Wells sire line to speak of. He had about four really successful sons: In the Wings, who in turn sired Singspiel; Gr1 Breeders’ Cup Mile winner Barathea; El Prado, who went to stud cheaply in Kentucky in 1993, but ended up the second-best sire in North America from that year’s crop of stallions (numero uno is A.P. Indy), and who topped the North American General Sire List in 2002, when Medaglia d’Oro was a three-year-old; and Fort Wood, in South Africa. Beyond those, it was getting harder and harder to argue that Sadler’s Wells was a successful sire of sires.

Enter onto the scene Montjeu. He was very possibly the very best of the 280 black-type winners Sadler’s Wells has yet sired. Winner of the Gr1 French and Gr1 Irish Derbies and the Gr1 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at three, he won three more Group 1’s at four, including an imperious win in the King George and Queen Elizabeth Stakes, where he looked like a group horse in a maiden race. Timeform rated Montjeu at 137 both at three and at four. Yet, when he went to stud in 2001, his fee was a modest IrPound,30,000, a fraction of what his barnmate Giant’s Causeway commanded in the same season, his first year at stud. That’s all you could stand top-class 12 furlong horses for when they went to stud.

Our Insta-Tistics tables (on the TDN website) tell us that, in 2002, a total of 21 weanlings from Montjeu’s first crop averaged the equivalent of $99,982, with a median of $80,000. The conformation judges liked his first foals, and even though there was a certain amount of support from the Coolmore legions, his foals at the European sales impressed neutral pinhookers and other objective observers (as had Cape Cross the year before).

These figures represented excellent return for their breeders. You know how the Coolmore team likes to give their stallions a chance, so there were 66 yearlings sold from Montjeu’s first crop in 2003. They averaged $144,928, with a median just under $100,000, still a good return on investment for their breeders.

Montjeu’s fee for 2004, the year his first two-year-olds would race, was set at Eur30,000, the same as the year before.

Montjeu’s first crop, racing in 2004, included 16 winners, headed by the Gr1 Racing Post Trophy winner Motivator, and he finished third on the 2004 European Freshman Sire List. His stud fee was up to Eur45,000 for 2005, which looked dirt cheap by that autumn, considering not only did Motivator win the Gr1 Epsom Derby, but Montjeu’s first crop included two more Classic winners as well: Hurricane Run won the Gr1 Irish Derby; and Scorpion won the Gr1 St. Leger Stakes, though his more important victory came in the Gr1 Grand Prix de Paris in its first year as a 2400 meter race on Bastille Day - effectively, the “new” French Derby. After Hurricane Run won another little Group 1 contest, the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, Montjeu ranked second only to Danehill on the 2005 European Sire List (historical lists supplied to us courtesy of John Quinlan at Hyperion Promotions). Not surprisingly, Montjeu’s 2006 fee shot up to Eur125,000.

By 2001, the year his 13th crop were three-year-olds, Sadler’s Wells had sired the winners of nearly every Group 1 race beyond a mile in Europe, but he had never sired a winner of the Gr1 Epsom Derby. Galileo rectified that small gap in his resume, then went on to win the Gr1 Irish Derby and Gr1 King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes. In Timeform’s lengthy essay on Galileo in Racehorses of 2004, they refer to Aidan O’Brien’s determination to run Galileo over shorter, even as short as a mile, in the Gr1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot in late September. His two final starts were in fact at 10 furlongs - he was edged out by Fantastic Light in the Gr1 Irish Champion Stakes, and finally finished a non-threatening sixth, behind Tiznow and Sakhee, in the 2001 Gr1 Breeders’ Cup Classic on dirt at Belmont Park. One thing about Sadler’s Wells: he’s never been a sire of dirt horses, so why El Prado is such a good dirt sire? Who knows?

Galileo’s first foals were born in 2003, but he was only 11th on the 2005 European Freshman Sire List, the year Montjeu’s first three-year-olds put him second on the European Sire List. But when Galileo’s first crop got to be three-year-olds, it was a different story. His seven three-year- old graded/group stakes winners that year included two Classic winners; Gr1 Irish 1000 Guineas winner Nighttime and Gr1 St. Leger Stakes winner Sixties Icon, as well as Gr1 Breeders’ Cup Turf winner Red Rocks. And throw in Teofilo, the first of two consecutive champion European two year-olds by Galileo trained by Jim Bolger, and you won’t be surprised to hear Galileo’s stud fee went from Eur37,500 in 2006 (this year’s two-year-olds) to Eur150,000 in 2007 (this year’s yearlings). Galileo was seventh on the 2006 European Sire List; Montjeu was third, behind Coolmore barnmates Danehill and Danehill Dancer.

In 2007, Galileo advanced to second behind Danehill, with Montjeu again third. Danehill ran out of three-year-olds in 2008; Galileo claimed top spot on the European Sire List, with Montjeu second. I’ve mentioned several times in the past that I call Montjeu “The Derby Sire,” because in four crops of three-year-olds he’s sired six winners of 12-furlong races that are, or amount to, Derbies: Motivator and Authorized have won the Gr1 Epsom Derby; Hurricane Run and Frozen Fire (2008) have won the Gr1 Irish Derby; and Scorpion and Montmartre (2008) have won the Gr1 Grand Prix de Paris since it became a 12-furlong race in 2006. This year’s Gr1 Investec Epsom Derby favorite, Fame and Glory, is from Montjeu’s fifth crop of three-year-olds, and, scarily, won the Gr2 Derrinstown Derby Trial with a higher Racing Post Rating (speed figure, 120) than either Galileo or High Chaparral (also by Sadler’s Wells), who both won the Derrinstown with RPR’s of 119.

For his part, Galileo had sired nine Group 1 winners in his first three crops by the end of 2008.

Besides Nighttime, Sixties Icon, Red Rocks and Teofilo, they include 2007 champion European two-year-old and 2008 Gr1 Epsom Derby winner New Approach; Gr1 Irish Derby winner Soldier of Fortune (bred by Jim Bolger); triple 2008 Group 1 winner Lush Lashes (trained by Jim Bolger); Gr1 Prix Royal-Oak winner Allegretto; and 2008 Gr1 Italian Derby winner Cima de Triomphe, now trained by Luca Cumani and very much a horse to watch in the top races in 2009 once the ground gets faster again.

Interestingly, though the Maktoum family clearly no longer patronizes Coolmore stallions at the yearling sales, they have nothing against buying them privately later, by which method they acquired Authorized (by Montjeu) and Galileo’s two juvenile champ, Teofilo and New Approach, from Jim Bolger. Coolmore, which after all does still have the “factories” – Montjeu and Galileo themselves - stands only Hurricane Run (by Montjeu).

Then again, we could take a look at the list of Aidan O’Brien’s seven three-year-olds that could line up for the June 6 Gr1 Investec Epsom Derby: all seven are by Sadler’s Wells and sons. Two are by Sadler’s Wells himself (Gr2 Dante winner Black Bear Island and Gr3 Chester Vase second Masterofthehorse), one, favorite Fame and Glory, is by Montjeu; three are by Galileo (Gr1 English 2000 Guineas fourth Rip Van Winkle, Gr2 Dante second Freemantle and Gr3 Lingfield Derby Trial winner Age of Aquarius); and one is by 2002 Gr1 Epsom Derby winner High Chaparral. His second crop of three-year-olds, this year, looks much better than his first.

A final observation: it seems like the connections of every Gr1 Epsom Derby winner go to great lengths to prove that their Derby winner is not “just” a 12-furlong horse because of a perception (never actually validated, from what I can tell) that breeders will be quicker to send mares if they can prove the horse at 10 furlongs as well. So guess what? The two top sires in Europe, Galileo and Montjeu, were both 12-furlong horses; each won at least two of the three major European Derbies (though that was when the Prix du Jockey-Club was 12 furlongs), plus a 12-furlong Group 1 race open to older horses. That 10-furlong deal? It’s a complete myth. Get the right 12 furlong horse and you can top the charts.

How El Prado came to be one of America’s leading sires, and is now threatening to open a branch of the Sadler’s Wells line on the dirt, is still a bit of a mystery to everyone involved. He was a Group 1 winner at two for Vincent O’Brien, having won what Timeform described in Racehorses of 1991 as “a particularly substandard running of the [Gr1] National S….” Timeform did rate him 119 at two, but that seemed almost more by virtue of his win at the end of the season in the Gr2 Beresford Stakes over a mile. El Prado didn’t reappear until halfway through his three year-old season, was unplaced in three starts at eight and 10 furlongs, and was packed off to stud in Kentucky. He was always a pretty useful sire, but not until his sixth crop did Medaglia d’Oro appear, and his eighth crop included three $2-million earners, turf champion Kitten’s Joy and Gr1 Breeders’ Cup Mile winner Artie Schiller on the grass, and Gr1 Jockey Club Gold Cup winner Borrego on the dirt. He was Leading Sire in North America in 2002, and second in 2003 and 2004.

Though he’s done well enough in Europe, and gets his share of good grass horses in North America, the truth is El Prado has really got where he is more by siring durable dirt horses with some class than by following the sire line’s otherwise all-turf pattern; he’s succeeded because his runners have successfully adapted to different conditions - dirt. And his very best horse, Medaglia d’Oro, never saw the grass except when they took him out from Frankel’s barn to graze on it - he won $5.7 million racing exclusively on dirt. And from 13 stakes horses to date in his first crop, only one has even placed in a stakes on turf; he has two graded stakes winners on synthetics, but the rest, including the mighty Gr1 Preakness winner Rachel Alexandra, have been on dirt. Also, 11 of his first 13 stakes horses are fillies, though whether that means anything, it would be far too early to know.

So, in five years, the great Sadler’s Wells’ prospects as a sire of sires have gone from doubtful to the point where he had the one-two sires in Europe last year, and the hottest dirt sire in North America right now. It’s a pretty big forward move.

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Breeding Racehorses : A Matter of Family

 goss family

The Goss Family
(Summerhill Sires Brochure 2008/2009)


The tradition of producing quality racehorses goes back almost eight decades among the Gosses. But their admiration for horses as a family has its origins in ancient Ireland, before the Battle of Boyne.


Ever since, they’ve held a warm affection for the sport of horseracing, and especially for the animals at the heart of it. The custodianship of that association was never more proudly revered than under the stewardships of Mick’s great grandfather, Edward, his grandfather Pat, and his own father Bryan, and today the manifestation of their obsession lies in everything you see at Summerhill.


It is true that in modern times, Summerhill” is a splendid, much-envied brand. Because in the eighty years since they first started breeding racehorses on a tiny scale at The Springs in east Griqualand, the Goss family have never breached the founding principles of excellence and audaciousness, laid down by the man who embodied them.


What you’re looking at here, all over again, is history. And more history, in the making. And you’re more than welcome to join us in making some of your own. Because there’s one thing that’s as true today as it was at the Battle of Boyne. We only win if you do.

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