One undoubted benefit of the shuttle stallion concept is that a stallion can be seen in a new light by breeders in one hemisphere, thanks to his achievements in the other. There’s arguably no better example of this than the great Danehill, who was once on the brink of becoming just another stallion on Coolmore’s star-packed Irish roster. In 1994, in his fifth season, Danehill’s fee was a mere IR9,000gns, which placed him only 10th in the pecking order among Coolmore’s Irish stallions.
Although he started to flourish with his northern hemisphere runners in 1995, the Coolmore team was prepared to lease him to Japan for the 1996 season, which suggests he still wasn’t considered vital to the operation’s success.
It was a different story in Australia. Three consecutive titles as champion sire of juveniles were immediately followed by three general sires’ championships, and Danehill had the winner of the prestigious Golden Slipper Stakes in each of his first three crops. Altogether he was champion sire nine times in the space of 11 years, his last championship coming in the 2004/5 season.
These achievements can only have helped boost Danehill’s reputation in Europe, where he eventually became champion sire in 2005, 2006 and 2007.
Part of Danehill’s appeal as a stallion, from a pedigree viewpoint, was that he was inbred 3x3 to Natalma, one of three daughters of Almahmoud to have produced a champion stallion. This, in turn, will have reflected well on More Than Ready when the Vinery stallion arrived to stand his first season in Australia at a fee of A$22,000 in 2001. More Than Ready is by Southern Halo, a horse inbred 3x4 to Almahmoud through Cosmah and Natalma, so he had obvious appeal as a mate for mares with Danehill blood.
It is worth pointing out that the last few years have seen a flourishing partnership develop between Danehill and Machiavellian, another stallion with a parent inbred to Almahmoud through Cosmah and Natalma. Danehill sired four stakes winners from only 10 foals out of Machiavellian mares and Machiavellian’s son Medicean has two group winners among his first eight foals out of Danehill mares. Incidentally, Southern Halo isn’t the only son of Halo with a good record with Danehill mares. Sunday Silence (who isn’t inbred to Almahmoud) sired four stakes winners, including the dual Grade II winner Silent Name and the classic placed Japanese colt Six Sense.
More Than Ready has also flourished with Danehill’s daughters and granddaughters. His first Australian crop featured two very good - but very different - colts out of Danehill mares. One, Perfectly Ready, was a Group 1- winning sprinter, whereas the other, Benicio, won the Gr1 Victoria Derby over 1 9/16 miles. And now More Than Ready has sired Sebring, the unbeaten winner of the Gr1 Golden Slipper Stakes, from a mare by Flying Spur, one of Danehill’s five Golden Slipper winners.
Sebring is More Than Ready’s second stakes winner from his first six foals out of daughters of Flying Spur, a stallion inbred 4x4x5 to Natalma.
Danehill isn’t the only son of Danzig to appear among the broodmare sires of More Than Ready’s best winners. The American Grade II winner Ready To Please is out of a Pine Bluff mare, while Augusta Proud, the filly who lost her unbeaten record in the Golden Slipper, is out of a Langfuhr mare. Interestingly, Pine Bluff was also inbred 4x4 to Almahmoud (while Langfuhr is closely inbred to Nearctic, who sired Northern Dancer from Natalma). More Than Ready also sired the Group 1-placed Australian filly Deloraine from a Danzig mare.
Before we attribute all of Sebring’s considerable talent to these multiple lines of Almahmoud, I should quickly point out that he is another high-class winner whose pedigree features inbreeding to both Mr. Prospector (4x4) and Northern Dancer (4x5x6).
More Than Ready now looks to have the two-year-old sires’ championship sewn up, having earned more than three times as much as his nearest pursuers, Encosta de Lago and Red Ransom. He had finished a remote second to Redoute’s Choice on this list in 2004/5, when Carry On Cutie won the Gr1 Champagne Stakes, and there’s every reason to think he’ll continue to shine in this sphere. The five-time juvenile winner has covered at least 120 mares in each of the last four Australian seasons and is sure to be in great demand later this year.
More Than Ready is obviously a very fecund stallion. If you combine the number of mares covered in each hemisphere, he coped with 297 in 2004, 331 in 2005, 272 in 2006 and 299 last year. It will be interesting to see whether raising his fee from $40,000 to $60,000 affects the size of his Kentucky book this year. Although I am a fully paid-up member of More Than Ready’s fan club, I couldn’t help thinking $60,000 was plenty to pay for a horse still awaiting his first northern hemisphere Grade I winner after four years with runners. That said, he sires an attractive proportion of tough stakes winners, and it would be no surprise to see his profile continue to rise in the northern hemisphere, thanks partly to his Australian achievements.
Extract by Andrew Caulfied from Thoroughbred Daily News