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TEAM VALOR INTERNATIONAL : THIS TEAM DESERVES A VC

Team Valor International visit to Summerhill Stud
Team Valor International visit to Summerhill Stud

Team Valor Delegation

(Photo : Leigh Willson)

“The harder I work, the luckier I get”

- GARY PLAYER

Another old saying in racing is that you get “lucky owners, and unlucky owners”. But as another afficionado of the game once said, “the harder I work, the luckier I get”, and that applies as much to our business today, as it did to the golfing business in those days. We speak of course, of Gary Player, our greatest-ever sporting ambassador, whose love of golf is surpassed only by his passion for our sport.

The reality though, is that you don’t just get lucky in racing. Like any other form of endeavour, you almost invariably have to pass the old test of the 10,000 hours at the grindstone, and then you need a bit more, which is the instinct for picking the right horses, or what you might call the great “tick of the heart. Think Igugu, or Hollywoodboulevard, or Imbongi, Fisani, Pierre Jourdan, Hear The Drums among recent examples.

One person whose association with the game is as deep as the taproot of a gum tree, is Barry Irwin of Team Valor, who has on more than one occasion, pronounced South Africa, its horses and its horsemen, as the “undiscovered secret of the world”. We were recently honoured by a visit of 12 of the Team Valor partners, who stayed with us at Hartford for just short of a week over the Vodacom Durban July, and we got to reminiscing about their successes with South African-bred horses. There were members of that party who have invested in every South African horse Team Valor has ever bought here, and they have a staggering strike rate of 23 individual Stakes winners since their involvement first kicked off with the Altus Joubert-bred filly Crimson Palace, who went on to Grade One glory in the Beverley D in the United States. Here is the honour roll :

Grade 1 Winner

Captain’s Lover

Carnadore

Crimson Palace

Ebony Flyer

Gypsy’s Warning

Ipi Tombe

Irridescence

Little Miss Magic

On Her Toes

Russian Sage

Stratos

Grade 2 Winner, Grade 1 Placed

Sally Bowles

She’s On Fire

Grade 2 Winner

Jazzy

Grade 3 Winner, Grade 1 Placed

Alexandra Rose

Grade 3 Winner

Stately

Success Counts

Tara’s Touch

Stakes Winner, Grade 1 Placed

Warning Zone

Stakes Winner

Chiquita

Joshua’s Mistress

Miller Time

Sting Operation

This is a helluva score, unsurpassed in previous history, and some kind of a tribute to the genius of Barry Irwin. Of course, Team Valor’s accomplishments are not, by any means, limited to South Africa or its products, as exemplified by the fact that right now, they lead all other owners in the United States by total Stakes earned in 2011, and by some margin in the number of Stakes winners. That number includes this year’s Kentucky Derby hero, Animal Kingdom, arguably the best three-year-old in America at present.

Back to Gary Player for a moment, and his love of the game. He is the only man alive with the distinction of winning 3 British Opens (besides his 3 senior titles). He once had the distinction of having bred a runner in England’s greatest race, The Derby. In an interview with The Guardian, he was asked whether he’d rather win The Derby or the British Open. He was quick “with respect sir, I’m the only man who could answer you this way. I’d rather win The Derby than three British Opens”. End of story!

Summerhill is the South African home to the Team Valor broodmare band, and of course, to another one-time sterling campaigner of theirs in Visionaire, just about as exciting a racehorse as any to have darkened the doors of our stallion barn. If you haven’t witnessed his closing run in the King’s Bishop Stakes (arguably that country’s greatest stallion maker), go to www.summerhill.co.za click the left hand tab that says Visionaire. Better still, see the new Summerhill Sires Film released on SuperSport this past week, which tells you more. And if you need any more convincing phone former riding legend, Rhys van Wyk, who was here on Investec Stallion Day. He was reportedly in awe. And if he knows nothing else, he knows horses.

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MR. PROSPECTOR ON MR. PROSPECTOR

Mr Prospector on Mr Prospector
Mr Prospector on Mr Prospector

Mr Prospector on Mr Prospector Explosion

(Image : US Eventing / DeskPic)

“RECIPE FOR AN EXPLOSION”

There was a time when breeders across the length and breadth of the United States advocated against line-breeding (or inbreeding) to the Raise A Native tribe in general, and specifically to Mr. Prospector. The theory was that, as both were somewhat fragile at the races, they were bound to reproduce this in their progeny, and so breeders tended to heed the fad as though it was a religion. It took people in faraway places (like ourselves) to pooh-pooh the theory, not because we knew otherwise, but because we were more into practicalities than “old wives tales”, and couldn’t understand the reluctance when breeding two sound horses to one another.

Of course, the tables have turned 360 degrees, and Americans line-breed the tribe to death these days. The latest example lies in Kentucky Derby hero, Animal Kingdom’s vanquisher in the third leg of the Triple Crown, the Belmont Stakes, Ruler On Ice, who is by a grandson of Mr. Prospector (by Raise A Native) out of a granddaughter of Alydar (by Raise A Native). The outcome, Ruler On Ice, didn’t only take down the flag of Animal Kingdom in the race (the latter was unfortunate in almost coming down in the early stages of the race), but he also counted among his victims, the Preakness winner, Shackleford.

Interestingly, the Belmont hero is a product of a breeding partnership comprised of two Ph.Ds, Rob Whiteley and Pam Robinson, the former of whom designs the matings, while Pam does the raising.

“I’m a major proponent of mating mares to stallions with physical considerations in order to maximize athleticism.” Whiteley said. “I start with the physical mating first and then go to the pedigree consideration. In the case of Roman Ruler (the winner’s sire) and Champagne Glow, they fit well together - type to type, frame to frame. Both were extremely athletic and had great depth in their families by way of their inbreeding patterns. I was one of the first to recognise the potential of inbreeding to Raise A Native,” Whiteley said. “It was taboo when I got in the horse business”.

Interestingly, the Mr. Prospector line has been all-dominant in what Americans call the “true test of champions”, the nickname for the Belmont. A quick glance at recent winners emanating from this line, lies in the male line chart below.

MR PROSPECTOR

MALE LINE CHART

(Click Here)

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COOLMORE VS DARLEY : BATTLE OF THE TITANS

Coolmore Stud Documentary 2011
Coolmore Stud Documentary 2011

Click above to watch the Coolmore Stud Documentary 2011

(Image and Footage : Coolmore)

“Who’s Who in the Zoo?”

The battle for international supremacy in the thoroughbred world has developed a real “one-round-to-you, one-round-to-me” look to it. Ever since the official declaration of war by Dubai’s ruler, Sheikh Mohammed, on their arch opponents, the Coolmore operation in 2006, some heavy punches have been traded.

The first three years undoubtedly belonged to Coolmore, and for as long as the dominance of their Emperor stallions, Sadler’s Wells and Danehill persisted, and for as long as this blood was denied to the Maktoums, it looked like one-way traffic (in Europe at any rate, the main theatre of battle). Nothing in the thoroughbred world though is forever, and with his strategies spanning both sides of the Atlantic, the emergence of Street Cry looked like pulling things back for “Sheik Mo”, though it has to be said, Coolmore still have on their hands, the champion sire of that realm, Giant’s Causeway. Enormous investment on the part of Dubai in the best prospects of their more recent generations in the United States, must have equipped Darley’s armoury in that part of the world with some real possibilities, but with the exception of Bernardini, who is an emerging force in his own right, the jury will have to wait. If we were in the tipping game, we’d have a few bob on Street Sense, the only horse in history to have won both the Breeder’s Cup Juvenile and the Kentucky Derby.

Back in Europe though, out of the blue came Dubawi and Shamardal for Darley, and they look like two of the best young sires around right now. Their supremacy with their first three year olds last year suggested an overwhelming dominance of the older division in 2011 Europe, but, we shall have to wait and see if that’s going to be the case. On the evidence alone, of this year’s three year old Classics, it seems the pendulum may have swung back Coolmore’s way, with four of the six “Guineas” contested in England, Ireland and France, falling to sons and daughters of Bill Oppenheim’s “best stallion in the world”, Galileo.

On Saturday, the Coolmore outfit’s dominance of this crop was as blantly evident as ever, in the renewal of the Investec Derby, in which Coolmore-connected horses landed first, second and fourth placings, though it should be noted the Queen’s third placed Carlton House is a son of Street Cry, gifted to her by Sheikh Mohammed. For the time being at least, the initiative lies in Ireland, though we suspect that Dubawi and Shamardal are that good, they won’t be lying down for long. Either way, it makes fascinating watching.

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A FIRST TAKE ON KENTUCKY

Lexington, Kentucky
Lexington, Kentucky

Lexington, Kentucky, USA

(Photo : Donamire Horse Farm)

“THE BLUEGRASS STATE”

Alec Hogg Moneyweb
Alec Hogg Moneyweb

Alec Hogg

MoneywebEver since Pride and Prejudice, I’ve tried to stop forming opinions from first impressions. But after nearly a week in The Bluegrass State, it’s pretty clear that I’m smitten. If we were ever to be forced to live outside our beloved KZN Midlands, it would be be here in the horse capital of the world.

Even without South Africa’s six time Champion Breeder Mick Goss as our host, the trip would have been marvelous. But being able to visit North America’s greatest horse farms in the reflected affection heaped on him by his peers has made this an adventure of a lifetime.

It’s hard not to feel overwhelmed by a place where post and rail is standard. We saw tens of thousands of acres of rich Fescue pastures, the “bluegrass” that gives Kentucky its nickname, but not a strand of wire fencing. The buildings strike you as something out of an architectural digest - stallions are revered here, their barns styled like the farm stone and wooden homes and offices. Long avenues of leafy pin oaks, masterful horse art on the walls, statues of Seattle Slew, A.P. Indy, Secretariat… and stallion graveyards that beat any human version I’ve seen.

The place exudes old money. Certainly not the materialism you’d see from coarse, Wall Street  speculation. This is a world where the long-term rules, where everything spent is judged by a return on investment measured over decades, not months. Each door latch, every head collar, seems to have been selected on the basis of getting stuff that lasts, never mind that it costs more.

So, too, the stars of Kentucky. Although they’re virtually finished the breeding season, every stallion we saw – and there were dozens – was in prime condition. No falling away after covering 150 mares. Their grooms are knowledgeable, engaging and devoted. For them, caring for their charges is a prized career, not a stopgap.

What are the lessons to take home?

Perhaps it’s that the biggest thing holding back South African racing is a collective mindset that while not exactly encouraging it, certainly enables comfortable mediocrity.

The Kentucky experience shows the horse business, like any other, thrives on high standards. The benefit of intense competition and the virtuous circle of long-term investment delivering superior products is evident everywhere. Long may the Darley vs Coolmore contest continue. Similarly the practice by US billionaires redirecting cash from their construction or self-storage empires into blue bloods. Ditto continued success by from-the-ground horsemen like the Taylors whose experience, skill and sheer hard work provides its own edge.

South Africa has its Oppenheimers, Ruperts, Scotts, Rattrays and Joostes. It must also replace the departed Becks and Jaffees. And the sector would do well to attract more rich foreign investors like the Plattners and Jacobs’, further developing the goodwill of friends like American heavyweight Barry Irwin. This business needs far-sighted, deep-pocketed people who love the breed. Not just to inject their cash, but to sharpen the competitive instincts of self-made horsemen like Summerhill’s Goss and the prolific Koster family.

Another big learning is that lightning strikes in the most unlikely places. There are no absolutes in this game. Time and again we were shown top stallions who had started their careers as low priced coverers in relative backwaters. Some who were moderate on the track have been unbelievable in the shed. The South African tradition of gelding males as a matter of course must surely be re-looked. It’s the racehorses who make bloodlines, not the other way around.

The other lasting impression is how big an advantage South Africa enjoys through its well-regulated, drug-free regime. Everywhere in American breeding one hears grumbles about the lax medication standards. Horsemen bemoan the legal and hence liberal use of Lasix which ensures the passing on of inherited weaknesses like bleeding. It also masks potent pain-killing medication that overcomes physical defects which would severe restrict a horse’s career in jurisdiction like SA. This opaque influence means the US stallion business carries the kind of unnecessary risk that any logical investor would love to eliminate. 

Overall, I’ll be leaving Kentucky inspired and with renewed enthusiasm for this Sport of Kings. Confident that issues holding back the South African industry are not insurmountable. Indeed they are easily overcome in an atmosphere of trust, far-sightedness and collective will to do the right thing. We’ve given the world any number of great jockeys, Mike de Kock, Ipi Tombe, Jay Peg, Gypsy’s Warning and, indirectly, Pluck. But that should just be the start. How exciting to be part of an industry with such great potential.

Alec Hogg - Kentucky, USA

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A VISIT WITH CURLIN, GIANT'S CAUSEWAY, A.P. INDY AND MORE...

Tapit
Tapit

Tapit

(Image : South Winds Thoroughbreds / USA PCE)

Video Updates from Kentucky…

In a continuation from yesterday’s video updates from Mick Goss, Alec Hogg and Barry Irwin in the US, here are a few more clips featuring visits with Curlin, Giant’s Causeway, A.P. Indy, Arch and Tapit as well as clips of Teams Valor and Denali and Secret Heart.

Click below to watch :

CURLIN

GIANT’S CAUSEWAY

A.P. INDY

ARCH

TAPIT

TEAMS VALOR AND DENALI

SECRET HEART

(Footage courtesy of Alec Hogg)

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A.P. INDY RETIRED

A.P. Indy Stallion
A.P. Indy Stallion

A.P. Indy

(Image : Lane’s End)

A.P. INDY (USA)

Seattle Slew (USA) - Weekend Surprise (USA)

Lane’s End stallion A.P. Indy (Seattle Slew - Weekend Surprise, by Secretariat) has been pensioned due to fertility issues. “He was bred to 25 mares, and none has come back in foal,” confirmed Lane’s End’s Will Farish.

“He’s been tailing off a little bit the last two years, but nothing like this. This was definitely not expected.” Farish added that every effort had been made to address the problem. “We have had all kinds of veterinarians in to check his semen,” he said.

“He only has one testicle, and it has just deteriorated to the point where he isn’t producing live sperm.” Farish continued, “This is a very sad time for the farm. He’s just been such a wonderful horse for us - a wonderful yearling, a wonderful racehorse and a wonderful sire.”

Horse of the Year and champion 3-year-old in 1992, the 22-year-old stallion was the nation’s leading sire in 2003 and 2006. His nine champions include Classic winners Bernardini and Rags To Riches.

“A.P. Indy will remain in the stall he has occupied for almost 20 years,” Farish said. “I feel blessed to have been the co-breeder, along with my friend Bill Kilroy, of this great horse, who was a champion on the track and is proving to be one of the most influential sires of our time. It is our fondest wish that he will live a long and happy retirement.”

Bred in partnership by William S. Farish and William S. Kilroy, A.P. Indy was a handsome youngster, and the emergence of his half-brother Summer Squall (Storm Bird) as the 1990 G1 Preakness Stakes hero enhanced his pedigree by the time he was offered at Keeneland July two months  later. The bay duly topped that boutique venue when selling to BBA Ireland for $2.9 million on behalf of Tomonori Tsurumaki, and joined a rare group of multi-million-dollar yearlings to earn back their purchase price on the racetrack.

Turned over to Neil Drysdale, A.P. Indy finished fourth as the favorite in his debut at Del Mar, then underwent surgery for an undescended testicle. He returned to rattle off three straight wins in 1991, capped by the G1 Hollywood Futurity, and picked up where he left off in 1992 with wins in the G2 San Rafael Stakes and G1 Santa Anita Derby. That winning streak would have ensured him favoritism for the G1 Kentucky Derby, but a quarter crack kept him in his stall during the Run for the Roses.

Drysdale regrouped and sent the colt to New York, where he captured the G2 Peter Pan Stakes and G1 Belmont Stakes. A.P. Indy made his next appearance in Woodbine’s Molson Million in September, but ran fifth at 3-5.

After a terrible start in the G1 Jockey Club Gold Cup the following month, he put in a strong late bid to claim third behind eventual champion older horse Pleasant Tap (Pleasant Colony) and 1991 G1 Kentucky Derby hero Strike The Gold (Alydar). Three weeks later, he put matters to right in the G1 Breeders’ Cup Classic, rallying under regular rider Eddie Delahoussaye to seal Eclipse honors as Horse of  the Year and champion 3-year-old.

His career mark stood at 11-8-0-1 with earnings of $2,979,815.

In Demand at Stud…

A.P. Indy headed to Lane’s End breeding shed as a mouth-watering stallion prospect, and delivered the goods. His first yearlings averaged $298,750 in 1995 (topped by the $700,000 Cromwell) and, from 45 named foals, he was represented by four black-type winners in 1996, headed by GSW Accelerator. Pulpit emerged as the favorite for the 1997 Kentucky Derby following wins in the G2 Fountain of Youth Stakes and G2 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes, but sustained a knee chip when fourth on the first Saturday in May.

A.P. Indy had a trio of fillies - Royal Indy, Runup The Colors and Tomisue’s Delight - win at the top level later in 1997, and those results kept breeders clamoring for his services.

The ill-fated Tempera became his first Eclipse Award winner when she secured the 2001 G1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies, and another 1999 crop member, Mineshaft, followed with a Horse of the Year campaign in 2003.

Bernardini gave the stallion his first U.S. Classic win with his success in the 2006 G1 Preakness Stakes, and went on to earn honors as the year’s champion 3-year-old with additional wins in the G1 Travers Stakes and G1 Jockey Club Gold Cup. Rags To Riches came along in 2007 with an epic win over eventual Horse of the Year Curlin (Smart Strike) in the G1 Belmont Stakes, and claimed the Eclipse Award as the nation’s top 3-year-old filly.

A.P. Indy led the general sire list in 2003 and 2006, and has been represented by 132 black-type winners (12% of foals) to date. His progeny have earned over $112,901,838 since hitting the track in 1996.

According to equineline.com, a total of 355 A.P. Indy yearlings have sold at public auction in the U.S. for a total of $191,223,182. Their average price was $538,657, and the median is $375,000. A.P. Indy’s highest-priced yearling to date came last year, when a colt out of Balance (Thunder Gulch) sold for $4.2 million to Besilu Stables.

The Next Generation…

A.P. Indy’s daughters have produced a total of 51 black-type winners to date. That group is headed by five Grade 1 winners thus far, including 2006 champion 3-year-old filly Wait A While and 2010 G1 Kentucky Derby hero Super Saver - both by Maria’s Mon. His sons, in particular, have been the headline grabbers.

Pulpit has established himself as a desirable stallion at Claiborne with top-level winners Corinthian, Ice Box, Pyro, Rutherienne and Tapit, and the latter has emerged as one of the country’s most promising young stallions. Malibu Moon has transferred his early success in Maryland to being in serious demand at Spendthrift in Kentucky, and Mineshaft, after a cautious start, has come alive with last year’s G1 King’s Bishop Stakes hero Discreetly Mine - now alongside his sire and grandsire at Lane’s End - and recent G1 Florida Derby victor Dialed In.

The 2010 freshman sire race came down to a pair of A.P. Indy sons, with Florida-based Congrats edging Darley’s Bernardini by earnings. Both stallions sired two Grade 1 winners last year.

Extract from Thoroughbred Daily News

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SHAMARDAL AND DUBAWI HEAD WORLD STALLION RANKS

Shamardal Stallion
Shamardal Stallion

Shamardal

(Photo : Stallions)

“FROM WHENCE THEY COME”

You may wonder why it is that we keep posting lists of the North American and European sires. The short answer is, they’re often the source of our own stallion stock, and the performance of their progeny informs our selections. In his latest review of the third crop sires of those two regions, the world’s greatest analyst, Bill Oppenheim, has ranked them by what he calls the Apex index, and by how prolific they are as producers of Stakes winners. There’s an earnings bias in favour of the North Americans, and so earnings alone is not a reliable guide. America holds a strong hand with its second and fourth season horses, but Europe certainly has the upper arm with those who have progeny just rising four. The outstanding leaders of that lot are Shamardal (by Giant’s Causeway) and Dubawi (by Dubai Destination), both Darley stallions standing in Europe. Here are the stats :

LEADING F2007 SIRES BY A RUNNER INDEX

Sire

Region

Rank 2011

Rank Cum

A Index

ABC Index

SHAMARDAL

EUR

27

1

2.66

1.93

DUBAWI

EUR

13

2

3.66

1.65

WILCAT HEIR

USA

3

3

1.31

2.36

AFLEET ALEX

USA

1

4

2.73

1.78

ROMAN RULER

USA

2

5

1.03

1.16

POLLARD’S VISION

USA

22

6

1.15

1.15

KITTEN’S JOY

USA

6

7

1.26

1.42

GHOSTZAPPER

USA

4

8

1.42

2.48

OFFLEE WILD

USA

25

9

2.27

1.48

SAINT LIAM

USA

23

10

2.61

1.63

CLOSING ARGUMENT

USA

10

11

1.30

0.97

LIMEHOUSE

USA

14

12

1.39

1.04

GRAND REWARD

USA

11

13

1.31

0.65

PURGE

USA

19

14

0.55

0.82

CONSOLIDATOR

USA

12

15

0.59

0.74

FOOTSTEPSINTHESAND

EUR

36

16

0.81

1.34

EUROSILVER

USA

9

17

0.31

0.78

VALUE PLUS

USA

15

18

0.74

0.83

ROCK HARD TEN

USA

21

19

2.55

1.79

LEROIDESANIMAUX

USA

7

20

3.33

1.50

ORATORIO

EUR

40

21

1.43

0.71

SOUTHERN IMAGE

USA

5

22

0.41

0.72

EDDINGTON

USA

8

27

0.00

0.46

ORATORY

USA

16

31

0.62

0.77

Statistics Thoroughbred Daily News

North America always has an earnings advantage though, so when European sires progeny have higher earnings than their American counterparts, that by itself is big news. The real measures of superiority in this case are the Black type comparisons : Dubawi has 11 group/graded stakes winners (North American crops) to date, Shamardal has 10. The leading North American sires are Afleet Alex and Rock Hard Ten, with four each. Dubawi has 18 Black-type winners, Shamardal 16; Afleet Alex (13) and Wildcat Heir (10) are tops in North America. Total Black type horses: Dubawi 28, Shamardal 26; Afleet Alex has 22, Wildcat Heir 18 as does Coolmore’s European sire Footstepsinthesand.

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WILDCAT HEIR : RISE OF THE BLUE COLLAR WORKER

Stallion Wildcat Heir at Journeyman Stud
Stallion Wildcat Heir at Journeyman Stud

Click above to watch Wildcat Heir on show at Journeyman Stud

(Image and Footage : Journeyman Stud)

“2010 SOPHOMORE SIRE PHENOMENON”

We’ve all witnessed the effects of restlessness among the people on the streets of Tunisia and Egypt in the past few weeks, and the impact of a common uprising. In the thoroughbred context, we’ve also witnessed an uprising of a different kind among a couple of stallions you might’ve termed “blue collar” in their pedigree origins. Indeed, two of the very best we’ve known, Foveros and Jet Master, came from what you would call typically plebeian backgrounds. When Foveros arrived in South Africa in the late 80’s, there was only one Black type horse in the first four generations of his pedigree, and that was him. Besides, his father Averof, had failed in England, was banished from Australia, and didn’t do much better in South Africa.

It’s well known that Jet Master’s grandmother and great grandmother resided at Summerhill, and he too, was short of Black type in his female line. His great grandmother Let’s Laugh, was the only one in the first four generations carrying such a status, and it was “small” black type for that matter, courtesy of her second place in the Allan Robertson Fillies Championship (Gr.1).

Yet these two have risen to become as good at their jobs as stallions as anything we’ve known in local breeding history, which gives the lie somewhat to those who’ve always maintained that an aristocratic background is the only key to breeding success.

Foveros of course, was the arch competitor to our own Northern Guest, as regally bred an animal as you could wish for, being by the immortal Northern Dancer and an own brother to two champions in Try My Best and El Gran Senor. This reality once prompted us in a philosophical moment, to ask the great trainer, Terrance Millard, what he understood to be a good pedigree. After fifty years in the game, his conclusion was that a “good pedigree belongs to a good horse”.

In a weekend commentary on the North American and European third crop stallions, one of the most formidable in modern history, the world’s top authority on the subject, Bill Oppenheim, devoted some attention to another “blue collar” star in the constellation, Wildcat Heir. Like our own “hot” young stallion, Var, (another blue collar job), he’s a son of Forest Wildcat and he hit the deck running with an incredible 39 first crop juvenile winners.

Said Oppenheim, “The 2010 sophomore sire phenomenon Wildcat Heir… had an amazing 30 three-year-old ABC Runners in his first crop, nine more than Giant’s Causeway and Distorted Humor.

Nobody else was even close. It’s one thing to be a leading freshman sire, but to sire 30 horses in a crop that each earn $50,000 or more in a season, that takes some doing. Very impressive.”

Wildcat Heir’s prominence on Oppenheim’s APEX rankings is mirrored on Thoroughbred Daily News’ Third-Crop Cumulative Earnings Sire List, where the 11-year-old sits third, behind the Europeans Shamardal (Giant’s Causeway) and Dubawi (Dubai Millennium), and ahead of the rest of his North American competition. Wildcat Heir had cumulative progeny earnings of $6,077,836 as of yesterday morning, about $385,000 in front of fourth placed Afleet Alex (Northern Afleet). Roman Ruler (Fusaichi Pegasus) rounded out the top five.

Wildcat Heir’s 106 individual winners (from 206 named foals) is just off Dubawi’s leading figure of 108 winners (from 210 named foals). He ranks fourth by black-type winners (10) and fifth by black-type horses (17).

The only knock against the up-and-comer is that his numbers are a bit soft when it comes to graded races.

Only one of his 10 black-type winners has won a graded stakes, last year’s G3 Old Hat Stakes heroine Richiegirlgonewild, and none of his four graded horses has placed in a Grade 1.

Then again, we are talking about a sire who began his career for a modest $8,000 fee and currently stands for $10,000, so how critical can one be about the lack of graded horses, particularly when he’s getting such consistent quality, borne out by his APEX figures.

Extracts from Thoroughbred Daily News

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THE DRAMATIC DECLINE IN US STALLION FEES

A tribute to Northern Dancer
A tribute to Northern Dancer

Click above to watch a tribute to Northern Dancer…

(Image and Footage : YouTube)

“My, my, my, how the mighty have fallen…”

On my first visit to the United States in 1986, I was privileged to visit the great farms of Kentucky, and to see the legends of those days in the flesh. On one farm, the Hancock family’s Claiborne, were Nijinsky, Danzig, Mr. Prospector, Spectacular Bid, Damascus and Conquistador Cielo, Sir Ivor, Topsider and Hawaii. But it was Northern Dancer who stood out above all, and his stud fee in those days stood at US$950,000 (on its way to $1 million). I was looking at a published schedule of current stud fees in the US a few days back, which reminded me of the brochures I’d brought back from my maiden voyage to what was then the epicentre of world breeding. These were the fees :

US STALLION FEES - 1986

Fee (US$)

Stallion

950,000

NORTHERN DANCER

750,000

SEATTLE SLEW

450,000

ALYDAR

400,000

NIJINSKY

275,000

BLUSHING GROOM

275,000

DANZIG

275,000

LYPHARD

275,000

MR. PROSPECTOR

250,000

SPECTACULAR BID

225,000

ROBERTO

225,000

SLEW O’ GOLD

200,000

NUREYEV

200,000

EL GRAN SENOR

200,000

DEVIL’S BAG

185,000

THE MINSTREL

150,000

VAGUELY NOBLE

150,000

CONQUISTADOR CIELO

125,000

CARO

125,000

DAMASCUS

125,000

RIVERMAN

125,000

STORM BIRD

Another six stallions commanded six-figure fees, making a total of 27.

Twenty six years later, there are only a handful of six figure stallions, the top price in the US being $150,000. My recollection of the top horses in 2011 is as follows :

US STALLION FEES - 2011

Fee (US$)

Stallion

150,000

A.P. INDY

150,000

DYNAFORMER

150,000

STREET CRY

125,000

DISTORTED HUMOR

120,000

UNBRIDLED SONG

85,000

GIANT’S CAUSEWAY *

* Champion Sire of the last two seasons

You wonder how the industry sustained itself in the late 1980’s (and that’s probably why when the world went belly-up in the latter part of that decade, things tumbled right out of bed), and then by contrast, you’d have to ask how farms are making it today off these substantially reduced numbers.

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EXPERIMENTAL FREE HANDICAP RATINGS FOR 2010

Barry Irwin of Team Valor with Pluck
Barry Irwin of Team Valor with Pluck

Barry Irwin of Team Valor with Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf winner, Pluck

(Image : Bleacher Report/VTA Blog)

“You’ve got an

Uncle in the Furniture Business…”

The Americans have just issued their Experimental Free Handicap ratings for 2010, for two-year-old colts and fillies. The top rated colt, Uncle Mo, ranked two pounds above the norm, making him something of a standout.

Interesting, the joint fourth rated colt, Pluck, is out of the South African-bred mare Secret Heart, and belongs to one of South African racing’s greatest admirers, Barry Irwin of Team Valor International. Here they are, together with a schedule of the stallions represented. Inevitably, the stallion list is headed by Lion Heart, a horse Coolmore banished to Turkey.

2010 EXPERIMENTAL FREE HANDICAP - COLTS

Wt

Horse

Sire

128

UNCLE MO

Indian Charlie

123

TO HONOR AND SERVE

Bernardini

122

BOYS AT TOSCONOVA

Officer

121

COMMA TO THE TOP

Bwana Charlie

121

PLUCK

More Than Ready

120

J P’S GUSTO

Successful Appeal

120

JAYCITO

Victory Gallop

120

KANTHAROS

Lion Heart

119

J.B.’S THUNDER

Thunder Gulch

119

SOLDAT

War Front

116

ROGUE ROMANCE

Smarty Jones

116

SANTIVA

Giant’s Causeway

115

ASTROLOGY

A.P. Indy

115

MAJOR GAIN

More Than Ready

115

MUCHO MACHO MAN

Macho Uno

115

WILLCOX INN

Harlan’s Holiday

114

GOURMET DINNER

Trippi

114

MADMAN DIARIES

Bring The Heat

114

RIVETING REASON

Fusaichi Pegasus

114

STAY THIRSTY

Bernardini

112

CALEB’S POSSE

Posse

112

MOUNTAIN TOWN

Cape Town

112

PREMIER PEGASUS

Fusaichi Pegasus

112

RUSH NOW

Tiznow

111

CLEARANCE CLARENCE

Cryptoclearance

111

MAYBESOMAYBENOT

Sunday Break (JPN)

111

SWAY AWAY

Afleet Alex

110

AIR SUPPORT

Smart Strike

110

BANDBOX

Tapit

110

COZY KITTEN

Kitten’s Joy

110

ROUGH SAILING

Mizzen Mast

110

TIZ BLESSED

Tiznow

110

VENGEFUL WILDCAT

Vindication

110

WINE POLICE

Speighstown

2010 EXPERIMENTAL FREE HANDICAP - FILLIES

Wt

Horse

Sire

123

AWESOME FEATHER

Awesome of Course

120

MORE THAN REAL

More Than Ready

120

TURBULENT DESCENT

Congrats

119

A Z WARRIOR

Bernardini

119

R HEAT LIGHTNING

Trippi

118

DANCINGHERDREAMS

Tapit

118

KATHMANBLU

Bluegrass Cat

118

RIGOLETTA

Concerto

118

TELL A KELLY

Tapit

118

WICKEDLY PERFECT

Congrats

116

BIG TIZ

Tiznow

116

POSITION LIMIT

Bellamy Road

116

WINTER MEMORIES

El Prado (Ire)

115

INDIAN GRACEY

Indian Ocean

114

DELIGHTFUL MARY

Limehouse

114

DIXIE CITY

Dixie Union

113

FULL MOON BLUES

Petionville

113

JORDY Y

Congrats

113

MAY DAY ROSE

Rockport Harbour

112

BELIEVE IN A. P.

A. P. Indy

112

HARLAN’S RUBY

Harlan’s Holiday

112

NEVERSAIDIWASSWEET

Eurosilver

112

WONDERLANDBYNIGHT

Sky Mesa

111

BOUQUET BOOTH

Flower Alley

111

FOREST LEGEND

Forest Camp

111

LE MI GEAUX

First Samurai

111

NIJI’S GRAND GIRL

Candy Ride (Arg)

110

GRANDACIOUS

Grand Slam

110

HOLIDAY FOR KITTE

Kitten’s Joy

110

JUST LOUISE

Five Star Day

2010 EXPERIMENTAL FREE HANDICAP - SIRES

(3 or more represented)

Stallion

Colts

Fillies

Total

LION HEART (Tale of the Cat)

1

5

6

TAPIT (Pulpit)

1

5

6

* CONGRATS (A.P. Indy)

1

4

5

* BERNARDINI (A.P. Indy)

3

1

4

* FIRST SAMURAI (Giant’s Causeway)

3

1

4

STORMY ATLANTIC (Storm Cat)

2

2

4

YES IT’S TRUE (Is It True)

1

3

4

AFLEET ALEX (Northern Afleet)

1

2

3

ARCH (Kris S.)

0

3

3

FUSAICHI PEGASUS (Mr. Prospector)

3

0

3

HARLAN’S HOLIDAY (Harlan)

2

1

3

MORE THAN READY (Southern Halo)

2

1

3

* SHARP HUMOR (Distorted Humor)

3

0

3

SMART STRIKE (Mr. Prospector)

2

1

3

TALE OF THE CAT (Storm Cat)

2

1

3

THUNDER GULCH (Gulch)

3

0

3

TIZNOW (Cee’s Tizzy)

2

1

3

WEST ACRE (Forty Niner)

1

2

3

* Freshman Sire

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ECLIPSE AWARDS : FINALLY ZENYATTA

Tribute to Eclipse Horse Of The Year, Zenyatta
Tribute to Eclipse Horse Of The Year, Zenyatta

Click above to watch a tribute to Zenyatta

(Image : Smugpessimist/Lancewilkerson - Footage : YouTube)

ECLIPSE AWARDS 2010

When the bettors gathered in the States on the weekend, they were searching for a horse that might beat Zenyatta for the title of Horse Of The Year. Life in the nearby suburbs may be as predictable as the appearance of the yellow school bus at 8am in the morning, but nothing is odds-on in Long Island City. Denied last year, (in our view, unfortunately) by Rachel Alexandra, Zenyatta got home this time, but it wasn’t entirely plain sailing. She polled 128 votes, while Blame, the only horse ever to beat her, received 102, with the three-time Breeders Cup winner, Goldikova, picking up 5 votes.

In his acceptance speech, an emotional owner Jerry Moss acknowledged the opposition. “I first want to say what a great honour it has been to have been associated with the other two finalists” reported Thoroughbred Daily News. “Blame ran incredible races, and is a wonderful racehorse. I can only congratulate Seth Hancock for the 100 years of service of his family farm (Claiborne). I can only hope for him to have the most success with Blame as a wonderful sire in the future. Also for the amazing Goldikova, what can we say?”.

Eclipse Awards 2010

Championship Leaders

Award

Winner

Horse of the Year

ZENYATTA (Street Cry)

2-Year-Old Male

UNCLE MO (Indian Charlie)

2-Year-Old-Female

AWESOME FEATHER (Awesome of Course)

(3-Year-Old-Male

LOOKIN AT LUCKY (Smart Strike)

3-Year-Old-Female

BLIND LUCK (Pollard’s Vision)

Older Male

BLAME (Arch)

Older Female

ZENYATTTA (Street Cry)

Male Sprinter

BIG DRAMA (Montbrook)

Female Sprinter

DUBAI MAJESTY (Essence Of Dubai)

Male Turf Horse

GIO PONTI (Tale Of The Cat)

Female Turf Horse

GOLDIKOVA (Ire) (Anabaa)

Steeplechase

SLIP AWAY (Skip Away)

Owner

WINSTAR FARM

Breeder

ADENA SPRINGS

Trainer

TODD PLETCHER

Jockey

RAMON DOMINGUEZ

Apprectice Jockey

OMAR MORENO

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THIS IS CNN : TIDINGS FROM AMERICA

Becky Thomas of Sequel Bloodstock with Thabiso Mgoza and Ricardo Christian
Becky Thomas of Sequel Bloodstock with Thabiso Mgoza and Ricardo Christian

Becky Thomas with Thabiso Mgoza and Ricardo Christian in Ocala, Florida, USA

(Photo : Sequel Bloodstock)

“Breeze Up Sales

are frighteningly competitive affairs…”

On a weekend when one of America’s most successful racehorse investors was with us, we have news from our own young men in that part of the world. Ebony Flyer is the three year old on everybody’s lips right now, and Team Valor’s Barry Irwin and his wife Kathleen breezed this way for the weekend. One lunchtime with Mr Irwin is like a semester at Harvard when it comes to the racing business, so needless to say, we had an intriguing couple of days. The news on Ebony Flyer, incidentally, is that she’s no longer travelling : she’s staying to contest next year’s international version of the Queen’s Plate, given the ambitions L’Ormarins and their fellow stakeholders have for the prize money next year.

Closer to home, most readers are familiar with our international scholarship programme, and the fact that we have our 39th and 40th recipients in the form of Ricardo Christian and Thabiso Mgoza on tour as we write. More specifically, they are based at Becky Thomas’ Sequel Bloodstock farm in Ocala, Florida, dubbed by Floridians as the “horse training capital of the world”. We’ve been lucky in our association with Becky, as she knows and understands what these programmes mean to our young people, and especially to a man like Thabiso, the extent of whose travel experience was confined pretty much to Mooi River and the Durban precincts till now.

Because we’ve been associated with Ready To Run sales for more than two decades, there’s a perception that everything connected with this form of marketing of racehorses, starts and ends at Summerhill. While that may bear some truth in terms of the evolution of the concept of Ready To Runs and the technical advancement of sales of this sort, the reality is that it has its roots right there in Ocala, where the O’Farrell family initiated the idea as long ago as 1957, out of a frustration with the fact that they were unable to compete at the major sales in Kentucky against the established farms there. It was at a dinner with the present generation of O’Farrells in 1987 that Mick Goss and the late Chris Smith stumbled on the idea as a solution to a similar difficulty in this country. Wrapping our product up as a running horse (as opposed to the “walking” parade at conventional sales) founded the fastest growing and most popular sale in South Africa, one which has already witnessed six more Graded Stakes winners this season alone, Igugu, Hollywoodboulevard, Blue Voyager, Mannequin, Pierre Jourdan and Arabian Mist.

In the States, the “Breeze Up” sales, as they’re known in that part of the world, are frighteningly competitive affairs, and only supreme horsemen and women survive, and thrive, in such an environment. You see, in the United States, the breezes are timed, and, in order to realize their value, horses are expected to gallop at a spectacular clip. In Ricardo’s words, as a rider of these horses, you’d better know your stuff, right down to the seamless changing of legs, maintaining your horse’s balance, and always remembering that this is a raw, relatively uneducated talent, imbued with the exuberance of youth, as well as an often explosive capacity for self-destruction.

Our “boys” are keenly aware of their responsibilities to Sequel and they know that in a world which doesn’t always appreciate these things, having a mentor who genuinely cares, is a world away from the “take-it-or-leave-it” approach many work experiences entail. These are gifted young people, born to ride horses but limited in their exposure to “life”, as most of us know it. There is no measure by which we can judge the value of these scholarships, nor the impact it has on the aspirations of those who’ve never been before.

summerhill stud, south africa
summerhill stud, south africa

For more information please visit :

www.summerhill.co.za

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WHO'S TAKING THE "BLAME"

blame and zenyatta fighting out the finish of the 2010 breeders cup classic
blame and zenyatta fighting out the finish of the 2010 breeders cup classic

Blame and Zenyatta fight out the finish of the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1)

(Photo : Leftatthegate)

BLAME (USA) (Arch - Liable)

One thing racing is not short of, is its ability to conjure emotion, even in the most practised minds. The Hancock family of Claiborne Farm in Kentucky, USA, are the most famous breeders in American history, and this story is about the latest edition to their stallion ranks, Blame, recent winner of the Breeders’ Cup Classic (Gr.1). With darkening skies creating an almost surreal atmosphere, Blame and Zenyatta, arguably the best filly in American history, put on a show for the ages in the Classic, creating a mosaic of emotions that ran the gamut between sadness, and in the end, unbridled admiration.

In what might’ve been her greatest performance, Gerry and Anne Moss’ Zenyatta’s gallant quest for an unprecedented 20-20 record fell a head short, as the great mare was defeated not only by a great horse Blame, but in some ways by the ghosts of Arthur B Hancock, and Arthur “Bull” Hancock Jnr, on the 100th anniversary of their own dominant breeding enterprise, Claiborne, which for many years epitomised the rich and colourful tradition of Kentucky’s bluegrass.

That is why Bull’s son, Claiborne’s President Seth Hancock, stood on the racetrack motionless and speechless following the race, oblivious to the eerie hush that engulfed Churchill Downs and the ensuing ovation for Zenyatta upon her return.

Hancock could only come up with one word to express his emotions: “Indescribable. Indescribable” Even then, the quaver in his voice made that one word difficult to get out, as he stared off in the distance, transfixed by the storied chapter he and his racing partner Adele Dilschneider, trainer Al Stall Jnr, and, course, Blame had just added to the Claiborne legacy. Just like the Derby gods, it’s almost like it was meant to be offered to Seth.

The cheers grew to a feverish pitch when Zenyatta, who had dropped 16¼ lengths off the pace and appeared hopelessly beaten, found a seam after turning for home and began devouring ground with enormous strides. She blew by one horse after another, and it looked as if she was going to pull off another miracle finish. But this time it was different. The only horse who stood between her and an undefeated career was Blame, the leading older horse in the country, who had burst clear of the field inside the eighth pole. She would have run down Switch or St. Trinians or Rinterval, her vanquished foes of this year, but not the leading older horse in the country on a track over which he has been dominant.

Zenyatta kept coming. Her magnificent stride and her determination were things of beauty to watch. Blame dug in as the Zenyatta express came barrelling down on him. The roar from the grandstand was deafening, with the majority of fans pleading for Zenyatta to get up. But this time it was not meant to be. For the first time in her career, the mighty Zenyatta’s powerful closing rush came up inches short.

If the racing gods Hancock alluded to had an agenda other than a Zenyatta victory, it would be to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Claiborne at Kentucky’s most historic equine site in the year of the movie “Secretariat”, who stood at Claiborne until his premature death in 1989. And there was no more appropriate horse to serve as the catalyst for that celebration of Claiborne blood coursing through his veins.

In an era when some stallions are bred up to 200 times a year, some shuttling back and forth between Northern and Southern hemispheres, Hancock refused to bend that far, feeling it would compromise the integrity of Claiborne Farm, which has been operating the old fashioned way under three generations of the Hancock family. As a result, the farm that once housed the greatest stallions in the world, is no longer quite the force it was, with the big-name stallions prospects going elsewhere. But Hancock knew Blame could become the stallion to help Claiborne return to prominence, enticing breeders who prefer quality over quantity and the long-term welfare of the horse.

Dilschneider has played a major role in maintaining the quality at Claiborne, through her partnership with the Hancocks. Her most significant contribution was elbowing Seth in the ribs at the 1996 Keeneland July Sale, to get him to up his bid to $710,000 for a yearling by Kris S.out of the Danzig mare Aurora, later to be named Arch. Nobody knew just how providential that final bid would become, as Arch turned out to be Blame’s sire.

“It was Adele who stepped in and perpetuated all this, partnering with Seth”, said Stall. “She said this is Blame’s final work and she wants to be here for it”. “Who can sleep?” Dilschnedier said. “I’m still pinching myself. I’ve been involved with the Hancock family for years, and I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for Seth. How many family-owned and operated farms are there left? That’s the beauty of this. You can’t let it slip away. And they won’t. With Claiborne, the horse always comes first”. As for her elbow into Hancock’s ribs, she said, “It worked. That was our first big one together, and it has led to this moment”.

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A GOLDEN GROUP : THE NEXT GENERATION

medaglia d'oro
medaglia d'oro

Medaglia d’Oro

(Photo : Darley Stud)

THIRD CROP STALLION POWER

One thing which constantly exercises the minds of stallion men, is where the next sire of sires is going to come from. After many years of doubting, Sadler’s Wells has truly arrived, and on the other side of the Atlantic, A.P. Indy has stamped his name in bold black type as the pre-eminent producer of young sires.

There’s been considerable conjecture of late in every facet of the racing media, including these columns, on the shift of the balance of stallion power back to Europe, a reversal of a trend which manifested itself for some thirty to forty years between the 1940’s through to the 1980’s. Somehow you wondered what was becoming of the American thoroughbred after so many years of dominance, but it seemed that with the weight of spending power so strongly concentrated in predominantly European hands, there would be no let up in the swing back.

A change in their respective strategies by the two power houses, Coolmore and the Maktoums which led to the establishment of their own operations in the USA, has to a degree, mitigated against the flow eastwards. The result has seen the emergence on the American continent of Coolmore’s Giants Causeway (Storm Cat) as Champion Sire, and for Sheikh Mohammed’s Darley, of the new giants, Street Cry (Machiavellian), and more recently, Medaglia d’Oro a grandson of Sadler’s Wells. Interestingly, both the latter two are by European-raced turf sires.

However, these horses are not alone, and the current group of third crop stallions is where the excitement rests. In a recent article labelled the Hot List, the Thoroughbred Daily News commented that this group was so good that Candy Ride (Arg) (Ride The Rails), sire of five Grade 1 winners, currently sits in fifth on that particular TDN Sire List by way of cumulative progeny earnings, while Birdstone (Grindstone), whose sons Mine That Bird and Summer Bird are both Classic winners, is sixth.

As it stands, with just about two weeks left in 2010, Medaglia d’Oro (El Prado) leads the stellar studs with $15,355,047 in progeny earnings. Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra accounts for $3,506,730 of that total, but of course Medaglia d’Oro is no one-trick pony. He sports a co-leading nine graded stakes winners and a co-leading five Grade/Group 1 winners.

The Darley stallion joins Tapit (Pulpit) and Speightstown (Gone West) as the only horse to be on the leaderboard on all five lists. From named foals, he hits at 5.93 percent clip with black-type winners (20), a 10.39-percent clip with black-type horses (35), a 2.67-percent clip with graded winners, and a 4.45-percent clip with graded runners (15).

Sitting behind Medaglia d’Oro is Gainesway resident Tapit, whose earners have bankrolled $14,330,588. The gray, sire of another top filly in the form of Stardom Bound, rivals Medaglia d’Oro in many statistical categories. His 23 black-type winners equates to a strike rate of 8.27 percent, with his 40 black-type horses checking in at a clip of 14.39 percent. His nine graded stakes winners matches Medaglia d’Oro’s number, but his 3.24-percent clip edges his rival.

In third, with $13,081,052 in earnings, is championsprinter Speightstown, who proved he could sire a Classic-distance horse when his four-year-old son Haynesfield wired the 1 1/4-mile G1 Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont in October. The WinStar stallion now has four Grade I winners in all. Lion Heart, in fourth with $12,834,440 in earnings, has been exported to Turkey for the 2011 season, while Candy Ride sits with $11,265,565 in earnings.

Standing at Lane’s End, Candy Ride joins Medaglia d’Oro as the lone stallion of the group with five Grade 1 winners.

Interestingly, the writing was on the wall very early with this group. The top five third-crop sires now were the top five freshman sires then, albeit in a different order. At the conclusion of he 2008 season, Tapit led Lion Heart, Candy Ride (Arg), Medaglia d’Oro and Speightstown. The aforementioned Stardom Bound, heroine of the G1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies, flew the flag for Tapit and was his chief earner, while Medaglia d’Oro’s leading earner that year was a filly named… Retraceable. The Mark Casse-trained filly won the $250,000 Princess Elizabeth Stakes at Woodbine and earned $227,717 that season. Rachel Alexandra, winner of the G2 Golden Rod Stakes, earned $201,440.

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WORLD TOP 30 SIRES

ap indy
ap indy

A.P. Indy

(Photo : NYC/Karen Kasper)

“Top 5% of North American

and European Sires”

bill oppenheim
bill oppenheim

Bill Oppenheim Thoroughbred Daily NewsEach year there are between 1,000 - 1,100 sires in North America, Europe, and Japan who are assigned APEX ratings.

When we talk about a “World Top 12”, therefore - given that we do know we’re really only talking about North American and European sires on the world’s number one international circuit - we are essentially saying, these are the top two percent of sires. When we say “World Top 30,” practically speaking it is the top five percent of sires. I don’t mean to diss the top Southern Hemisphere and Japanese sires, but they aren’t really on this number one international circuit, so, practically speaking, the “World Top 30” is the top five percent of available proven sires in North America and Europe with foals three years old and up.

A.P. Indy sired 9.76 percent top-two-percent earners in the major racing countries covered; Galileo sired 7.50 percent top-two-percent earners; Dynaformer, 5.32 percent; Elusive Quality and Invincible Spirit 3.62 percent. The second figure is the career percentage of “unique” A Runners to named foals of racing age. So, since his first foals raced in 1996, 14.15 percent of the named foals of racing age by A.P. Indy became A Runners in at least one year. That’s an astronomical percentage. As you can see, most younger sires from the “Big-Book Era” have considerably lower percentages. A Runners roughly equate to listed winners and above. A few years ago, if you’ll remember, our research indicated “six percent is the new 10 percent,” and six percent is the yardstick I use now for this category.

I will note that all of the current World Top 12 have A Runner indices above 2.50, and, with a couple of exceptions, their percentage of unique A Runners to foals is above seven percent. The two exceptions are Coolmore sires Danehill Dancer (6.77 percent with huge crops starting with impossible mares - this is a lifetime statistic, remember) and Montjeu (6.63 percent, but with a severe colt bias). Obviously those numbers don’t guarantee you a spot among the World Top 12, but you just about can’t get there without them. They are what are called “necessary, but not sufficient” conditions for inclusion.

As you’ll see from my (admittedly subjective) table, the first four Kentucky sires I’ve listed in the “World Next 18” portion of the table all do have A indexes of 2.50 - plus, and all have eight percent-plus unique A Runners from foals. I can’t really explain the voodoo which tells me where a sire really rates, but there must be hundreds of industry professionals who are compiling similar lists, using their own voodoo. As noted last week, I now think the balance of power among the world top 12 has shifted from North America (now five of the top 12) to Europe (now seven). But in the second tier, I counted 12 Kentucky sires, against five from Europe. Oh yes, that means one slot is open for reader input. There are 30 slots in the World Top 30, and I have only filled 29 of them. Who else deserves to be in (and no, you can’t kick out some of mine to make more room - just one opening for now)?

It’s also interesting that the two F2005 sires (first foals now five-year-olds) are both European, top 12 sire Oasis Dream and top 30 sire Dalakhani. Then the four top F2006 sires (first foals now four-year-olds), all Top 30 sires at the moment, are all North American: Medaglia d’Oro, Speightstown, Tapit, and Candy Ride; and the two F2007 sires (first three-year-olds; rarely are sires from this category included in these lists), both Darley European sires, are: newest world top 12 sire Dubawi, and newest world top 30 sire Shamardal.

Interesting, too, that Coolmore (Galileo, Montjeu, Danehill Dancer, Giant’s Causeway) leads Darley (Street Cry, Dubawi) four to two among the World Top 12, but in the remainder of the World Top 30, there are four Darley sires (Elusive Quality, Medaglia d’Oro, Cape Cross, and Shamardal), but none for Coolmore.

THE WORLD TOP 12 STALLIONS

Sire

Farm

Index*

Apex A

A’s-Fls

Pct

2010 Fee

Ring

Sold 2010

$ Average

Yearlings

A.P. INDY

Lane’s End

4.88

14.15

150,000

28

19

544,736

SMART STRIKE

Lane’s End

3.16

9.41

75,000

40

34

252,037

DISTORTED HUMOR

Winstar

2.69

10.69

100,000

29

26

381,153

GIANT’S CAUSEWAY

Coolmore

3.09

9.11

100,000

73

54

161,483

STREET CRY

Darley

2.96

9.90

150,000

40

34

282,752

GALILEO

Coolmore

3.75

8.91

private

62

47

422,698

MONTJEU

Coolmore

2.71

6.63

private

34

28

244,891

DANEHILL DANCER

Coolmore

2.68

6.77

private

42

38

186,145

DANSILI

Juddmonte

2.66

7.10

65,000

32

26

231,147

OASIS DREAM

Juddmonte

3.19

9.25

65,000

52

45

224,995

PIVOTAL

Cheveley Park

2.58

7.46

65,000

46

37

168,152

DUBAWI

Darley

2.76

7.63

20,000

37

33

174,257

REMAINDER OF WORLD TOP 30 STALLIONS

Sire

Farm

Index*

Apex A

A’s-Fls

Pct

2010 Fee ($)

Ring

Sold 2010

$ Average

Yearlings

DYNAFORMER

3 Chimneys

2.66

8.42

150,000

25

18

277,284

UNBRIDLED’S SONG

Taylor Made

2.97

8.17

115,000

64

49

181,204

PULPIT

Claiborne

2.50

8.26

60,000

36

26

155,500

AWESOME AGAIN

Adena Springs

2.84

8.03

50,000

50

34

92,071

ELUSIVE QUALITY

Darley

1.81

5.90

75,000

72

54

93,292

INDIAN CHARLIE

Airdrie

2.04

5.76

70,000

56

41

137,231

MALIBU MOON

Spendthrift

2.24

5.92

40,000

81

57

157,184

TIZNOW

Winstar

2.53

6.84

75,000

70

49

159,285

MEDAGLIA D’ORO

Darley

3.68

8.33

100,000

57

43

148,383

SPEIGHTSTOWN

Winstar

4.08

9.74

35,000

57

38

93,311

TAPIT

Gainesway

3.58

12.07

50,000

43

34

120,470

CANDY RIDE

Lane’s End

3.70

5.99

25,000

24

14

93,035

MONSUN

Schlenderhan

3.72

10.16

private

11

8

207,928

CAPE CROSS

Darley

1.93

4.55

35,000

64

52

90,819

DALAKHANI

Gilltown

3.92

7.65

50,000

37

24

109,772

INVINCIBLE SPIRIT

Irish National

1.81

5.53

45,000

40

35

146,255

SHAMARDAL

Darley

2.87

6.78

20,000

51

41

101,056

Extract from Thoroughbred Daily News

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ZENYATTA RETIRES : JOHN SHIRREFFS CONFIRMS

zenyatta with mike smith aboard finish the breeders cup classic
zenyatta with mike smith aboard finish the breeders cup classic

Zenyatta with Mike Smith aboard comes across the finish line in the Breeders’ Cup Classic

(Photo : Matthew Stockman/Getty)

“It’s unfortunate that she drops so far back…”

There had been speculation that Zenyatta (Street Cry) might be kept in training for another season, but trainer John Shirreffs said Sunday that was not the plan.

The six-year-old will return to California, but only for a brief stay. “She’ll be there for about a month,” Shirreffs said, adding, “That’s the thing about racing. As a trainer, you have to learn to let go. Heck, she’s been a champion for three years, and she’s going to a great place.” But the conditioner is unlikely to be watching the replay of the mare’s spectacular G1 Breeders’ Cup Classic effort any time soon. “It was her last race,” he said. “It’s all over. Why watch it again?”

Analyzing Zenyatta’s effort in the Classic, Shirreffs commented, “It’s unfortunate that she drops so far back. It left her too much to do.” But, he continued, “You always have that hope that she’ll get there when you see her lower her head and start stretching out.”

The trainer had no criticism for jockey Mike Smith after the race. “What could I say?” Shirreffs remarked. “I just patted him on the shoulder. He was devastated. The rest of her connections were as well. It’s been a fairy tale, and you want all fairy tales to come true,” Shirreffs concluded.

Zenyatta was scheduled to fly west Sunday night. Breeding plans have not been finalized.

Extract from Thoroughbred Daily News

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ZENYATTA GOES FOR TWENTY/20

zenyatta 2009 breeders cup classic
zenyatta 2009 breeders cup classic

Zenyatta

(Photo : Aaron Duke)

“UNDEFEATED IN 19 STARTS”

She’s not only the defending Breeders Cup Classic heroine, she’s also undefeated in nineteen starts, and in what could be arguably her final career outing, the legendary Zenyatta had her final workout at Hollywood Saturday morning, going six furlongs in 1:11 4/5 with jockey Mike Smith aboard. The six-year-old mare, accompanied by a pair of stablemates, went from the five-eighths pole to an eighth past the wire. The fractions were 0:12 4/5, 0:25 2/5, 0:48 3/5 and 1:00.

“She went better than good,” said Smith. “It was excellent. She went really, really well and probably a little better than last year. She galloped out strong and was happy coming back. She’s ready. I’m always super confident with her. It’s racing. She’s going to have to get the trip, but if she does, I think we are going to see something phenomenal.”

Added trainer John Shirreffs, “It was a tune-up. It wasn’t necessarily a fast work - she was fast at the end. That’s her style. From here, we have fun, just play. She’s got everything done we needed to do.” Zenyatta will ship to Churchill Downs Tuesday.

Extract from Thoroughbred Daily News

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THE THOROUGHBRED BREEDING SEISMIC SHIFT

nasrullah
nasrullah

Nasrullah

(Photo : Bloodlines)

“International victories tougher to come by

for North American horses.”

American-bred horses are gradually disappearing from the winner’s circles of European group stakes races.

So far this year less than 7% of the group stakes in England, Ireland, France, Germany, and Italy have been won by horses bred in the United States compared with 30% in 1985 and 32.8% in 1990. The ability of American-bred horses to compete among the most elite European runners has suffered just as much. American-breds have accounted for only 3.8% of group 1 wins this year through Aug. 30. In 1985 American-bred horses won 37.1% of the European group 1 races, according to data supplied by The Jockey Club Information Systems.

Several breeders and trainers on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean said the reasons behind this trend are no mystery. American breeders don’t support stallions whose progeny are likely to be successful in Europe running a route of ground on the grass. An equally significant change is that Kentucky no longer possesses the same status it once had as the hub of the world’s Thoroughbred breeding industry because the quality of stallions has improved substantially in other countries.

(Coolmore Stud managing partner) John Magnier told me if a horse like Sea The Stars had dominated racing 15 years ago, it would have been assumed the horses would have stood in Kentucky,” said Garrett O’Rourke, manager of Juddmore Farms near Lexington. “The difference between the 1950’s and today is the strength of the U.S. economy. At that time they could offer prices the European breeders could not refuse. Now the quality is more spread out, and you can’t do that as much anymore.”

America’s Thoroughbred breeding began growing in international stature in the 1950’s when Arthur “Bull” Hancock Jr. started acquiring top stallions from Europe. Hancock shipped their leading English sire Nasrullah and French champion and top sire Lebhuleux to Claiborne Farm, believing that sires from around the world would add vigor on American blood-sires. Hancock’s son Seth continued the tradition, bringing over 1970 European Horse of the Year and top sire Kinsky II. The 1970’s John Gaines began building his own internationally renowned stallion station called Gainesway and introduced more prominent European sires to the North American market than any other breeder. He acquired, Lyphard, Riverman, Blushing Groom, Green Dancer, Irish River, Sharpen Up and Vaguely Noble, who were all either European champions or major stakes winners. John T.L. Jones Jr. did his part too, standing European champions Alleged and Nureyev at Walmac International, while John Galbreath imported the undefeated champion Ribot to stand at Darby Dan Farm.

Part of what has kept top European runners out of the United States has been described as the “Coolmore-Darley influence.” Coolmore Stud and Darley have build up substantial stallion operations in Ireland, England, France, and Australia. Coolmore Stud, which is based in Ireland, has 19 stallions standing in Ireland, 11 at its U.S. Ashford Stud operation, and 15 in Australia, of which 10 are  shuttlers from the U.S. and Europe. Sheikh Mohammed, the ruler of Dubai, has done even more to build up stallion operations under his Darley brand. Darley owns 63 stallions : nine in Great Britain, eight in Ireland, seven in France, 27 in Australia (including 13 that shuttle from the U.S. and Europe), 16 in the U.S., and nine in Japan.

The decline in the U.S. Thoroughbred market makes it even harder for U.S. farms to recruit the next big horse. And even though E.P. Taylor proved he could stand the best horse in the world - Northern Dancer - in Maryland, the competition for stallions is remarkably stronger now around the globe.

Purses aside, the U.S. Thoroughbred breeding market has been profoundly shaped by the commercial market that offers a premium of the progeny of sires that excelled on dirt tracks. Bloodlines that promise precocious early speed are also desirable. European-type stallions - again, think turf runners with stamina - are decidedly non-commercial.

John Gosden said he sees two key problems with the American breeding industry as it relates to the rest of the world : the emphasis on dirt and speed, and the emphasis on breeding for the commercial market.

“The issue of the commercial world itself is the tendency, and we have seen it in Europe, to see breeders breeding to sell rather than to race. When you breed to sell rather than to race, you raise the horses a little differently, and I’ll leave it at that. I will say I think breeding to sell has been to the detriment of the breed.”

John Sikura of Hill ‘n Dale agreed the American breeding industry faces some challenges because of different cultural attitudes about horse racing. Overseas, horse racing is more about sport and there is status associated with owning a horse. In America, the attitude is more businesslike and less cultural, according to Sikura.

“America for better or worse is the purest capitalist country in the world,” he said. “It is easy to like the horse business when you are selling million-dollar horses. It tests your commitment when that horse sells for $200,000. There are a lot more people in the industry in this country that have an exit strategy.

A continued decline in European bloodlines in American stallions is expected to shrink future demand for all American-bred horses offered at auction because it eliminates the incentive for overseas buyers to travel to U.S. Sales.

Gosden Predicts America’s breeding industry has had its time at center stage and that the market will now shift elsewhere.

“In 10-15 years I would expect the strongest racing will be in the Far East. Continously we are suffering by being marginalized in both America and Europe. It is something we are all keenly aware of.”

“The American dirt horse is a very noble creature, but it’s not terribly relevant to the rest of the world. There has been something of a seismic shift,” Gosden said.

Extract from Blood Horse

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THE COLD WAR : DARLEY vs COOLMORE

coolmore versus darley
coolmore versus darley

“THE BREEDING SUPERPOWERS”

It seems we unearthed something of a hot potato when we penned our column, Changing Of The Guard, just over a week ago. The ink was scarcely cold, and John Berry penned an intriguing story on the same topic on Thoroughbred Internet. While what’s happening on two sides of the northern hemisphere bridges of the Atlantic might appear to be remote, the reality is, they inform the course of events the world over. As breeders, we have to maintain a currency in the genetics we employ, especially if we want to keep breeding at the top end. What is interesting about the emergence of the new stars in the Darley firmament, Street Cry and Dubawi, is that both descend from the Mr Prospector male line, a direction Summerhill has firmly pursued for close on a decade now. Where our stallions are not descended from the great American champion, more often than not, they carry his strain in their female lineage. 

John Berry writes as follows :

“With Darley and Coolmore seeming nowadays to be breeding superpowers as separate as America and Russia used to be in the days of the Cold War, it has been interesting to observe Darley’s attempts to break into Coolmore’s erstwhile dominance of the European stallion market. Coolmore’s recent position of strength was built on the stud’s two former dominant stallions Sadler’s Wells (who was pensioned in 2008) and Danehill (who died in 2003); nowadays it maintains its strength thanks to the next generation, such as the Sadler’s Wells stallions Montjeu, Galileo and High Chaparral, as well as Danehill’s son Danehill Dancer. As it currently seems to be Maktoum policy not to send mares to Coolmore stallions nor to buy yearlings by such stallions, it has thus not been easy for Darley to acquire potential heirs to the two patriarchs. However, purchasing high-class proven colts by Coolmore sires (such as Authorized, Teofilo and New Approach) has seemed not to be off limits for Darley, thus giving Sheikh Mohammed’s breeding operation the chance to recruit potentially top-class Sadler’s Wells-line sires. Set against this background, it must be particularly pleasing for Sheikh Mohammed to have unearthed two seemingly world-class stallions from a different sire-line and without having to buy from anyone else : in America his homebred Street Cry has already proved himself to be a stallion from the very top drawer, while in Europe the early evidence is that another homebred, Dubawi, is set for an equally glittering stud career.

Dubawi’s first batch of two-year-olds in 2009 did extremely well, but his results this year with his first three-year-olds have been even better. He enjoyed a great start to the current season when his son Makfi won Britain’s first Classic of the year (the 2,000 Guineas) back in the spring and he landed a second Classic a week later when his son Worthadd won the Italian Derby. Later in the month, the stallion came within a head of a Classic treble, his daughter Anna Salai being touched off in the Irish 1,000 Guineas. More recently, Makfi has claimed the scalps of Goldikova and Paco Boy in the Prix Jacques le Marois; while most recently, in a bid to claim his third Group One victory of the season, he started hot favourite for the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot. However, that proved to be a bridge too far - not that that was a problem for his sire, whose other runner in the race, the Darley-bred colt Poet’s Voice, carried the blue Godolphin silks to a splendid victory over the previous year’s winner Rip Van Winkle.

Dubawi’s success as a stallion must be doubly pleasing for Sheikh Mohammed, the horse being a member of the only crop sired by the Sheikh’s all-time favourite horse Dubai Millennium. That magnificent horse was an outstanding galloper who won all but one of his ten races (his only defeat coming when he patently found the 12 furlongs of Oath’s Derby too far for him) and who posted his best performance in the race dearest to his owner/breeder’s heart, the Dubai World Cup in 2000. Sadly, Dubai Millenium raced only once after that superb victory, dominating Royal Ascot’s Prince Of Wales’ Stakes with equal panache three months later. Having sustained a career-ending injury in trackwork later that summer, Dubai Millennium was duly retired and was favoured with a stellar book of mares for his first season at Dalham Hall Stud in 2001. Tragically, his first season at stud also proved to be his last because the son of the Mr Prospector sire Seeking The Gold died of grass sickness on 29 April 2001.

Bearing in mind the love and respect which Sheikh Mohammed clearly held for Dubai Millennium, there was a colossal weight of expectation on his one and only crop of foals. It is likely, though, that Dubawi was initially not one of those for whom the highest hopes were held, because he is far from his father’s son in appearance. While Dubai Millennium was a mighty horse in every respect, Dubawi is a small, compact horse, much less like his father than were some other members of the crop; for instance, while fellow young Darley sire Echo Of Light is clearly his father’s son on physique, there is little in Dubawi’s appearance to give the clue to his paternity. Although, however, Dubai Millennium did not bequeath to Dubawi his size and shape, he certainly passed on to him much of his ability.

Dubawi comes from a family which has generally raced for Sheikh Mohammed’s friend and relative Sheikh Mohammed Obaid al Maktoum. Dubawi’s dam Zomaradah, a daughter of the impeccably-bred Shirley Heights stallion Deploy, was bred by Sheikh Mohammed Obaid and carried his colours when, trained by Luca Cumani, she won the Italian Oaks in 1998. The same year saw another Cumani-trained member of this family, also bred and raced by Sheikh Mohammed Obaid, win the Derby : High-rise, a half-brother to Zomaradah’s dam Jawaher. It seems likely that, had he been a son of any stallion other than Dubai Millennium, Dubawi would too have joined Cumani’s stable under the ownership of Sheikh Mohammed Obaid - but, under the circumstances, it was understandable that Dubai Millennium’s sons would join the Godolphin fold. It did not take long before Dubawi began to make a good impression there : he was one of Godolphin’s first two-year-old runners the next year, making his debut in a six-furlong maiden at the evening meeting at Goodwood on Oaks Day 2004. Despite his patent greenness, he won so well there that he went off the solid 15/8 favourite for the Group Three Superlative Stakes over seven furlongs at Newmarket’s July Meeting on his next start. He won that too before graduating to Group One company on his third start when he justified odds-on favouritism in impressive style ten weeks later in the National Stakes over seven furlongs at the Curragh.

Resuming as a three-year-old, Dubawi lost his unbeaten record first up in the 2005 2,000 Guineas, in which he finished fifth to Footstepsinthesand. He soon made amends for that defeat, however, by winning the Irish 2,000 Guineas three weeks later, beating Foostepsinthesand’s stablemate Oratorio (subsequently winner of the Eclipse and the Irish Champion Stakes) by two lengths. Although his chunky physique and quick action suggested that Dubawi might emulate his sire in finding the Derby too stiff a test of stamina, he took his chance at Epsom, which seemed fair enough bearing in mind that his dam had won the Italian Oaks and that he was closely related to High-Rise, as well to the 1983 Park Hill Stakes victrix High Hawk, herself the dam of Sheikh Mohammed’s Breeders’ Cup Turf winner and top stallion In The Wings - and it seemed an even more justifiable challenge when, despite appearing to struggle with the extra distance, he ran his heart out to finish an honourable third behind the Montjeu colts Motivator and Walk In The Park.

After the Derby, Dubawi reverted to a mile, which saw him further enhance his already impressive racing record. At Deauville’s August meeting he echoed his father’s victory in the 1999 Prix Jacques le Marois by beating the top-liners Whipper, Valixir and Divine Proportions in France’s premier 1600m race, while he again followed in his father’s footsteps by contesting the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes. In this case, though, history did not repeat itself: the race was run at Newmarket rather than Ascot (because of Ascot being closed for its costly overhaul) and Dubawi did not win it. Although, however, he was beaten, Dubawi emerged from the race with his reputation further enhanced, thanks to the splendid duel up the Rowley Mile to which he and Starcraft treated racegoers. Neither deserved to lose; and Dubawi, dwarved by the massive NZ-bred five-year-old Starcraft, showed his courage as, seemingly taking two strides to Starcraft’s one, he went down by only three-quarters of a length.

After the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, Dubawi’s career diverged further from the path formerly trodden by his father : whereas Dubai Millennium had stayed in training to garner further laurels as a four-year-old, Dubawi was retired to Dalham Hall Stud, where he started covering in 2006 at a fee of 25,000 pounds. Predictably, Dubawi started off with a great book of mares, many owned by Darley but with plenty of outside mares too. This, of course, gave him a good start, but it was certainly no guarantee of success : the history books are choc-full of stallions who have been given every chance to succeed but who have still failed. Happily, Dubawi’s name will not be among them because last summer he began to sire winners with regularity, and stakes winners with remarkable frequency.

Under normal circumstances, Dubawi would have been champion first season-sire of Britain and Ireland last year, his total of 593,693 pounds representing an outstanding season for his first two-year-olds, 26 of whom won a total of 32 races within the British Isles. However, he had to cede the title to his contemporary, former stablemate, and fellow Darley sire Shamardal, 18 of whose sons and daughters won 25 races in Britain and Ireland between them and who collectively earned the astonishing total of 1,338,214 pounds. The bulk of this sum was snared by Shamardal’s Group Three-winning son Shakespearean, who picked up nearly a million pounds for winning the Goffs Million Mile.

Dubawi’s tally of Group winners from his first European two-year-olds was good, with Sand Vixen and Poet’s Voice each winning a Group Two race (the Flying Childers and the Champagne Stakes respectively). This year, his results have been even better, with Makfi and Poet’s Voice both winning Group One races, Worthadd winning the Group Two Italian Derby, Monterosso winning the Group Two King Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot, the Spanish-trained juvenile Irish Field winning the Group Two Prix Robert Papin at Deauville, Astrophysical Jet winning two Group Three races, and Anna Salai, Prince Bishop and the promising two-year-old filly Majestic Dubawi each winning one Group Three race. Furthermore, his first crop of Australian-conceived two-year-olds (like so many Darley sires, Dubawi has shuttled between Darley’s studs in Europe and Australia) included the likes of South African Group One winner Happy Archer, New Zealand Group Three winner Cellarmaster and Australian Listed winner Golden Millennium.

All told, therefore, Sheikh Mohammed is entitled to be delighted with the stud career to date of Dubawi, who looks set to confirm himself among Europe’s elite sires. It may prove to be the case that one of the Sheikh’s unproven sires, such as New Approach, might enable Darley to break Coolmore’s stranglehold on the best of the Sadler’s Wells line. In the meantime, thanks to Dubawi (and Street Cry in America), Darley, despite the death in 2004 of Street Cry’s sire Machiavellian, is in a very strong position as regards offering breeders access to the Mr Prospector line. This situation has come about at a time when Coolmore, after being the first to introduce this line to Europe via the hugely disappointing 1979 William Hill Futurity (now Racing Post Trophy) winner Hello Gorgeous, has chosen more recently to eschew Mr Prospector’s blood : every sire currently on Coolmore’s Irish roster is a male-line descendant of Northern Dancer. Were Coolmore to wish to dip its toe into Mr Prospector’s water again, what better way than buying a few sons of Dubawi? That would surely be a nice way of breaking the ice!”

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