muhtafal stallionMuhtafal
(John Lewis)

nicola haywardNicola Hayward Thoroughbred InternetMr Prospector has had a huge impact upon thoroughbred breeding worldwide, both through his sons and daughters. While the success has perhaps been felt most on the dirt tracks of America, there have been horses like Machiavellian, Kingmambo and Gone West who have left an indelible mark on the turf tracks of the world.

Arguably the most successful son of Mr Prospector to stand in South Africa is Muhtafal. Out of Canadian Broodmare Of The Year Polite Lady (Venetian Jester), Muhtafal is a full brother to Canadian Horse Of The Year and Champion 3YO Colt Afleet. He was born in 1992 and he won 2 of his first three starts over 1200m setting two track records in the process. In the Derby Trial G3 Muhtafal was injured and his racing career brought to an untimely end. Ironically it was an injury sustained in the 1973 Derby Trial that had ruled Mr Prospector out of the Kentucky Derby (won by Secretariat) of that year.

Muhtafal was retired to Shadwell Farm in Kentucky in 1997 where he stood for 2 seasons. From his first crop of 15 foals he produced 13 winners, 3 Stakes winners and 2 Stakes-placed. Notable progeny include Polite Lil Lady, Ya Lateefah, Charmu, X Country and Saudi Sadie. In 1999 he was moved to South Africa where he stood his first season at Summerhill Stud.

Over the years Muhtafal has sent out a steady stream of tough, sound and honest horses that have seen him rise up the General Sires Log from 18th spot at the end of the 2004/05 season to 5th at the end of 2007/2008. What makes this performance all the more remarkable is that 85% of his progeny have had success over distances of a mile or less. Thus the lucrative classic races generally do not go the way of his offspring, yet the statistics bear testament to his success.

In August, his son Battlestar Express took the first Listed race of the new season when he won the Umngeni Handicap over 1000m. Battlestar Express is out of the National Assembly mare National Empress who is a daughter of Off To War the dam of Captain Al. Captain Al is the sire of Captain’s Lover who won her first Graded outing on foreign soil in France on Sunday.

While there are a number of dirt tracks in South Africa, all the major meetings take place on turf with the most important dirt race being the G2 Emerald Cup at the Vaal over 1450m at the end of September. This year, Muhtafal has had a significant impact upon the build up to the race. Ten days ago on the sand track at the Vaal the Listed Riviera Handicap was run over 1450m and went the way of Alejate a 6YO daughter of Muhtafal out of the Northern Guest mare Tristam’s Frolic. In the previous race, the Listed Banyana Handicap (1000m), Nottgalashia a daughter of Muhtafal out of the National Assembly mare Isle Of Plenty was too good for the rest of the field giving Muhtafal a unique Listed double for the day.

The purple patch continued into the weekend past when Paris Perfect was named East Cape Horse Of The Year and Champion 3YO Colt/Gelding at a ceremony in Port Elizabeth. Paris Perfect is out of the Honor Grades mare Candle Princess and won the Listed Racing Association Stakes and the East Cape Guineas and was runner up in the G3 East Cape Derby. In 18 starts he has only been out of the money on 3 occasions.

To date Muhtafal has sired 3 Group One winners. Disappear a son of the Coastal mare Vanish won the Mercury Sprint over 1200m and the Post Merchants G2 while Outcome, a daughter of the Elliodor mare Culminate won the G1 Garden Province Stakes over a mile. The colt Lets Rock ‘n Roll who is out of the Northern Guest mare First Arrival won the G1 Golden Horse Shoe sprint (1200m). The very good filly Veiled Essence who is out of the Foveros mare Fovesta broke from the expected Muhtafal mould by winning the 2400m G2 Gold Circle Oaks in 2005.

He has also produced some runners that carry very uniquely African names – Umngazi is a G3 winner named after the Transkei river that flows into the Indian Ocean just south of Port St Johns. Nondweni is a Listed-winning filly named after a settlement near Nqutu close to the site of the Battle of Blood River in Northern Natal. The chestnut filly Mzwilili won the G3 Pretty Polly Stakes; her name is the Zulu word for the Cape Canary – a delightful little yellow bird found along the entire coast of South Africa. Uzuma is translated as ‘he surprises’. Uzuma is a chestnut gelding and was Stakes-placed on three occasions.

Mick Goss has always said of Muhtafal that if he were going to war, Muhtafal would be his General. And it is not hard to understand why: he is a horse that consistently produces what is expected of him, and sometimes even more. As a result his progeny are as popular with local owners and trainers as their sire is with all who deal with him at the stud.