It’s been a bad year for good mares, with blue hens Darara and Market Slide among those lost and Colorspin the latest name to be added to the list. Meon Valley Stud’s daughter of their great foundation mare Reprocolor died in retirement on August 14 at the age of 29.

Colorpsin’s legacy as an important broodmare in her own right is assured. Not only did she produce three Group 1 winners, one of those, the Prix de l’Opera winner Zee Zee Top, is responsible for this season’s Pretty Polly Stakes winner Izzi Top, while another of Colorspin’s daughters, the once-raced Spinning The Yarn, is the dam of Moyglare Stud Stakes winner Necklace.

Of Colorspin’s eight sons to race, the Sadler’s Wells full-brothers Opera House and Kayf Tara are the most distinguished, winning 14 Group races between them to guarantee berths at stud. Opera House, her first foal, has spent his stud career in Japan, where his runners have included the Group 1 winners TM Opera O and Meisho Samson, while Kayf Tara, six years younger than Opera House, is now Britain’s leading National Hunt sire.

Colorpsin outlived her dam by four years, with Reprocolor, whose influence is still repeatedly felt, having died at 32 in 2008. Recent major winners from different strands of Reprocolor’s family include Caspar Netscher, Poet and Shirocco Star, all descendants of Bella Colora, and Lyric Of Light, a grand-daughter of Colorspin’s half-sister Repeat Warning.

Colorspin’s final yearling to be offered for sale, a colt by Montjeu later named Justification, sold for 550,000gns to John Magnier at Tattersalls in October 2009. The same sale this year offers the chance to buy one of her grandsons (lot 478), a first-crop yearling by Yeats who is also the first foal of the unraced Colorado Dawn, a result of Colorspin’s 2005 mating with Fantastic Light. The presence of the greatest Ascot Gold Cup winner in the top half of the pedigree and a dual winner of the country’s flagship staying contest close up in the bottom half is appealing indeed. We certainly haven’t heard the last from this illustrious family.

Crowning moment
With no disrespect to the many great horses whose best performances I’ve been fortunate enough to witness first-hand – Istabraq’s three Champion Hurdles, Best Mate’s three Gold Cups and Frankel’s jaw-dropping 2,000 Guineas included – the prospect of a potential Triple Crown winner far outranks any racing experience hitherto enjoyed.

Just a yearling when Nijinsky passed racing’s ultimate test, my only tenuous link to Triple Crown glory is my home in the yard where the 1903 winner Rock Sand was trained by George Blackwell.

A more substantial link is provided by trainer Hugo Palmer, whose great, great, great uncle Sir James Miller had the honour of seeing his distinctive primrose and white silks carried to glory by Rock Sand, whom he bred at Hamilton Stud in Newmarket.

When Palmer started training in the town, he registered Sir James’s colours (with a BHA-enforced cap colour change from primrose to white) and some of the magic of their historic association has clearly rubbed off. They are now proudly borne by the trainer’s first stakes winner, Making Eyes, who was also the first horse on the team at Palmer’s base at Kremlin Cottage Stables, next-door to La Grange Stables, where Rock Sand spent his four-year-old career after George Blackwell moved from Beverley House.

Veterinary excellence at HQ
At Thoroughbred Owner & Breeder we’re extremely fortunate to be able to call on Rob Pilsworth and Deidre Carson to provide monthly features on veterinary matters relating to racehorses and breeding stock.

It’s common to hear the phrase “we sent him to Newmarket” after a top horse has been injured, the most recent occasion I can recall being when Master Minded damaged a tendon during the King George. In a town with an equine population in the thousands, it’s no surprise to find two outstanding veterinary practices. Rob and Deidre are highly respected representatives of, respectively, Newmarket Equine Hospital (NEH) and Rossdales – equally first-rate operations.

All but the luckiest racehorse owners will face a hefty vet bill at some stage and last month Rob gave a detailed breakdown of costs involved in a number of the more common life-saving procedures. With the ink barely dry on our August issue my own horse was rushed to NEH with a twisted gut for which he underwent surgery at the skilled hands of Dr Mark Hillyer. Long since retired from the track to hack duties, he’s a horse whose sentimental value far outweighs any guessed-at monetary figure put on Frankel’s head and, from this corner, there was never any option but to attempt to save him.

The outcome has fortunately been positive but only after he spent several nerve-wracking weeks in the Intensive Care Unit. During daily visits I had the opportunity to witness the extraordinary level of care received by patients in the ever-busy hospital.

The attention to detail blended with compassion and a reassuring unflappability demonstrated by the entire staff at NEH is not something that can be itemised on a bill but underlined the oft-repeated mantra “he’s in the best place”. He was in the best place, being looked after by the best people. And the fact that he’s still with us I owe entirely to their expertise and dedication. It’s a price well worth paying.