stallion albarahinSire of Mystic, Albarahin
(Photo : John Lewis)

The outcome of Thursday’s main event at the Vaal was a timely reminder that us breeders often appear to have a short-sighted vision, driven no doubt by the commercial imperatives of the desire to cull. All too soon, we’re often guilty of prejudging a family’s destiny, based most times on a perception of the saleability of a mare’s progeny. The result is, by the time the subject mare has had as few as three or four foals, and the commercial returns have not quite met expectations, we quickly resort to the chopping block, forgetting just as suddenly, all the good reasons for the mare’s acquisition in the first place.

Mystic’s lightening closure for victory in the 7th on Thursday; recalled the value of patience and the underlying purpose of family-building. We’ve said it before, but it’s worth repeating; at Summerhill our mating policies are not driven by commercial outcomes alone. Truth is, they never enter our thoughts. Rather, we prefer the process of trying to breed a racehorse first, and then trusting the market to respect the result by paying a fair price for the progeny.

While there is a possibility this policy can cost you in the sales ring to a certain degree, there is little doubt of its contribution to the respect you earn when you breed a Champion.

Returning to Mystic, he’s a son of a bread-and-butter stallion (Albarahin), out of a mare (Vanish, by Coastal) who herself was the subject of some derision as a foal and as a weanling, when some of our number at the time doubted her value as a prospective runner, let alone a broodmare. But we’d ventured this far for a reason, and Vanish’s dam, the Lyphard mare Cahard, like her own sire, (a diminutive, natty little model of a horse,) had been bought out of the memorable Nelson Bunker Hunt dispersal, with the long road in mind. Here she was, producing an equally diminutive result, (notwithstanding Coastal’s 16.1 ½ h.h,) in the effort to get something with range and scope.

Vanish was spared the “knackers” and leased to an erstwhile customer of Summerhill, Brian Burgess, where she displayed the lion-heart at the races, accumulating four victories in fairly competitive company, despite her “tinyness”. The rest is of course, a matter of history.

Besides Mystic, she’s produced 100% winners from runners, including the 9 time Group One winner Disappear, who was the first to get the ball rolling in what has become a celebrated affair between Muhtafal and Coastal mares.

So where is the parable? Breeding is a long term process and it demands endless patience. The reality though, is that with few exceptions, with the benefit of judicious selection, quality stockmanship and proper husbandry, you can get a respectable response from most mares and we’re reminded at this time of a conversation we shared with Lionel Cohen a few years back on this topic. You see, we’ve a common thread with Lionel on this score, and in a discussion about flawed physical specimens in the broodmare population, he simply said “we can always breed this out, can’t we?” Applying this principle, the rare likes of Lionel have produced one good horse after another for so long now, no-one can gainsay the weight that accrues from great stockmanship.