Promising Lead
(Sporting Life)

The two most important fillies’ races in Europe last weekend provided further triumphs for a family that has risen to unprecedented heights over the last decade. Promising Lead (Danehill), who claimed her first Group 1 victory in the Pretty Polly Stakes at The Curragh on Saturday, and Treat Gently (Cape Cross), who broke through at Pattern level in Sunday’s Group 2 Prix de Malleret at Saint-Cloud, are both grand-daughters of Kerali, whose somewhat undistinguished racing record gave no clues as to the influence she would wield at stud.

Racing and breeding guru, Tony Morris, writes in the European Bloodstock News that Kerali was foaled in 1984, the product of parents who had excelled on the racecourse in rather different fields. Her sire High Line (High Hat) was aimed for the 1969 Derby after a runaway 12-length win in his Goodwood prep race, allowing hopes that he might emulate the victory of Trigo in the same colours 40 years earlier. But a rapped joint prevented his appearance at Epsom, and trainer Derrick Candy then had to nurse him through a bout of coughing before preparing him for the St Leger, the race in which Trigo had completed his English Classic double.

Much to Candy’s credit, he got his charge to the post at Doncaster, but that was as far as the colt deigned to go, defying all the efforts of the handlers to install him. Subsequent events were to suggest that High Line, twice conqueror of Leger victor Intermezzo as a four-year old, would have won on Town Moor, if he had been more co-operative on the big day.

Instead he was earn distinction as a triple winner of the Jockey Club Cup, an achievement which in former times would have stood him in good stead for a stud career, but which in 1972 meant that he would struggle to obtain patronage. It was a struggle which lasted for nearly a decade – until that memorable August day at York in 1980, when High Line products won four consecutive races, including a Group 1 double in the Benson & Hedges Gold Cup (Master Willie) and the Yorkshire Oaks (Shoot a Line).

Finally revealed as a potent source of stamina and class, High Line could at last depend on a measure of quality in his books, and one of the mares who illustrated that point in 1983 was Sookera (Roberto), who had won the Cheveley Park Stakes six years earlier for Robert Sangster and had recently been purchased by Juddmonte. Sookera’s forte had been speed, but that was not what Roberto’s products usually expressed, and it seemed reasonable to suppose that her mating with High Line would produce a middle-distance performer – with luck, one endowed with some class.

As it turned out, it was hard to know what distance suited the sparely-made, fretful Kerali, who raced only four times and tended to sweat up beforehand; she appeared to be less than enamoured of the racing experience. After she had run unplaced over ten furlongs on her first start at three, Jeremy Tree brought her back to seven for a Kempton maiden, and she won that well, showing a sharp turn of foot, but she disappointed again when tried at a mile, and that was the last that was seen of her.

Was she worthy of a place in the Juddmonte broodmare band on that record? It was probably just the evidence of that Kempton win – for which Timeform gave her a rating of 88 – which saved her from an early exit.

As it turned out, in her first 11 seasons at stud Kerali produced six daughters. Five are now dams of major winners, and the other is the dam of yearlings who have sold for fortunes.

The mare’s first produce was Dissemble, an Ahonoora filly who did not reach the racecourse and was sold for export to South America for only 3,000gns at Tattersalls’ 1992 December Sales. That might have been the last we heard of her, but no. Her first son Disport (Blue Stag) won a Group 3 in Brazil, and her third Uapybo (Blush Rambler) won a Group 1 there. Better still, her fourth, Leroidesanimaux (Candy Stripes) was sent to North America and won eight of his ten starts there, including three at Grade 1 level, and was runner-up to Artie Schiller in the Breeders’ Cup Mile.

Kerali’s second foal was Skiable (Niniski), who raced in both France and America, winning four times and earning black type as a second in Listed company at Del Mar. She became the dam of Three Valleys (Diesis), winner of the Group 2 Coventry Stakes at Ascot, and twice a Graded winner in the States before his repatriation to stand his first season at Banstead Manor in 2008.

Kerali’s third daughter in as many years was the celebrated Hasili (Kahyasi), a Listed winner herself, now recognised as the outstanding broodmare on the planet. Her first six foals – the Danehill’s Dansili, Banks Hill, Intercontinental, Cacique and Champs Elysees and their close relation Heat Haze (Green Desert) – have all distinguished themselves at Group 1 or Grade 1 level.

Hasili’s full-sister Arrive emulated her by scoring a victory in Listed company, and at the age of ten she already has two distinguished daughters to her credit. Visit (Oasis Dream) became a Group 3 winner in the Princess Margaret Stakes last year before her older half sister Promising Lead (Danehill) matched her in this season’s Middleton Stakes and surpassed her with her top-level Curragh triumph at the weekend.

Now Kid Gloves (In the Wings) has got in on the act. Kerali’s sixth daughter, a winner in France herself, has produced a talented filly in Treat Gently (Cape Cross), who confirmed the promise of her second in the Group 3 Prix de Royaumont with her resolute display to capture Sunday’s Group 2 Prix de Malleret in a three-way photo-finish.

The one daughter of Kerali who has not yet done the business is Jiving (Generous) who was culled from Juddmonte after a dismal effort in her only three-year-old start in 1999. She went to that year’s December Sales and was knocked down to Amanda Skiffington for 17,000gns, proving a rare bargain, when re-offered in foal to Danehill at Keeneland 11 months later.

By then Dansili was already a Group 3 winner and three times Group 1-placed, and with his close relation inside her Jiving was re-sold for $700,000. The three foals out of Jiving to have been sold as yearlings have realised $410,000 (Excusez Moi, by Fusaichi Pegasus), 575,000gns (Jamboretta, by Danehill), and €600,000 (Passionforfashion, by Fasliyev). The first has been placed at Group 3 and Listed level, the second has smart form to her credit, and the third showed promise on her debut.