kahalSouth Africa’s leading equestrian magazine - HQ - turns the thoroughbred spotlight on Summerhill’s Kahal this month. The article author is Nicola Hayward

The first weekend in January was a remarkable one for Summerhill sire Kahal. His daughter Bold Ellinore won the listed Flamboyant stakes over 1600m by five lengths beating three Grade 1 performers while her full brother Emperor Napoleon was so unlucky finishing a close second to Jay Peg in the Grade 1 BSA Cape Guineas. Both horses are out of the Northern Guest mare Ellinore who is out of the Home Guard mare Bold Eileen.

The current racing season has seen a meteoric rise to prominence of  Kahal who stands in KwaZulu Natal at Summerhill Stud. Kahal is a 16hh1” bay son of the great Machiavellian. He is out of the Green Desert mare Just A Mirage and was bred by Shadwell Estate; he foaled down in 1994. Kahal raced in the Godolphin colours in a career that lasted from two until six and saw him start 24 times and win on 8 occasions. He won from 1200m to 1600m on turf and crossed the Atlantic a number of times winning in the United Kingdom as well as in North America he was also placed in the United Arab Emirates.

One of the most common sources of discontent in racing fans the world over is the speed with which top horses are retired from racing (particularly if they are colts). This is the result of a burgeoning breeding market that sees many stallions earn millions in stud fees, naturally owners of colts do not wish to see a valuable stallion prospect race on as a four year old and in doing so run the risk of catastrophic injury. Unfortunately this leaves many wondering what might have been once successful three year olds are safely secured at stud. Fans of Kahal though were privileged to see the colt race for five seasons in a career that was highlighted by soundness, speed and a steely will to win even as an older horse.

In June 2003 Godolphin trainer Saeed Bin Suroor said of the horse ‘ The two quickest horses I’ve ever trained were Dubai Millennium and Kahal’ while American Hall of Fame trainer Neil Drysdale described him a ‘genuine Group One calibre thoroughbred’. Timeform rated him at 120 and he is described by the team at Summerhill as Machiavellian’s fastest son at stud in the southern hemisphere. Those involved in the vagaries of breeding Thoroughbred horses are well aware that racing success does not necessarily equal great renown in the breeding shed, but when Kahal arrived in South Africa for the 2001 season there was an air of great anticipation from those at Summerhill.

Kahal stood his first season for R10 000 and from that first crop came a number of cracking youngsters – Bhekinkosi (winner of the listed Java Handicap), Bold Ellinore (winner of the KZN Fillies Guineas, second in the G1 Garden Province Stakes and third in the Ipi Tombi Challenge), Majestic Sun who won the Grade 3 Matchem Stakes and was second in the Grade 2 Green Point Stakes, and graded placed performer Looks Like Trouble. The next crop too has produced some notable performers like Evening Attire (second in the Listed Gardenia Handicap and Goldfield Sprint, and second to the colts in the G2 Nursery Stakes ), Guineas Trial winner Emperor Napoleon and the highly rated Kehbraat. At the time of writing Kahal is 5th on the Log of Sires of Three Year Olds and thirteenth on the overall Sires Log.

The commercial market has reflected this success and at the National Yearling Sales in 2006 Kahal averaged R188 000 ( almost 19 times the covering fee in 2003) included on the sale was lot 507 a bay colt out of the Jallad mare Blushing Summer called Provence who is a full brother to Majestic Sun. His successes continued at the Emperor’s Palace Ready to Run Sale at Gosforth Park where the top three horses sold were by Kahal. Top price of R380 000 was paid for a daughter of Kahal out of the Brashee mare Bridal Paths and called Noma-India. Art of War (lot 81). A bay colt and the first produce of the Northern Guest mare Cariad was sold for R360 000 while lot 100 was knocked down for R280 000 - this was a bay colt out of the unraced Northern Guest mare Derniere Dance. Champion trainer Mike de Kock on behalf of Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Maktoum bought both of these colts.

It is not just the astonishing success of the offspring of Kahal on the track that has driven his sales figures upward, it is also that his offspring are, like their sire, very impressive looking horses – and no better place to test that than at a Ready to Run sale. The video footage of the top three lots from the 2006 Ready to Run Sale showed athletic-looking individuals that covered ground and looked like winners. The fee for Kahal for the past season rose to R 35 000, which represents outstanding value for a sire of his quality. He received an excellent book of mares in the past season that included the dams of 11 graded stakes winners (including an Oaks winner and two Equus Champions), 7 graded stakes winners and also Blushing Summer (dam of Majestic Sun), Valley Mist who has produced 5 winners including the ever-green Equus Champion Nhlavini, Ellinore dam of Bold Ellinore and Emperor Napoleon, Cousin Linda dam of Rebel King who beat Evening Attire in The SA Nursery and a number of other well performed mares with fine pedigrees.

Mike de Kock is on record as saying that in his opinion “ if Kahal gets the quality of mares that Fort Wood and Western Winter have had, he is capable of matching strides with them”.  SA HorseRacing.com described him as “the next KwaZulu Natal sire sensation”. If the first few days in January are anything to go by, Kahal means to prove them correct.

For the pedigree analysts, Kahal has a double of Natalma and a 3x4 Halo, Sir Ivor cross. His dam is inbred to Nearctic and Crafty Admiral and is a half sister to Reprimand the sire of now-deceased Summerhill stallion Fard. Mares recommended for Kahal are those with Halo or Sir Ivor, mares by Secret Prospector or Argosy or those with Nearctic or Mill Reef. Mares with male lines of War Admiral or female lines of Hail to Reason are also recommended. For those who like to look at the stallion – his conformation, movement and stature – photographs will scarcely prepare one for Kahal in the flesh; as Katrina Partridge, Business Development Manager at Summerhill commented ‘there is something unmistakably regal about Kahal  …. He has an incredible presence about him. Sometimes I think nature dictates a lot about how good a horse is in terms of the way they stand, their eye, and their general demeanour. You only need to look at this horse to see it.’

In the true tradition of our Champion Stud a new sire sensation has emerged in the Natal Midlands, his name is Kahal and he has taken off at stud where he left the track – flying.