On 20 June 2019, Bjorn Nielsen’s homebred Stradivarius galloped to victory in the Ascot Gold Cup. The sun was out, it was Frankie Dettori’s fourth win on the card, it was even money favourite Stradivarius’ second consecutive Gold Cup victory and the Ascot crowd rightly lifted the grandstand roof.
To European racegoers of a certain age, there was only ever going to be one contender for the title of the greatest trainer of all time: O’Brien of Ballydoyle. The past couple of decades have caused many to reassess their opinion as a challenger has emerged: O’Brien of Ballydoyle. In one sense, Vincent O’Brien’s achievements will never be surpassed. He created the Ballydoyle empire from scratch, re-shaping the international racing landscape through the 1950s, ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s after having sent out multiple winners of the great jumps races in the post-war years—the Grand National, Cheltenham Gold Cup and Champion Hurdle.
The National Yearling Sale catalogue is still close by for reference, we had the Mistico broodmare and weanling sale last week, as well as the emotion-charged Moutonshoek dispersal. And then there’s the Klawervlei Farm Sale coming up in a few weeks. The BSA KZN yearling sale catalogue is already available online.
Hat Puntano comes with some priceless silverware in his genetic cabinet, a son of one of the best milers of the breed-shaping Sunday Silence in Hat Trick (already sire of a major French stallion in Dabirsim) from a daughter of the stellar “shuttle” horse, Bernstein (by Storm Cat).
Here we are, 40 years on, still plumbing the rich vein of those pipes that churn up the stallion gems, as sure as we’ve ever been about finding the “right one” in a game that’s the “unsurest” of them all. Which brings me to my topic: Taking Stock: Stallions by Non-Elite Sires, which was the subject of recent debate in the United States.