E.P. Taylor owed much of his success to the decision to look outside the domestic box and target the Newmarket sales.
In 1952, the famed Canadian breeder asked agent George Blackwell to accompany him to the December Sale and made it worth his while by paying a sale-topping 10,500gns through his advisor for the well-connected Hyperion mare Lady Angela. The 1952 Bloodstock Breeders’ Review noted that Taylor ‘is to be congratulated on obtaining such a high-class mare for Canada’ – words that were written by none other than Blackwell himself. However, they proved to be most prescient when Lady Angela’s first Canadian-born foal was Horse of the Year Nearctic, the sire of Northern Dancer.
In 1955, Taylor’s foray into the British market yielded a yearling filly by Le Lavandou, who was purchased for the equivalent of $10,200. Results weren’t immediately forthcoming as the filly, named Queen’s Statute, failed to make the track. However, she was to also become an important producer for Windfields Farm, notably as the dam of Canadian champion Dance Act and Canadian Oaks heroine Menedict among a group of six stakes winners.
Dance Act represented the best of Windfields as a first-crop son of Northern Dancer. Taylor naturally repeated the cross on several occasions afterwards. One resulting foal turned out to be Maryland Futurity winner North Of The Law. Another, Royal Statute, was an undistinguished runner who was a minor winner in eight starts. Yet it is that mare, foaled in 1969, to whom the family owes much of its prominence today.
Rarely has Royal Statute’s line been out of vogue since her first foal, Konafa, ran second in the 1976 1,000 Guineas. Along the way, aided by the investment and skill of breeders such as Stavros Niarchos, Gerald Leigh, Sheikh Mohammed and Coolmore, there have been luminaries of the ilk of Bosra Sham, Lammtarra, Pour Moi and Golden Sixty. Now add Modern Games and Pizza Bianca to the list, both of whom joined the Breeders’ Cup roll of honour at Del Mar on Friday evening.
Godolphin’s homebred Modern Games, the emphatic winner of a controversial Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf for Charlie Appleby, descends from Konafa by via a rich seam of stock once in the hands of Niarchos and Leigh.
As for the Juvenile Fillies Turf heroine Pizza Bianca, she was bred by celebrity chef Bobby Flay out of White Hot, an expensive yearling purchase whose 1,250,000gns price tag was reflective of her status as a Galileo three-parts sister to Derby winner Pour Moi. Closely related to the recent Criterium International runner-up Ancient Rome, they descend from Royal Statute via the branch belonging to her winning Conquistador Cielo daughter Victoress.
White Hot never made the track for Flay but Pizza Bianca is her first foal, so the mare has redeemed herself somewhat. Pizza Bianca becomes the 42nd Group/Grade 1 winner for Coolmore’s Fastnet Rock and the ninth to be produced out of a Galileo mare.
Royal Statute left behind seven fillies in total. Konafa, her 1973 daughter of Damascus, was an extremely talented filly for Luca Cumani in his first year of training, yet the most important of the group would have to have been Awaasif, not only as Britain’s champion three-year-old filly of 1982 but in her role as one of the first good horses owned by Sheikh Mohammed.
The Sheikh paid $325,000 for Awaasif as a Fasig-Tipton yearling. As a daughter of the shock 1974 Derby winner Snow Knight, then in the early stages of an underwhelming stud career at Windfields, it was a price indicative of the market’s respect for the Royal Statute family. Sent to John Dunlop, the filly justified that investment by winning the Yorkshire Oaks and running a 90/1 third in the 1982 Arc. As subsequently the dam of Snow Bride, who was awarded the 1989 Oaks, Awaasif later also became the granddam of Lammtarra.
Meanwhile, Konafa had passed into the hands of Stavros Niarchos, having been purchased for $625,000 through the BBA at the 1980 Keeneland November Sale. Then with two foals on the ground for Leo Gatto Roissard, she proved an immediate asset for Niarchos when the Mr Prospector filly she was carrying at the time of her purchase turned out to be Italian champion Proskona. She was followed a year later by the Riverman filly Korveya, winner of the Prix Chloe, and then in later years by the stakes-placed Leo’s Lucky Lady (by Seattle Slew), the granddam of current Hong Kong star Golden Sixty.
Both Proskona and Korveya later wound up in the hands of Gerald Leigh.
Proskona was purchased in December 1994 through Alex Scrope and proceeded to produce Canadian Group 2 winner Calista for Leigh. Another of her daughters, the Persepolis filly Noesis, was to also become the dam of Leigh’s super producer Summer Sonnet, the dam of his top two-year-old Act One and Group 1-placed Summer Symphony.
Korveya, meanwhile, passed into Leigh’s ownership in 1989 at a time when the mare had a yearling colt by Woodman and colt foal by Procida on the ground; the Woodman developed into Hector Protector, a brilliant two-year-old who captured the 1991 Poule d’Essai des Poulains while the Procida was Shanghai, who emulated his older sibling by capturing the 1992 Poulains. Leigh understandably returned Korveya to Woodman and the mare repeated the trick by producing another brilliant miler in Bosra Sham, who added to the family’s Classic haul by landing the 1996 1,000 Guineas.
Leigh died in June 2002, only weeks after Act One had run second in the Prix du Jockey Club. Within 18 months, the majority of his stock had changed hands in a private transaction to Sheikh Mohammed in a deal that reportedly valued the group at £35 million.
The highlight on paper was Leigh’s Irish 1,000 Guineas heroine Gossamer, a sister to Barathea, and indeed she later provided Sheikh Mohammed with Racing Post Trophy winner Ibn Khaldun. However, the group also included Proskona’s Nashwan daughter Epitome, who did her bit to underline the stock’s worth by producing Godolphin’s 2016 Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere winner Ultra. It is Ultra’s older half-sister, the New Approach mare Modern Ideals, who is now the dam of Modern Games. The colt is the best of three winners out of the mare, although an older sibling, four-time winner Modern News, is rated 105 for Charlie Appleby.
Modern Ideals also has a yearling filly by Exceed And Excel and a filly foal by Mastercraftsman to come.
Over 15 years on from the purchase of Leigh’s stock and Modern Games’ immediate background – Dubawi over New Approach – bears a true Godolphin stamp.
Dubawi’s affinity with Galileo – think Night Of Thunder, Ghaiyyath, Concert Hall and Dartmouth – is well known so it stands to reason that utilising Galileo’s son New Approach with the line could also prove effective. The cross is understandably not as prolific as that of Dubawi and Galileo but out of 12 named foals, Modern Games heads a group of three stakes winners that also includes Group 2 scorer Ambition (out of Oaks heroine Talent) and Group 3 winner Fonthill Abbey.
In fact, Friday’s Breeders’ Cup card showcased New Approach’s burgeoning record as a damsire in a fine light, with another representative Malavath (by Mehmas) closing well to finish second to Pizza Bianca in the Juvenile Fillies Turf.
New Approach is the damsire of 11 stakes winners in total, among them Earthlight in addition to Modern Games and Malavath. With a number of well-connected daughters in good hands currently in production, expect that figure to flourish.