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Mr Prospector

NORTHERN GUEST : THE SILENT CHAMPION

northern guest stallion
northern guest stallion

Northern Guest

(Photo : Summerhill Stud)

“NORTHERN GUEST : A PHENOMENON OF HIS OWN MAKING”

We need to take ourselves back to 1983, to a little known farm in the Midlands which was just beginning to shake its limbs trying desperately to make its mark. There wasn’t much to speak of at Summerhill in those days, other than lots of enthusiasm, plenty perspiration, and some daunting challenges. One of those was the acquisition of a stallion, and the story of Northern Guest is one of the great sagas not only of our history, but in the pantheons of South African stallions.

Obscure in so many respects on his arrival, including the fact that he was half-crippled and unraced, Northern Guest nonetheless bought one of the great pedigrees of the world to Mooi River, and he proceeded to anoint himself as the king not only of our district, but of the country as a whole. He single-handedly reshaped the commercial stallion environment, and while we would’ve managed him very differently had we known then what we know now, he did what he did despite the judgement. This was a man who could rise above life’s obstacles, establishing himself as the treasured genetic prize of his time.

While several attempts to buy him from abroad were foiled by a variety of interventions, including in the case of a Japanese offer, the imposition of sanctions by their government on South Africa, Northern Guest left an indelible legacy on the affairs of breeding, not only at his home farm, but across the sub-continent.

While the monetary rewards of those offers were never to manifest themselves in the hands of his investors, in a sense we were otherwise lucky, and that was that he remained at Summerhill until his death at 25 in 2002. Our good fortune came in the form of his daughters, and the evidence lies in his eighth Broodmare Sires title last Friday, his seventh in a row. According to the European Bloodstock News, which covered this milestone in their Friday edition, his record in this department is without precedent in the annals of South African breeding, and it leaves him only one short of the greatest American Broodmare sire of all-time, Mr. Prospector.

At face value, ranking in the league of Mr. Prospector is worthy enough, but we shouldn’t forget that in all of southern hemisphere history, there was never a more successful son of the greatest stallion of them all, Northern Dancer. Yes, if you examine the facts, and you look at Australia, New Zealand, Argentina, Brazil, Chile or anywhere else in the southern hemisphere, there’s no son of Northern Dancer with his mark more pronounced on the affairs of the turf, than Northern Guest.

Look around you at Summerhill, and especially at the edifices which were erected during his tenure, and you won’t find a windowpane, a pebble in the tarmac or a piece of roof sheeting that he didn’t contribute to, and it’s probably fair to say that in the mares that travelled to his court from far and wide, he sustained a new generation of farms in our vicinity. He had the capacity to create employment in an area that desperately needed it to a degree few human beings have achieved.

As we did in those days when he passed the farm office on his way to his paddock, we’re all standing with our caps in our hands, remembering that in this fellow, we were properly blessed.

Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum's four-timer

Ghanaati
Coronation Stakes (Gr1)
(Photo : Daily Mail)

GREAT ROYAL ASCOT FOR SUMMERHILL PATRON OF TWO DECADES

There have been some memorable moments in the racing exploits of Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s horses since he first dabbled in the sport thirty years ago, including a Guineas and Derby double for the phenomenal NASHWAN. Nonetheless, His Highness would happily acknowledge that his four-timer at Royal Ascot this past week takes a bit of beating, particularly the spectacular victory of GHANAATI in Friday’s Coronation Stakes (Gr1), which removed any doubt who the best three-year-old filly is in Europe right now. Incidentally, GHANAATI is out of a Mr Prospector half sister to NASHWAN, both of whom are the progeny of the glorious mare, HEIGHT OF FASHION.

Sheikh Hamdan’s involvement with Summerhill started two decades ago, with the arrival of RAMI and half a dozen mares, and is spearheaded today by his two highly successful stallions, KAHAL and MUHTAFAL.

Classic double for the Becks at GAINESWAY FARM

Birdstone
(Photo : Stallion Register)

Just on twenty years ago, I was privy to a glimpse at an intimate connection at the Breeders’ Cup meeting of 1990 between local “el padrino”, Graham Beck, and the then founder not only of Gainesway Farm, but also of the Breeders’ Cup, John Gaines. Earlier that day, Buddy Bishop, renowned solicitor operating in Lexington, Kentucky, and legal counsel to what was then the principal opposition to Gainesway, the Hancock family’s famous Claiborne Farm, confided in me that a South African was rumoured to have purchased Gainesway. I was astonished, and dismissed it as conjecture. After all, this was the farm that housed the likes of Lyphard, Blushing Groom, Riverman, Vaguely Noble, Irish River, Cozzene, Afleet etc, and it was almost inconceivable that it should be a South African that had put up his hand for this iconic property, when all the world was there to compete for it.

It turned out that Buddy Bishop’s “intelligence” was spot-on, and that the enterprise of Graham Beck, the stuff of legend in South Africa, had indeed laid claim to one of the greatest titles in thoroughbred racing. I wrote about this property two weeks ago as a place of solace to me on the passing of my late mother, and today we can celebrate the fact that one of its resident stallions, Birdstone (who spoilt the party for Funny Cide in his quest for the American Triple Crown, by snatching the laurels in the final leg of the Belmont Stakes (Gr.1), has produced from his very first crop, two winners of separate legs of the Triple Crown.

The first and arguably the most famous leg, the Kentucky Derby (Gr.1) was taken in spectacular fashion by a 50-1 chance in the form of Mine That Bird (by Birdstone), who came from a shotgun position at the back of the field to land a storied victory by six, and who was the sole pursuer of the filly Rachel Alexandra, in the Preakness Stakes (Gr.1) a fortnight later.

In the absence of the filly, Mine That Bird was made a certainty by the bettors for Saturday, and he looked home and hosed shortly after they turned into Belmont’s fabled straight, only to be swamped by two foes, one of whom was his paternal half-brother, Summer Bird, who came home to proclaim his sire, if not yet quite in the same league as Medaglia D’Oro as a commercial stallion, certainly every bit as serious a property in reality.

Birdstone is the son of a Kentucky Derby winner himself, the rather unattractive and poor legged Grindstone, he in turn by Unbridled and tracing back, (no alarms), to Mr. Prospector, whose stamp on the American classics is as indelible as any stallion in history. As for Birdstone, he’s not a big fellow (I would say he stands 15’3 at the most) and he’s what one might describe as a “plain brown job”. However, and particularly considering his ancestral belongings, he’s a clean legged horse, well balanced and displays the touch of class that separates the serious from the ordinary.

   

Watch the 2009 Belmont Stakes and Kentucky Derby

AS BLUE HENS GO, THIS IS A PROPER ONE

manhattan rainManhattan Rain (Encosta De Lago/Shantha’s Choice)
(AJC Sires’ Produce Stakes - The Royal Randwick)

Australia-watchers were dealt a feast of quality racing at Sydney’s Royal Randwick at the weekend, where the historic Doncaster Handicap, Australian Oaks, the T.J. Smith Stakes and the AJC Sires’ Produce Stakes featured on the menu. The event though, that really caught the imaginations of racing fans, must surely have been the Sires’ Produce, the second leg of Sydney’s Juvenile Triple Crown, where the remarkable mare, Shantha’s Choice (by Canny Lad) featured her third Grade One winner and her fourth Stakes winner, overall. Amazingly though, that’s not the end of the story, as Manhattan Rain (by last season’s champion sire, Encosta De Lago) is a half brother to no less a man than Redoute’s Choice, sire sensation of Australia. Shantha’s Choice herself was an undistinguished runner, yet her fairytale continues here, with the fulfilment of his pedigree destiny by this juvenile youngster.

Ironically, Manhattan Rain was bred by Muzaffar Yaseen, 50% owner (can you believe?) of Redoute’s Choice, so his mother is precluded by virtue of his own ancestry, from visiting what is arguably the best stallion in Australia. For the record, without being able to return to the sire of her two best runners to date (Danehill is deceased), Shantha’s Choice has had to settle for a range of different mates, one of whom (Rock Of Gibraltar by Danehill) is the sire of her Grade Three winning filly, Sliding Cube, as well as a return visit to Encosta da Lago and most recently Hussonet, the Mr Prospector stallion resident at Arrowfield Stud.

KAHAL : THE SELF-FULFILLING PROPHECY

KAHAL
“NO LONGER JUST KNOCKING AT THE DOOR”

Mike de Kock is famous for saying some years ago, if Kahal got the opportunities Fort Wood and Western Winter did, he’d be right up there, contesting the championship.

While those running for Kahal right now were conceived at stud fees south of R15000, they’ve proven Mike the prophet we know him to be. Right now, Kahal ranks in the top four stallions in the land, with two winners of R1million plus races already this season.

What gives us goose bumps though, is that his best days are still in front of him. The Kahals going to the sales this year are the first accruing from his new-found fame. In our view, they’re as far ahead of their predecessors as his stud fee is beyond R15000 these days.

MALHUB : The Smouldering Gun

MALHUB
“KEEP YOUR HEADS DOWN”

Let’s face it, we expected more from Malhub’s first crop. After all, he was the star son of the stallion of the moment, and Timeform rated him better than his own illustrious father.

But never mind, we’ve been there before. Those with memories, will recall that Northern Guest got off to an even slower start, but once they got going, he was unassailable.

The rumblings in January about Malhub’s second crop, are quietly developing into a roar. By mid year, he might well have joined his old foes, Johannesburg and Invincible Spirit, as a sire of note.

You’d have expected it of him though, wouldn’t you? He’s a son of Kingmambo, and with a record of first or second in four Group Ones, never beaten more than half a length, you’d be looking for an “explosion”.

View the Summerhill Draft
Emperors Palace National Yearling Sales

3-6 April 2009

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“PARIS” almost PERFECT in Dubai

Paris Perfect (Muhtafal)
(Photo : Robin Bruss/Summerhill)

For all the big race action back home, the performance of the weekend, at least from a Summerhill perspective, belonged to Muhtafal’s son, Paris Perfect, in the Dubai World Cup (Gr.1) proper. In stark contrast to earlier years, his 3rd to Well Armed in the richest race on earth was a powerful tribute to his sire as well as his breeder, Gail Fabricius, not to mention the exertions of the Bruss brothers, Robin and Neil, who got him there for Prince Faisal of Saudi Arabia.

Astonishing isn’t it, that a little fellow who started out life on a farm 10kms outside the shabbiest little dorp in the Midlands, then earned his laurels in comparatively modest Port Elizabeth, should stand up when the heat of battle calls, and say “count on me”.

As we’ve so often said, “if we were going to war, Muhtafal would be our general”.

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MUHTAFAL : The General Has Spoken

MUHTAFAL
“WHEN THE GENERAL SPEAKS, THE TROOPS STAND TO ATTENTION”

We’ve always said, if we were going to war, Muhtafal would be our man, and no statement could be more emphatic than his leadership, once again, of this season’s Stakes winners log.

As dependable a “getter” of Black type runners as any stallion in the nation, Muhtafal’s enduring occupation of the top echelons of our sires’ ranks, is a tribute to a horse who’s only just getting the opportunities he deserves.

Bottom line: Get in before they get out of reach.

 

LEADING SIRES BY STAKES WINNERS 2009

MUHTAFAL 4*
NATIONAL EMBLEM 4*
WESTERN WINTER 4
STRIKE SMARTLY 4
JET MASTER 3
AL MUFTI 3
JALLAD 3

Figures : Sporting Post 22 March 2009
* Made it at Summerhill


View the Summerhill Draft
Emperors Palace National Yearling Sales

3-6 April 2009

MR PROSPECTOR : The Influence of a Giant


Chocolate Candy winning the 2009 El Camino Real Derby (Gr3)

In as vivid a proclamation of the virtues of a sire of sires as you might imagine, the 2009 Summerhill Sires Brochure read:

“The fact that the blood of Mr. Prospector courses through the veins of eight of the eleven men in our barn, betrays a belief that borders on worship”.

This past week, a horse by the name of Chocolate Candy put up his hand as a live candidate for this year’s American Classics, with a rousing display in the El Camino Real Derby Gr.3, and this attracted the attention of the world renowned pedigree expert, Andrew Caulfield. We quote a few extracts from his article in the Thoroughbred Daily News on the Mr. Prospector influence over this year’s prospects for the Kentucky Derby.

“There are no prizes for guessing which male line supplied the majority of the 23 horses included in last week’s Kentucky Derby Future Wager Pool. With a total of 14 representatives, the ubiquitous Mr. Prospector line was much too strong for the A.P. Indy and Storm Cat clans, which combined to provide seven contenders.

Mr. Prospector, of course, was one of those rare stallions who supplied winners of each of the Triple Crown events, and his male-line descendants have so far won more than 30 editions of the Kentucky Derby, Preakness or the Belmont, with the Fappiano branch leading the way with seven winners of eight races. This is reflected in the Future Wager Pool 1, which has no fewer than eight Classic hopefuls from the Fappiano branch. Needless to say, the majority of these descend from Fappiano’s son Unbridled, who matched Mr. Prospector’s feat of siring winners of all three legs of the Triple Crown, thanks to Grindstone, Red Bullet and Empire Maker.

No one can be surprised to see the likes of Empire Maker and Unbridled’s Song justifying their substantial fees by siring Derby contenders of the quality of Pioneer of The Nile, Old Fashioned and Midshipman. But how many breeders would have predicted back in 2005 that the first-season sire Candy Ride would also develop into a major flag-bearer for the Fappiano line, with two sons in the 23-horse pool?

After all, Candy Ride started out at only $10,000 at Hill ‘n’ Dale in 2005 and, in assessing his prospects, it was a case of some good news and some not so good.

The good news was that Candy Ride had been a highly talented racehorse - talented enough to have been one of three horses whose rating of 127 made them the highest-rated American-trained older horses on the 2003 International Classifications (the other two being Johar and Mineshaft). Being considered the equal of Mineshaft among the dirt performers was some compliment, as Mineshaft not only took the Eclipse Award for handicap male, but also the Horse of the Year title.”

IPI TOMBE foals colt by Giant's Causeway

ipi tombeIpi Tombe winning the 2002 Vodacom Durban July with Kevin Shea aboard
(Photo : Racing South Africa)

Ipi Tombe, the former Noelene Peech and Mike de Kock-trained multiple Group 1 winner who topped the 2004 Tattersalls December Sale when selling to James Delahooke for 850,000gns, has foaled a colt by Giant’s Causeway in Kentucky.

The Giant’s Causeway colt is the third known foal out of the Zimbabwe-bred daughter of Manshood (Mr Prospector), who is owned by Colts Neck Stable, Weisbord and Etkin, and boards at Denali Stud.

Ipi Tombe, foaled 10 October 1998 in the Marondera District of Zimbabwe’s Mashonaland East, won 12 of her 14 starts in South Africa, USA, UAE and Zimbabwe including Group 1 events such as the South African Fillies Guineas, the Durban July Handicap and the Dubai Duty Free, before retiring with earnings of nearly £900,000.

Interesting news is that Ipi Tombe is booked to visit Kingmambo.

LEADING SIRES OF 2008

sadlers wellsSadler’s Wells
(Coolchaser/b2yor)

Northern Hemisphere GRADE/GROUP 1 WINNERS

STALLION SIRE LOCATION WINNERS
Galileo Sadler’s Wells
IRE
5
Giant’s Causeway Storm Cat
KY
5
Rock of Gibraltar Danehill 
IRE
4
Danehill Danzig
DEAD
4
Tiznow Cee’s Tizzy
KY
4
Kingmambo Mr. Prospector           
KY
3
Maria’s Mon Wavering Monarch
DEAD
3
Sadler’s Wells Northern Dancer
IRE
3
Street Cry Machiavellian 
KY
3
Unbridled’s Song Unbridled
KY
3
A.P. Indy Seattle Slew
KY
2
Chester House Mr. Prospector
DEAD
2
Dalakhani Darshaan
IRE
2
Danehill Dancer Danehill
IRE
2
Doneraile Court Seattle Slew 
KY
2
Dynaformer Roberto
KY
2
Gone West Mr. Prospector
KY
2
Indian Ridge Ahonoora
IRE
2
Montjeu Sadler’s Wells 
IRE
2
Muhtathir Elmaamul
FR
2
Nayef Gulch
ENG
2
Pivotal Polar Falcon
ENG
2
Rock of Gibraltar Danehill
IRE
2
Samum Monsun
GER
2
Smart Strike Mr. Prospector
KY
2
Tapit Pulpit
KY
2


Statistics from Thoroughbred Daily News

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RUDRA dominates Steinhoff Summer Cup

rudra winning summer cupRudra with Kevin Shea aboard
(Mike de Kock Racing)

Saturday’s R2million Steinhoff International Summer Cup saw the Mike de Kock / Kevin Shea Group 1 juggernaut deliver once again with 3-1 favourite, Rudra, taking the day’s spoils in dominant fashion.

Jimmy Lithgow writes in The Times that the four-year-old Parade Leader (Kingmambo) colt, who runs for the partnership of Tony Moodley, trainer Mike de Kock, Chris Gerber, Ferdie Ladeira and rugby commentator Paul Bayvel, raced clear after cruising into the lead at the 300m marker.

It was a fourth Summer Cup victory for Kevin Shea, who has had a tremendous year, winning on several continents on Mike de Kock’s horses. But this was his easiest victory in this prestigious race. Rudra was Mike de Kock’s eighth winner in the Summer Cup.

While Mike de Kock was doubtful after the race whether Rudra could beat the mighty Pocket Power in the J&B Met early next year, there is no denying that the horse is a class act.

Settled towards the back of the field, with second-favourite Smart Banker in his slipstream, Rudra travelled easily. Kevin Shea allowed stable companion Equal Image, also racing in Tony Moodley’s colours, to take the lead, with Speed Of Gold, Membrado, Eddington and Senor Versace well placed.

Prince Asad made a move at the top of the straight but once Rudra was given his head, there was no doubting the result.

French jockey Christophe Soumillon, deputising for the injured Anton Marcus, worked hard on Smart Banker on the outside as the field reached the 200m mark and had to take evasive action as one of the leaders fell back.

Smart Banker, who beat Rudra in the recent Victory Moon Stakes, ran on stoutly to finish as Kevin Shea looked back for the opposition and eased up short of the line.

Smart Banker’s stable companion, Senor Versace, ran on well for third, with Prince Asad fading slightly at the finish to take fourth.

Earlier, Christophe Soumillon, rated by many as the best rider in the world, rode superbly to win the Grade 2 Dingaans on Charles Laird’s inexperienced New Zealand-bred colt, Oracy.

This smashing individual must be one for next year’s Vodacom Durban July short list as he was having only his second race.

While Kevin Shea was the star of the show on Rudra, Christophe Soumillon demonstrated the dedication it takes to become one of the world’s top jockeys, spending hours in the past couple of days pounding the tennis courts at Sun City in a sweat suit to take off the weight needed to make the ride on Smart Banker.

A good crowd turned out to watch the feature events, as well as the four-race international jockeys’ contest.

But superstar Italian Frankie Dettori, Ireland’s Mick Kinane, Australian Damien Oliver, India’s Mallesh Narredu, England’s Darryl Holland and France’s Belgian-born Christophe Soumillon had no answer to the powerful South African team, even though Darryl Holland gave the visitors a good start by winning the first of the four competition races and also won the Grade 2 Merchants aboard trainer Joey Ramsden’s Something Else.

By the last of the four races, the South Africans had established an unassailable lead, courtesy of victories by Karl Neisius and Piere Strydom, but man-of- the-moment Kevin Shea provided the clincher in the ninth race, winning on Alec Laird’s Urban Reason.

The South Africans won by 60 points, scoring 179 to the Rest of the World’s 119.

Mark Khan, the South African captain, won the bronze saddle as the highest-scoring individual jockey.

 

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JUDGEMENT DAY: PILATE PRONOUNCES

tobie_spies_john_kramerTobie Spies and John Kramer
(Photo : Grant Norval)

In the life of any racehorse breeding establishment, the judging of a farm’s stock by independent experts is always a signal event. Wednesday was such a day.

Every producer has a different approach to the way he raises his horses, and it’s a well-documented fact that at Summerhill, more than most, Mother Nature plays a primary role. While some have been preparing their horses for this event for several months now, our way is to leave them out in our “organic” environment for as long as possible, avoiding the stress of incarceration and human intervention, and asking the elements and the wonderful world we live in, to continue their good work in shaping the futures of our horses.

While the old saying that there are “different strokes for different folks” was never more appropriate than it is in the horse business, the reality is the way we do it works for Summerhill, manifesting itself as patently as anyone could hope for in four consecutive Breeders’ Championships. That’s not to say that we’re right and everyone else is wrong; it’s simply that, in the model we follow, it seems to be the best way to proceed.

Every new crop of youngsters brings new challenges, and whenever there are the progeny of new stallions, there is new excitement. That said, we usually deal with the first stock of a debutant stallion on the basis of entering just a few of them for the showcase National Sales, preferring to keep a good number back for the Emperor’s Palace Ready To Run, where we can work closely with them, and understand their individual idiosyncrasies. This way we get to know how they respond to the making- and-breaking process, how quickly they learn, how they handle the rigours of exercise and being ridden, what their temperaments are like, what sort of actions they have, how durable they are and whether the mating which has produced that particular individual, is worth pursuing in future. The Ready To Run has been a great instrument in advancing Summerhill’s cause over the years, and has been a grand educational lesson for all of us.

We’ve often proclaimed the virtues of South Africa’s horsemen, and we point to the achievements of our jockeys, trainers and breeders on the international circuit as evidence of this. In Hong Kong, where the pursuit of the jockeys’ title is something every self-respecting rider in the world will take on at some point in his career, the Jockeys’ Championship has been in South African hands for seventeen of the past eighteen seasons (think Basil Marcus, Dougie White, Felix Coetzee, Robbie Fradd and Bartie Leisher), while the likes of trainers Mike de Kock and Herman Brown in Dubai, Patrick Shaw in Singapore and David Ferraris and Tony Millard in Hong Kong have illustrated the validity of this statement time and again. Of course, often enough they’re doing it with South African-bred horses, and that says something about the establishments that produced them.

We’re no less blessed in the quality of the intellectuals that bestride our game, and in the judges that are sent to the farms to cast their eyes over our yearlings. John Kramer, who’s been around since Methusalah, is as astute as anyone we know, with a far-sighted vision which is right nine times out of ten, when it comes to his expectations of what a horse will look like down the road. His assistant is the celebrated ex trainer, Tobie Spies, who in his day as an active conditioner of racehorses, was as hard-working a man as we knew at the sales.

There wasn’t a horse in the catalogue Tobie wouldn’t look at every sale he attended, and then he’d short-list his favourites and make sure, when the hammer fell in his favour, that it represented good value. Twice in the first four runnings of the old Bloodline Million, he managed to pull the needles out of the proverbial haystack.

The judges were more than complimentary about the draft in general, and they warmed particularly to the first progeny of Solskjaer and Cataloochee, each of whom claimed two of the top horses in the draft on points. In fact, the bulk of their horses earned “8’s” and above, and you couldn’t get off to a better start with a first crop sire than that. All three of the Hobb Alwahtans entered scored well, too, and so we’ll be looking to a good sale from these “freshmen”.

Besides a liberal sprinkling from our stalwarts, Kahal and Muhtafal in the line-up, we have a quality entry from some of the world’s best young stallions in Street Cry, Johannesburg, Shamardal and the old war horse, Royal Academy. Four of these are fillies from some exceptional families, and are bound to be on the list of anyone with a “collectors” taste for a good horse and a bit of serious pedigree, especially in these risk-averse times when downside seems to count so much.

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ZARKAVA TAKES HORSE OF THE YEAR

zarkava and christophe soumillonZarkava with Christophe Soumillon aboard
(Photo : APRH)

The unbeaten star filly Zarkava (Zamindar) was named Horse of The Year last night at the 2008 Cartier Racing Awards.

Europe’s equivalent of the Eclipse Awards were presented at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London, in front of an invited audience made up of leading owners, trainers, jockeys, breeders, racing personalities and the media.

Homebred by her owner, His Highness The Aga Khan, Zarkava won all five of her starts in 2008 to add to her two from two record as a juvenile. Showing tremendous versatility over distances from a mile to twelve furlongs, she captured two Classics, the Prix Vermeille and the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, in which she overcame the best middle-distance performers in Europe to register a stunning two length victory.

In Horse of The Year category, Zarkava came out ahead of the Breeders’ Cup Classic hero Raven’s Pass (Elusive Quality), Epsom Derby victor New Approach (Galileo), five-time Gr.1 scorer Duke of Marmalade (Danehill) and dual Guineas winner Henrythenavigator (Kingmambo), who won 18 Gr.1 races between them this year. She also took the honours in the Cartier Three-Year-Old Filly division.

Princess Haya’s New Approach prevailed over Raven’s Pass in the Three-Year-Old Colt category, gaining his second consecutive Cartier Award, having taken the Two-Year-Old Colt Award twelve months ago.

This year’s Two-Year-Old Colt Award went right down to the wire with dual Gr.1 victor Mastercraftsman (Danehill Dancer) pipping the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf winner Donativum (Cadeaux Genereux),

The Two-Year-Old Fillies’ category went to John Gosden-trained Rainbow View (Dynaformer).

Heading the Older Horses was Aidan O’Brien’s Duke of Marmalade (Danehill), ahead of Marchand D’Or (Marchand De Sable), Yeats (Sadler’s Wells), Youmzain (Sinndar) and Darjina (Zamindar).

There was further glory for the Ballydoyle stable with Yeats, brother to Summerhill stallion Solskjaer, taking the Cartier Champion Stayer title for the third consecutive year.

Meanwhile, the Freddie Head-trained Marchand d’Or prevailed in the race for Cartier Champion Sprinter honours.

Sheikh Mohammed, described as racing’s biggest investor and benefactor, was voted the Cartier/Daily Telegraph Award of Merit winner. Although unable to attend the Cartier Racing Awards ceremony in London, Sheikh Mohammed was presented with his award in Dubai beforehand by Arnaud Bamberger, the Cartier UK managing director.

On his acceptance of the Cartier/Daily Telegraph Award of Merit, Sheikh Mohammed said: “I am delighted by this award. I love racing and breeding. We race not only in England and Europe as Godolphin is all round the world. I am very, very pleased with my racing company and my breeding operation. I love racing and I will always be involved in the sport. Thank you very much.”

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MUHTAFAL : Stallion Profile

 

“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.

Muhtafal has also sired Disappear, Umngazi and Mzwilili out of daughters of his former stud compatriot Coastal, giving linebreeding to Raise A Native.

AvdB
Racing South Africa

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Pedigree Focus by Tony Morris



“FEMALE OF THE SPECIES IN THE SPOTLIGHT”
European Bloodstock News


When, some four and a half years ago, I chose the title for this feature, I was extremely conscious of its ambiguity; in fact, it was my deliberate intention that it should be open to two interpretations.

This was to be a slot where emphasis was generally placed on the distaff side of pedigrees – a weekly dissertation on some aspects of a female family that had become topical by virtue of a recent result in a major race.

But I did not mean to promote the view that pedigrees should be interpreted solely in terms of female lines. It stands to reason that a proper reading of any pedigree should give due weight to all its component parts; when science tells us that, at every mating, each parent contributes equally to the genetic make-up of their product, we are on dodgy ground if we choose to believe in direct lines as crucial to the inheritance of characteristics.

Indeed, we do not even need the evidence supplied by Mendel, and the many eminent authorities who have supplemented the knowledge that he imparted. Any amateur student of the Thoroughbred has long been able to recognise, by dint of minimal research, that male lines tend to flourish for a while, then fall into decline. It is not necessary to go back into ancient history to establish that fact; it suffices just to know how potent the lines descending from such as Hyperion and Tourbillon were 30 or 40 years ago, and to realise what is now left of them.

Similarly, it is common knowledge that female lines tend not to thrive consistently over long periods; their fortunes fluctuate, and frequently deteriorate when access to successful sires is denied them.

Furthermore, in a breeding regime which generally permits only a tiny percentage of males – those who are proven successful athletes – to procreate, but which provides that opportunity to almost all females, regardless of their performance on the racecourse, we kid ourselves when we claim that the Thoroughbred of today is the product of three centuries of selective breeding. We have selected the males for logical reasons, with performance as the chief criterion; the females have never been selected on that basis.

In truth, when we use the term ‘family matters’ in its other sense, suggesting that it has genuine importance, it is most often applicable only in terms of the commercial market. The convention of displaying catalogue pedigrees as we do has evolved precisely because the bottom line in any pedigree tends to be its weakest area. All the mares in other positions are there by reason of success in production, through descendants who have earned a right to breed; that is not necessarily the case in the direct female line, hence the need for catalogues to attempt to show just cause for those mares to feature in the breeding population.

And nobody need doubt that catalogue entries have tremendous influence on the perceptions of buyers. The amount of black type displayed on the page may make a huge difference to the value of any animal. Without question, in that sense, family matters.

In order to acquire a firm conviction that family truly matters to events on the racecourse, we probably need more weekends like the one just gone, when several big race results lent substance to the belief.

There was a Group 3 winner out of a mare who won the Oaks. Another was the third individual Pattern winner for her dam. A Group 2 winner was the second from his dam to have won at Pattern level this year.

Another successful at that level became the sixth major winner out of his dam, herself a victress of the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. No less wondrous was the fact that the two Group 1 winners at Ascot were closely related in the female line – and only in the female line – the dam of one being full sister to the grand-dam of the other.

So, let’s hear it for the females of the species! Oaks heroine Love Devine’s St Leger-winning son Sixties Icon (Galileo) notched the sixth Pattern victory of a stellar career in the Cumberland Lodge Stakes. Sadima, already with Group 1-winning colts in Youmzain (Sinndar) and Creachadoir (King’s Best) to her credit, was responsible for her third notable scorer in as many years when her daughter Shreyas (Dalakhani) won the Denny Cordell Lavarack & Lanwades Stud Fillies Stakes at Gowran Park.

Mare aux Fees , who produced this year’s Prix Vanteaux winner in Belle Allure (Numerous), doubled her Pattern score for 2008 when Jukebox Jury (Montjeu) took the Royal Lodge Stakes, both having arrived in her late teenage years. And the celebrated

Urban Sea, last of her sex to have recorded a “triomphe” in the Arc, added to her outstanding record as a broodmare – exemplified by Urban Ocean (Bering), Galileo, Black Sam Bellamy, All Too Beautiful (all by Sadler’s Wells) and My Typhoon (Giant’s Causeway) – when Sea the Stars (Cape Cross) staked a claim for consideration for 2009’s Classics with his victory in the Beresford Stakes on the Curragh.

But it was surely no less remarkable that Raven’s Pass (Elusive Quality), now rated Europe’s champion miler after his dismissal of Henrythenavigator and Tamayuz in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, and Rainbow View (Dynaformer), Britain’s undefeated and undisputed champion juvenile filly after her triumph in the Fillies’ Mile, should share such a close connection in the female line.

The honours in the case of the Gosden-trained duo belong to sisters Words of War and Ascutney, respectively the 1989 and 1994 products of matings involving Lord At War (a male line grandson of the great Brigadier Gerard) and Right Word, a daughter of Verbatim from a family previously renowned for Grade 1 winners such as Danzig Connection and Pine Circle.

Right Word, who died in 2005 at the age of 23, was no great shakes as a runner herself, managing only one second place from six starts, but Words of War was a tough stakes-winner, placed twice at Grade 3 level, and Ascutney had a Grade 3 win in the Miesque Stakes to her credit. Words of War made her name as a broodmare swiftly, as her first-born was No Matter What (Nureyev), successful in the Del Mar Oaks, and next came E Dubai (Mr Prospector), a Grade 2 winner, Grade 1-placed in the Travers and Super Derby, and already a noted sire.

Ascutney already had a Grade 3 winner in Gigawatt (Wild Again) under her name before Raven’s Pass came along, while No Matter What had just one minor scorer on her CV before the emergence of the exciting Rainbow View.

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TRIPPI Tops the Table

trippi stallionTrippi
(L’Ormarins Stud)


Sunday witnessed the pilgrimage of South Africa’s top exponents of the art of thoroughbred breeding to the Cape, where Gaynor Rupert’s Drakenstein Stud hosted an unveiling for their newest stallion, Trippi, Champion sire of Florida. While it might be vulgar to talk of values, Trippi is widely rumoured to be one of the costliest stallions ever imported to South Africa, and it’s hardly surprising, given the fact he’s not only spectacularly bred, highly performed as a racehorse, and now doing a serious job at stud. Beyond that though, he’s one of the most regal looking beasts imaginable, and was at his imperious best when asked to parade for a gathering that lacked few faces among the top echelons of South Africa’s bloodstock investors.

The event was a singular honour for Summerhill, firstly because Gaynor and her husband Johann have been customers of ours virtually since the gates first opened almost thirty years ago. The first of Gaynor’s broodmare faithfuls to arrive at the farm was the highly successful Final Call, who’s first two foals distinguished themselves as runners in the J&B Met and the Rothmans July. Broodmares don’t get much better than that.

Mick Goss was asked to deliver the introductory speech for Trippi, and he tells us that to speak for such noble friends and such a noble beast was not only a pleasure, but it was a task made that much easier by the fact that Trippi has never been hotter. Week after week, he churns out the Black-type runners, and on the eve of his unveiling, he had another juvenile Stakes winner (that’s four for the season) and a filly who ran second in a $400 000 contest in the United States.

As they departed Cape Town on Tuesday, the Gosses were greeted with the news that he’s had another youngster run second in Stakes company on Monday. So here’s a horse that can take South Africa’s already lofty reputation for producing top-class athletes to another notch.

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MUHTAFAL

muhtafal stallionMuhtafal
(John Lewis)

nicola haywardNicola Hayward Thoroughbred InternetMr Prospector has had a huge impact upon thoroughbred breeding worldwide, both through his sons and daughters. While the success has perhaps been felt most on the dirt tracks of America, there have been horses like Machiavellian, Kingmambo and Gone West who have left an indelible mark on the turf tracks of the world.

Arguably the most successful son of Mr Prospector to stand in South Africa is Muhtafal. Out of Canadian Broodmare Of The Year Polite Lady (Venetian Jester), Muhtafal is a full brother to Canadian Horse Of The Year and Champion 3YO Colt Afleet. He was born in 1992 and he won 2 of his first three starts over 1200m setting two track records in the process. In the Derby Trial G3 Muhtafal was injured and his racing career brought to an untimely end. Ironically it was an injury sustained in the 1973 Derby Trial that had ruled Mr Prospector out of the Kentucky Derby (won by Secretariat) of that year.

Muhtafal was retired to Shadwell Farm in Kentucky in 1997 where he stood for 2 seasons. From his first crop of 15 foals he produced 13 winners, 3 Stakes winners and 2 Stakes-placed. Notable progeny include Polite Lil Lady, Ya Lateefah, Charmu, X Country and Saudi Sadie. In 1999 he was moved to South Africa where he stood his first season at Summerhill Stud.

Over the years Muhtafal has sent out a steady stream of tough, sound and honest horses that have seen him rise up the General Sires Log from 18th spot at the end of the 2004/05 season to 5th at the end of 2007/2008. What makes this performance all the more remarkable is that 85% of his progeny have had success over distances of a mile or less. Thus the lucrative classic races generally do not go the way of his offspring, yet the statistics bear testament to his success.

In August, his son Battlestar Express took the first Listed race of the new season when he won the Umngeni Handicap over 1000m. Battlestar Express is out of the National Assembly mare National Empress who is a daughter of Off To War the dam of Captain Al. Captain Al is the sire of Captain’s Lover who won her first Graded outing on foreign soil in France on Sunday.

While there are a number of dirt tracks in South Africa, all the major meetings take place on turf with the most important dirt race being the G2 Emerald Cup at the Vaal over 1450m at the end of September. This year, Muhtafal has had a significant impact upon the build up to the race. Ten days ago on the sand track at the Vaal the Listed Riviera Handicap was run over 1450m and went the way of Alejate a 6YO daughter of Muhtafal out of the Northern Guest mare Tristam’s Frolic. In the previous race, the Listed Banyana Handicap (1000m), Nottgalashia a daughter of Muhtafal out of the National Assembly mare Isle Of Plenty was too good for the rest of the field giving Muhtafal a unique Listed double for the day.

The purple patch continued into the weekend past when Paris Perfect was named East Cape Horse Of The Year and Champion 3YO Colt/Gelding at a ceremony in Port Elizabeth. Paris Perfect is out of the Honor Grades mare Candle Princess and won the Listed Racing Association Stakes and the East Cape Guineas and was runner up in the G3 East Cape Derby. In 18 starts he has only been out of the money on 3 occasions.

To date Muhtafal has sired 3 Group One winners. Disappear a son of the Coastal mare Vanish won the Mercury Sprint over 1200m and the Post Merchants G2 while Outcome, a daughter of the Elliodor mare Culminate won the G1 Garden Province Stakes over a mile. The colt Lets Rock ‘n Roll who is out of the Northern Guest mare First Arrival won the G1 Golden Horse Shoe sprint (1200m). The very good filly Veiled Essence who is out of the Foveros mare Fovesta broke from the expected Muhtafal mould by winning the 2400m G2 Gold Circle Oaks in 2005.

He has also produced some runners that carry very uniquely African names – Umngazi is a G3 winner named after the Transkei river that flows into the Indian Ocean just south of Port St Johns. Nondweni is a Listed-winning filly named after a settlement near Nqutu close to the site of the Battle of Blood River in Northern Natal. The chestnut filly Mzwilili won the G3 Pretty Polly Stakes; her name is the Zulu word for the Cape Canary – a delightful little yellow bird found along the entire coast of South Africa. Uzuma is translated as ‘he surprises’. Uzuma is a chestnut gelding and was Stakes-placed on three occasions.

Mick Goss has always said of Muhtafal that if he were going to war, Muhtafal would be his General. And it is not hard to understand why: he is a horse that consistently produces what is expected of him, and sometimes even more. As a result his progeny are as popular with local owners and trainers as their sire is with all who deal with him at the stud.

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