“A COCKTAIL FOR AN EXPLOSION”
Now we all know what the Japanese have known all along. For decades, the citizens of the Rising Sun have been proclaiming the virtues of the Sunday Silence male-line, and you need only visit their sires’ charts for confirmation of the strain’s overwhelming dominance. For just as long, the sceptics have argued that while the stallion’s pre-potency in his homeland is undisputed, until he proves it against the best elsewhere, it remains a Japanese phenomenon, and not much else. That myth has been exploded time and again around the world, and if numbers mean what they usually do, it seems his outstanding son, Deep Impact might have an even greater impact in the long run.
Yet it’s by no means limited to Deep Impact, with three other sons of Sunday Silence having ascended to the apex of their national premiership, and at least one, Hat Trick, now firmly established as an international Group One sire from his base at the Beck family’s Gainesway Farm in Lexington, Kentucky. The perennial leading breeders in Japan, the Yoshida family’s Shadai, Northern and Shiraoi Farms, have been at the head of affairs in that realm for as long as we can remember, and they’re there because they’re world class horsemen and supreme strategists. At a time when Europeans were discarding their mile and a half horses (yes, the Derby and “Arc” aces), in favour of the “faster” Americans, the Yoshidas saw a gap in the segment of the racing population which had served European breeding so well for centuries, and was now being cast aside. They grabbed these prospects gleefully, redesigned their own domestic racing programmes to suit the classic mile and a half horse, and voila! It’s tougher now, of course, to acquire these horses, because Europeans have rediscovered their faith in them, hence the retention of the likes of Sadler’s Wells, Rainbow Quest, Galileo and Montjeu, who’ve transformed European breeding on their own.
In addition, look at any broodmare sale around the world, and you’ll find the name “Yoshida” in one form or another among the leading buyers; the combination of the best racehorses in their category and the best broodmare prospects in theirs, and you have a cocktail for an explosion. And then, as a means of spreading the Sunday Silence gospel, the Yoshidas followed the well-worn Japanese industrial path of globalising their product, by dispersing some of Sunday Silence’s best progeny to other parts of the world, hence the presence at Summerhill of Admire Main, who but for a neck defeat in the Japanese Derby might’ve been the champion three-year-old of his year. They’ve also found it in them to part with the superbly performed Hat Trick to the United States, and my goodness, has he performed.
Before we go there though, let’s bring the story home to Scottsville Monday afternoon, when Admire Main’s first South African-bred runner, Admiral’s Eye, was sent off as the 13/20 chalk in the Juvenile Fillies event. Let it be said, she is a sister to three small Black type runners, two of them daughters of the miler, Modern Day, and the third a Group One-performing son of the middle distance performer, Solskjaer. (Saltwater Girl and Rapid Flow), both excelled at distances of 2400m and 3000m, while Shogunnar put his best foot forward with a runner-up effort in the most recent staging of the Summer Cup (Gr.1) over Turffontein’s 2000m, where he was doing his best work at the business end. It’s a fair bet then, that being a daughter of a proven 2400m specialist from the Sunday Silence male-line, Admiral’s Eye will be an Oaks filly, if she’s nothing else.
Yet here she was lining up for a 1200m sprint on one of the fastest tracks in the land, and she showed her class by heading the field in the early stages before she was challenged by Mike de Kock’s Tiger Ridge daughter Tamayim, who looked to have her cold for a few strides as she cruised past. In a flash, Admiral’s Eye remembered what she was bred for, and the foot went flat on the juice. In a matter of strides, she bulleted clear, and finished eased-down under champion jockey Anton Marcus. She clocked a sharp 1 min 8 seconds and change, quicker than the colts did and fully a second quicker than her older counterparts in the next race. Impressive? Yes. Jet fuel? Maybe, but it’s early days still. You’re not to be surprised, however: in the rush to get Admire Main to South Africa, his first season in Japan was cut short to the degree that he left only 17 foals on the ground; remarkably, 14 of these stepped onto the course at two, 7 of them already know the inside of the winner’s circle, 4 others have made the money, 2 of them in Stakes class.
Don’t be startled by the connection either. It was the old firm of Naidoo and Lafferty at work again. Alesh Naidoo loves the families that have served him well, and he knows what he has under his belt. At November’s Emperors Palace Ready To Run Sale, he was a prolific player, raising his catalogue for two fillies with stable connections. One was Admiral’s Eye, whose sisters Saltwater Girl and Rapid Flow, both carried the turquoise, red and white of his Fire Racing Trust, and the other was the sister to last weekend’s S.A.Classic (Gr.1) hero, Love Struck. The Fire Racing Trust is as hot as hell right now, and no-one deserves it more.
In the midst of Monday’s celebration, we picked up our weekend editions of the Thoroughbred Daily News. Another Group One winner for Hat Trick, this time in Argentina (his previous Group One winner was the unbeaten Juvenile Champion in France, Dabirsim, while he already has two at Grade Two level in America). Argentinean victor, Zapata, remains unbeaten in his two starts, and at this stage, stands aloft as their best juvenile of the present season. Back in America, Barry Irwin’s Team Valor, victorious with Animal Kingdom in the Dubai World Cup (Gr.1) on the same weekend as the S.A.Classic, notched up another victory with Howe Great, by Hat Trick out of the South African-bred daughter of Western Winter, Ginger Sea. Howe Great is a Grade 2 winner of six from his thirteen starts to date, and his consistency is evident in the fact that he’s made the frame on 10 occasions for stakes verging on $435 000. Spare a thought for Irwin: he’s swimming in the stuff right now, and doesn’t know what to do with it.
Sunday Silence and his tribe have nothing left to prove. If there are any residual prejudices about Japanese breeding, they can only reside in the minds of the ignorant. If South Africans need any more persuading, and we’ve had less than a handful, you only need look to Lionel Cohen’s Sun Classique for inspiration.
Care for a bit of “Silence”? Admire Main has just one entry on the Emperors Palace National Yearling Sales, and whilst they’re numerically thin, anyone with a modicum of intelligence and intuition will make a beeline for him when he arrives in Germiston. Did you hear that, Mr Irwin?