Galileo's Choice wins Kilternan Stakes
Galileo's Choice wins Kilternan Stakes

Click above to watch Galileo’s Choice winning the Kilternan Stakes (Gr3)

(Photo : Racing Post - Footage : Horse Course Int)



Tony Morris - There is a common perception that both stallions and mares deliver poorer-quality stock in their later years. In fact, as a general rule it is one that can hardly be refuted, but it is important to acknowledge the reasons for it and recognise that exceptions can and do occur.

Like so much else in the thoroughbred breeding world, this is a phenomenon influenced primarily by the behaviour of breeders. A horse’s genetic make-up remains the same from birth to death, so in theory there should be no reason why, if it proves capable of producing high-class stock early in its stud career, it should fail to do so in later life. The theory is undermined by practice.

It is a rare stallion who is afforded the opportunity to cover quality mares in his twenties, with declining fertility just one of several reasons why breeders tend to neglect the older horse and favour those endowed with the vigour and virility of youth. Similarly, while mares tend to be granted good chances with stallions in high repute when they are young, only those with outstanding breeding records are afforded similar opportunities in old age.

Accordingly, it is no surprise that examples of major successes for the progeny of aged parent stock are quite rare, but we should always be aware that the possibility exists. The likes of Northern Dancer, Mr Prospector and Sadler’s Wells all sired Gr.1 winners when well into their twenties, because they had compiled such exemplary records at stud that breeders never gave up on them.

Hyperion, six times Champion Sire, got two-year-old filly Champion Opaline when he was 27 years old.

Perhaps the best example in recent years of an aged mare delivering a top-class performer was that of the proven quality producer Brown Berry, a daughter of Mount Marcy foaled in 1960. Aged eight, she became the dam of major Stakes-winner Unconscious (Prince Royal); at twelve she produced Santa Anita Derby winner and Kentucky Derby runner-up Avatar (Graustark), and two years later his full-brother Monseigneur, a dual Gr.2 winner in France; three more Stakes-placed performers came along later. Her record was such that she was always going to be mated with top-class horses, and at the age of 25, to the cover of Alleged, she gave birth to Hours After, winner of the 1988 Prix du Jockey-Club.

The subject of aged parent stock came to mind as a result of a look at the pedigree of Galileo’s Choice (Galileo), whose victory in last Saturday’s Gr.3 Kilternan Stakes at Leopardstown impressed trainer Dermot Weld sufficiently to contemplate challenges for both the Irish St Leger and the Melbourne Cup. The late-developing gelding, who came into last weekend’s race somewhat unusually via victories in a maiden hurdle at Galway and an amateur riders’ event at Killarney, has close-up antecedents who include products of both an aged stallion and an aged mare.

I thought there must be some mistake when I read that Galileo’s Choice was out of a Sir Ivor mare. After all, Sir Ivor was foaled 46 years ago, and I could not recall when I had last come across him as broodmare sire of a Pattern winner; it was probably in 2002, when Margarula won the Irish Oaks. However, I discovered that there was no mistake. The gelding’s dam, Sevi’s Choice, was one of a dozen foals in what turned out to be the final crop by Sir Ivor, born when he was 27 years old.

Extract from European Bloodstock News