Coolmore’s acquisition of Wootton Bassett was one of the biggest bloodstock stories of 2020.
The son of Iffraaj, winner of the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere during an unbeaten two-year-old season for Richard Fahey, had been a real triumph for all involved with him at Haras d’Etreham, throwing champion Almanzor in a first crop that numbered just 23 foals and the Group 1-placed Wootton and Patascoy in a third crop of 45.
Not one of his first five crops were sired at a fee greater than €6,000, and as anticipated, his fortunes took another rise in tandem with his fee, which was increased to €20,000 for the 2017 and 2018 seasons. So far, those crops have between them thrown nine stakes winners including last season’s top-class fillies Incarville, winner of the Prix Saint-Alary, and Zellie, winner of the Prix Marcel Boussac, alongside the Group 2 winners Chindit, Royal Patronage and Atomic Jones. His first €40,000 crop are two-year-olds and already include a Listed winner in Wootton City.
Coolmore understandably really got behind Wootton Bassett in his first season in Fethard in 2021. Installed at €100,000, the horse went on to cover a bumper book of 244 mares, among them the likes of Alexandrova, Awesome Maria, Best In The World, Bracelet, Clemmie, Fancy Blue, Immortal Verse, Life Happened, Peeping Fawn and Was, all high-performing namesowned by Coolmore interests.
Exceptional support was also forthcoming from several outside breeders, notably the Niarchos family, which sent its Group 1 winner Albigna, the China Horse Club, which sent Harry Angel’s dam Beatrix Potter, Watership Down Stud, which sent its multiple Group 1 winner The Fugue, and Juddmonte Farms, which sent Frankel’s talented half-sister Joyeuse and Group 1 winner Proviso.
Plenty of Wootton Bassett’s allure, of course, lies in his potential ability to work with daughters of Galileo, whose blood runs so strongly through the Coolmore broodmare band. Wootton Bassett has already clicked with the line to some degree in the case of Zellie, the first stakes winner produced out of a daughter of Nathaniel (from just 17 runners). In addition, Chindit’s second dam, Always Remembered, is a daughter of Galileo himself.
However, a look at Wootton Bassett’s record to date reveals that there is indeed a pattern worth exploring when using him, namely inbreeding back to his great grandsire Gone West.
Overall, nine of Wootton Bassett’s stakes winners contain Gone West’s sire Mr Prospector somewhere within the first four generations of their female family. However more specifically, four stakes winners and another four of his stakes horses are inbred to Gone West, a Grade 1 winner over 9f who sired the likes of Speightstown, Mr Greeley, Elusive Quality, Zafonic and his brother Zamindar during his long career at Mill Ridge Farm in Kentucky. There are 20 Group or Graded stakes winners worldwide inbred to the stallion, of which 12 ran in Europe – three are by Wootton Bassett.
As the accompanying table shows, he has built up a fine partnership with Elusive City, an extremely fast two-year-old by Elusive Quality. Of the ten named foals bred on the cross, four are stakes horses. It’s also a powerful list, one that is led by fifth crop son Wooded, winner of the Prix de l’Abbaye, and his talented older brother Beat Le Bon. Its latest advertisement is the aforementioned Wootton City, who took his record to three from three for Jerome Reynier last month when successful in the Listed Prix La Flèche at Chantilly.
Daisy Maisy, another inbred to Gone West, has also acquitted herself well this year, with a runner-up effort in the Group 3 Prix de la Grotte preceding a fifth in the Poule d’Essai des Pouliches. She is actually inbred via two lines of Zafonic (sire of her third dam Arabesque), which is interesting in itself given that the brilliant miler, a sizeable individual who broke a blood vessel when down the field on his last start in the 1993 Sussex Stakes, is an influence likelt to be considered by some breeders with a degree of caution.
Similarly, The Black Album, whose five wins included the 2018 Group 3 Prix la Rochette, is also inbred to Zafonic, in his case via his damsire Trade Fair; indeed, he is one of only four Group or Graded stakes winners produced so far by one of his daughters.