Reprising the remarkable rise of Polish champion Va Bank (Archipenko), you just knew it had to be Bobby O'Ryan who found him for €4,500. There he was, hidden among 587 lots in the Tattersalls September Yearling Sale of 2013, unable to meet even the sire's £6,000 covering fee for Airlie. But O'Ryan has always bought flesh and blood, rather than catalogue pages. That was how he procured a 2000 Guineas (Gr.1) winner for 30 grand; and that was how he found Wootton Bassett (Iffraaj) for £46,000.
Va Bank, of course, has since gone on a dizzy unbeaten spree in Poland, looking in a different class from the local herd, and has now extended it beyond the border with a comfortable Group 3 success at Baden-Baden last month. And he dragged the runner-up, sent off odds-on after going down by just a length in Group 1 company on his previous start, six lengths clear of the rest. Having duly confirmed his calibre, he this week enabled his owners to cash in a 50% stake to those astute readers of international form as Team Valor, whose interest in exploring his stamina extends even to having the Melbourne Cup (Gr.1) in the back of their minds.
O'Ryan has charted the full span of life's blessings and burdens this summer. On the one hand, his CV reads better than ever through the sire of the outstanding Almanzor (Wootton Bassett). On the other, he suffered the cruel loss of his cherished cousin Tom, a man no less respected in his own sphere of the business. Those watching O'Ryan work the sales this autumn will see the same old combination of hard graft and easy charm. But not all of them will have seen Va Bank. They will find the videos well worth a look. When a horse keeps on winning this way, he is now 12-for-12, one ahead of Winx (Street Cry), you just don't know where things might stop. But you do know where they started.
It is nice to think that Atty Persse may prove equal to the distinction of his christening, which preserves the memory of the great Henry Seymour Persse. Forever honoured as trainer of The Tetrarch, one of the fastest juveniles in history, Persse also schooled the young Cecil Boyd-Rochfort, who would, of course, one day, hand over his own stable to his stepson, Frankel's trainer Henry Cecil.
Despite poor fertility, The Tetrarch left a profound impression on the 20th Century Thoroughbred. And he never raced at three, owing to injury. So we cannot be too dogmatic. Nonetheless, traditionalists will be depressed to see that Mehmas (Acclamation) announced as the latest to be heading to stud, not by accident, but by design, as a 3-year-old.
It worked big time for another son of the same sire, of course, in Dark Angel (Acclamation). And both his physique and his professional precocity make it pretty plain that Mehmas might struggle to maintain his current profile at three. But the road also taken by the likes of Zebedee (Invincible Spirit) and Approve (Oasis Dream) is not the hard road; not the road that fully explores traits that might best sustain the breed.
These sires can get you a fast horse; and they might very well make you a fast buck. But they will not, unlike The Tetrarch, get you three St Leger (Gr.1) winners! To those supporting these pubescent stallions, of course, that is precisely their dismal appeal.
Extract from Thoroughbred Daily News / Irish Field (p)