A generation lit up by Kingman and No Nay Never is going to be a particularly hard act for those crops of stallions in the pipeline to follow.
By the game’s very nature, not every group will contain a potential breed-shaper, certainly not one of the quality of Kingman, who has already exceeded £1.6 million in earnings across Europe this season. Having said that, however, the latest collection of first-crop sires is already making a fine impression. Time will tell whether they can challenge the depth of their predecessors but at this early stage, the prospects for a number of them would seem to be particularly bright.
Stakes winners are already on the stud records of Gleneagles, Cable Bay, Due Diligence, Brazen Beau, Sidestep (now permanently based in Australia) and Outstrip. Of particular note is Highclere Stud’s Cable Bay, the latest emerging sire son of Invincible Spirit who is Britain’s leading first-crop sire thanks to 12 individual winners. The successful dozen includes Dragon Stakes heroine Liberty Beach as well as the Listed-placed Isabeau and Visayas, although the best of those seen out could well be the maiden Ropey Guest, who again acquitted himself well when fourth in Saturday’s Superlative Stakes at Newmarket.
It was also a good week for Yeomanstown Stud’s Gutaifan, who fired in a Newbury novice double on Thursday evening courtesy of Hard Nut and Odyssey Girl. The latter’s success brought his overall haul to 15, enough for the son of Dark Angel to sit at the top of table by number of winners.
And while a stakes winner has yet to come the way of Darley’s Night Of Thunder, it surely won’t be long in light of the favourable impression he is making. The breeze-up community are never short of strong opinions and they were particularly high on this horse’s progeny back in the spring. So far, they have been proven right; with 11 winners from just 19 runners, Night Of Thunder is operating on a remarkable 58% winners to runners strike-rate.
Perhaps that first stakes winner will come in Friday’s Rose Bowl Stakes at Newbury, where he is represented by Keep Busy and Under The Stars, incidentally two inexpensive yearling purchases. Particularly impressive, however, is the fact the son of Dubawi also has five early entries in next month’s Keeneland Phoenix Stakes, the first juvenile Group 1 of the season.
“The latest collection of first-crop sires is already making a fine impression”
The only first-crop stallion with more entries in that coveted prize is Royal Lytham’s sire Gleneagles, the current division leader who currently boasts six winners from 17 runners. The Coolmore stallion has no fewer than six Phoenix acceptances, a figure that is second to only War Front on 12.
All bar one of them, John Joseph Murphy’s unraced Mount McKinley, hail from Ballydoyle, which just goes to show the level of home support afforded to the stallion.
Gleneagles was, after all, one of those Galileos with tremendous pace, an exceptional miler who won the National Stakes and Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere (was disqualified and placed third) at two and the English and Irish 2,000 Guineas and St. James’s Palace Stakes at three. He also had the pedigree to go with it, as a son of Cherry Hinton Stakes winner You’resothrilling, herself a sister to Giant’s Causeway and daughter of Mariah’s Storm. Very rarely does a stallion miss in this family; while Giant’s Causeway was champion sire on three occasions in North America and remains hugely influential, his lesser accomplished brothers Freud (a perennial champion sire in New York) and Tumblebrutus have each sired Grade 1 winners. This family goes back to Harry Isaacs’ excellent racemare Itsabet, who is also the ancestress of Dansili, Champs Elysees and Leroidesanimaux.
Gleneagles was priced at €60,000 for his first season, a figure second to only Golden Horn on £60,000 in Newmarket. Excellent support was understandably forthcoming, with his first book containing Group 1 producers such as All’s Forgotten, Argent du Bois, Aristocratic Lady, Board Meeting, Bridal Dance, Cap Coz, Crazy Volume, Dibiya, Grey Lilas, Hit The Sky, Nuit Polaire, Princess Serena, Sitara and Sunday Times in addition to those high-class racemares Banimpire, Intercontinental, Peeping Fawn, Pipalong and Snow Fairy. Naturally, a number of his first crop are in the care of leading yards, notably Ballydoyle, which officially houses eight of his youngsters including the 500,000gns yearling Precious Moments. So he really has been provided with every chance to do well; having said that, so have several of his contemporaries, among them the slow-starting Muhaarar.
Gleneagles made an immediate impact when his first runner, Highland Chief, won a traditionally warm maiden for Paul Cole at Newbury’s Greenham meeting in April. Several weeks later, his second runner Auchterarder kept the momentum going when scoring at Beverley.
“Very rarely does a stallion miss in this family”
Crucially, however, he went on to make his presence felt at Royal Ascot as the sire of Southern Hills, who broke his maiden in the Windsor Castle Stakes. Highland Chief also ran third in the Chesham Stakes while Precious Moments wasn’t disgraced when fifth in the Albany.
Since then, Newmarket debut winner Ultra Violet has also emerged as an exciting prospect, while Precious Moments came close to getting her head in front in the Airlie Stud Stakes – although still a maiden, she has a Racing Post Rating of 106 to rank as the third best two-year-old filly seen out so far this season.
Yet the best is probably Royal Lytham, who came out on top in a tight finish over Platinum Star and Visinari in Thursday’s Group 2 July Stakes at Newmarket. Previously successful on debut at Navan prior to a creditable but unplaced effort in the Coventry Stakes, he heads the sextet of Gleneagles juveniles with that early Phoenix engagement alongside Southern Hills and Precious Moments.
Bred on a variation of the Galileo – Anabaa cross also responsible for Lush Lashes, Capri, Southern France, Spiritjim, Terrakova and Big Blue, Royal Lytham was bred by Haras du Logis St Germain out of Listed winner Gotlandia. Her first foal is the Sea The Stars gelding Shareef Star, an 87-rated handicapper for Sir Michael Stoute, while her second, a Charm Spirit colt named Spirit Of Dance, broke his maiden only two weeks ago at Aix-Les-Bains in France.
Gotlandia enjoyed her finest moment when successful in the 2010 Prix de Saint-Cyr over 7f at Maisons-Laffitte for Mikel Delzangles and was also second to Anna Salai in the Prix de la Grotte – not bad for a filly sourced for just €45,000 by MAB Agency as an Arqana August yearling.
“Gleneagles made an immediate impact when his first runner, Highland Chief, won”
Gotlandia was sold that day by her breeder Haras du Quesnay, and indeed her background represents a tapestry of some of the most significant influences to have been cultivated by the Head family.
For starters, she was from one of the last French crops of the farm’s stalwart Anabaa and out of Grenade, a daughter of another highly successful Quesnay stallion in Bering. In turn, she was a sister to Fillies’ Mile heroine Glorosia and bred by Alec and Ghislaine Head out of Golden Sea, herself a daughter of another former Quesnay stallion in Saint Cyrien.
Gotlandia’s third dam is the Group 3-placed Green City, a daughter of the Alec Head-trained Poule d’Essai des Poulains winner Green Dancer, who also stood for a brief period at Quesnay. And she was out of Gadfly, by another Quesnay success story in Le Fabuleux, himself the first Group 1 winner bred at the stud.
In that respect, it is quite appropriate that Gotlandia should be inbred to Riverman, another top miler trained by Head who also spent time as a Quesnay stallion.