(Photo : Three Chimneys Farm)
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“THIS GROOM’S GOT NO REASON TO BLUSH”
There was a time when we had our own son of Blushing Groom, one-time hero of the Princess of Wales Stakes (Gr.2), Desert Team, who still holds the record for the fastest twelve furlongs in British racing history. When you think that the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes and the Epsom Derby, are both run over that distance, it says something for Desert Team’s talent, even if it was only ever realised once in his lifetime. While he turned out something of an inconsistency as a stallion, he did have his moments in the likes of Gold Cup ace, Cereus, the St.Leger victor, Stud Master, and the Acacia Handicap heroine, Dot Dot Dash, (dam of one of Muhtafal’s better current performers, El Padrino).
While Blushing Groom left behind several other top level stallions, including the best British classic sire of the last couple of decades, Rainbow Quest, it’s arguable that he had no more effective son in the United States than Rahy, who like Desert Team, was a Group Two winner, as well as being the property of the late Sheikh Maktoum. His recent retirement prompted a tribute from the celebrated commentator, Andrew Caulfield :
Any breeder who remembers the 1980s and 1990s will appreciate that stallions don’t come much better than Blushing Groom - a French champion who became one of the jewels in Gainesway’s crown after impressing John Gaines with his exceptional action.
“The thing that impressed me the most was his way of going,” Gaines once said. “He had a beautiful flowing, rhythmical action. It was marvellous to see.”
Blushing Groom’s action was just one of the impressive things about him, but unfortunately, this phenomenal sire didn’t enjoy the best of health. He first underwent surgery to remove a cancerous testicle at the age of 14 in 1988, sired his last small crop at 16 and was dead at 18, in 1992. It is a measure of Blushing Groom’s tremendous efficacy that his 47 live foals of 1989 included six group winners, headed by the sensational Arazi, and that the excellent fillies Sky Beauty and Gold Splash were among his 29 live foals of 1990.
There were even three stakes winners among the 10 foals which made up his final crop.
Altogether Blushing Groom left only 512 named foals, of which 18 percent became stakes winners and roughly 11 percent became group/graded winners, in the process crediting him with a stunning Average Earnings Index of around 4.00. He could even claim to have 4.7 percent Group 1/Grade 1 winners to his credit, and how many stallions manage to sire five percent graded winners of any level?
But, with none of his Group 1/Grade 1-winning sons being younger than 20, we are approaching the end of an era. We were reminded of this early in July, with the announcement that Rahy - arguably his last major stallion son - has been pensioned at the age of 24 because of declining fertility.
Although Rahy didn’t rank among Blushing Groom’s Group 1 winners, he was an excellent performer at his best and he was also very well-connected, too – as might be guessed from the $2,000,000 he cost Gainsborough Stud Management at the 1986 Keeneland Selected Yearling Sale.
With a background like this, Rahy represented an interesting prospect at his opening fee of $15,000 when he retired to Three Chimneys in 1990 – provided breeders were prepared to take a chance on a stallion standing only 15.1 hands. He wasted little time in proving his worth, with Miss Ra He Ra winning the GIII Bashford Manor Stakes and Mariah’s Storm the GII Arlington-Washington Lassie Stakes in 1993. Mariah’s Storm, of course, went on to become the dam of Giant’s Causeway, who increased his total of Grade I winners from his first five Northern Hemisphere crops to an impressive 13 when Internallyflawless won the Del Mar Oaks last Saturday.