It’s one of those quirks of fate that once a stallion leaves the gene pool, whether by death or exportation, a flow of winners invariably follows.
In the case of Tally-Ho Stud’s Danetime, his death during a shuttle trip to Australia in late 2005 came just as recognition of real note was coming his way. The son of Danehill owned that rare ability to upgrade his mares, working off an initial fee of Ir£3,000 to eventually leave behind 30 stakes winners including two winners of the Prix Morny in Bushranger and Myboycharlie. While his sire line will probably go no further than that pair, Myboycharlie has done his connections proud as the sire of Peter Brant’s star mare Sistercharlie, who captured her fifth Grade 1 when taking the Diana Stakes at Saratoga earlier this month. He was also again to the fore last weekend as the sire of Queensland Cup winner Azuro.
In much the same way, there is a sad sense of what could have been regarding Society Rock, who died before his first crop had even hit the track. The son of Rock Of Gibraltar joined the Tally-Ho roster for the 2014 season at a fee of €8,000 but spent just three seasons in service before succumbing to laminitis. Left behind were 242 foals, including a collection of really talented two-year-olds in Unfortunately, The Mackem Bullet and A’Ali, all of whom are the products of different crops.
“Society Rock always gave his best be it on firm or soft ground”
A’Ali’s authoritative victory in Sunday’s Prix Robert Papin at Deauville saw him become the second winner of the race in three years for the stallion following Unfortunately. That colt took the 2017 event for Karl Burke en route to winning the Prix Morny, and it would seem that trainer Simon Crisford has a similar plan mapped out for A’Ali, who had previously broken his maiden in the Norfolk Stakes at Royal Ascot. The colt is from the final crop of his sire and also his smallest at 42.
The likes of Unfortunately and A’Ali encapsulate what we have come to expect from Society Rock’s progeny in that they are tough, fast horses with the ability to come to hand early.
Society Rock himself was a smart two-year-old for James Fanshawe, winning the £250,000 Tattersalls Timeform Millions Sprint at Newmarket. However, he really came into his own as an older horse, notably when winning the Golden Jubilee Stakes and Betfred Sprint Cup. He was also placed in another five Group 1 races, including two renewals of both the July Cup and Golden Jubilee Stakes.
“Society Rock always gave his best be it on firm or soft ground,” James Fanshawe noted upon his retirement, “and was very competitive and sound both physically and mentally.” Regular partner Kieren Fallon echoed those sentiments, adding: “He’s a terrier and showed plenty of determination and tries so hard, which is what you need in a racehorse.”
Today, those attributes are seemingly present in a number of his progeny – look no further than Archie Watson’s Listed winner Corinthia Knight, the stallion’s first ever winner at Windsor back in April 2017 who won his tenth race last Saturday when successful at Hamilton. It was also that Tally-Ho-bred who ignited a productive alliance between Watson and Society Rock which has come to include another Listed winner in Shumookhi alongside multiple winners Concello, Fognini and Quiet Endeavour.
Society Rock had the benefit of the sizeable Tally-Ho broodmare band to support him but in turn, the evidence also points to the horse as being one of those stallions able to upgrade his mares. After all, he never stood for €8,000 and ended up siring Group 1 performers from daughters of the uninspiring pair Komaite (Unfortunately) and Trade Fair (The Mackem Bullet), for all that the mares in question were the products of relatively successful families. In addition, it took just a bid of £9,000 from Brian Ellison to buy The Mackem Bullet as a yearling; with a victory in this year’s Grade 2 Appalachian Stakes and narrow losses to Fairyland in both the Cheveley Park and Lowther Stakes on her record, she is now the earner of close to £230,000.
Bred like Unfortunately, The Mackem Bullet, Shumookhi and Corinthia Knight by Tally-Ho Stud, A’Ali is one of two stakes winners out of a mare by Motivator alongside Fleeting, who herself came close to Irish Oaks glory on Saturday. His dam, Motion Lass, showed little in five starts over a range of distances for Ralph Beckett, retiring with a rating of 62, and was duly picked up by Tally-Ho through the BBA Ireland for just 13,000gns at the 2013 Tattersalls Autumn Horses in Training Sale. A’Ali is her second foal following the dual-winning Kodiac gelding Slowmo.
However, Motion Lass is well-connected as a half-sister to Enforcer, whose five wins for Willie Muir included the 2005 Darley Stakes. They were bred by Heather Raw out of Tarneem, a Zilzal daughter of American Grade 3 heroine Willowy Mood – the winner of no fewer than 14 races during her lengthy racing career.
“A’Ali is one of two stakes winners out of a mare by Motivator alongside Fleeting”
This is a Verne Winchell family that goes back to Forest Princess, a 1973-foaled Fleet Nasrullah mare who is also the granddam of American champion two-year-old filly Caressing, herself dam of another champion in West Coast, the 2017 Travers Stakes winner who was a popular new recruit this season at $35,000 to Lane’s End Farm in Kentucky.
A’Ali was sold at last year’s Goffs UK Premier Yearling Sale by Tally-Ho for £35,000 to breeze-up operation Star Bloodstock, who went on to resell him for £135,000 to Stroud Coleman Bloodstock back in the same ring in April.
Armed with the knowledge that A’Ali was above average, Star Bloodstock’s Matt Eves went on to buy Motion Lass with business partner Andrew Davis for just 9,000gns through Daniel Creighton when she came up sale at this year’s Tattersalls February Sale. Davis did go on to own the mare outright but sadly – in an illustration of the highs and lows of this game – lost her only last week to colic. She leaves a filly foal by Cotai Glory.
A seemingly uncomplicated colt in possession of great pace, it will be disappointing if A’Ali isn’t capable of progressing successfully to Group 1 level. Even so, in today’s speed driven world, he has already done enough to earn a place at stud and continue the legacy of his sire.