The Danzig male line’s long-term success in Europe essentially amounts to a tale of two stallions, Danehill and Green Desert. One thing they had in common was that both won Haydock’s Sprint Cup after being placed in the 2,000 Guineas, but their stallion careers ran along very different lines.
According to equineline, Danehill’s total output stood at 2,499 foals in the northern and southern hemispheres and between them they helped him achieve three Anglo-Irish sires’ championships and another nine in Australia. For good measure Danehill also clocked up numerous juvenile sire championships in both hemispheres. He also had the time to spend a breeding season in Japan.
Green Desert, on the other hand, sired ‘only’ 1,238 foals during a very long stallion career spent entirely in Norfolk. No general sires’ championships came Green Desert’s way, his best placings being his third in 1994 and a couple of fourths in 1991 and 1998. However, he accumulated several other titles, including leading first-crop sire in 1990 and leading sire in order of races won in 1993 and 1995.
So which of the two is going to have the longest-lasting impact on the breed in Europe? I suspect most of the shrewd money would have been on Danehill, and he has indeed left a wonderfully rich legacy which features a champion sire in Danehill Dancer, another highly accomplished sire in Dansili and several champion sires in Australia, including Exceed And Excel, Redoute’s Choice and Fastnet Rock. His influence is now being exerted not only by his sons but also by grandsons and great-grandsons. The 2014 list of juvenile sires is headed by his son Kodiac and we have also seen the first crop by his grandson Mastercraftsman supply the Prix du Jockey-Club winner The Grey Gatsby and the Derby second Kingston Hill. Then there’s his great-grandson Starspangledbanner, who achieved a remarkable Royal Ascot Group 2 double with two-year-olds from his very small first crop.
Even so, there is little doubt that 2014 has so far belonged largely to the Green Desert clan. When I reviewed the Green Desert male line in the January 2013 issue I signed off with the thought that “it is going to be interesting to look back in a few years’ time to see how strong this Green Desert line has become.” I didn’t expect to return to the topic so quickly, but take a look at the 2014 stallion table and you’ll agree that a return is thoroughly merited.
At the time of writing, the top 12 stallions on the general sires’ table includes only two representatives of the Danehill male line (Dansili in ninth place and Exceed And Excel in 12th), but there are four members of the rival Green Desert line, with Invincible Spirit second, Sea The Stars fourth, Oasis Dream sixth and Cape Cross 12th.
There is little doubt that 2014 has so far belonged largely to the Green Desert clan
The comparative newcomer here is Cape Cross’s magnificent son Sea The Stars, who is enjoying an unforgettable summer with his first-crop three-year-olds. The 11-length victory of his son Sea The Moon in the Deutsches Derby looked special enough at the time, but then the runner-up Lucky Lion reappeared three weeks later to catch the consistent Noble Mission in the Group 1 Grosser Dallmayr Preis.
Yet the Racing Post handicappers don’t even consider Sea The Moon the best of Sea The Stars’s three-year-olds. That distinction goes to the filly Taghrooda, who appears to have inherited not only a large measure of her sire’s talent but his good looks and his imperturbable temperament. After Taghrooda had followed up her Oaks victory with an even better display in the King George, the odds against Sea The Stars siring the 2014 Arc winner were as low as 5-2. Then came the news that Sea The Stars had a third Group 1 winner to his credit, with Vazira being promoted to first in the Prix Saint-Alary, after We Are failed her drugs test because of a medical condition.
Two powerful representatives
The Green Desert line is also taking a dominant position among the first-crop sires, thanks mainly to Invincible Spirit and Oasis Dream. Invincible Spirit’s son Zebedee is in the highly unusual situation of being at the head of the table, with the magnificent total of 20 British and Irish winners, even though he was born as recently as 2008. Happily, he doesn’t owe his lead simply to quantity as his winners are being ably led by Ivawood. This potentially high-class colt had plenty in hand when he followed up his Group 2 victory in the July Stakes with another in the Richmond Stakes.
One of Zebedee’s attractions – apart from his record of six wins from seven starts – is the fact that his pedigree is free of so many of the major influences. Invincible Spirit’s first three dams were sired by Kris, Artaius and Bounteous, while Zebedee’s first three dams are daughters of Cozzene, Verbatim and Boldnesian. That means there’s no Sadler’s Wells, no Danehill and just the one line of Northern Dancer, via Green Desert’s sire Danzig.
Invincible Spirit also has another son among the leading first-crop sires, namely the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner Vale Of York in seventh place. This inexpensive Darley stallion received a sizeable pay cheque when Haxby chased home the highly talented Tiggy Wiggy in the 24-runner Weatherbys Super Sprint. His seventh place doesn’t reflect the three stakes victories of his Italian daughter Fontanelice.
It has been a similar story in Australia, where Invincible Spirit’s 16.2hh son I Am Invincible lived up to his name among the first-crop sires of 2013-14. From a total of 45 runners he sired 15 winners, with a Group 2 winner and a Group 3 winner among his five stakes winners.
Interestingly, the Group 2 winner Brazen Beau is inbred 4 x 3 to Danzig, while the Group 3 winner Vinnie Eagle is inbred 4 x 4, with the second line coming via Danehill. It is well worth pointing out that, like Zebedee, I Am Invincible didn’t have a Group 1 victory on his CV, though he was once runner-up to Takeover Target at that level. He did, though, win a Group 3 over six furlongs as a four-year-old.
This run of success comes after Invincible Spirit’s classic-winning son Lawman had been represented by a trio of Group 1 winners from his first two crops, including winners of the Irish 1,000 Guineas and the St James’s Palace Stakes.
Spirited finish for Urban Sea
The exciting aspect of Invincible Spirit’s success story is that these may be only the early chapters. Urban Sea’s last foal, Sea The Stars’s three-parts-brother Born To Sea, is credited with covering over 130 mares in his first season at Rathasker Stud in 2013. This Irish Derby runner-up is beginning to look a safe bet as a stallion. Not only is Invincible Spirit earning respect as a sire of sires, Urban Sea has other sons ranked first and fourth on 2014’s leading sires’ list.
Another Invincible Spirit stallion whose first crop will race in 2016 is Mayson, who gave the Danzig male line yet another victory in the Group 1 July Cup. Mayson had earlier shown useful form as a juvenile, despite having a May 16 birth date, so he too can be expected to develop into a prolific sire of two-year-old winners for Cheveley Park Stud.
Next in line comes the rather luckless Swiss Spirit, who stood his first season in 2014 at Whitsbury Manor Stud. His dam Swiss Lake earned a Timeform rating of 115 and has gone on to produce sprinters rated 119, 117, 110, 110 and 106. Three of them were sired by sons of Green Desert and the mare’s highly consistent record suggests that Swiss Spirit is another with plenty to offer.
And then there’s the mighty Kingman, who has already been recognised as the best son of Invincible Spirit by a sizeable margin. Invincible Spirit’s 2011 crop also contains another Group 1-winning miler in the French-trained Charm Spirit.
The Molecomb Stakes must have been difficult viewing for admirers of Desert Style’s tough son Paco Boy – and Paco Boy surely has plenty of fans after winning at Group 1 level in three consecutive seasons. Paco Boy’s son Beacon started odds-on for the Molecomb, following a hat-trick of victories, but traffic problems meant that he was still three-quarters of a length behind Cotai Glory at the line. Paco Boy’s time will come.
Bearing in mind that Green Desert was the champion first-crop sire of his year and that Oasis Dream was champion sire of two-year-olds in 2013, there was every chance that Oasis Dream’s freshman sons of 2014 would also make a bold show.
Sure enough Arcano, Approve and Showcasing have each been represented by a Listed winner, with Showcasing attracting plenty of attention by siring 13 winners from his first 34 runners.
It mustn’t be forgotten that Showcasing shares the same dam – the Listed winner Arabesque – as Camacho, who had five juvenile stakes winners in 2013. Although Showcasing’s fee in 2011 was no higher than £5,000, at least eight members of his first crop have been considered good enough to take their chance at Group level. There could easily be another Group contestant in Showing Character, an impressive winner of his first two starts.
All this bodes well for Oasis Dream’s Irish 2,000 Guineas winner Power, who matured quickly enough to win the Group 2 Coventry Stakes.
His first foals will race in 2016, a year after that of Oasis Dream’s German 2,000 Guineas winner Frozen Power. Frozen Power is based at Ballyhane, an establishment with a good record of ‘making’ inexpensive stallions.