Left to Right : Solskjaer, Stronghold, Way West
(Photos : Summerhill Stud)
(Please click photos to enlarge… )
SOLSKJAER, STRONGHOLD AND WAY WEST
Racing fans with long serving memories, will recall the announcement of an era in European breeding was previously unheralded. The first crop of Sadler’s Wells(who went on to take an unprecedented 14 champion sires titles) were just two year olds, and in the best juvenile race on the calendar, the Dewhurst Stakes (Gr.1), Scenic (who went on to a triumphant career at stud) and Prince Of Birds, dead heated for the spoils. No first crop sire had ever been represented by the first two past the post in the Dewhurst (by any sire, to our knowledge) and it took another eighteen seasons before it happened again on Saturday.
This time it was the four-time group winning son of Danehill(yes, Danehill again) Oratorio, who supplied the goods, as his appropriately named son, Beethoven grabbed the cash from his paternal half brother, Fencing Master, to mark the beginning of a new history.
Could this be a portent of a second “coming” of Sadler’s Wells, and while many may consider that a rhetoric question (could there ever be another stallion of Sadler’s Wells class?), there is nothing to suggest that it can’t.
At Summerhill, we’ve long lamented the fact that this country appears, at large, to have missed the Danehill boat, given that in Australasia at least, Danehill is the greatest sire phenomenon in history, and is already represented by three individual champion sire sons, while only last weekend in Europe, with Group One winners on both sides of the Atlantic, Rock Of Gibraltar reminded us that Danehill Dancer is not the only Danehill son with aspirations of championships in the northern hemisphere.
Fortunately, Summerhill saw the train coming, and we’re home to the three best performed sons of Danehill on the African continent, two of whom, Solskjaer and Way West, are represented by their first crop at the sales this year. Ready To Run watchers at last Friday’s gallops, were stunned by the performances of the Way Wests (you’d have expected them to be forward, being the issue of one of the most explosive juveniles of his year in Australia), while we all know that the Solskjaers brought the house down at the Nationals, not only with the sales-topping filly, but in the people that pursued them. Ormond Ferraris, Charles Laird, Mike Bass, Mike de Kock, Herman Brown Jnrand Team Valor’s Barry Irwin, made up the admirers. It seems that at the auction at least, they’ve already caught the imaginations of the local racing public.
That’s not the end, though, because the outcome of England’s Champion Stakes (Gr.1) on the weekend, produced another boost for our third son of Danehill, Stronghold, when Twice Over went one better than his effort last year in grabbing the main prize. While he’s not a son of Danehill himself, he happens to belong to the same family as Stronghold. When we speak of this man, we need to remind ourselves that the best rating agency in the world, Timeform, rated Stronghold the best handicapper in Europe in 2006. Yes, the very best in Europe.