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Entries in Andrew Caulfield (17)



admire main and sunday silenceAdmire Main and Sunday Silence
(Photo : Summerhill Stud)


Sandwiched between international triumphs on consecutive weekends, Summerhill’s young stallion Admire Main, earned himself the title of Stallion Prospect of the Year, while Andrew Caulfield talks of other events which serve to highlight the burgeoning influence of the tribe.

In last week’s article I paid tribute to the exceptional Japanese stallion Sunday Silence in reference to the top Japanese filly Meisho Mambo, a daughter of the Sunday Silence stallion Suzuka Mambo. Coincidentally, the same day’s issue of TDN carried the result of the G1 Grande Premio Diana, the Oaks equivalent at the Cidade Jardim track at Sao Paulo in Brazil. Here again it was a son of Sunday Silence, Agnes Gold—who supplied the decisive winner, Energia Fribby. By the end of the week two more sons of Sunday Silence had been represented by group winners, this time in their native Japan. First to do so was Fuji Kiseki, the horse who first highlighted Sunday Silences potential by becoming a champion 2-year-old from his first crop. Now a veteran of 21, Fuji Kiseki was responsible for Isla Bonita, who was scoring for the third time in four starts when he won the G3 Tokyo Sports Hai Nisai S. It is a measure of the dominance of Sunday Silences sons that they were responsible for nine of the first 10 finishers in this race—a race whose recent winners include Deep Brillante (2012 Japanese Derby), Sadamu Patek (G1 Mile Championship in 2012) and Rose Kingdom (G1 Japan Cup in 2010). 

This dominance was again in evidence in the following days G1 Mile Championship at Kyoto, with Sunday Silences sons again taking credit for the vast majority of the 18 runners. Five of them were by Deep Impact, while Daiwa Major and Dance In The Dark each had a trio of representatives. Between them Deep Impact and Daiwa Major sired the first five finishers, with Deep Impacts 5-year-old son Tosen Ra taking victory from Daiwa Majors 4-year-old colt Daiwa Maggiore. Deep Impacts earnings from the Mile Championship helped stretch his lead over King Kamehameha on Japans sire table to nearly -570,000,000—that’s heading for $5,700,000. This means there is every chance Deep Impact will take his second consecutive sires championship, especially as his daughters Gentildonna, Verxina, Lachesis and Denim And Ruby are among the nominations for the Japan Cup. Deep Impact owed his 2012 championship to a worldwide total of 14 individual graded/group winners and he is again among the leaders in this category. His total of 12 places him joint-third with Dansili and Giants Causeway, behind Galileo and Dubawi. Incidentally, anyone who shares the widespread prejudice against mile-and-a-half horses should take a look at this graded-stakes winners table. The clear leader, Galileo, was at his best over Europe’s traditional classic distance and the leaders also include his fellow mile-and-a-half winners Kittens Joy, Monsun and Montjeu

Deep Impact stayed even better, and I can’t help wondering how breeders would have reacted to him had he started his stallion career in Europe or the U.S. Connections of Europe’s leading mile-and-a-half horses are usually desperate for them to add a Group 1 victory over a mile and a quarter to their C.V., and a victory in the St Leger can sound the death knell to a colt=s appeal as a stallion. So what would they have made of Deep Impact’s record, which also lacked the much-desired notable performances at two? Admittedly he did win as a juvenile, but he didn’t make it to the races until Dec. 19, when he won a mile-and-a-quarter newcomers race at Hanshin. Deep Impact proceeded to remain unbeaten in his first seven starts, his seventh win coming when he completed the Japanese Triple Crown with victory in the Kikuka Sho (Japanese St Leger) over 1 7/8 miles. 

His stamina was again thoroughly tested at the start of his 4-year-old campaign, when he recorded clear-cut victories in the G2 Hanshin Daishoten over 1 7/8 miles and the Tenno Sho (Spring) over two miles. He never tackled a distance shorter than a mile and a quarter. Of course, he was bred to stay pretty well as his dam was tried at up 13/4 miles—a distance over his second dam Burghclere was successful. 

The mere fact that Deep Impact has sired two winners of the Oka Sho (1000 Guineas) and one of the French 1000 Guineas tells us that breeders have succeeded in injecting speed into his progeny. So does the fact that he had five representatives in the Mile Championship, out of daughters of Lycius, Caerleon, Bertolini, Smart Strike and Meadowlake. Tosen Ra, the Mile Championship winner, is out of Princess Olivia, a Lycius mare whose name is already well known in America as the dam of Flower Alley. She was sold for $825,000 in November 2005, and would no doubt have made a lot more had she been in foal to a more fashionable stallion than Monashee Mountain. She came on the market not long after Flower Alley had been in fine form at Saratoga, where he followed up an easy win in the GII Jim Dandy S. with a victory over the Kentucky Derby favorite Bellamy Road and the GI Haskell Invitational winner Roman Ruler in the GI Travers S. 

Tosen Ras Group 1 victory at Kyoto came on his first venture over a distance as short as a mile, even though he had won both his starts over his next-shortest distance of a mile and an eighth. As he has won only one of his 17 races over longer distances, anyone could be excused for thinking that this was because he was racing beyond his optimum distance. This can’t be so, though, as he finished third behind the top-class Orfevre in the G1 Kikuka Sho over 1 7/8 miles in 2011. Then, earlier this year, he contested the two-mile version of the G1 Tenno Sho and ran extremely well to take second place behind Fenomeno in an 18-runner field. He finished two lengths clear of Red Cadeaux, an accomplished international performer who recently came out the best horse at the weights in the G1 Melbourne Cup. How many horses are capable of Group 1 performances over such different distances as a mile and two miles in the same season? Incidentally, Tosen Ra is a perfect illustration of the debt Japanese breeding owes to imported mares. Not only is he out of an imported mare, but so is his sire  Deep Impact. A quick look at this year=s top ten earners in Japan also reveals that he is one of six which are either out of imported mares or mares conceived abroad. The others are Lord Kanaloa and Kizuna (both with dams by Storm Cat), Hokko Tarumae (dam by Cherokee Run), Fenomeno (dam by Danehill) and Just A Way (dam by Wild Again).



Dawn Approach - 2000 GuineasDawn Approach wins the QIPCO 2000 Guineas
(Photo : RTE)

“There is good reason for thinking that Dawn Approach
will not be troubled by a mile and a quarter”

It’s that time of the year again, when streams of conjecture from pedigree pundits pondering the stamina limitations of Classic prospects are the order of the day. The debate rages no more furiously anywhere than it does in the United States, primarily as it’s Kentucky Derby time, and since the bulk of American horses are bred for speed, there’s always the question of whether their stamina will stretch the ten furlongs of their most famous race.

Strangely enough, for a country that has an hereditary obsession with these arguments, the British have been uncharacteristically quiet, more likely because most horses in those realms are bred for the Derby trip, and it’s usually their class that makes them effective at anything less than a mile and a half. Indeed, for a country that was once renowned for the lightning elements of the Grey Sovereign, Gold Boss, Golden Cloud, Vilmorin, Abernant and Mummy’s Pet lines, there is a distinct dearth of out-and-out speed in European pedigrees these days. A top sprinter is more likely to be an errant child from a heritage that screams “stamina”, than he is to have been bred for the job, hence the regular decimation by the Australians of the region’s leading exponents of the art of speed in the King’s Stand Stakes (Gr.1) and the Golden Jubilee Sprint (Gr.1) most years at Royal Ascot.

Saturday’s Two Thousand Guineas (Gr.1) hero, Dawn Approach, has woken the gurus from their slumber however, with his imperious 5 length triumph in the 205th running of England’s first Classic, because his pedigree at least suggests there may be a few chinks in his stamina armoury, and hence his appetite for the Derby distance.

Andrew Caulfield who’s been around a long time, and is one of the world’s leading students on the subject, yesterday provided his dissection of Dawn Approach’s prospects of doing so. As usual, he is delightfully insightful. But most of these fellows have a knack of occupying the top of the fence when it comes to putting their reputations on the line, and Andrew’s left us wondering again. So you be the judge!

Jim Bolger’s outstanding record as a trainer has shown time after time that he is not hidebound by convention. If a horse appears to be ready to run, he is happy to run it, even if other trainers would hesitate because of the animal’s bloodlines. This has been highlighted by the records of the five colts which have taken the Dewhurst Stake (Gr.1) for Bolger over the last seven years, as none of them made his debut later than July 16. Parish Hall was out as early as April 10, despite being inbred 3x3 to Sadler’s Wells, and Saturday’s admirable 2000 Guineas winner Dawn Approach started his career even earlier, on March 25. These early starts also allowed Bolger to give his colts the wealth of experience which often proves so valuable in the top events, with all five racing at least five times at two.

I guess that ungenerous observers might say that some of these colts paid the price for their early exploits, as neither Teofilo (Galileo) nor Parish Hall (Teofilo) was able to race at three and Intense Focus (Giant’s Causeway) ran only twice after his busy first season. However, New Approach proved to be a model Thoroughbred and is now a highly exciting sire, with the unbeaten Dawn Approach leading the way.

Of course the excitement about New Approach started last year, when Dawn Approach’s Coventry Stakes (Gr.2) win was part of an unprecedented stakes treble for a first-crop sire at Royal Ascot, the other victories coming via Thair and the short-lived Newfangled.

While these three proved that New Approach is perfectly capable of siring precocious juveniles, I suspect that they may be exceptions to the rule. No other stakes winners emerged from New Approach’s subsequent 2-year-old runners in 2012, but he notched up his fourth stakes winner when the stoutly bred Talent took the Pretty Polly Stakes (L) two days ago.

As with many a winner of the 2000 Guineas, the question now is whether Dawn Approach has the necessary stamina for the Derby. I might as well admit now that I have my doubts, but I am delighted that Dawn Approach’s connections apparently intend to let him take his chance. Bolger has been an advocate of Equinome’s genetic testing system, designed to evaluate a racehorse’s stamina potential. It seems, though, that he is still prepared to go along with the old trial-and-error process which has stood racing in good stead for hundreds of years.

When Brough Scott interviewed Bolger for Racing Post Sunday in March, Scott explained that the system categorizes a horse’s stamina capabilities, from a TT for middle-distance to a CC for sheer speed. “Galileo was a TT, but he had class,” Bolger explained. “The ideal for a Classic horse is CT. New Approach was a CT, while Dawn Approach is a CC. I trained his dam who had talent, although she got injured, but she was by a sprinter, so the Derby distance is unlikely. But as he settles so well, I would not rule it out entirely.”

It is essential to remember that stamina cannot be accurately assessed without taking temperament into account. A hard-puller is never going to stay as far as expected. Equally, a phlegmatic temperament and a willingness to settle can sometimes allow a horse to stay further than anyone might have predicted. One of the most extreme examples that I can recall was Lord Helpus, a horse trained by Barry Hills nearly 40 years ago. This colt was by Green God, a high-class performer who did all his winning over five or six furlongs. Golden Cloud, the broodmare sire of Lord Helpus, was another specialist sprinter and so were Golden Cloud’s sire Gold Bridge and Vilmorin, sire of Lord Helpus’ very speedy second dam, Poplin. Lord Helpus seemed to be fulfilling his destiny when he showed consistently useful form over sprint distances at two. However, an amenable temperament encouraged Hills to move the colt up in distance at three, when Lord Helpus achieved a Timeform rating of 111 in scoring twice over a mile. The 4-year-old Lord Helpus then showed even further progress, when he achieved his finest victory in the Princess of Wales’s Stakes (Gr.3) over a mile and a half.

Of course the stamina had to come from somewhere, the most obvious sources being Green God’s grandsires Nasrullah and Guersant, both of whom just about stayed a mile and a half. Clearly, this latent stamina eventually proved more potent than the fast blood in Lord Helpus’ pedigree. So will the presence of one very fast horse in Dawn Approach’s pedigree, his broodmare sire Phone Trick, be more influential than the fact that his next three dams are daughters of Pleasant Colony, Alydar and Sea-Bird II?

In case you’ve forgotten, Pleasant Colony won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness before siring several high-class performers over a mile and a half, including Colonial Affair (Belmont Stakes G1), Denon (Turf Classic G1) and St Jovite (winner of the G1 Irish Derby and King George for Jim Bolger). Alydar was a fine second in each of Affirmed’s Triple Crown wins, running him to a head in the Belmont Stakes. And the majestic Sea-Bird still has strong claims to being the finest mile-and-a-half horse in living memory.

To get back to Phone Trick, fast horses inevitably predominate among the good winners produced by his daughters, good examples being Zensational, Old Topper and Universal Form. Fortunately for Dawn Approach’s admirers, there are exceptions to the rule, the finest being Unbridled’s daughter Exogenous. With a G1 Kentucky Derby and G1 Breeders’ Cup Classic winner as her sire, Exogenous stayed well enough to triumph in a pair of Grade 1s over a mile and an eighth and she was also runner-up in Grade 1s over a mile and a quarter and a mile and a half (appearing not to stay the latter distance). Then there’s Eye of the Tiger, a Grade 2 winner over 1 3/16 miles, and Connected, a Grade 3 scorer over 1 1/8 miles.

Therefore, there is good reason for thinking that Dawn Approach will not be troubled by a mile and a quarter, but only the racecourse test will tell us whether he can also excel over the Derby distance. It is worth pointing out that the late great Vincent O’Brien was of the opinion that a mile and a quarter was the optimum distance for some of his English and Irish Derby winners. Sheer class can help eke out a colt’s stamina, and Dawn Approach certainly has that, so I think the idea of putting him to the test in the Derby is the right one, no matter what the result. Dawn Approach’s dam Hymn of the Dawn cost no more than $18,000 as a weanling. She failed to win in five attempts and her dam Colonial Debut also retired winless after eight starts. Even his third dam Kittihawk Miss, won only once in seven starts. Don’t get the wrong idea, though. The 2000 Guineas hero comes from a female line which has achieved a great deal. Colonial Debut’s best effort was her Tale of the Cat colt Galantas, a smart miler who earned the equivalent of over $300,000. Dawn Approach’s fifth dam is Ole Liz, a winner of six of her 12 juvenile starts back in 1965. As a daughter of Double Jay and Islay Mist, Ole Liz was a sister to Bourbon Mist, and both these sisters proved very influential producers.

The Newstead Farm Dispersal in 1985 provided abundant evidence as to Ole Liz’s talents. Her daughter Kittiwake, now the fourth dam of Dawn Approach, realized $3.8 million at the age of 17. Kittiwake’s daughters Larida and Miss Oceana sold for $4million and $7million, respectively. Dawn Approach’s third dam, Kittihawk Miss, was a sister to Miss Oceana, whose record stood at an impressive 11 wins and 6 seconds from 19 starts. Good enough to win five of her six juvenile starts, Miss Oceana progressed to boost her total of Grade 1 wins to five, including one over a mile and an eighth. She also finished third in the CCA Oaks over a mile and a half. Kittiwake was 21 when she foaled the last of her four stakes winners, the Group 1-winning Nureyev colt Kitwood, who stayed a mile and a quarter in France. Kittiwake is also the second dam of Magic of Life, winner of the G1 Coronation Stakes. Ole Liz is also the third dam of Film Maker, a highclass turf filly who scored at up to a mile and a half.

Dawn Approach isn’t the only proof that this female line is still flourishing; other recent Grade 1 winners being Aruna (a Mr. Greeley filly descending from Kittiwake who scored at up to 1 3/8 miles) and Love Theway Youare (2012 Vanity Handicap). Beaconaire, another of Ole Liz’s daughters, produced the high-class filly Sabin, who collected Grade 1 wins in the Yellow Ribbon Stakes and Gamely Handicap. Bourbon Mist’s daughter Fire Water bred the champion filly Life’s Magic, whose wins included the G1 Breeders’ Cup Distaff, and Bourbon Mist is also the third dam of two very different types in Europe, namely Nuclear Debate, a top sprinter, and the stamina-packed Amilynx, twice a winner of the G1 Prix Royal-Oak.

Dawn Approach Pedigree

Extracts from Thoroughbred Daily News



Unbridled's SongUnbridled’s Song (USA)
(Photo : Taylor Made Stallions)

“…they aim to persuade breeders that resting their mare is less attractive than having a May foal.”

The weekend marked a halcyon moment for an American horse.

One hundred Stakes winners remains a notable landmark in any stallion’s career, with Unbridled’s Song being the latest to reach this demanding milestone. Thanks to Graydar’s victory in the Donn Handicap (Gr.1), Unbridled’s Song became a member of this elite club at an appropriate time, just nine days before his actual 20th birthday. So writes Andrew Caulfied.

“While on the topic of birth dates, Saturday’s main events at Gulfstream Park acted as a reminder that patience is a virtue, which often reaps rich rewards. Firstly we saw Point of Entry (Dynafortmer) take the Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap (Gr.1)., and then a few races later came Graydar’s first Grade I victory. Point of Entry, whose bloodlines should make him a very interesting stallion prospect - was born on May 10, whereas Graydar was born on May 16. Although a late foaling date is by no means an insurmountable obstacle, the racing records of these two Grade 1 winners confirm that some patience is required. While Graydar’s birth date didn’t stop him selling for $260,000 at Fasig-Tipton’s February sale at two, he didn’t race at that age. After making his debut in April last year, his record now stands at three wins from four starts. Point of Entry, for his part, was another who made it to the races at two and he then earned less than $90,000 in eight 3-year-old starts. Fortunately, maturity and a permanent switch to the turf have changed all that, and his Gulfstream victory was his sixth in his last seven starts. It’s possible that a May foaling date is considered a greater handicap in Britain and Ireland than it is in the States, where the climate is warmer.

Consequently, the clever copywriters of Coolmore’s adverts find it necessary to stimulate interest towards the end of each season. Using a list of prominent late foals, they aim to persuade breeders that resting their mare is less attractive than having a May foal. Last year, for an article in Thoroughbred Owner & Breeder, I looked at the birthdays of the Grade or Group 1 and 2 winners in Europe and North America during July. I found that 50 individual horses were involved, of which three were born in January, 10 in February, 13 in March, 17 in April, six in May and one in June. The May sextet was especially interesting, I wrote, as they included no fewer than four Group 1 winners - Danedream (born May 7), Point of Entry (May 10), Acclamation (May 16) and Mayson (May 16). Several other Grade 1 winners had late-April birthdays, including the major 3-year-old winners Imperial Monarch and Great Heavens (both born April 28) and Aesops Fables (April 30). I also reminded everyone that quite a few colts have won the G1 Belmont Stakes not long after their actual third birthday, comparatively recent examples being Touch Gold (Deputy Minister) (May 26), Victory Gallop (Cryptoclearance) (May 30), Lemon Drop Kid (Kingmambo) (May 26), Birdstone (Grindstone) (May16) and Afleet Alex (Northern Afleet) (May 9). I mentioned too that Mucho Macho Man (Macho Uno) had managed to flourish despite a June 15 birthday. He finished third in the 2011 Kentucky Derby, when still about six weeks short of his actual third birthday, but again didn’t show the full extent of his talents until he was four.

Although they also include the graded winners Magnificent Song, Half Ours, Noonmark and Noble Tune, their percentage of black-type winners is lower than Unbridled’s Songs overall figure. The perceived success of this cross has also seen Unbridled’s Song cover numerous grand-daughters of Storm Cat, but so far there has been only one stakes winner among their 70 foals.

All I am saying is that blindly following promising nicks is no guarantee of success, especially if conformation is overlooked. There is also no guarantee that mares by sons of a certain stallion will work equally as well as those by the original stallion. It is often convenient to forget that the sons have 50% extra bloodlines, which may or may not prove compatible.”

Editor’s note: The late date of the Ready To Run sale has facilitated the late foaling of numbers of top horses at Summerhill. A May foaling date in the Northern Hemisphere, is the equivalent of December down here. Born on the 16th December was Champion Three-Year-Old filly, Icy Air, while Dynasty’s first vanquisher, in the Golden Horseshoe (Gr.1,) was the “Christmas baby”, Bianconi.



South African Jockey Academy Class of 2013South African Jockey Academy Class of 2013
Back row left to right: Xavier Carstens, Wayton van Staden, Nicholas Patel, Collen Storey, Mick Goss (Guest Speaker), Chantelle Olwage and Craig Zackey. Front row left to right: Bryan Claassen, Jose Barnes, Mandla Ntuli and Ryan Munger
(Photo : SAJA)


Mick GossMick Goss
Summerhill CEO
Speaking at the annual Speech Day ceremony of the South African Jockey’s Academy on Wednesday, I have to confess to feeling my age a little when I realised that I had attended my own school graduation 44 years ago, almost to the day. At the same time, more than a few of us were reminded of our advancing years by the outcome of a Graded Stakes race in the United States on the weekend, the Tropical Turf Handicap (Gr.3), though it was also a reminder of the virtues of patience in the breeding business.

The winner of the Tropical Turf was a Smart Strike gelding, Philly Ace, who was accumulating his seventh victory from fourteen starts to date. His third dam is a mare called Dunce Cap II, winner of the time-honoured Lowther Stakes at York in 1962. Coincidentally, renowned pedigree scribe, Andrew Caulfield, was attending his first race meeting at York, England on the day, battling to see over the shoulders of the many packed in front of him in the cheap enclosure. As Andrew relates, it was a good day to start his association with the “great sport”. The day’s feature race, the Ebor Handicap, was won by Sostenuto, a colt owned by the founder of Timeform, Phil Bull, who in the passage of time was to become Andrew’s employer.

Dunce Cap was a well-named daughter of Tom Fool, who was bred and belonged to the famous American industrialist, Jock Whitney, founder of Greentree Farm (now part of the Beck family’s Gainesway Farm in Kentucky), and besides the Lowther, she went on to be second in what is arguably the English Two-Year-Old Filly’s Championship, the Cheveley Park Stakes (Gr.1). Dunce Cap subsequently prevailed in the Hungerford Stakes from Queen’s Hazaar, sire of the brilliant Brigadier Gerard.

Dunce Cap’s history is a salutary lesson in patience in the breeding game. The rules prescribed by Dunce Cap (and that’s our experience, too) are these:

  1. Don’t write off a talented, well-connected broodmare, even if she makes a slow start.
  2. If you like a mating well enough to do it once, you should do it again. Those that have read the story of Europe’s greatest breeder of the last century, Federico Tesio, will recall his advice that if a mating was worth doing once, it was worth doing three times.
  3. As a buyer, don’t dismiss the progeny of an old mare, particularly if she’s produced other performers of talent.
  4. If you are of a patient disposition, don’t be deterred by a late foaling date.

Dunce Cap commenced her career in disappointing fashion, to the degree that many modern breeders would have despatched her to the sales. None of her first six foals, which included three by the stallion, Hail To Reason, so much as placed in a Stakes race. Besides providing the Whitneys with some fun in the naming of the progeny, one being Detention and another Sit In The Corner, her fifth foal, Frillery, was by Whitney’s three-year-old champion, Stage Door Johnny, who carried the Greentree colours to victory over Forward Pass in the 1968 Belmont Stakes, an American Classic later annexed by the former Summerhill resident, Coastal, in 1979, over a mile and a half. Frillery was good enough to win two of her five starts, though it’s doubtful that that alone would have earned Dunce Cap a return visit to Stage Door Johnny. It was just as well then, that the mare had already been returned to him in 1972 and 1973, before Frillery’s limitations were exposed. The 1972 covering resulted in Gr.2 winner, Johnny Appleseed, while the 1973 produce was an even better performer, the aptly-named Late Bloomer. According to the Bloodstock Breeders’ Review, Late Bloomer was bothered by bad ankles at two, when she failed to win in three starts, and a bad back restricted her to five racecourse visits at 3, of which she won three. The filly more than made up for lost time at four, picking up six races including Gr.1 victories in the Delaware Handicap, the Ruffian Handicap and the Beldame Stakes, two of them at a mile and a quarter, following which she was voted Champion Older Filly. Amazingly, given the prejudice horsemen often hold against older mares, on her last visit to Stage Door Johnny at 18, Dunce Cap produced the durable gelding, Late Act, a multiple Gr.3 winner.

Of course, given the hybrid nature of thoroughbreds (and not forgetting that we as a species are much the same), a repeated mating is capable of wide variation, and the result can be anything from a Gr.1 winner to a cripple. The lesson here is that if the first foal is not up to expectation, that in itself should not be a reason to forego the idea altogether.

Late Bloomer wrote her own chapters in the Dunce Cap story, her first two foals being Ends Wells (United Nations Handicap Gr.1) and Fred Astaire (a Gr.2 winner and Gr.1 placed in the Breeders’ Cup Mile). Late Bloomer’s career henceforth was patchy, with eight consecutive fruitless years, punctuated with dead foals, slips and failures to conceive. Undeterred, her connections persevered, and at 21, Late Bloomer produced a Kingmambo filly, and finally at 23, another by Polish Numbers. The former was unraced, but produced a Stakes-winning colt by A.P. Indy, and a full sister, Romantic Comedy, dam recently of Matthewsburg, who picked up the Kentucky Cup Sprint (Gr.2) in 2011.

The Polish Numbers filly, Bloomy, made the first two in seven of her eleven starts, and kicked off at stud with a smart Grand Slam gelding, Spring Of Fame (TF rating 118), as well as the subject of this article, Philly Ace, who is not only a seven time winner, but has made the frame in eleven of his fourteen starts, notwithstanding his very late foaling date (May 23rd).

In our experience, we’ve seen the fruits of patience in our own broodmare band. It’s not often you get the opportunity to raid the larder of a prominent breeder, and dispersal sales, when they occur, present the opportunity to do this. From relatively inexpensive investments abroad, a local doyen of the industry, George Rowles (who’s now well into his 80s), bred some remarkable horses at his Ivanhoe Stud down the valley from us. He twice held dispersals in his time, and on each occasion, Summerhill was a liberal investor in our old mate’s breeding resources. Growing up, we’d come to admire two top notch fillies he’d raced, Windsor Forest (who as a maiden broke the Hibiscus Stakes record) and the Champion KZN Two-Year-Old, Ring The Changes. While the issue of Ring The Changes had shown some promise (she’d yet to produce a Black-type winner at the time of her purchase by us), she went on to get three Black-type performers before her time was up. As for Windsor Forest, she’d not yet had a winner when we bought her at 18 years of age, but her second attempt at Summerhill gave us the multiple Group-winner, Decorated Hero, while her Coastal daughter got the talented hero of the inaugural Emperors Palace Ready To Run Cup, Umngazi for Mark Dixon. Two sisters by our own great broodmare sire, Northern Guest (Nordic Air and Great Attraction) were regularly on the culling sheets of our management team, but I guess sentiment overruled them, and we persevered. We look heavenward in gratitude when we remember that each of them came up with Champions. In Nordic Air’s case, with the top three-year-old filly of her year, Icy Air, and in 2012, the Mauritian Horse of the Year, Ice Axe, while Great Attraction gave us the champion stayer, Amphitheatre.

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godolphin arabian


The world of racing is as well served in its intellectual contributors as any business in the world (if not better so), and we all have our favourites. Bill Oppenheim is the best commentator on sales and the stallion business known to us, Andrew Caulfield is an excellent pedigree analyst, and the man who pricks our fancy most of all when it comes to family matters, because he has a deep-seated passion and arguably one of the most attractive styles anywhere, is Tony Morris.

While this is quite a long story, his piece in the European Bloodstock News last week needs publishing. Read it; you’ll love it.


It’s an ill wind that blows nobody any good, they say, and the annals of Thoroughbred breeding provide plenty of examples to illustrate the truth of the old maxim.

Was it really a fact that the Godolphin Arabian got to cover Roxana only because another stallion, Hobgoblin, for some reason did not fancy her? If the tale is not true, it ought to be, and I prefer to believe it. But for that mating, which resulted in the top class runner Lath, the Godolphin may never have become what we now know he was, namely, the most important horse ever imported to England.

Nearer our own time we know for certain that the only reason that Natalma was covered in 1960 was the injury that ended her racing career shortly before she had been due to contest the Kentucky Oaks. She was sent to Nearctic simply because her owner had that young stallion at home, and she was just the sort of well-bred mare who might help to promote him.

The result of that mating was, of course, Northern Dancer, and now that he has become almost ubiquitous in pedigrees throughout the world, we have to think that the damage to his mother’s knee, considered calamitous at the time, was both fortuitous and timely. It was a key moment in the development of the breed.

Hibaayeb, whose status was upgraded from maiden to Group 1 winner by virtue of her success in Ascot’s Fillies’ Mile on Saturday, is one of countless top-level performers with a pedigree in which Northern Dancer is doubly represented – in her case at the fourth generation through her sire’s paternal grandsire, Sadler’s Wells, and her dam’s maternal grandsire, Fabulous Dancer.

But another apparently ill wind that blew plenty of good is to be found in the filly’s tail-female line. In the normal course of events there would have been no mating in 1966 to result in the production of her fourth dam, Oh So Fair.

These days we do not often encounter the name of Graustark in pedigrees, and we do not even see much of his illustrious sire, the unbeaten and unbeatable Ribot, except in the descendants of Danehill, whose dam Razyana, ironically, was by Graustark’s far inferior full brother, His Majesty.

Ribot’s male line has been in eclipse for a while now, but that development was scarcely imaginable in the 1960’s and early 1970s, when he twice headed the sires’ table here and was routinely prominent in the North American list. He had an exceptional performer in Molvedo in his first crop, and a string of celebrities followed, among them Romulus, Ragusa, Prince Royal, Tom Rolfe, Ribocco, Ribero, Arts and Letters, Ribofilio and Boucher – all of them Classic winners or of Classic caliber.

Nobody could have guessed that, of those top-class sons, only Tom Rolfe would establish a branch of the male line – through Hoist the Flag – and that even that would seemingly be heading for oblivion within a couple of generations. And for some time there was another son, who, while he did not have the chance to fulfill apparently enormous potential at the track, was held in the highest regard as an athlete and afforded excellent opportunities at stud. He certainly had his moments as a sire, only to earn notoriety as a woeful sire of sires.

That horse was Graustark, and he was decidedly different from the vast majority of the Ribot production line. Most were hard bays and not precocious but, given time, were capable of top-class form over middle distances; essentially, they were stayers with a turn of foot.

Of the nine named above, two (Molvedo and Prince Royal) won the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, and four (Ragusa, Ribocco, Ribero and Boucher) won the St Leger. Tom Rolfe was a middle-distance performer, proficient on both dirt and grass, while Arts and Letters won at the top level from a mile (Metropolitan Handicap) to two miles (Jockey Club Gold Cup), with the mile and a half Belmont Stakes in between.

Ribofilio was notorious for being the beaten favourite in four Classics but he basically conformed to type, and really ought to have won the St Leger. Romulus was the odd man out, a miler who finished second in the 2,000 Guineas, but was later successful in the Sussex Stakes, Queen Elizabeth II Stakes and Prix du Moulin de Longchamp.

Graustark, a chestnut whose only marking was a faint star, was different again from Romulus – a flying machine from the outset whose morning work so excited the clockers that he started at odds of 1-5 on his debut. Next time out his victory was taken for granted, and no betting was allowed. His third run at two came in the Arch Ward Stakes at Arlington Park, and the supposedly tougher competition gave him no trouble; he trotted up by six lengths. But he came out of the race with sore shins and was not seen in action again until the new year.

Meanwhile he was named second-best of his crop on the Experimental Handicap, 2lb below Buckpasser.

In the spring of 1966, Braulio Baeza, regular rider of both Graustark and Buckpasser, declared the former to be the best three-year-old he had ever ridden. Who knows whether he was right?

In fact, things soon went wrong for the pair of them. Buckpasser picked up a quarter crack that prevented his starting in any of the Triple Crown events, but he did come back to dominate the rest of the season, winding up as champion three-year-old and Horse of the Year.

Graustark also failed to make the Triple Crown for, having extended his unbeaten sequence to seven and gone into the Blue Grass Stakes as hot favourite for the Kentucky Derby, he came out of it second by a nose to Abe’s Hope, and with a branch fracture of the coffin bone that brought his career to an abrupt and premature end.

Graustark stood 16.3 hands and was never entirely sound, but such was his reputation that he was promptly syndicated for stud duty at a world record valuation of $2,400,000. The price suggested that many saw him as a colt unluckily deprived of Triple Crown glory.

In the normal course of events, Graustark would have retired to Darby Dan Farm in 1967 or perhaps even 1968, but that hefty syndication price meant insurance implications, so when fit enough to cover after recuperation from his injury, he was given a couple of test mares to establish his fertility.

One of the mares selected for that purpose was the impeccably bred Chandelle, a daughter of Swaps out of Nasrullah’s full sister Malindi, and the outcome was the bay filly Oh So Fair, who won a ten-furlong maiden at Phoenix Park on her third and final start, having twice finished second as a juvenile.

That, of course, was no big deal, but at stud Oh So Fair produced a string of winners, beginning with the four-times Pattern winner Roussalka (Habitat) and peaking with Oh So Sharp (Kris), the last heroine of England’s distaff Triple Crown. There were also a couple of full sisters to Roussalka, one being the 1,000 Guineas runner-up Our Home and the other unraced Oh So Hot.

Roussalka was to become the third dam of Guineas heroine Ameerat (Mark of Esteem), while Oh So Sharp earned distinction as dam of Rosefinch (Blushing Groom), winner of a Prix Saint-Alary, and grand-dam of St Leger victor Shantou (Alleged).

Now Oh So Hot earns recognition as third dam of Hibaayeb, the latest prominent runner to emerge from a potent family branch which would not have existed, but for an event which seemed catastrophic when it occurred.

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