Tom and Sophie Magnier with Fastnet Rock - Video of Fastnet Rock/Dream Play Trial
(Image: Summerhill Stud - Footage : Lindsay Park)
The news that Tom Magnier was to be a keynote speaker at our Winter School in July caused something of a stir in local circles. As a family, the Magniers are about as low profile as they come, and as a son of the greatest visionary the world of thoroughbred breeding has ever known, and as the head of Coolmore Australia, his presence in our valley was something of a coup for the racing and breeding industries in South Africa. The longevity of any enterprise of Coolmore’s ilk constitutes a preoccupation for its founder, and all of us have to be concerned with issues of succession. Tom Magnier’s lecture in July was the best signal, if ever one was needed, that John Magnier’s legacy is in good hands, remembering that in Ireland and America, he has a natural deputy in another son, “M.V.”.
Securing the legacy however, in the context that Coolmore is justifiably classified as the premier stallion operation in the world, and the only one in history with the simultaneous distinction of housing the champion sires on three different continents (Galileo in Europe, Giant’s Causeway in the United States and Fastnet Rock in Australasia), demands the unveiling of the successors to these giants of the genetic world.
As any student of international sales will tell you, the Coolmore group have not been shy in putting their hands up at auctions across the world in their attempt at acquiring the best stock of their very best stallions, a pattern which emerged decades ago and guaranteed them their supremacy in every aspect of the stallion business. Together with John Magnier’s father-in-law, Vincent O’Brien, and the football pools’ magnate, Robert Sangster, the trio cornered the international market for sons of the world’s greatest stallion of the era, Northern Dancer, and subsequently identified his most prolific sire-producing son, the Claiborne stallion Danzig, as another enduring source of stallion material. This process netted them among several other outstanding stallions, the all-time record-breaking services of the immortal Sadler’s Wells, together with those of Danehill, the only stallion in history to secure sires’ premierships in both the northern and southern hemispheres. The former is represented by the offspring of Galileo, the world’s outstanding stallion of the current era; Europe’s most successful Classic sire of modern times, Montjeu, and the firmament’s rising star, High Chaparral, while Danehill’s gift to breeding, is best expressed in his astonishingly dominant son, Fastnet Rock, “Down-under”.
Naming horses is a taxing business, as all of us in this game know, and we like to believe that Coolmore’s latest “prospect” in Australia, Zululand, is a compliment to the pleasures unearthed in this neighbourhood by Tom and Sophie Magnier during their winter sojourn with us. A $1.5million yearling, Zululand trialled for the first time this past week, and while it’s early days yet, it looks like the Coolmore boys can sleep easy for a while.