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Eishin Flash winning the Tokyo Yushin (Japanese Derby) (Gr1)
(Photo and Footage : JRA)
By Andrew Caulfied
This could be a very big week for King’s Best, winner of the millennium 2000 Guineas. The Haras du Logis resident already has the Japanese Derby in the bag, thanks toEishin Flash’s narrow victory in the Tokyo Yushun a few days ago, and he has serious candidates for the English and French Derbys next weekend, thanks to Workforce and Simon de Montfort. For good measure, his once-raced daughter Sajjhaa is now one of the leading fancies for the Oaks, following her wide-margin debut victory at Sandown.
This clutch of Classic contenders is another example of success breeding further success five years down the line. King’s Best’s first three-year-olds raced with distinction in 2005, with Proclamation winning the G1 Sussex Stakes, Dubai Surprise the G1 Premio Lydia Tesio and Oiseau Rare the G2 Prix de Royallieu.
Another stakes winner, Runaway, was good enough to earn a Timeform rating of 118 that year, and Notability, another member of this first crop, was to become a Group 1 performer in 2006. King’s Best consequently attracted a strong book of mares in 2006, which produced his current crop of three-year olds (some 20 of which won at two last year).
It hasn’t all been plain sailing with King’s Best’s stallion career, though. Although he commanded the substantial fee of EUR35,000 for most of his first six years at Kildangan Stud, his fee fell to EUR25,000 in 2007 and then to EUR15,000 in 2008, after none of his progeny had scored at higher than Group 3 level in 2007.
Towards the end of 2008, Darley took the decision to switch him to France, a country where King’s Best had been very ably represented by such as Creachadoir (a close second in the 2007 French 2000 Guineas), Best Name (runner-up in the 2006 Prix du Jockey-Club) and Oiseau Rare.
King’s Best had completed his first French season by the time his son King’s Apostle became his first Group 1 winner in France, in the 2009 Prix Maurice de Gheest.
Perhaps some seeds of doubt had also been sown by King’s Best’s record in Australia, where he stood the 2001, 2003 and 2004 seasons. He failed to come up with a single group winner there from nearly 250 foals.
It is therefore going to be interesting to see how he fares with his first Argentine crop, conceived in 2007 at Haras Vacacion. Some of the yearlings from this crop are on offer at the Copa Bullrich sale early next week.
Part of the problem with King’s Best has been his widespread reputation for siring plenty of offspring which inherit his highly strung temperament. This was probably evident at the 2009 yearling sales, when youngsters from his penultimate Irish crop achieved a median of less than 16,000gns, off a fee of EUR25,000, with his fillies again proving a much harder sell than his colts. Of course, a difficult temperament needn’t be a barrier to high-class ability, even if it can make a trainer’s job much more challenging.
On the other hand, it mustn’t be forgotten that King’s Best was a good Classic winner - good enough to defeat Giant’s Causeway at Newmarket - or that his pedigree could hardly be more “live”. His sire Kingmambo has proved himself one of the era’s most prolific sources of European Classic winners, while his dam Allegretta will forever be remembered for producing Urban Sea, the Arc-winning mare who gave us those magnificent colts Galileo and Sea the Stars.
Breeders and trainers may be forced to reassess their prejudices if King’s Best’s Classic contenders continue to shine this week. Perhaps - rather like Kingmambo’s American son Lemon Drop Kid - he is destined to gain new-found respect as a stallion after having his ability questioned.
This winner of the 2004 Japanese Derby (also sire of this year’s Japanese 1000 Guineas and Oaks winner Apapane) is based at Shadai Farm, the organisation credited with breeding Eishin Flash.
However, as with the Kentucky Derby hero Super Saver, the people credited with breeding the Classic winner are not the people who arranged the mating that resulted in the Derby heroes. Shadai acquired Eishin Flash’s dam Moonlady for 300,000gns at Tattersalls’ 2006 December Sales, when the German bred mare was in foal to King’s Best.
If Moonlady’s name sounds familiar, it is because she spent several years in America. She arrived in America to challenge for the G2 Long Island Handicap, having already won three group races in Germany, including the G2 German St Leger over 1 3/4 miles. Her connections allowed her to take her chance, even though the Long Island was forced off the turf by heavy rain. Moonlady justified this bold decision by carrying Gary Tanaka’s colors to victory, but she was unable to win again in nine further American starts.
When I reviewed Moonlady’s pedigree after her Long Island victory, I commented, “With these bloodlines, Moonlady is virtually guaranteed a very successful future as a broodmare.” Her second dam Majoritat had possessed enough speed to win the German 1000 Guineas over a mile, plus enough stamina to take the German Oaks over 1 3/8 miles. Majoritat now has numerous stakes-winning descendants, including Macleya, who failed by only a short neck to land the G1 Prix Royal Oak in 2007, and Mystic Lips, winner of the G1 German Oaks in 2007. Two of Majoritat’s sons, Malinas and Masterplayer, were good enough to be placed in the German Derby.
One of Moonlady’s greatest attractions as a broodmare was that her pedigree is free of many of the most ubiquitous stallions, and contains very little Northern Dancer blood.
I suspect that King’s Best may have been chosen for her on the basis that he is out of a German-bred mare.
This produced two lines in the fifth generation of Eishin Flash’s pedigree to the three-time champion sire Birkhahn.
Another interesting aspect of Moonlady’s pedigree was that she is inbred 4x5 to the outstanding French stayer Reliance II. This winner of the Prix du Jockey Club and Grand Prix de Paris was a son of the outstanding Dupr‚ broodmare Relance.
Relance’s two sons by Tantieme were Reliance II and his equally talented older brother Match III, winner as a four-year-old of the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud, King George and Queen Elizabeth Stakes and Washington D.C. International. Relance did equally well when mated to Tantieme’s son Tanerko, producing Relko, winner of the 2000 Guineas in France and the Derby in England.
This was clearly a very potent combination, so the addition of an extra line to Tantieme, via King’s Best’s dam, must surely have appealed to Moonlady’s owners.
Although Eishin Flash is by a miler, there is enough stamina in his pedigree to suggest that he will stay well enough to challenge for the Japanese St Leger and the spring version of the Tenno Sho.
Extract from Thoroughbred Daily News