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French Racing

SUNDAY SILENCE : The New Buzzword

sunday silence stallionSunday Silence
(Photo : Pagesperso-Orange)

Japan’s greatest sire, Sunday Silence, is making his presence felt more than ever in Europe, with another two sons due to stand there this season. Legolas is headed for France, as is Bourne King, a Grade Two placed maternal grandson of Sun Princess and a half brother to Japanese Derby winner, Fusaichi Concorde. They join Agnes Kamikaze, Great Journey, Millennium Deo, Samson Happy and Rose and Cavalier among other sons of Sunday Silence standing in France, and they follow the departure of Divine Light, sire of last year’s 1000 Guineas heroine, Natagora in his first European-bred crop. Divine Light was prematurely sold to the Turkish Jockey Club, a major coup for that jurisdiction.

What would South Africa give for a son of one of history’s greatest stallions? Watch this space.

XAVIER-NATALIE BOZO : Vive La France

xavier bozoXavier Bozo with his purchased Fantastic Light/Arctic Drift filly
2008 Emperors Palace National Yearling Sale
(Photo : Heather Morkel)

A year ago, the organisation which administers and markets French racing and breeding, France Galop, sent a delegation under the leadership of Elodie Garamond to South Africa with a view to exploring matters of mutual interest. Among the party were some of France’s most eminent breeders, including Xavier and Natalie Bozo, who hail in the male line from a long succession of outstanding French horsemen. Lest we should be accused of chauvinism, Natalie is a descendant of the famous Lanvin heritage, in her case the chocolate lineage made famous by one of France’s most celebrated artists, Salvador Dali, the man with the world’s most famous moustache.

The Bozos are best remembered these days for having produced in a single year two Group One winners in the form of America’s outstanding turf filly, Gorella, and the exceptional obstacles performer, Top Of The Sky. They run a spectacular boutique stud in Normandy, in the heartland of French breeding, and like them, everything at Elevage de La Source is immaculately managed.

They are with us for almost two weeks, and anyone they touch will tell you of their infectious attitude. There are no greater lovers of the horse, enthusiasts for the game, nor greater admirers of South Africa.

To cap it all, they were the buyers of the outstanding Fantastic Light filly we consigned last year to the Emperors Palace National Yearling Sales, where they beat off stiff competition at R900,000 to secure the sister to the early favourite for Australia’s Golden Slipper (Gr.1). Judging by the progress she’s made since the sale, the Gary Alexander Racing Stable has something “proper” to look forward to.

MAURICE ZILBER: Another Tribute

maurice zilberMaurice Zilber
(Zone Turf)

I’ve often said that if I had the chance, and I needed to choose my vocation all over again, the script would be identical, with all the bumps and bruises. Any man who can get to work at his preferred playstation, and still make a living from it, has been blessed in more ways than one, and that’s what a lifetime in horses can do for you.

I came from a noble profession, where my life as a lawyer introduced me to many fine and entertaining people, yet nothing, but nothing, could’ve prepared me for the ride I’ve had in the horse game and the characters I’ve encountered on the way. One day, I should like to share a few notes about these people, but that isn’t my purpose today.

Just a week or so ago, we posted a piece on a recently lost friend, the great French trainer Maurice Zilber, an Egyptian by birth who at a relatively young age, fled his native homeland for the sanctuary of France, as a result of what he described as the tyranny of Nasser. Maurice died an old man, and I’m not old enough to remember what happened in the politics of Egypt during Nasser’s time, but I do know that another fabled horseman, John Messara, maker or breeder of horses of the ilk of Redoute’s Choice, Danehill and Zabeel, was a victim of a similar fate, when his parents sent him at the tender age of twelve to Australia to get away from the dangers of an apparently recalcitrant Nasser regime.

While we did previously announce the passing of Maurice Zilber, you can’t say too much about this warm and generous man whose intellect knew few bounds, and whose wisdom was not limited to his genius with horses. It’s probably worth remembering that greatness is not necessarily confined to the places you’d most expect it from. Great people are as often as not, products of desperate circumstances, and the likes of the Nobel Peace laureates Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu and F.W de Klerk, are testimony to this statement. Cometh the hour, cometh the man, yet who would have thought that Egypt, of all places in the racing world, would be the well from which a man of Zilber’s ilk might spring. Here is a tribute from one of his protégé’s, Claude Beniada.

 

“With Maurice Zilber, I have been around many top horses, champions and champions again and again, but I have realized over the years that my greatest satisfaction has been to be around a top-class man who has taught me, and others, many more things about life, and that is more important than anything else. Maurice Zilber was a man with universal culture, fond of classic music, of reading, of traveling and of exchanging ideas with other people. He was so intelligent, brilliant and cultured that he is the type of person who could have been a top physician, political figure, businessman or whatever he would have wished to be. He had chosen to live his passion for horses, and he brought it to excellence.

All his owners were fond of him, and he was such a marvelous teller of stories, in his incomparable oriental style - inherited from his youth in Egypt, a country he always had deep in his heart - that dinners could go on and on throughout the night, but at six in the morning he was out training his horses.

We will sadly miss him, and for many of us it is the end of an era. Goodbye Maurice!’

Posted by Mick Goss

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ZARKAVA TAKES HORSE OF THE YEAR

zarkava and christophe soumillonZarkava with Christophe Soumillon aboard
(Photo : APRH)

The unbeaten star filly Zarkava (Zamindar) was named Horse of The Year last night at the 2008 Cartier Racing Awards.

Europe’s equivalent of the Eclipse Awards were presented at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London, in front of an invited audience made up of leading owners, trainers, jockeys, breeders, racing personalities and the media.

Homebred by her owner, His Highness The Aga Khan, Zarkava won all five of her starts in 2008 to add to her two from two record as a juvenile. Showing tremendous versatility over distances from a mile to twelve furlongs, she captured two Classics, the Prix Vermeille and the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, in which she overcame the best middle-distance performers in Europe to register a stunning two length victory.

In Horse of The Year category, Zarkava came out ahead of the Breeders’ Cup Classic hero Raven’s Pass (Elusive Quality), Epsom Derby victor New Approach (Galileo), five-time Gr.1 scorer Duke of Marmalade (Danehill) and dual Guineas winner Henrythenavigator (Kingmambo), who won 18 Gr.1 races between them this year. She also took the honours in the Cartier Three-Year-Old Filly division.

Princess Haya’s New Approach prevailed over Raven’s Pass in the Three-Year-Old Colt category, gaining his second consecutive Cartier Award, having taken the Two-Year-Old Colt Award twelve months ago.

This year’s Two-Year-Old Colt Award went right down to the wire with dual Gr.1 victor Mastercraftsman (Danehill Dancer) pipping the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf winner Donativum (Cadeaux Genereux),

The Two-Year-Old Fillies’ category went to John Gosden-trained Rainbow View (Dynaformer).

Heading the Older Horses was Aidan O’Brien’s Duke of Marmalade (Danehill), ahead of Marchand D’Or (Marchand De Sable), Yeats (Sadler’s Wells), Youmzain (Sinndar) and Darjina (Zamindar).

There was further glory for the Ballydoyle stable with Yeats, brother to Summerhill stallion Solskjaer, taking the Cartier Champion Stayer title for the third consecutive year.

Meanwhile, the Freddie Head-trained Marchand d’Or prevailed in the race for Cartier Champion Sprinter honours.

Sheikh Mohammed, described as racing’s biggest investor and benefactor, was voted the Cartier/Daily Telegraph Award of Merit winner. Although unable to attend the Cartier Racing Awards ceremony in London, Sheikh Mohammed was presented with his award in Dubai beforehand by Arnaud Bamberger, the Cartier UK managing director.

On his acceptance of the Cartier/Daily Telegraph Award of Merit, Sheikh Mohammed said: “I am delighted by this award. I love racing and breeding. We race not only in England and Europe as Godolphin is all round the world. I am very, very pleased with my racing company and my breeding operation. I love racing and I will always be involved in the sport. Thank you very much.”

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CARTIER RACING AWARDS 2008 : Nominations Revealed

yeatsYeats, brother to Summerhill Stud’s Solskjaer
(horseracing/famegame)

The nominations for this year’s Cartier Racing Awards, European horseracing’s equivalent of The Oscars, have been announced. The highly-coveted Awards will be presented during a glittering ceremony before an invited audience at London’s Grosvenor House Hotel on the evening of Monday, 17th November.

The Cartier Racing Awards are now in their 18th year and celebrate the champions of the Turf, plus one person who will receive the Cartier/Daily Telegraph Award Of Merit. The eight horse awards are determined by points earned in Pattern races (40%) combined with the opinions of a panel of racing journalists chaired by Brough Scott (40%) plus votes from readers of the Racing Post and The Daily Telegraph (20%), a system which accurately rewards supreme excellence.

The nominations in alphabetical order for this year’s Cartier Horse of the Year Award are as follows:

CARTIER HORSE OF THE YEAR NOMINEES:

Duke Of Marmalade

Henrythenavigator

New Approach

Raven’s Pass

Zarkava

Of interest to Summerhill is that YEATS (brother to resident stallion SOLSKJAER), has been nominated in two categories, namely Cartier Stayer and Cartier Older Horse.

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ZARKAVA RETIRED

zarkava and christophe soumillon

Christophe Soumillon celebrates aboard Zarkava after winning the 159th Prix de Diane
(AFP/Martin Bureau)


His Highness the Aga Khan yesterday decided to call time on the sparkling career of his G1 Prix de l’ Arc de Triomphe heroine Zarkava (Ire) (Zamindar-Zarkasha {Ire}, by Kahyasi {Ire}).

The Thoroughbred Daily News reports that following discussions with trainer Alain de Royer-Dupre and his management team, the owner-breeder ended speculation as to the unbeaten filly’s future.

“Whilst no one will regret more than my management team and I not to see Zarkava race again, as she is such a supreme athlete, we have decided to retire her to the Aga Khan broodmare band, as she will be an invaluable asset to this essential part of our activity,” he announced. “The quality and youth of our broodmare band is of the utmost importance to ensure we remain breeders of racehorses capable of performing at the top level. The Aga Khan Studs have produced three exceptional fillies in three consecutive years: Mandesha, Darjina and now Zarkava. Their addition to our broodmare band will enhance the economic value and the potential for success of future generations of Aga Khan bloodstock at a time when competition is becoming increasingly global.”

Zarkava’s comfortable two-length victory in Sunday’s Longchamp showcase was a fifth at the highest level, with the Prix Marcel Boussac, Poule d’ Essai des Pouliches, Prix de Diane and Prix Vermeille already in her portfolio. The Aga Khan paid tribute to the team which guided her to those successes yesterday. “I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the people employed at my Irish and French studs for their remarkable work,” he added.

“Without their tireless dedication, we would not be able to breed and race champions like Zarkava, Sinndar, Azamour and Dalakhani. Furthermore Alain de Royer-Dupre, Christophe Soumillon and the staff at the Aiglemont Training Centre, must be applauded for their admirable work in producing Zarkava at the top of her form for all of her seven wonderful races.”

Zarkava, who is a descendant of the great Petite Etoile (GB), will be covered by the resident stallion Dalakhani (Ire) in 2009. He has garnered attention at stud as well as on the track, courtesy of his Classic-winning daughter Moonstone (GB) and son Conduit (Ire) from his first crop. De Royer-Dupre was quick to add his own testimonial to the filly he described as a “pearl” prior to his defeat of the subsequent dual Group 1-winning miler Goldikova (Ire) in the May 11 Pouliches.

“As a trainer, it is normal to feel some disappointment at her retirement,” he told PA Sport . “But I understand that it is important for the valuable continuation of the Aga Khan ’ s breeding operation. I always said her greatest quality was her acceleration. The ability to make up so much space in such a short space of time - like she showed in the Vermeille was incredible. It is not very often a horse like this comes along- - I have been very lucky. She is possibly the best I have trained, but Dalakhani was also a great horse to have. Zarkava has been a beautiful story.”

Zarkava retires with a perfect seven-for-seven record and earnings of Eur3,364,620. 

you tube linkWatch Zarkava winning the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe 2008

 

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ZARKAVA wins Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe

prix de l'arc de triomphe winnersPrincess Zahra, His Highness The Aga Khan, Christophe Soumillon, Alain de Royer Dupre
(Stephane De Sakutin/AFP/Getty)

The Aga Khan’s homebred filly Zarkava (Ire) (Zamindar) had Longchamp holding its breath when making it a magnificent seven career wins and a fifth at the highest level in yesterday’s G1 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, the world’s richest race on turf with a stake of 4 million euro.

Despite the disappointment of rain at Longchamp, and a few doubts about the filly being drawn on the inside and having her first run against colts in such an important event, she powered to victory from Youmzain (Sinndar), who filled the runner-up spot for the second consecutive year.

The punters’ patriotic bets saw her start as the even-money favorite - but she almost threw away their cash when jinking right when exiting the stalls, almost losing jockey Christophe Soumillon. Soon recovering, the bay found the gaps when it mattered and delivered her trademark acceleration to lead with a furlong remaining and surge clear under a hand ride.

Zarkava remains unbeaten in 7 starts and is the first filly to win the Arc since Urban Sea (dam of Galileo), who took the honours in 1993.

youtube link

Watch Zarkava winning the 2008 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe

 

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INTERNATIONAL JOCKEYS' CHALLENGE : Team Announced

international jockey challenge south africaSA vs The World
(Craig Jewell/Barun Patro)

News from Phumelela is that Champion South African jockey for four of the last five seasons, Mark Khan, will captain a vastly talented team of six riders selected to represent South Africa in the International Jockeys’ Challenge on Steinhoff Summer Cup Day at Turffontein on Saturday 29 November.

The other riders are Anton Marcus, Weichong Marwing, Karl Neisius, Kevin Shea and Piere Strydom with Anthony Delpech the official reserve. He will replace any rider unable to fulfill his engagements in the Challenge.

Tex Lerena, chairman of the South African Jockeys’ Association, is one of many people hugely enthusiastic about the Challenge and he believes it will be the experience of a lifetime for the South African jockeys at Turffontein on the day: “The re-introduction of an international jockeys’ challenge after an absence of over 20 years will revitalise the entire horseracing industry, particularly the jockeys. For them it’s a privilege to rub shoulders with legends like Frankie Dettori, Mick Kinane and Damien Oliver and young stars like Ryan Moore and Christophe Soumillon.”

Horseracing and tote betting operator Phumelela handed the responsibility of selecting the South African riders to the National Horseracing Authority (NHA), an autonomous body that regulates the sport and ensures all races are run according to the rules.

The NHA met with representatives of Phumelela and the Racing Association (RA), which represents owners in Phumelela regions, to lay down the criteria for selecting the riders. It was unanimously agreed that the team would be selected on merit according to the following key criteria:

* Placings on the national jockeys’ log over the last five years
* Must hold a South African licence and/or domiciled address in South Africa
* Profile and international achievements

A panel comprising Rob de Kock and Vee Moodley of the NHA, Patrick Davis of Phumelela and RA chairman Larry Wainstein was entrusted with the task of selecting the riders to represent South Africa.

The team chosen brims with talent and experience. Mark Khan has been four times champion of South Africa and once runner-up in the last five years, while former champion jockey Piere Strydom is a household name and has finished in the first three on the national jockeys’ log for the last five seasons.

Anton Marcus has also consistently finished high on the national jockeys’ log in recent years and has enjoyed an ultra-successful year internationally, winning the $5million Dubai Duty Free and the Singapore Airlines Cup on Jay Peg.

Weichong Marwing
and Kevin Shea have enjoyed enormous success, both locally and abroad. Between them they have ridden several winners in recent years at Dubai World Cup, the richest race meeting in the world.

Weichong Marwing is currently riding in Hong Kong, where he rode with great success for several years before becoming stable jockey to trainer Mike de Kock.

Kevin Shea, who is now Mike de Kock’s stable jockey, won the $5million Dubai Sheema Classic on Mike de Kock’s charge Sun Classique at Dubai World Cup earlier this year and is currently riding for the stable in the UK.

Cape-based Karl Neisius has long been regarded as one of the country’s top riders and has performed consistently well on the national jockeys’ table.

It is hoped that the South African riders will be awarded Springbok colours and the NHA has made the necessary application to the relevant bodies. A decision is expected by the middle of October.

The South African jockeys will take on one of the strongest international team of riders yet assembled in the four-race Challenge at the Steinhoff Summer Cup meeting on 29 November.

The international team comprises Frankie Dettori, Mick Kinane, Ryan Moore, Damien Oliver, Christophe Soumillon and Srinath Surender.

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Tiza takes Prix de Meautry for Rupert Plersch

owner rupert plersch and racehorse tizaRupert Plersch and Tiza
(Racing News Wire / Heather Morkel)

Tiza continued to fly the flag for South Africa in France on Sunday when he won the G3 Prix de Meautry at Deauville. Bred by Daytona Stud and owned by good friend and client of Summerhill, Rupert Plersch, Tiza reportedly made strong headway on the outside to lead 200 metres from home to add to his victories in last year’s Gr3 Prix de Ris-Orangis and Gr3 Prix de Seine-et-Oise.

By Mr Prospector out of Storm Cat’s top-class three parts sister Chapel Of Dreams, Tiza’s sire Goldkeeper has sired twelve Graded winners from 398 foals and stands at Sandown Stud in South Africa for R50,000. Successful in two Gr2 races and runner-up in the Gr1 Mercury Sprint in his native South Africa, Tiza is the fourth foal of Elliodor mare Mamushka .

Says trainer Alain de Royer-Dupre: “I’m tempted to try the G1 Prix de l’Abbaye (at Longchamp October 5) again, but we will only go there if the ground is soft enough for him.”

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NATIONAL COLOUR flies the National Flag

sean tarry kevin shea national colourNational Colour with Sean Tarry and Kevin Shea
(Sean Tarry Racing Stables)


In a recent article about the lack of success of British trainers in European Group One races this season, Philip Freedman, Chairman of the British Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association and Flat Pattern Panel, alluded to the considerable success chalked up by South African runners in international events in the past few years, and the fact that there were new discoveries being made every day about the quality of horses produced in countries that were hitherto considered to be back-waters. There is a growing recognition of the virtues of horses bred in this country, but anything less than that would’ve amounted to a case of people keeping their heads in the sands.

It’s inescapably true that from relatively small beginnings, South African-trained horses have left an indelible mark on the affairs of international racing in the past few years, principally in Dubai, Hong Kong & Singapore, but by no means limited to these regions. South African breds have posted Gr.1 wins in Australia, the United States, and on Saturday came perilously close to achieving the same distinction in the United Kingdom. While it was by no means the first narrow shave experienced by a South African runner in England in Group One company (remember Irridescence just a year ago)?, National Colour’s phenomenal effort in the Gr.1 Nunthorpe Stakes (which was originally scheduled for York, but with the water-logging at that course, staged at Newmarket), was not only a testimony to her exceptional talents, but also to a tale of courage and endurance).

A trailblazer in the sprint division in her native land, National Colour carried the hopes of the nation when she went abroad in 2007 and blitzed a competitive field in her first outing in Dubai. She was then scheduled for the big sprint on World Cup night, but stumbled in the starting stalls and chipped her knees, putting a premature end to an ambitious programme. Culminating with France’s biggest sprint on the first Sunday in October.

She has had to recover from fairly invasive surgery in order to get her life back on the road again, and she gave notice of her intentions with an excellent fifth in the July Cup last month. However, Newmarket would not be the chosen course for a filly of her phenomenal speed, as the last furlong on that famous trip is uphill, and, in our view, defeats much of the object where a display of raw speed is the intention of a competitive event.

Her natural speed took her well clear in the early stages of the race, only to be blunted as she climbed the hill at the death, where the incline stopped what would’ve been a match-winning effort on other courses. In the end she went down just a half length, gallant to the last stride.

For our money, we can’t wait to see her in her next assignment in the Prix de l’Abbaye, on “Arc” day at Longchamp, the first Sunday in October. Provided she gets good ground (and that’s a big “provided”, as the Arc meeting is often characterized by softness,) it will take a world beater to head her on what is fair, flat and speed favouring when the going’s on top. Those that watched Avontuur’s resident, VAR, blitz his field from end-to-end a few years backs, can take this off the memory shelf and smoke it, if they want.

Meanwhile, nobody’s displayed more patience and deserves more commendation than the owner/trainer combination of Chris van Niekerk and Sean Tarry, and they carry the wishes of everyone at Summerhill for Saturday’s effort.

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"Inbreeding to the great DANZIG" by Andrew Caulfield

danzig stallionDanzig
(Shaun Faust)


A few years ago, when discussing the concept of inbreeding to the great Danzig, I wrote: “The potential problem of inbreeding to Danzig, of course, was one of soundness, or the lack of it. Remember, Danzig’s exciting debut victory in the June of his two-year-old season was immediately followed by the discovery of bone chips. Away from the races for over 10 months, Danzig returned the following May to record two impressive allowance victories. Unfortunately, X-rays taken after his third success revealed that a slab fracture was developing in a knee and Danzig was forced into retirement before he had tackled stakes company.”

I was quick to point out that Danzig’s progeny have a reputation for being sounder than their sire - as you can see from Danzig’s up-to-date statistics, which show that 77 percent of his 1074 named foals made it to the races and around 62 percent made it into the winner’s circle. More to the point, more than 18 percent of Danzig’s foals became stakes winners, with this extraordinary percentage representing a huge incentive for trying to reinforce his influence by inbreeding.

Inbreeding to Danzig is likely to become quite widespread in Europe, where the Thoroughbred population is steeped in the blood of the Claiborne Farm superstar. The main European standard bearers of the Danzig male line have been Danehill and Green Desert, both of whom are developed thriving male lines. Fortunately, the racing records of both these stallions were reassuringly free of the soundness problems which beset their sire.

Despite being almost back at the knee, Danehill was sound enough to win the G1 Sprint Cup on his ninth and final appearance. Aidan O’Brien was asked to summarise the main virtues of Danehill’s stock after Duke of Marmalade had recorded his fifth consecutive Group 1 victory in the Juddmonte International three days ago.

“I suppose it’s their constitution - their toughness and their speed and their strength,” he said. “They’re three massive things - strength physically as well as mentally.”

When prompted by the interviewer to add soundness to the list, Aidan O’Brien agreed: “Obviously soundness. This horse (Duke of Marmalade) is a testimony to that, but that comes with strength.”

Green Desert was another individual whose career was comparatively problem free. Sufficiently forward to make his juvenile debut in May, he was racing for the 14th time when he failed to handle the dirt in the following year’s Breeder’s Cup Sprint. Oddly, there were some distinct parallels between his career and that of Danehill a few years later. Both won the Free Handicap over seven furlongs before reaching the first three in the 2000 Guineas. Subsequent efforts over a mile convinced both sets of connections to return their Danzig colts to sprint distances and both collected a pair of important victories, including one in the Sprint Cup at Haydock.

With unsoundness apparently not a serious concern, breeders have been quick to try combining Danehill and Green Desert, and last week’s results suggest that we will see much more of this inbreeding to Danzig in the future. Two of Europe’s important juvenile events fell to colts which have sons of Danehill as their sire and daughters of Green Desert as their second dam, creating 3x4 inbreeding to Danzig.

Firstly, we saw Dansili’s son Shaweel run over a clear-cut winner of the G2 Gimcrack Stakes, and then Bushranger  provided Danetime with his second successive victory in the G1 Prix Morny.

This type of cross had also hit the jackpot earlier this year when the G1 Coral-Eclipse was won narrowly by Mount Nelson. This four-year-old is by Rock of Gibraltar, another son of Danehill, and his third dam is by Green Desert.

In view of the concerns about soundness involved in inbreeding to Danzig, it is worth pointing out that the sires of these three group winners were all sound enough to undergo a thorough testing on the track, with Dansili, Danetime and Rock of Gibraltar respectively being veterans of 14, 15 and 13 races. The reverse cross - a Green Desert stallion on mares with Danehill blood - is also sure to become popular.

Cape Cross has already sired three stakes winners from his first five foals out of Danehill’s daughters, these stakes winners being inbred 3x3 to Danzig. Arguably the best of them is Able One, a New Zealand-bred who won the G1 Champions Mile in Hong Kong last year, but the English-trained Crosspeace was much better than his listed winner-status suggests, as he achieved annual Timeform ratings of 116 and 118.

Cape Cross’ talented miler Sentinelese is another inbred 3x3 to Danzig, but his second line comes via Polish Patriot rather than Danehill, and his Group 1- placed son Charlie Farnsbarns is inbred 3x4 to Danzig, his second line coming through Chief’s Crown.

While we are on the subject of Cape Cross, he added another group winner to his collection when Russian Cross took Saturday’s G2 Prix Guillaume d’Ornano and he was a bit unlucky not to add another group success the following day, when Treat Gently as second after being hampered in the Prix de la Nonette. The Darley stallion’s fee jumped from Eur20,000 to Eur50,000 in 2005, so his current crop of juveniles is the subject of high expectations. It is encouraging that two of his sons - Sea The Stars and War Native - recently achieved “TDN Rising Star” status.

Another of Green Desert stallions, Kheleyf, is also likely to have his fee raised substantially after the success he has enjoyed with his first runners. He currently heads the British and Irish freshman sires’ table both by number of winners and prize money.

With Oasis Dream maintaining his position as one of the most successful second-crop sires, with five first-crop group winners, Green Desert has a powerful team of young stallion sons, which also includes Invincible Spirit. This Irish National Stud resident did so well with his early crops that his fee now stands at Eur75,000. Yet another son, the undervalued Desert Style, is again demonstrating his ability to come up with the occasional top performer, this time with the impressive seven-furlong specialist Paco Boy.

Perhaps these sons have taken some of the attention away from Green Desert, whose fee was as high as Eur85,000 in 2004 (when he was 21) and 2005. Whatever the reason, he appears to be another of those stallions whose results have declined in old age. His last Group 1 winners, Oasis Dream and Desert Lord, were born in 2000 and his last five crops of racing age have so far produced nothing more than a pair of Group 3 winners. But we can happily forgive him those recent failings in view of his growing impact as a sire of sires.

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TAMAYUZ : An Impressive Performance

tamayuz racehorseTamayuz
(Shadwell Stud)


What looked like the most impressive three year old miler performance this year (yes including HENRYTHENAVIGATOR), Sheikh Hamdan’s TAMAYUZ cruised away with Sunday’s Prix du Haras de Fresnay-le-Buffard-Jacques le Marois Group One, beating Europe’s best milers including the Champion three year old filly-elect, NATAGORA.

TAMAYUZ is a son of Shadwell’s hot young stallion NAYEF, and comes from the female line responsible for the likes of GALILEO and KINGS BEST etc. If ever Sheikh Hamdan had a stallion prospect, it must rest here with five wins from six starts (including two Group Ones) and is about as handsome as handsome gets.

Whether Coolmore will risk HENRYTHENAVIGATOR against him in either the Prix de Moulin or the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, remains to be seen. But for those of us with a love of the game, we can only savour the prospect, if and when it comes off.

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Meon Valley Matriarch REPROCOLOR dies

reprocolor broodmareReprocolor pictured here in 1994 with her unraced colt foal by Sadler’s Wells named Pierre, who now stands at Knockmullen House Stud.
(Pacemaker)

Reprocolor, the matriarch who established an illustrious equine dynasty and who was one of three foundation mares at Meon Valley Stud, has been put down at the grand old age of 32.

Europes leading bloodstock publication, Pacemaker, reports that the daughter of Queen Elizabeth II Stakes winner Jimmy Reppin was bought as a yearling for 25,000gns by Richard Galpin on behalf of Egon Weinfeld, founder of Meon Valley Stud. She was subsequently trained by Sir Michael Stoute to win the Lancashire Oaks, Lingfield Oaks Trial and Pretty Polly Stakes, and she was also placed in both the Yorkshire and Epsom Oaks.

Her broodmare career got off to a flying start in 1981 with her very first foal, the Listed winner Rappa Tap Tap. A further 17 foals followed before she was retired in 1999, including the Group 1 winners Colorspin and Cezanne, and the Prix de l’Opera winner Bella Colora, dam in turn of the highly performed Mullins Bay, who has just joined the stallion roster at South Africa’s Champion Breeding establishment, Summerhill Stud.

Reprocolor’s daughters continued their dam’s success at stud producing, among others, Kayf Tara, Opera House, Stagecraft, Polish Precedent and Zee Zee Top. The family has continued to flourish through the progeny of Reprocolor’s grand-daughters: the best of those include the Group winners Necklace and Alkaadhem.

Even the mare’s great-grand-daughters have made their mark, producing the Group winners Alessandro Volta and France.

Egon Weinfeld’s son Mark, who manages Meon Valley Stud, commented: “Reprocolor produced at least 26 stakes-winning descendants as well as at least 13 who were stakes-placed. Pretty good for a mare whose sire cost 200gns!

“Her ashes will be buried on the farm with a tree planted in her memory.”

Visit Meon Valley Stud’s website : www.meonvalleystud.co.uk

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"Tactics foil Archipenko's US venture" by David Thiselton

kevin shea and archipenkoKevin Shea begins Archipenko’s charge at Ioritz Mendizabal’s Spirit One
(AP)

Top turf writer David Thiselton adjudges that Archipenko was unlucky not to have won the Arlington Million Gr1 over  2 000m at Arlington Park in Chicago on Saturday when he was kept in a pocket in the straight by the Aidan O’Brien-trained Mount Nelson, who was ridden by Johnny Murtagh.

“The Mike de Kock-trained stalwart  was eventually extracted by Kevin Shea after Mount Nelson began fading, but it was too late and he could only fly up  for a 0,75 length second behind the  French horse, Spirit One, trained by Kamel Chehboub and ridden by Ioritz Mendizabal.

Archipenko broke well and Johnny Murtagh immediately locked on to him on his outside. Spirit One meanwhile took up the running.  Kevin Shea eventually dropped his mount a length behind Spirit One in a probable attempt to shake him off.

However, Johnny Murtagh didn’t relinquish  his position one wide of the rail and  another horse had moved up behind his mount.  Kevin Shea, therefore, had little choice but to remain on the rail.

“Johnny had me in all the way around,” said Kevin Shea. “When it was time to go, I begged him to let me go and he wouldn’t let me through.”

As usual Archipenko appeared to be moving no better than any of his rivals as they moved into the final turn but once again he found that gear he is now known for and was all over the back of the leader as they straightened. Kevin Shea had to stop riding him and there is little doubt that he would have won had it not been for the race riding tactics of Johnny Murtagh.

Johnny Murtagh
told the Racing Post, “I secured a pocket on the rail [running second] and I was where I wanted to be. At the half-mile pole, I thought we were going to get there. We just couldn’t get there.”

Mike de Kock was upset by the result according to Racing Post’s Nicholas Godfrey.

“That’s the most ungentlemanly piece of riding I’ve seen in a long time,” said an angry Mike de Kock. “It was as if he was looking for our horse all the way round.  I’m very disappointed in Johnny. In my opinion, he rode his horse to keep us in rather than to actually win the race. There was no need for Johnny to keep us in like that.”

Mount Nelson is owned by Coolmore, former owners of Archipenko.  Archipenko, a four-year-old son of Kingmambo, has been transformed as a racehorse since being sold out of Aidan O’Brien’s yard and moving to Mike de Kock.  He now has real stallion potential and Coolmore, who have over the last three decades assembled the probable best stock of stallions in racing history, are likely not too happy to have lost him.  Dr Ashley Parker, who together with his mother Rose of Ascot Stud own a 40% share of Archipenko, watched the race with a party of 40 people in his hometown of Port Elizabeth. 

Although disappointed and confirming that Mike de Kock had been upset, he was philosophical about the result.  He said that Archipenko’s next target is still open to discussion.”

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AIDAN O'BRIEN closing in on BOBBY FRANKEL'S World Record

aidan o brien and solskjaerAidan O’Brien with Solskjaer
(Summerhill Stud)

Aidan O’Brien is eight wins short of Bobby Frankel’s world record for most Group/Grade One wins in a single season, but looking ever closer, the Ballydoyle maestro is currently one day ahead of the schedule.

Franco Raimondi reports for the European Bloodstock News that Halfway To Heaven recorded the 17th Gr.1 win this year for Aidan O’Brien in the Nassau Stakes on Saturday. Bobby Frankel reached the same point in his record season of 2003 one day later – 3rd August – when Peace Rules scored a wire-to-wire win over Sky Mesa and Funny Cide in the Haskell Invitational.

Can Aidan O’Brien beat Bobby Frankel’s record? The answer is up to the juveniles. Aidan O’Brien set his personal best – and a European record – in 2001 when he won 22 of the 78 Gr.1’s run in Europe, plus the Gr.1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile with Johannesburg. In that glorious season, Aidan O’Brien scored 11 times at Gr.1 level with his two-year-olds. Johannesburg  was responsible for four of those wins but Rock of Gibraltar made a strong contribution with successes in the Dewhurst Stakes and the Grand Criterium, while Hawk Wing and Quarter Moon kept the National Stakes and the Moyglare Stud Stakes at home. Notably, at the same stage of the 2001 season, Aidan O’Brien had just 10 Gr.1 wins in his pocket.

If the 2006 crop of Ballydoyle ensures a handful of Gr.1 wins, Bobby Frankel’s record could be beaten. The Brooklyn-born but California-based Bobby Frankel deserved all credit for his unbelievable 2003 season. He won 25 Gr.’s with 15 different horses and ten of them were previously trained by such great professionals as Henry Cecil and Andre Fabre.

Well known as a specialist with grass horses coming from Europe, Bobby Frankel also had fantastic results with his three-year-olds, topped by Empire Maker – who crushed Funny Cide’s Triple Crown dream in the Belmont Stakes and won three Gr.’s – as well as Peace Rules. He developed Aldebaran into a top sprinter/miler on dirt and snatched two of three gems of the New York Fillies’ Triple Tiara with Spoken Fur. Will Aidan O’Brien beat the record? The ball is in the court of Mastercraftsman and co.

halfway to heaven nassau stakes videoWatch Halfway To Heaven winning the Gr1 Nassau Stakes 2008

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DESERT LINKS : The six flags are still flying...

 

Last month, Independent Newspapers columnist, David Thiselton, alluded to the Summerhill tradition of flying six flags outside the stallion barn following a Graded Stakes winner, and he enquired over the weekend after Desert Links’  spectacular victory in Africa’s greatest staying race, the Canon Gold Cup (Gr.1), whether the flags were doing their stuff.

The answer is a resounding “yes”, as the whole place celebrates a Gold Cup winner with the same enthusiasm that we celebrate heroes of the J&B Met, the Gomma Gomma and the Durban July. There are those who will argue that the Gold Cup is not in the same league, but it has a tradition and a social history at least as long and prestigious as any of those events, and those of us who revere its place in the racing calendar, look forward to our runners in this marathon event with the same spirit and respect as the best races in the land.

Our cause is a good one as we’ve made a point of trying to inculcate in our stock, a balance of stamina, which the thoroughbred as a breed not only deserves but absolutely needs in order to maintain its integrity.

Some years ago we set out in a deliberate attempt to breed a Gold Cup winner, following a boiling cup of tea on a sweltering verandah in the 45º heat only a corrugated verandah in the Karoo can induce. Never was it more truly said that “mad dogs and Englishmen, go out in the midday sun” than here, as we languished over lunch in the vicinity of Oudtshoorn in the company of our great English mate, Alec Foster, a horse enthusiast if ever there was one, and a purist for the traditions associated with the thoroughbred. Our purpose was an assault on the few genuine Gold Cups left in the Durban Turf Club’s vaults, and we determined to send two mares to two horses of significant stamina in our attempt to achieve it. The granddam of Victory Moon, Wild Hyacinth was one of those selected for the purpose, and she was sent to Braashee, a two mile winner of the Yorkshire Cup in the UK. Another, a daughter of Northfields, was sent to the English  mile and a half record holder, Desert Team, with the same result in mind.

The following year we sent two Northern Guest sisters out of a stamina-laden daughter out of the great French Classic sire Luthier, to Jallad and Braashee, with the same strategic intent, and between the four of them these mares, produced a nine time winning miler (out of Wild Hyacinth,) a Gold Cup winner, Cereus, (from the Northfields mare), a Champion filly, Icy Air (out of the one Northern Guest mare) and Amphitheatre, who went down just a nose in the Gold Cup from the other Northern Guest mare. Which just goes to show, if you put your head down with a proper purpose in mind, these things are possible, even in a business as unpredictable as racehorse breeding. Unfortunately, for this story’s sake.

Saturday’s winner of the Gold Cup, Desert Links, was not bred with a Gold Cup in mind. He did however, represent a deviation from the norm in the breeding affairs of the late Sheikh Maktoum, insofar as his dam, Selborne Park, was sent to a “non-Gainsborough” stallion in Kahal, in the hope of breeding an animal of some size, as his dam, a Stakes winner in her own right had repeatedly produced small, light horses of limited ability.

On the credit side, Desert Links comes from a female line of considerable accomplishment in the hands of the best families in French breeding, including the Dupres, Marcel Boussac, the Aga Khan and latterly the Niarchoses. You could scarcely line up four more distinguished breeders in that country’s history and so this family, which includes the likes of the Champion Staying filly of her year in Europe, Dunette and her Gr.1 winning son of Sadler’s Wells, French Glory, was always likely to throw up a quality horse.

Following his impressive victory in the Cup Trial in June, Desert Links ran a “whopper” from the back of the field in the Vodacom Durban July a month ago, earning his position as joint favourite going into Saturday’s race. Though favourably drawn, he somehow managed to find himself three horses wide most of the way, as the field traversed the 3200m journey around Greyville racecourse’s spectacular circuit. It’s the only course in the world covering 3000m in extent, and it lies in the heart of the city (encircling the Royal Durban Golf Club) and despite running wide, Desert Links ran on manfully in the closing stages, exhibiting his class as he went away from one of the best line-ups in modern Gold Cup history.

Salutations to his breeders, Gainsbourgh Stud, his owners and old friends of the farm, Etienne Braun, Eban Bouwer, Paul Loomes and of course, Selwyn Marcus. And finally, and probably most of all, to his exceptional trainer, Basil Marcus, whose as old a friend of this farm as anyone. The horse was expertly handled for his preparations for this race by another stalwart supporter of the farm, Dennis Drier, who celebrated his second association with the Gold Cup winner, having produced Highland Night for Andre Macdonald to get up and beat our own Amphitheatre by a neck five seasons ago.

“Amazingly, this same Eban Bouwer used to put the ball under the bosses’ feet in the Western Province rugby scrum in the early 70’s, and while it might well have been the other way round, Mick has always contended that it was he that made Eban famous!”

(Photography courtesy of John Lewis)

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DANEHILL : Another Emphatic Statement

duke of marmaladeDuke of Marmalade
(Telegraph)

Andrew Caulfield writes for the Thoroughbred Daily News that thanks to the omnipresence of his descendants on big race days, it seems hardly credible that it is now more than five years since the mighty Danehill died at the age of 17. By the time of his death, Danehill was the highest-priced stallion in Europe, with his status boosted to new heights by the 2002 Group 1 victories of Rock of Gibraltar, Landseer, Banks Hill, Aquarelliste, Fine Motion, Spartacus and Dress to Thrill. Needless to say, the book of mares he was covering at the time of his death was in very different league from those he’d attracted when his fee was as low as IR9,000gns in his fourth and fifth seasons. Even when his fee was low, Danehill was still capable of siring performers of the calibre of Desert King and Tiger Hill, so what might he achieve with many of the best mares in Europe?

The answer is that - from a crop of around 100 - he has so far sired nine group winners, five listed winners and another eight which have been group-placed. Altogether 25 have earned black type. Five of the group winners have collectively won 13 Group 1 events, with Duke of Marmalade’s epic King George IV & Queen Elizabeth Stakes victory making him the second to complete a sequence of four Group 1 triumphs, following Peeping Fawn.

The group winners from Danehill’s final crop encapsulate the full range of his extraordinary talents. At one end of the spectrum there is Holy Roman Emperor, a fast and precocious colt who was officially rated the second-best European juvenile of 2006 (when another of Danehill’s Group 1 winners, Simply Perfect, ranked third among the juvenile fillies). Peeping Fawn was far from precocious (it took her four starts to break her maiden at three), but she developed into Europe’s best middle-distance three-year-old filly, with two Group 1 victories over 13 miles, including the Pretty Polly Stakes, and another two over 12 miles. Unfortunately, she hasn’t raced this year, but the Pretty Polly Stakes fell to Promising Lead, another of Danehill’s daughters, and Duke of Marmalade has also excelled, with Group 1 victories in France, Ireland and England.

Duke of Marmalade’s magnificent sequence inevitably makes one wonder what he might have achieved but for fracturing a pastern when narrowly defeated at Goodwood two years ago. Although he was officially rated just 9lb below the best of his age group after a winless campaign at three, the subsequent removal of the screws from his old injury has helped transform him. He is now a worthy replacement for the year-older Dylan Thomas, the rock-hard colt who provided Danehill with his first King George success a year ago.

A day after the King George we saw another aspect of Danehill’s talents in the Phoenix Stakes, a Group 1 juvenile event which has fallen to four of Danehill’s sons. One of the four, Danehill Dancer, was responsible for Mastercraftsman, who won impressively to end the unbeaten record of Art Connoisseur, a colt out of a Danehill mare. Third place went to Bushranger, another grandson of Danehill.

Duke of Marmalade will eventually be a very welcome addition to the Coolmore roster, as he comes from a female line with a big reputation for producing stallions.

You can gauge the family’s reputation from the fact that Duke of Marmalade’s dam, Love Me True, cost $1.35 million as a yearling-and from the fact that she was bought on behalf of Susan Magnier. Aidan O’Brien, with his quaint belief that racehorses are for racing if they are fit and well, certainly didn’t let the filly’s price affect his handling of this daughter of Kingmambo.

It was only on her 11th start that Love Me True finally recorded her first victory, in a mile maiden at Naas, by which time she had been third in the G3 Killavullan Stakes at two and had acted as a pacemaker for her stablemate Imagine in the Irish 1000 Guineas. Incidentally, of the 16 contestants in that 2001 classic, as many as four have already produced a top-class son, namely Imagine (Horatio Nelson), Sequoyah (Henrythenavigator), Speirbhean (Teofilo) and Love Me True (Duke of Marmalade). Two of the others have 2008 stakes winners by Danehill Dancer, one being the Irish 1000 Guineas third Carribean Sunset. This suggests strongly that breeders with sufficient resources could do far worse than get themselves a speedy classic filly to breed from.

Love Me True was later third in a listed race over a mile and ran well enough in one of her starts over 13 miles to suggest she stayed that far. It is worth pointing out that Love Me True’s three parts brother Lemon Drop Kid stayed well enough to win the GI Belmont Stakes, so there is the degree of stamina here which Danehill normally needed to get a mile-and-a-half horse.

Love Me True also proved her toughness, racing 15 times in less than 14 months, even though she is inbred 3x3 to the famously fragile Raise A Native, and toughness is also one of the main assets of Duke of Marmalade (whose five-generation pedigree includes two lines apiece to Northern Dancer, Buckpasser and Natalma and four lines to Native Dancer).

Two of Love Me True’s half-brothers, Bite the Bullet and Shuailaan, were stakes winners, but the most important aspect of her pedigree is that she is a granddaughter of the blue hen Lassie Dear. Perhaps all I need to say about this family is that it has produced five stallions good enough to sire a winner on Breeders’ Cup Day, with A.P. Indy being responsible for Tempera, Summer Squall for Storm Song, Honor Grades for Adoration, Deerhound for Countess Diana and Kipling for Kip Deville.

This family has achieved so much in the USA that the Coolmore team should perhaps consider basing Duke of Marmalade at Ashford, where there are no sons of Danehill, rather than Coolmore, where he would become one of seven Group 1-winning sons of Danehill. After all, Love Me True was relocated to Kentucky, where she produced foals to Storm Cat in 2006 and 2007. However, the continued uncertainty about how many tracks will be converted to synthetic surfaces must make it more likely that Ireland will become Duke of Marmalade’s base.

The fact that he is by Danehill and has a Kingmambo mare as his dam will make him an automatic choice for many breeders with daughters of the champion broodmare sire Sadler’s Wells. It was Sadler’s Wells mares which produced Peeping Fawn and Horatio Nelson to Danehill, and Danehill’s daughters are currently doing very well with Sadler’s Wells son Galileo. Combining Sadler’s Wells with Kingmambo is also very much in vogue, Henrythenavigator and the Group 2 winner Campanologist being the latest advertisements for this.

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One of the World's Greatest Commentators Speaks : A Fascinating Debate with Tony Morris

genes
(S.Vilen)

One of the more successful mating patterns of recent years has been that of putting mares by Sadler’s Wells to Kingmambo. The ploy paid off first with the outstanding Japanese runner El Condor Pasa, who raided France for a victory in the 1999 Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud and later that year gave Montjeu a tremendous run for his money in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.

Since then the match has produced a number of other top-class performers, including Virginia Waters, Divine Proportions, Thewayyouare, Queen Cleopatra, Campanologist and this season’s dual Classic-winning miler Henrythenavigator. Between them those celebrities have accounted for 18 European Pattern races – 11 in Group 1, four in Group 2 and three in Group 3.

In addition, Kingmambo’s brother Miesque’s Son clicked with a Sadler’s Wells mare to get Whipper, who won three times at Group 1 level and once in Group 3. And Sadler’s Wells mares have produced high-class winners by sons of Kingmambo, notably Group 2 winner Best Alibi and Creachadoir (one Group 1 and three in Group 3), both by King’s Best, and Ibn Khaldun (one Group 1 and one Group 3), by Dubai Destination.

That impressive array of talent amounts to strong evidence that there is something about the conjunction of those factors that delivers high quality performance, and a cursory glance at the pedigrees offers what might seem a plausible explanation. Kingmambo was produced by Miesque, the most brilliant daughter of Nureyev, and Nureyev is closely related to Sadler’s Wells.

Nureyev was by Northern Dancer out of Special, whereas Sadler’s Wells is by Northern Dancer out of Special’s daughter, Fairy Bridge. Thus we find that when Kingmambo (and Miesque’s Son, of course) is mated with a daughter of Sadler’s Wells, the product has the three parts brothers close up in its pedigree – Nureyev in the third generation on the sire’s side, and Sadler’s Wells in the second on the dam’s side.

The explanation is plausible, but perhaps no more than that. Kingmambo has two parents, and it is not possible to ignore the fact that his sire is Mr Prospector, himself a hugely influential factor in pedigrees, hardly less so than Sadler’s Wells. Both became dominant influences because they crossed successfully with mares from a wide range of backgrounds.

What is more, Sadler’s Wells and Mr Prospector feature together in the pedigrees of numerous major winners, not least those of Group 1 winner Johann Quatz and the full siblings Galileo, Black Sam Bellamy and All Too Beautiful, all products of mares by Mr Prospector’s son, Miswaki.

All the examples of prominent runners with both Nureyev and Sadler’s Wells close up in their pedigrees also feature Mr Prospector, and in the case of Henrythenavigator there is even inbreeding to Raise a Native, the sire of Mr Prospector. It seems that for the three-parts brothers to combine successfully, that other factor needs to be present.

It would be fascinating to know how many times Nureyev and Sadler’s Wells have been coupled in matings involving a closer connection than the 3 x 2 represented by the appearance of Kingmambo. Chances are that there have been few instances of 2 x 2 inbreeding, even allowing for the fact that many breeders, obsessed with the fashionable, might have used the ploy unwittingly. How many would have consciously constructed a pedigree with Nureyev and Sadler’s Wells both in the second remove?

Certainly, there has been no example of a European Pattern winner by a son of Nureyev out of a daughter of Sadler’s Wells. And until Monday there had been no instance of a European Pattern winner by a son of Sadler’s Wells out of a daughter of Nureyev. The ground-breaking individual who may just have initiated a trend is Incanto Dream, the four-year-old colt who turned in an impressive display to win the Group 2 Prix Maurice de Nieuil on Longchamp’s Bastille evening card.

My inference that the union between Galileo and Atlantic Blue did not represent some slavish adherence to fashion, but a very deliberate – and, as it turned out, successful – experiment to involve their closely related sires in the closest possible juxtaposition is reinforced by the knowledge that Atlantic Blue is herself inbred to Rough Shod, the tap-root of their exceptional family.

Rough Shod (Gold Bridge Dalmary, by Blandford), whose only success on the racecourse came in a race of little consequence at now defunct Bogside, became a broodmare of immense importance after her acquisition for 3,500gns at the 1951 Newmarket December Sales and her transfer to Claiborne Farm in Kentucky. Her first foal born at Claiborne was the high-class two-year-old stakes winner Gambetta (My Babu), whose branch of the family became noted for celebrities like daughter Gamely (Bold Ruler), grand-daughter Drumtop and grandsons Cellini and Take Your Place (all by Round Table).

But it was Rough Shod’s four products by Nasrullah’s son Nantallah – a non-stakes-winner – who were to make greater impressions. The colts Ridan and Lt Stevens both became high-class performers, the former winning 13 of his 23 starts and the latter notching nine times from 26 runs, and in due course both earned further measures of fame at stud.

The mare’s two daughters, Moccasin and Thong, contrived more enduring influence, the former after having compiled a formidable racing record (named Horse of the Year as a juvenile in one poll), the latter after a three-season career that brought her five victories from 22 races. Although none came in stakes company, she was placed three times in races that at a later date were designated as Graded events. Moccasin was to produce seven stakes winners from her nine foals, headed by Apalachee (Round Table), the European champion two-year old of 1973, while Thong distinguished herself as the dam of outstanding miler Thatch (Forli) and his sister Lisadell, and their halfbrother King Pellinore (Round Table).

Thong’s branch flourished further through her onceraced (and successful) daughter Special, a sister to Thatch and Lisadell, famously dam of Nureyev, and granddam of the brothers Sadler’s Wells and Fairy King (all by Northern Dancer). As Moccasin was noted more for her sons than her daughters, it was perhaps not surprising that her branch of the family did not assume immediate comparable distinction, but it cannot be ignored now. The best of Moccasin’s daughters at the track was her last foal, Flippers.

Although she was by the disappointing sire Coastal (Majestic Prince), Flippers was a Listed winner, placed twice in Grade 2 company, and earned nearly $250,000. In her long innings at stud Flippers produced just one runner of any note, but that one was Hail Atlantis (Seattle Slew), who won the Grade 1 Santa Anita Oaks in 1990, and she has enhanced the family’s reputation as the dam of highly regarded sire Stormy Atlantic (Storm Cat) and grand-dam of three colts who have lately distinguished themselves on the racecourse. Divine Dixie (Dixieland Band) is the dam of Bandini, the son of Fusaichi Pegasus who won the 2005 Blue Grass Stakes; Helstra (Nureyev) produced Stern Opinion, a son of Mizzen Mast who last week claimed his third place at Pattern level in France; and Helstra’s sister is Atlantic Blue, whose gelded son Atlando (Hernando) is a Grade 2 winner in the States, and whose latest star is our subject, Incanto Dream (Galileo).

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SADLER'S WELLS again : An abiding influence

montmartre
Montmartre
(Racing Post)

The result of the Group One Grand Prix de Paris on Sunday, was another salute to the greatness of SADLER’S WELLS. The winner was a grandson (by MONTJEU), the runner up was a son, and third was a grandson by HIGH CHAPARRAL. What is really illuminating though, was the statement in the European Bloodstock News, in the aftermath, that the winner might possibly be the greatest racehorse in the world;

1. MONTMARTRE (Fr), 3c, Montjeu – Artistique

2. PROSPECT WELLS (Fr), 3c, Sadlers Wells – Brooklyn’s Dance

3. MAGADAN (Ire), 3c, High Chaparral – Molasses

Montmartre . The highest point of Paris and home to the Sacre Coeur, a wonder of pure white where millions from around the globe flock to pay homage. In eleven weeks time, Montmartre will be the subject of mass pilgrimage. But the venue will be Longchamp and the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe and the inspiration will not be of stone, but the niveous wonder of horse flesh bearing the same name. For Montmartre is quite possibly the greatest racehorse in the world.

Tracking the strong gallop set by two pacemakers, the silver son of Montjeu quickened in breathtaking fashion at the 400 metre pole and surged clear with daylight his sole pursuer and jockey Christophe Soumillon blowing kisses to the crowd. An easy winner of last month’s Gr.3 Prix du Lys having become extremely upset in the preliminaries to the Prix du Jockey-Club, Montmartre is one of fifteen Graded/Group winners from the 430 named Northern Hemisphere foals aged three and over by Coolmore’s World Champion Three- Year-Old Montjeu.

He is the eighth to triumph at the highest level, joining such as the Classic heroes Authorized, Frozen Fire, Hurricane Run, Motivator and Scorpion, while Montjeu’s seven Antipodean Group winners feature the Gr.1 AJC Australian Derby ace Nom Du Jeu.

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Part 6. The Vodacom Durban July : Africa's Greatest Sporting Event

summerhill_hartford_waterford.jpg
“All that you see in the magnificence of Hartford House and its environs is defined by the indefinable, and this is Cheryl Goss’ God-given talent for creating the unimaginable.”
(Summerhill Stud/Hartford House/Waterford Wine Estate)


Does anyone out there know the thrill and the magnitude of having a “July” winner? People from all over the world are swarming through Summerhill at the moment, and by Sunday evening we’ll have hosted visitors form Hong Kong, Singapore, Korea, Japan, Dubai and Australia in the East, and the UK, the USA and Germany in the West. And then we have our local guests from Lesotho, Kenya, Zimbabwe, and the whole of South Africa.

What a privilege to see these people, and what a tribute to the horses. That said, visitors don’t come to Summerhill just to see the horses; they can do that anywhere. They come to see their heroes, and in the quality of the “men” in the stallion barn right now, there’s plenty of opportunity to indulge their worship.

At Hartford this evening there’s a gathering of the game’s cognoscenti, here to acknowledge their reverence for this great race. And then there are those who’ve come to pay homage to Cheryl Goss, as she celebrates her 60th birthday. She’s in the best shape of her life, and that’s a signal she’s been well “kept”, or so the boss keeps reminding us!

All that you see in the magnificence of Hartford House and its environs is defined by the indefinable, and this is Cheryl’s God-given talent for creating the unimaginable. The entire Summerhill, Hartford and Vuma teams join us in wishing her “long life”.

With us for the weekend are Kevin and Heather Arnold and Gareth Robertson of the Waterford Wines team, who have acquired the rights to sponsor our pre-July dinner, July Day at the races and our annual Stallion Day. Our association with Waterford goes back many years, and our pride in the relationship revolves around the fact that, like us, they do things properly.

Waterford has for some time been known as one of the world’s great red wine producers, and Kevin has only recently released his “magnum opus”. The Jem. Yet for all the international recognition of their reds, since the 2004 vintage, they’ve released two of the very best Chardonnays and Sauvignon Blancs the country has known.

What a pleasure to have these guys with us to share their secrets and their expertise.

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