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john deere tractorsThe makers of John Deere must’ve known something when they chose their corporate colours (green and yellow) / Leigh Willson (p)

“This week we took delivery of a matching pair of John Deeres to join the “big dog”
that arrived last planting season.”

mick gossMick Goss
Summerhill CEO
Regular followers of these columns will know how much we value our friends. They also know that this is a business that was built on the blood, sweat and sacrifice of a team whose dedication, energy and enterprise knows few bounds. In money terms, there was neither inheritance nor big business behind Summerhill, but what we did receive from our forebears was a history of relationships that extended, in some cases, to the foundation of my grandfather, Pat’s first business, in 1916. Standard Bank, for example, have been forewarned to have the brass plaque polished for our centenary; the same applies to Engen, whose tankers at our diesel pumps go back through seven name-changes to the Atlantic Fuel & Firing Company, 98 years ago. Though we have yet to meet the current partners (and that’s an indictment,) my family affairs are still part-audited by the same firm in Port Shepstone (almost as far away from us in one direction, as Johannesburg is in the other;) for as long as they do a good job, they’ll  continue to be the auditors. My grandfather’s association with the erstwhile Massey-Ferguson dealership in Kokstad, East Griqualand, kicked off with a paraffin-burning “vaaljapie” in the 1930s, and until they gave up the franchise a year ago, they’d been the sole supplier of the “red jobs” you’ve become accustomed to in our farm brochures over the years.

The status quo never changed as far as tractors are concerned, because it was based on a great product, excellent service and a fundamental trust which endured for close on 70 years. Sentimentally, the closure of E.G. Tractors by the Chapman family marked a poignant landmark in our history, though it coincided, in our view, with a new generation of tractors that didn’t quite measure up to its predecessors. Brand affiliations when you’re growing up, develop in the young mind an affection for your “own” and an aversion towards the opposition, in much the same way as you’re either a “Shark” or a “Stormer” - there’s no in-between. For a boy who grew up on a diet of “Masseys”, I have to confess to a growing envy in recent years, at the presence on my neighbours properties of their flotillas of an arch rival’s products. Besides, the makers of John Deere must’ve known something when they chose their corporate colours (green and yellow) and that sooner or later, they’d prove irresistible to those of us whose racing silks bear the same. Earlier this year, we penned a piece on this great company, which in its entire history has known just nine CEO’s, stretching back 176 years (Read Here). They’re our kind of people, it seems, and they make our kind of tractor: solid, wonderfully engineered work-horses you can bet on. This week we took delivery of a matching pair to join the “big dog” that arrived last planting season. For the average fellow out there, a new car doesn’t always amount to a big deal, but to a Zulu farmer (ask Jacob Zuma), a new tractor is almost as good as a new girlfriend: unlike a BMW, a Mercedes or an Audi, they show an economic return, and for those who keep their stock here, there’s comfort knowing that courtesy of “JD”, your horses will once again be the best-kept this winter.

A couple of other things have brightened our days this week, not the least of which the news Monday, that an old South African favourite, Linngari, remembered for his international exploits in the colours of one of Summerhill’s staunchest supporters, Rupert Plersch and Herman Brown Jnr, had his first Stakes winner in France on Sunday. The sire already of a bunch of useful performers from his first small European crop, his son, Mr Pommeroy scooted home by 4.5 lengths in the Prix Policeman (Listed), making him the second Black type performer for his Group One-winning father. Sadly for South Africa, the Aga Khan-bred is committed to a shuttle schedule between Patrick Chedeville’s Haras de Petit Tellier in France and Belair Stud in Brazil, which mitigates against the prospect of his standing at stud in this country. Uncertainties in our export protocols at the time of his retirement stood in the way, as they did in preventing Silvano from continuing his shuttle to and from Germany, thus denying local breeders access to the priceless lineage of Tourbillon.

Once again though, Sunday’s celebration of his first Stakes winner illustrates the value of friendships. We’ve had an inkling Linngari would make a sire, and last July we proposed to Rupert that we buy a few mares between us to breed to Southern Hemisphere time. As a result, we assembled a package of eight mares with largely French ancestories, which land at Oliver Tambo today. Historically, French mares have made rich harvests for South African breeders, and with a bit of German engineering tossed in, who knows?

My wife has always lived by the belief that you should keep the “best for last”, and she applies this maxim religiously to the rare occasions she indulges in a bit of dessert after dinner. Without in any way wishing to demean the arrival of the John Deeres or the emergence of a Stakes winner for Linngari, a week of ten more winners on the back of two consecutive weeks of seven in each, is the doctor’s medicine in the ongoing tussle for this year’s Breeder’s Premiership. Look at the connections, and you’ll recognise a few old faces whose pictures have been regular features of the annual Summerhill Sires brochure. See, the value of relationships.

1st - Ilitshe for Mike de Kock - Al Adiyaat SA
1 - Distingushed by 5 for Charles Laird - Markus Jooste
1st - Mojo G by 3 for Dennis Drier - Winston Chow
1st - Forest Fighter for Justin Snaith - Fred Crabbia
1st - Mr President for Doug Campbell - Messrs A & S Sukhraj
1st - Coby for Gary Alexander - Joanne Gardner
1st - Negev for Louis Goosen - Claude Comaroff and BK Parker
1st - Strong Blonde for Pat Lunn - Mike Destombes
1st - Ethemba for Dorrie Sham - Greg Bortz and Bryn Ressell
1st - Enchanted Silk for Sean Tarry - Chris van Niekerk

Season 2013/2014 as at 23 February 2014

Position Stakes (ZAR) Breeder rnrs AEPR
1 10,870,763 SUMMERHILL STUD 250 43,483
2 7,938,038 KLAWERVLEI STUD 287 27,659
3 6,990,738 HIGHLANDS 154 45,394
4 6,149,613 VARSFONTEIN STUD 90 68,329
5 5,825,438 MAINE CHANCE 154 37,828
6 3,996,688 WILGERBOSDRIFT 110 36,334
7 3,688,266 SCOTT BROS 124 29,744
8 3,612,475 LAMMERSKRAAL 75 48,166
9 3,148,925 CHEVELEY STUD 63 49,983
10 3,082,938 DRAKENSTEIN STUD 67 46,014

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Enquiries :
Linda Norval +27 (0) 33 263 1081
or email



coolmore vs darley

“In a game in which the principals all compete in the same profession, and where success and failure are both logged in the press every day, swirling envies always abound.”

For those of us who think that excellence in the racehorse breeding business, is vitally dependent upon the regular refreshment of one’s productive bloodstock, the annual retirement to stud of the world’s top performers is a matter of fundamental interest. For as long as we continue to believe that imported parent stock is superior to our local stuff, what happens in the Northern Hemisphere will remain the focus of our greater attention. After all, it has been thus ever since South Africans took breeding seriously, and the future fathers of our own prospects will be drawn from the ranks of the stallions that excel in those realms.

The bells of success have forever tolled for those that command the heights of the stallion business, and for close on three centuries, that hegemony rested with the English aristocracy, endowed as they were with the spoils of Empire. The curtain-call on Britain’s dominion over 40% of the earth’s surface, coincided with the rampant American economy of the 1940s, and the irresistible money of the latter’s industrialists soon transferred the pendulum of stallion power to the other side of the Atlantic.

Enter the son of a battling Irish farmer and his utterly gifted father-in-law trainer, backed by the riches of a football pools heir, and the 1980s spawned the emergence of a new force in the Emerald Isle. Given the economics of the time, Ireland was the most unlikely of places to champion a European resurgence, but when it comes to horses, only the ignorant would be foolish enough to ignore her horsemen.

John Magnier, Vincent O’Brien and the Liverpudlian Robert Sangster brought a new meaning to the word “genius,” and while knowing that the best racehorse (and hence, stallion) prospects were to be found in North America was, for them, the easy part, their knack in picking and funding the choice lots was what set them apart. Thus Coolmore was born, a temple to the glories of Vincent O’Brien’s masterpiece, Ballydoyle, the mysteries of which had fired the pens of journalists for five full decades.

The Japanese have long been the masters of imitation, so it wasn’t long before their own “genius”, the late Zenya Yoshida, cottoned on and developed a dominance of his own in his homeland, perfecting it by urging his domestic authorities to rewrite their racing programme to suit the discards of a European model which had served British and French racing so well for so long.

But back to centre court. Within a decade, the Irish-based triumvirate faced an onslaught from a hitherto unimaginable source with limitless pockets. Oil was the new world monetary system, and with their exposure to the intoxication of racing that comes with an aristocratic British education, the four sons of Dubai’s ruler of the time, succumbed to the charms of the sport. Magnier and Co. suddenly had a match on their hands, and before they could say “Jack Flash”, the Arab connection were the senior protagonists, if only from the perspective of what they could spend not only in the United States, but in their pursuit of the best produce of the best stallions already enthroned at Coolmore.

What has become of a rivalry that grew out of the internecine battle for racing supremacy in Europe, has been well-visited in these columns. In a nutshell, the balance of power at the racecourse ping-ponged between these two battalions, the one propelled by what seemed like a “bottomless pit”, the other by the instincts that belong only to those whose talents spring from generations of association with horses. Yes, measured by the standards of a former era, the Irish contingent had “cash”, but the resources at the disposal of Sheikh Mohammed et frère were on a scale no-one had seen or even contemplated before. The fact that the Irish were competitive at all, is the best testimony to our home-coined adage that when it comes to racehorses, a good eye can be just as good as a big cheque book.

In a game in which the principals all compete in the same profession, and where success and failure are both logged in the press every day, swirling envies always abound. The Arabs obviously had their reasons (the grapevine suggested they felt that the flow of the financial largesse accruing from their “mutual” patronage, was pretty much one-way traffic in favour of the “green” team) but out of the blue, the Maktoums decided about 8 years ago, that they would henceforth suspend their support of the Coolmore stallions, as well as their progeny in the sales ring. As the biggest buyers of thoroughbreds the world had known, in almost every other conceivable instance, this would’ve been the death knell for any operation, even one of Coolmore’s scale. After all, it didn’t only mean the withdrawal of their patronage of the stallions themselves, but it was a signal to all commercial breeders who continued their support of the Magnier stallions, that they could no longer count on Maktoum money to drive their prices. In short, it was a declaration of war, a war which has raged on for 8 unrelenting years, at considerable cost to the “boys in blue”, as the Maktoum contingent has come to be known.

It is one of the truisms of the game, that owners can be harder to train than horses, and when money and horses start to run, avarice and resentment are often not far behind. Ever since horses became a currency of their own, nothing has been quite the same. History has always served as a good teacher in circumstances like these, and for anyone plotting a strategy, a glance at the stallion logs of the moment would’ve made worthwhile reading. Sadler’s Wells had already racked up a world record sequence of 12 sires titles (he made it 14 in the end;) on either side of these, the Coolmore stallions, Caerleon and Danehill had their turns (Danehill was on the threshold of a “run” of his own, too,) and the European “top ten” seldom included fewer than seven or eight Coolmore incumbents. If you wanted to remain in the vanguard of European racing, the quick answer was that you had to stay with the Coolmore stallions. The Maktoums didn’t, and since that day, their challenge has “fizzled” to a trickle of its former formidable glory. That’s not going to change any time soon either, not until they “own the farm”.

Meanwhile, already ensconced at Coolmore were the successors to Sadler’s Wells; Danehill, his son Danehill Dancer, Montjeu and High Chaparral, aspiring champions the lot, as well as the inimitable Galileo, most people’s idea of the world’s best sire of the present era. To a man, they are products of a single lineage, the genesis of which lay in the early recognition of Northern Dancer as the “daddy of them all”, long before the rest of the world woke up. By contrast, the very ample ranks of Darley stallions in Europe, are populated by just a handful of quality proven stallions: Dubawi (a son of their own prematurely-deceased Dubai Millennium), Shamardal and New Approach, ironically the products of two Coolmore-owned horses, Giant’s Causeway and Galileo. In a sense, this is akin to “sleeping with the enemy”, and only serves to highlight the cost of that fateful decision to an operation whose ratio vivendi is centred entirely on the frequency of its visits to the big race winner’s podium, and blighted this year by two very unwelcome but much publicised charges for the possession and administration of quantities of illegal medications.

The one thing you can’t do though, is underestimate the ambition and determination of Dubai’s ruler: what Sheikh Mohammed wants, Sheikh Mohammed gets. In the wake of the “declaration of war”, he set out to corner the American stallion market by acquiring the top four performers of the three-year-old generation of 2007; together with his exceptional homebred, Bernardini, a cool $200 million laid claim to the Kentucky Derby star, Street Sense, Hard Spun and Any Given Saturday. Then he reached into a rich vein of genetic quartz, and brought home the exalted sire, Medaglia D’Oro. While the reigning champion of America, Giant’s Causeway (three titles 2009, 2010 and 2012) resides at Coolmore’s Ashford operation, Bernardini looks every bit the successor to his own illustrious father, A.P. Indy, and Medaglia D’Oro remains a force, though not with quite the zest he enjoyed at the height of his “heady” acquisition.

If the penny hasn’t already dropped, this is the background to the world of stallion supremacy, and why, in that battle, the only two parties that matter (in the Northern Hemisphere at least) if only because of the financial and genetic resources at their disposal, are Coolmore and Darley. Yes, there are pockets of genuine resistance (Juddmonte’s Dansili and Oasis Dream and the immense but as yet unknown presence of Frankel) Claiborne’s War Front (Danzig’s successor, they say) and down South, the exceptional influences of Redoute’s Choice and, can-you-believe-it, another continental champion for Coolmore, Fastnet Rock. But the reality is, for the foreseeable future at least, these two leviathans of the industry, as diverse in their character as a lion and a hippopotamus, are likely to define the course of things.

Just four years ago (a few months after the fall of Lehmann Bros.) American studs announced the fees for their top new retirees: Curlin ($75,000), Big Brown ($65,000) and Henrythenavigator ($65,000). Since then, only four Northern Hemisphere stallions have stood for $50,000 or more, all in Europe, and two of them veteran “Australians”: Fastnet Rock, shuttling at an “opener” of 35,000 (+-$50k), and in an act of unusual daring most likely engineered by his own bloodstock chief, Georges Rimaud, the Aga Khan took on Redoute’s Choice at €70,000. The other two, arguably the two best European racehorses of the past 30 years, reinforced both the Aga Khan’s new-found entreprenurial verve as well as Prince Khalid Abdullah’s place at the main table of international breeding’s greatest players. Sea The Stars retired to Gilltown Stud for €85 000, while Frankel joined the Juddmonte roster at £125 000. Most betting men will tell you, the Europeans got the best end of that bargain, and looking at the prospects for 2014, it’s another case of “odds-on” Europe.

Top of the European “pops”, at least from a pricing perspective, is Coolmore’s aptly named Declaration Of War, given the theme of this report, who comes at a solid €40,000 (+-$55,000). Coolmore have obviously identified his sire War Front, as the reincarnation of his own father, Danzig, and as a font of future prospects, as they’ve done a fistful of business with that stallion’s principal Joseph Allen, and this fellow combines a “Giant’s Causeway” constitution and mind, with an enviable “milers” record for his place at the top of the stud fee tree.

It is a sad reflection though, on the role which fashion plays in the setting of stud fees, that as admirable a racehorse as Camelot should kick off at just €25,000. It is all the more mystifying since his own sire Montjeu, Galileo and High Chaparral, all giants of the stallion firmament, were like him, Derby winners. His “sin” obviously rests in the extended distances at which he excelled, while Dawn Approach, who like Camelot, was also a winner of the Group One Two Thousand Guineas at a mile, starts life at €35,000. Dawn Approach’s redemption rests in the fact that, unlike our Derby hero, he failed in the Derby, suggesting that his forte’ was at the shorter trips. Damn good miler that he was, there wasn’t €10,000 worth of stud fees between him and Camelot as racehorses. End of story.

Besides having displayed his prowess in Group One company at a mile, Camelot had the added distinction of crushing his Derby adversaries by five, in faster time than any of his mighty Ballydoyle predecessors, Nijinsky, Sir Ivor, Roberto, The Minstrel and High Chaparral, all stellar stallions in their own right. Here was an athlete with the precocity of a Champion Two-Year-Old, the speed to win a Guineas at three, and whose owners were the first since Nijinsky’s Charles Engelhard with the courage and the enterprise to allow a colt of his talents a crack at the Triple Crown. His pedigree spoke of “Elegance” and the “Enforcer”: by Montjeu from a Kingmambo mare, out of a daughter of Danehill, Camelot had done exactly what it said on the “tin”. When it came to the extended trip of the St Leger, the third leg in the “crown”, things just unravelled. One of the brutal truths of the game, is that when things seem almost too good to be true, they almost certainly are. All seemed so well in the world. It only took one race to change it.  And, it only took a horse called Encke, who’s not been seen or heard of since, to do it. That was Camelot’s sin.

Mercifully, the Coolmore team knows better. While Declaration Of War heads their freshman roster pricewise, it is Camelot’s honour to decorate the cover of their newly-released stallion brochure for 2014.

Dawn Approach aside (enigmatic he may be, but on his day, a world class performer with a big shot at Darley,) we’re not departing Europe without a word about Al Kazeem, recently syndicated among the “who’s who” of European breders for duty at The Queen’s Sandringham Stud. The son of Sheikh Mohammed’s highly accomplished Dubawi, this debonair entertainer debuts at a fee of £18,000 (+-$30,000). Horses like Al Kazeem are an inspiration. In the simplest way, they symbolise the highest of athletic virtues, rock solid minds and massive physical appeal. It is always dangerous to get too anthropomorphic about horses, but given the calibre of those who’ve invested in him, there’s always mystique in the thought of how such a tough character will fare when he moves to the sultan’s life at stud.

The profiles of American debutants for 2014, is somewhat lower than that of their European counterparts, and appears to herald a subtle fall from grace of Kentucky, not long ago the undisputed capital of world thoroughbred breeding. Nice enough horses they certainly are, but in Orb, Paynter, Point Of Entry, Oxbow, Shanghai Bobby and Take Charge Indy, there’s little among those names to shiver the timbers of European breeders. The one horse who might’ve stirred some emotions across the waves were it not for his “non-event” at Ascot, is Animal Kingdom, the Kentucky Derby ace who, for a stretch of three months earlier in the year, bestrode the world as its highest-rated middle distance performer. He opens at Darley for a mouth-watering $35,000.

Hot off a nail-biting second in the 2012 Breeder’s Cup Mile, Animal Kingdom carried the colours of his breeders, Team Valor to victories in a brace of Group Ones in the opening months of the year, including a crushing defeat of an international line-up in the $10 million Dubai World Cup. South Africa’s Robin Bruss has previously engineered international transactions involving major racehorses and stallions, and one of his more celebrated achievements was the acquisition of the former Chilean champion sire, Hussonet, for duty at John Messara’s fabled Arrowfield in Australia.

Here Bruss was again, coupling Team Valor’s Barry Irwin with Arrowfield in a deal that saw Animal Kingdom go to “post” for the world’s richest race, in their joint ownership. A visionary in the Magnier class, Messara has always been pretty nimble when there is business to be done, especially when a “shrewdy” like Irwin has marked his card. Animal Kingdom’s World Cup was one of those moments when triumph is so complete, vindication so unarguable.

As he’d also demonstrated so often in the past, Sheikh Mohammed is seldom too far out of range when there’s the scent of a good horse in the vicinity, and he too, was quick to pounce in the World Cup aftermath. Few horses have gone to Royal Ascot with such expectations, and with the combined powers of two of the world’s great marketers and the money of one of the world’s richest men behind him, Animal Kingdom arrived in England carrying the aspirations of three different countries. The racehorse is such a symbol of hope and vitality though, that when they go down, as Animal Kingdom did before the eyes of the world at Ascot, the flame is so instantly extinguished, it comes as a choking shock, even in the remembrance. Otherwise, he should’ve been standing for $50,000 or more.

One race: that’s all it takes. Success governs everything in racing. It always has. And it always will.



Arqana December Breeding Stock SaleArqana December Breeding Stock Sale
(Photo : Arqana)


After a booming opening session Saturday, which saw increased figures across the board, the strength ofthe market at the Arqana December Breeding Stock Sale was highlighted Sunday when, midway through the second of four sessions, the sale’s record aggregate of €19,561,500, recorded last year, was broken with 2 1/2 days of selling still to take place.

By the end of the day Sunday, the aggregate had reached €23,720,000. The average was duly up 19% to €24,015, while the median climbed from €14,000 to €17,000. The clearance rate was up five pointsto 80%. Ghislain Bozo’s Meridian International led the way during the typically more low-key session, signing for the top two lots of the session. On top of the leaderboard was the 3-year-old filly Abilene (GB) (Samum), who entered the ring midway through the session as lot 378, and left with a final price tag of €270,000 (US$370,263). A first-out winner at Kempton in April for Wildenstein Stables and trainer Francis-Henri Graffard, Abilene was placed in the Listed Prix Solitude at Saint-Cloud 9 November.

The half-sister to listed winner and Group 3-placed Andromeda Galaxy (Fr) (Peintre Celebre), sent through the ring by the Wildenstein family’s Haras du Bois Roussel, Abilene was knocked down to Bozo on behalf of Capital Pur-Sang, an investment company of 30 members that has been operating for three years, with a 15% return-on-investment. Bozo noted the filly would stay in training with Graffard next year.

“Graffard likes her a lot,” Bozo said. “She’s from a very good family out of a young mare, so we’re going to try to get some black-type, then we’ll either keep her for breeding or sell her later, depending on the results.”

Bozo was back in the fray late in the evening, winning the battle for Handana (Ire) (Desert Style) (lot 476) at €190,000. The Aga Khan-consigned  3-year-old filly is a half-sister to a pair of black-type winners, as well as to Hannda (Ire) (Dr Devious), the dam of G1 British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes winner Seal of Approval (GB) (Authorized). Hannda RNA’d for 525,000gns at Tattersalls last week.

“She’s a good filly from a very nice family,” said Bozo, who purchased the filly on behalf of an undisclosed French breeder. “There are a lot of good fillies in the pedigree that have been kept by The Aga Khan, so there is a lot more to come from the family.”

Bozo said a future mate for Handana had not yet been determined.

Extract from Thoroughbred Daily News



Redoute's ChoiceRedoute’s Choice
(Photo : Aga Khan Studs)

Danehill (USA) - Shanthas Choice (AUS)

Elite Australian sire Redoute’s Choice, who is standing the Northern Hemisphere season for the first time this year in France, reached his 100th individual stakes winner on 23 February when She’s Clean won the Triscay Stakes (Listed) at Warwick Farm in Sydney.

Australia’s leading sire in 2006 and 2010, Redoute’s Choice is based at John Messara’s Arrowfield Stud in Austalia. The 16-year-old son of Danehill began a new career as a shuttler to Europe this season and recently began serving his first mares at the Aga Khan’s Haras de Bonneval in France, where he stands for a €70,000 fee.

“This is a wonderful milestone to celebrate, but the future for Redoute’s Choice is even more exciting as he enters a new phase of his career, standing his first season in Europe,” Messara said.

Redoute’s Choice joins sire Danehill and father-son pair Sir Tristram and Zabeel as the only stallions to sire 100 or more worldwide stakes winners from Australasian-conceived foals.

The milestone marks a lifetime sire record of 11.4% stakes winners from starters. Redoute’s Choice has 21 Group 1 winners, including Australian champions Miss Finland, Fashions Afield, and Samantha Miss, New Zealand champion King’s Rose, and South African champion Musir, and 10 classic winners. His sire record also includes stakes winners in the United Kingdom, Germany, Dubai, Turkey, Hong Kong, and Japan, all of whom were conceived in Australasia.

Redoute’s Choice began his stud career at Arrowfield in the Segenhoe Valley in the Upper Hunter Valley of New South Wales and was Australia’s leading first-crop sire in 2004 and leading juvenile sire in 2005 and 2006.

Overall, Redoute’s Choice has progeny earnings of more than $89million. His offspring are in high demand at auction as evidenced by a yearling sale average of more than $440,000.

Redoute’s Choice has already established himself as a sire of sires, with Stratum and Snitzel the sires of Group 1 winners and ranking as Champion Sires. Four other sons have sired Group 1 winners, including Not a Single Doubt, whose undefeated 2-year-old daughter Miracles of Life won the $1million Blue Diamond Stakes (Group 1) on 23 February at Caulfield. Additionally, Redoute’s Choice has been effective as a broodmare sire as his daughters have produced 16 stakes winners.

He currently ranks fourth on Australia’s general sire list by progeny earnings, with $5,562,745. And three sons - Snitzel, Stratum and Not a Single Double rank in the top 15.

Redoute’s Choice won eight of 10 career starts, including the four Group 1 races in Australia - the 1999 Blue Diamond, Manikato, Caulfield Guineas and 2000 C.F. Orr Stakes - and amassed a lifetime bankroll of $995,264. He is out of the Canny Lad mare Shantha’s Choice and is a full brother to Group 1 winner Platinum Scissors and a half brother to Group 1 winner Manhattan Rain and Group 3 winner Sliding Cube.

She’s Clean won her sixth race from 14 career starts with the Triscay Stakes victory. She was produced by the stakes-placed End Sweep mare Feather Duster, a half sister to Japanese Champion Kinshasa no Kiseki, and is from the family of French Group 1 winner and important sire Groom Dancer, French Group 1 winner Plumania, and French classic winner Falco.

Extract from BloodHorse



Aga Khan IIIThe late Aga Khan III
(Photo : BBC)

By Tony Sweeney

Colonel Hall-Walker, (later Lord Wavertree), a Liverpool businessman who had established his stud at Tully in County Kildare, bred the winners of seven English Classics and, by gifting his bloodstock during World War I, provided the genesis for two National Studs. Yet his greatest contribution to upgrading the thoroughbred was to introduce at the turn of the century a young Indian Prince, the late Aga Khan III, to English racing.

In Memoirs of a Racing Journalist, author Sidney Galtrey quotes from a letter in which the Aga Khan wrote “It was entirely due to Lord Wavertree and my personal friendship for him that I started to race on the English Turf. I would probably never have been known as an owner west of Suez had he not, during and after my visit to Tully in 1904, urged me to take up racing in England.”

Despite his relative unfamiliarity with the English racing scene, the late Aga Khan III was no stranger to thoroughbreds. His family had been associated with horses since 6th century Arabia, and his grandfather established a stud and stable in India in the nineteenth century.

Two centuries before Volume 1 of the General Stud Book, Gervase Markham had recognised the merits of the Arabian horse. An English cavalry officer in the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, Markham was the author of the earliest book on racehorse training “How to chuse, ride, trayne, and dyet both hunting horses and running horses: With all the secrets thereto discovered.” Here, with the spelling modernised is how Markham divined the qualities of a true Arabian: “One whose wonderful speed both in short and long courses may make our English prickers hold their best runners… him I hold a fit stallion to breed on, and a fit beast for his master to hazard his life on… he hath in him the purity and virtue of all other horses.”

Another attribute of the Arabian horse is and was his ability to perform well under highly variable conditions. On this subject Markham wrote: “They are so excellent for travel that my horse being traveled from a part of Arabia called Angelica to Constantinople, and from there to the hithermost parts of Germany by land and so by sea to England; yet was he so courageous and lively… that by no means could he be ruled.” To this the present Aga Khan can personally attest based on the globetrotting achievements of his splendid stallion Daylami during the 1997 - 1999 seasons.

Returning now to Colonel Hall-Walker and the late Aga Khan III, it is clear that the Colonel may have been instrumental in introducing the Aga Khan to English racing, but unbeknownst to either of them, an event of equal importance was about to occur that would in time seal the Aga Khan’s influence on horse-breeding. An American-bred stallion named Americus and a mare Rhoda B, in foal to Orme, would soon arrive in Ireland thanks to the actions of a very improbable pair of allies, the electorate of New York City and the English Jockey Club. The response of Richard Croker, the notorious “Boss” of Tammany Hall, to the election of a “reform ticket” mayor, was to move with his horses to England. However, following a barring order from Newmarket Heath imposed by the Jockey Club, the county Limerick native returned to the land of his birth.

Croker’s batch of stock was destined to change thoroughbred history. The foal Rhoda B was carrying was Orby, the first Irish-trained horse ever to win the English Derby, and arguably the greatest influence for speed of any 20th century winner of that race.

The following spring Americus covered Palotta and the outcome was the flying Americus Girl. Orby became the grandsire of Cos, and Americus Girl the grand-dam of Mumtaz Mahal. And with that end result you have the names of two of the most influential mares ever to grace an Aga Khan paddock.

Almost twenty years elapsed before the Aga Khan had the means and the time to enter into the English bloodstock market in a manner that would suit his taste for doing things well or not at all. In those intervening years he developed a keen appreciation for what was happening both on the racetrack and at stud. He wrote to Galtrey, “those who pooh-pooh science, knowledge and study in connection with racing do not know what they are talking about.”

The thoroughbred offers a unique field for genetic research. Using the multiple volumes of the General Stud Book and the Racing Calendar, first published, respectively, in 1791 and 1727, one can determine the pedigree and performance of all recorded thoroughbreds over more then two centuries - from the fastest to the slowest, from the strongest to the weakest.

Such study underlines the role of the owner-breeder in upgrading bloodstock. The average winning time of Derby winners in the period 1851-1860, was 2 minutes 55 seconds, fifty years later (1901 - 1910) fourteen seconds had been clipped off that average. In that period splendid foundation mares acquired by Lord Derby (Canterbury Pilgrim) and Lord Astor (Conjure) had ensured that their stables would remain pre-eminent. This was a lesson not lost on the Aga Khan who also recognized that top trainers, top jockeys, and top stud managers were all of equal importance.

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