Danehill Statue
Danehill Statue

Statue of the great Danehill at Coolmore, Australia

(Photo : TDN Staff Blog)


mick goss
mick goss

Mick GossWe had a fascinating evening in the restaurant at Hartford House last Sunday. Their celebrated chef, Jackie Cameron, had just enjoyed the distinction of her restaurant being counted once again among the Top Ten in the nation, the only one in KZN so exalted. Inevitably, good food and a good bottle of wine equals good conversation, not that these two ingredients are essential to an exuberant chat when Inglis’s Simon Vivian is part of the company. He is nothing if he is not one of the world’s most accomplished auctioneers, and his skills are not limited to his way with people. Simon knows his horses, not only the theory, but he is a fine example of a practical horseman, and of course as an inspector of all yearlings that make the Inglis sales in Australia, he sees a lot of horses. We all have our opinions on this game, that is one of its fascinations, and for good reason, Simon has well-reasoned thoughts on his observations.

One of these is that, in his opinion, Sir Tristram is the greatest Australasian sire of all time, which startled us a little in the light of the overwhelming influence Danehill has had on the affairs of breeding in that part of the world, particularly in Australia. Into the melting pot we should throw the names of Sir Tristram’s most famous son Zabeel, and the major Danehill influences, Fastnet Rock, Redoute’s Choice, Flying Spur and Commands, among many others. We countered with the proposition that Sir Tristram stood in an era when the competition was not nearly as stiff as it is these days, given that his principal opponents of the time were the likes of Bletchgingly and Marscay across the Tasman, while back at home there wasn’t much beyond Sovereign Edition and Star Way, and Sir Tristram’s early sons, Grosvenor and Kaapstad (forgive us if we’ve left anyone out!)

Another statement from Simon which surprised us, but obviously true in that moment, was that line-breeding to Danehill had thus far witnessed, at best, lukewarm results. This reminded me of a statement by another master of the pedigree world, Bill Oppenheim, who once remarked to us that (on the evidence available at that time), line-breeding to Mr Prospector and his sire Raise A Native, was not only inadvisable from a soundness perspective, but it had been disappointing in its outcomes.

No sooner had Bill given us the stats on the “Mr Ps”, than the cross of Mr P on Mr P began churning out an avalanche of top horses, and in Danehill’s case, Simon’s words were scarcely out of his mouth, and a Group One winner pops up with two lines of Danehill. The nine times Australian Champion sire has produced an unprecedented 347 Stakes winners and progeny earnings in excess of A$403million (more than R3.6billion), yet his achievements do not end there. As a sire of sires, he already has the Group One producers Al Maher, Arena, Blackfriars, Catbird, Commands, Danasinga, Dane Shadow, Danehill Dancer, Danetime, Danewin, Danroad, Danske, Dante’s Fury, Danzero, Darci Brahma, Desert King, Exceed And Excel, Fastnet Rock, Flying Spur, Holy Roman Emperor, Honours List, Keeper, Lion Hunter, Lucky Owners, Nothin’ Leica Dane, Oratorio, Rock Of Gibraltar, Redoute’s Choice and Viking Ruler.

Another generation down and Danehill’s grandsons Bradbury’s Luck (Redoute’s Choice), Choisir (Danehill Dancer), Casino Prince (Flying Spur), Duelled (Redoute’s Choice), Fast ‘N’ Famous (Redoute’s Choice), Snitzel (Redoute’s Choice) and Stratum (Redoute’s Choice) have also each sired Group One winners.

Four of Australia’s current top ten stallions, Fastnet Rock, Commands, Redoute’s Choice and Exceed And Excel, are sons of Danehill, whist another two of the top ten spots are held by sons of Redoute’s Choice, Stratum and Snitzel.

Currently second leading Australian broodmare sire (a title he has already won on six occasions), Danehill has also passed on his genetic strengths to his daughters, who have produced over 200 stakes winners, among which are 41 Group One winners, including superstar Frankel (Galileo).

His son Flying Spur is Australia’s fifth leading broodmare sire, whilst three sons of that Golden Slipper (Gr1) winner occupy the top seven positions in the second season sire chart; Casino Prince, Magnus and Shaft.

Meanwhile in the third season sire list there are five Danehills in the top ten: Holy Roman Emperor, Danerich, Churchill Downs, Darci Brahma and California Dane. In the sires of three-year-olds chart, Danehill dominates with the top four; Fastnet Rock, Commands, Casino Prince and Redoute’s Choice.

Danehill continues to make his mark in New Zealand also, with Darci Brahma and Keeper currently third and fourth. Eleventh meanwhile is Stratum, whose son Southern Lord added his name to the long list of Group One winning descendants of Danehill when storming home to take out last week’s Levin Classic (Gr1).

In overpowering another member of the line, Le Choix (Choisir), Southern Lord (Stratum) provided a further milestone for Danehill, in becoming the first Group One winner line-bred to that influential stallion.

The A$125,000 Magic Millions National Sale weanling is bred on a 3 X 3 cross of Danehill, where he appears as grandsire of his sire and sire of his second dam.

Out of the two times Stakes-placed Rory’s Jester mare, Angel Girl, Southern Lord carries a further two crosses of Danehill’s grandsire Northern Dancer, through Nijinsky II and Lyphard.

Southern Lord is the seventh stakes winner line-bred to Danehill, including the Group Three winners Psychologist (Choisir out of a Danzero mare), Ladies Are Forever (Monsieur Bond out of a Danetime mare), Leitir Mor (Holy Roman Emperor out of a granddaughter of Danehill) and Florentina (Redoute’s Choice out of a granddaughter of Danehill).