Await The Dawn

(Photos : Summerhill Archives)

“We can’t think offhand of a comparatively young stallion whose sons

are making a greater impression at stud than the three-time

American champion, Giant’s Causeway.”

Claiborne Farm in Kentucky was once the marquee stallion station of the world. Hark back to Sir Gallahad III, Nasrullah, Bold Ruler, Nijinsky, Mr. Prospector, Danzig and Secretariat, the list is endless; now they have War Front, widely touted as Danzig’s clone, but it doesn’t end there; the yellow and black-trimmed whitewashed buildings are once again bathing in sunlight. At Gulfstream Park on Sunday, Claiborne unveiled a fresh luminary in the time-honoured Donn Handicap (Gr.1) when Lea came home in commanding fashion ahead of last season’s champion three-year-old colt, Will Take Charge.

Stallions are the life-blood of any farm of Claiborne’s scale, and in Lea, they’ve not only uncovered one of obvious potential, but they’ve also found confirmation that in his own sire, First Samurai, there is another string to the War Front bow. Just a few days back, the world’s number one stallion guru, Bill Oppenheim identified the ten stallions which in his opinion represented the Northern Hemisphere’s best value in the under £25,000 (or Euros or dollars, if you wish) range. While these are obviously not yet the world’s elite commercial stallions, they nonetheless represent a formidable crust in what remains a fairly expensive bracket, and besides the already much-acclaimed Shamardal (who belongs in the upper echelon), Oppenheim put his finger on three sons of the emerging sire of sires, Giant’s Causeway among those ten.

First Samurai was obviously among them, having already put up his hand with three Grade One aces from just a few crops at the races, the other being the juvenile Executiveprivilige, and the sprinter, Justin Philip, whose exceptional exploits found a place at the fabled Darby Dan stallion station. Another was Footstepsinthesand, of who Oppenheim said “it seems every time you turn around there’s a “Footsteps” showing good form in decent company” and “he’s deservedly getting very popular now”. Of Frost Giant, he commented “he’s sure made an impressive start, and he has a really impressive pedigree, too”.

While this might be a wild guess, we can’t think offhand of a comparatively young stallion whose sons are making a greater impression at stud than the three-time American champion, Giant’s Causeway, and for those who patronised Await The Dawn in his first season here in 2013, this news will surely come as a comfort. Last Friday, the European Bloodstock News carried a column on this celebrated racehorse’s first season at stud, and a stellar “book” which included Bridal Paths (Thekweni Stakes, now Gr.1); Checcetti (Gerald Rosenberg Stakes, Gr.2); Coastal Waltz (E. Cape Horse Of The Year and dam of No Worries); Dignify (Golden Slipper Stakes, now Gr.1 and dam of Stakes winner, Distinguished); Dream Starling (dam of Group performer, Cookie Monster); Fisani (Fillies Guineas and Gerald Rosenberg heroine); Nadira (dam of Showmetheway); Precedent (Flamboyant Stakes, Gr.3); multiple Stakes winner Princess Sassi; Real Red (Gr.2 performer); Surfer’s Eye (dam of Gr.1 filly, Admiral’s Eye and Stakes performers Saltwater Girl and Rapid Flow) and Winning Glory (Stakes winning dam of South Africa’s winning-most racehorse, Hear The Drums).

It’s worth noting too, from a planning perspective, that Giant’s Causeway himself has had significant success in line-breeding experiments with daughters of his own grandfather, Storm Bird, no better exemplified by the fact that in crosses with daughters of Thunder Gulch, he’s achieved an excellent 19% Stakes winners-to-foals ratio. While there’s not a great deal of Storm Bird blood per se in this country, other than through Await The Dawn’s own grandsire, Storm Cat, at the physical level, there are several permutations which might be worth pondering. The use of daughters of Var (especially), Tiger Ridge, Black Minnaloushe, Tiger Dance and Mogok as potential foils for a horse who stands head and shoulders above any other member of the local tribe in his racecourse performances, would yield a similar theoretical outcome and could be rich in dividends, provided breeders make judicious use of the appropriate complimentary types.

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Linda Norval +27 (0) 33 263 1081

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