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“The potential of the Sunday Silence Sire-line”
One of the ongoing mysteries of European and American breeding is why there has been no significant enthusiasm among breeders for exploring the potential of the Sunday Silence sire-line. Surely this will now have to change subsequent to the outstanding Prix Morny victory of the exciting colt Dabirsim, a member of the first-crop of the US-based Sunday Silence stallion Hat Trick, writes John Berry for Thoroughbred Internet.
Judged on his results in Japan, Sunday Silence, who headed there on his retirement from a racing career which had seen him land five Grade 1 races as a three-year-old in 1989 including the Kentucky Derby and the Breeders’ Cup Classic, could arguably be regarded as both the greatest sire of racehorses and the greatest sire of sires of the modern era anywhere in the world. He dominated Japanese breeding throughout his career, and now - nine years after his death from a heart attack brought on by laminitis at the tragically young age of 16 - his sons are collectively showing a similar level of dominance. Arguably the greatest of the many great racehorses which he sired was Deep Impact, a member of Sunday Silence’s penultimate crop who is now, with his oldest offspring aged three, shaping up as if he might be the best of them all at stud too.
Obviously, the best of Sunday Silence’s sons remain at stud in Japan. The economic strength of Japanese racing and breeding means that it would be surprising if their owners were tempted to send them elsewhere. However, there are and have been so many good sons of Sunday Silence in Japan, and there are so many major investors in European and American breeding, that it remains hard to understand why so few Sunday Silence stallions have headed to Europe or America - particularly bearing in mind the success achieved from extremely limited opportunities by the few who have come.
The sire-line descending from Sunday Silence’s grandsire Hail To Reason remains very popular in Europe, but largely through Roberto, rather than Sunday Silence’s sire Halo. Europe’s champion three-year-old filly Blue Bunting is merely the latest star to advertise the merit of the veteran Roberto stallion Dynaformer; while Canford Cliffs, a male-line descendant of the Hail To Reason sire, Stop The Music, has been another great recent advertisement.
It is a similar story in America, where Sunday Silence is notably under-represented in Kentucky. However, surely both European and American interest in the Sunday Silence sire-line will pick up now that the US-based Sunday Silence stallion Hat Trick is responsible for the colt who appears the best juvenile seen out in Europe so far this summer. Dabirsim, a US-conceived but French-bred son of the Walmac Farm (Kentucky) sire Hat Trick, was most impressive at Deauville in stretching his unbeaten run to four with an easy victory in the Group 1 Prix Morny over 1200m, and if he ends up being as good as he currently looks, then the Sunday Silence line will surely start to make up for lost time in Europe.
Although Sunday Silence never left Japan once he had arrived to begin his stud career as a five-year-old in February 1991, he does have some sons and daughters dotted around the world who were foaled elsewhere, even if obviously they were all conceived at Shadai Stallion Station. Arrowfield Stud principal John Messara was astute enough to come to a deal with the Yoshida family which saw 28 high-class mares covered to Southern Hemisphere time and taken back to Australia in-foal. This project yielded several good horses including the top-class racemare Sunday Joy and the very talented international galloper Keep The Faith (who was bred in partnership with the late Sheikh Maktoum Al Maktoum and who is now back in the land of his birth, standing at Swettenham Stud in Victoria). Other stallions to result from this venture were Any Given Sunday (who sired only 18 foals in his tragically brief stud career at Mountmellick Stud in Victoria, but got the Queensland Derby and Oaks victrix, Riva San, from his one tiny crop). Sheikh Mohammed also bought some nominations to Sunday Silence, a project which yielded the US-foaled Layman, who raced with success for him in Europe firstly in the Sheikh’s own colours and then for Godolphin - while another product of Sunday Silence to star for Godolphin was the 2004 1000 Guineas runner-up, Sundrop, who was bred in Japan by Yukiko Hosakawa before being bought by Sheikh Mohammed.
The vast majority of Sunday Silence’s sons, though, were bred and raced in Japan. Hat Trick is a member of this vast majority, although he differs from most in having raced outside Japan on one occasion: he ended his four-year-old season in 2005 by representing Japan in that year’s Hong Kong International Meeting in December, where he won the Hong Kong Mile, beating the locally-trained The Duke by one and a quarter lengths. Among those farther in arrears was another Japanese-trained Grade 1 winner, Asakusa Den’en, as well as the English-trained Group 1 winners Court Masterpiece and Rakti. Hat Trick, who was trained by Katsuhiko Sumii and raced by Oiwake Farm, had preceded this victory with a Grade 1 success in his homeland, having landed the Mile Championship at Kyoto three weeks previously.
Hat Trick raced until the age of six before retiring at the end of the 2007 season. Although he had won a total of eight races, including those two top-level contests as well as two Grade 2 events, he was not one of Sunday Silence’s more obvious stars, and thus found himself surplus to requirements at Japan’s leading stallion stations - which tells us all that we need to know about just how many good Sunday Silence stallions there were already at stud there. Hence he found himself heading to America, where he took up stud duties at Walmac Farms in Kentucky.
Extract from Thoroughbred Internet