He's the best racing son in Africa of the best shuttle stallion of the modern era. Which is saying something considering Gimmethegreenlight downed Variety Club in the Queen's Plate. With a Timeform rating of 123 pounds, he's the second highest-rated northern hemisphere son of More Than Ready. He ran the world's best three year old, New Approach to a half-length at levels in the Irish Champion Stakes (Gr.1). He was quick enough at two to be unbeaten over 1200 metres, and classy enough as he grew up to excel at the distance of the Durban July. He has the physique of a bodybuilder, a "big, strong, lengthy colt and a very smart performer," according to racing's "bible", Timeform. That's our man, Traffic Guard.
When it comes to family, he takes a bit of beating. In a speed crazy country where precocity is the watchword, his dad has twice been Champion Juvenile Sire, with two winners of the world's richest two year old race, the Golden Slipper. His C.V. talks of two Breeders Cup Juvenile champions in the United States to book. And to bring it all home, his mom is a sister to the South African Derby ace, Chief Advocate, from the family of Terrance Millard's Durban July star, Occult, successful stallion, Le Cordonnier and the top racehorse Erin's Isle.
So you ask yourself, so what? The racing world is strewn with Group One glitterati who left their reputations on the racecourse, and never quite cut the mustard in the barn; what's more, none of us really knows if they're up to it until their runners reach the races. For now, we can only search for the signs, those clues to the makeup of champion stallions that give them away. While it's always a case of different strokes for different blokes, one of the giants of the "stallion-making" realm was "Bull" Hancock, whose tenure at Claiborne Farm in Kentucky presided over the era of Nasrullah, Bold Ruler, Nijinsky, Princequillo, Round Table and Buckpasser, and laid the foundations for the arrival of Mr. Prospector, Danzig and Secretariat. Hancock formulated five fundamental criteria by which he measured stallions, and "Hancock's Laws" soon became the hallmarks of many a stallion great; it's probably worth a dip at guessing how Traffic Guard measures up:
- A stallion should show good two year old form: Traffic Guard had the speed to go two unbeaten rounds with some of the better two year olds in England.
- He should have won over 1 1/4 miles and shown good acceleration at some stage in the race. While Traffic Guard's finest moment might've come as the runner-up, it came against the world's best three year old at weight-for-age over ten fulongs in a Group One. That means he was giving a chunk of weight to the best in the world, and was closing him down at the finish. Speaking of acceleration, I can only recommend you visit our website and download the movie.
Coming from behind, Traffic Guard ran his rivals into the ground in the August Stakes; in the Champion Stakes, he gave start and very nearly a beating to a horse who'd won the Coventry at Royal Ascot as a juvenile, smashed them in the Guineas and who'd run away with the Derby.
- He should have raced sound: Traffic Guard competed against the best, and he gutsed it out with the best handicappers in Europe, most times under the welter burden of top weight.
- He had to look like a stallion, which means he should have a strong, masculine appearance. Timeform says it all: at the risk of repetition, "Traffic Guard is a big, strong, lengthy colt". As for his masculinity, ask our boys in the stallion barn.
- He had to come from a strong family and, in our view, should be the son of a sire-of-sires: Traffic Guard's family says it all.
So, you ask yourself, what else could a woman want? Well, there were enough of the fairer sex at the gallops on Wednesday, and several in the audience put up their hands for the Traffic Guards. While not necessarily your typical ladies' man, as good a "talent-spotter" as there is, Louis Goosen counted six of them in his upper echelon. Which accords closely with the judges: with only 12 live opportunities in the sale, five of them made the "finals" of the panel.
Traffic Guard / Greig Muir (p)