Back in the autumn of 1993, there was considerable speculation about the destination of Kingmambo, the magnificently-bred colt who had landed the Poule d’Essai des Poulains, St James’s Palace Stakes and Prix du Moulin. As a son of a recognised sire of sires in Mr Prospector, Kingmambo was bound to kindle international interest, and this interest was also fanned by the fact that he was the first foal of that great miler Miesque, a ten-time Group/Grade 1 winner.
For a while it looked as though Japan would secure the prize, but in the end it was Will Farish’s Lane’s End Farm in Kentucky which came out on top. Kingmambo was to give his syndicate owners absolutely no cause to regret their purchase, exerting a considerable impact on Europe’s Classics. As might be expected of a Classic-winning miler out of Miesque, Kingmambo proved very adept at siring Guineas winners. Thanks to King’s Best, Henrythenavigator, Russian Rhythm and Virginia Waters, he was responsible for two winners apiece of the 2,000 Guineas and 1,000 Guineas. Henrythenavigator also took the Irish 2,000 Guineas, while Bluemamba and Divine Proportions landed the Poule d’Essai des Pouliches.
However, that was far from the sum total of Kingmambo’s worldwide Classic influence. Divine Proportions also won the Prix de Diane, while Light Shift showed she stayed even better with her victory in the Oaks. Other mile-and-a-half classic successes came via King Kamehameha in the Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby) and Lemon Drop Kid, who landed the Belmont Stakes. Even a mile and three-quarters proved to be within the compass of some of Kingmambo’s sons, with Rule of Law and Encke both winning the St Leger. The only British Classic to evade Kingmambo was the Derby, but he gained partial compensation through Workforce, a son of King’s Best.
For good measure, Kingmambo was also responsible the Queen Anne Stakes winner Dubai Destination, the distinguished international performer Archipenko and multiple Group 1 winner El Condor Pasa (winner of the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud and Japan Cup, and second in the Arc). Among the others to shine at Group 1 level were Campanologist (with the Preis von Europa among his four Group 1 successes in Germany and Italy), Thewayyouare (Criterium International), Okawango (Grand Criterium), Malhub (Golden Jubilee Stakes), Alkaaased (Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud), Master Of Hounds (Jebel Hatta), Student Council (Pacific Classic and Pimlico Special), Boboman (Hollywood Turf Cup), Tawqeet (Caulfield Cup) and Voodoo Dancer (Diana Handicap).
With so extensive a legacy, it seemed likely that Kingmambo’s male line was going to flourish for several generations. However, that hasn’t happened in Europe or the US. It might have been a somewhat different story had Archipenko not died at the age of 13 in 2017 after just eight seasons at Lanwades Stud, none of which yielded many more than 50 foals. Despite the sparsity of his support, Archipenko enjoyed Group 1 success with Madame Chiang in Britain, as well as with the brothers Glorious Forever and Time Warp in Hong Kong and Huetor in Australia. Archipenko also made his mark with the crops he sired in Argentina. Campanologist – another who died comparatively young – also sired a top performer in Argentina.
The fact that Henrythenavigator ended up in Russia tells its own story, but he did sire Phoenix Stakes winner Pedro The Great, who showed promise as a sire in France before dying at the age of nine.
Dubai Destination proved disappointing for a stallion who began his career at a fee of £25,000 – so disappointing that he was switched to the jumps sector before heading to Saudi Arabia. The surprising aspect of this story was that Dubai Destination flourished as a broodmare sire, with his daughters producing the likes of Golden Horn, Postponed, Gold Trip, Thunder Snow and God Given. Needless to say, Kingmambo has also excelled in the role of broodmare sire, with his daughters’ many Group/Grade 1 winners featuring the likes of Baaeed, Camelot, Midday, Duke Of Marmalade, Ulysses, Ruler Of Rhe World, Cloth Of Stars, Zelzal and Addeybb.
Kingmambo’s male line has practically died out in North America, despite Lemon Drop Kid’s best efforts. Based alongside Kingmambo at Lane’s End, he enjoyed a productive stallion career before being retired at the age of 25 at the start of 2021. He Is responsible for more than 100 black-type winners from a total of 1,631 foals, with nine of them scoring at the top level. The problem here – from the viewpoint of Kingmambo’s male line – was that six of the nine Grade 1 winners were fillies and none of the three males – Beach Patrol, Richard’s Kid and the British-trained Cannock Chase – won on dirt, the favoured surface of most American breeders [son Lemon Pop has since won the Group 1 February Stakes in Japan].
By one of the twists of fate which makes the breeding world so fascinating, we have seen Japan, the country which failed to secure Kingmambo’s services, develop his male line’s stronghold. The first son of Kingmambo to shine in Japan was Kingmambo line was El Condor Pasa, who stayed better than Kingmambo thanks to having daughters of Sadler’s Wells and Seattle Slew as his first two dams. Unfortunately, El Condor Pasa only lived long enough to sire three crops but they included the Group 1 winners Vermilion, Song of Wind and Alondite. Japan was also the final destination for King’s Best after productive stints in Ireland and France. Although King’s Best failed to match his European results after the switch, he has made his mark in Japan via Eishin Flash, who was imported in utero after his dam, the German-bred Moonlady, was sold at Tattersalls. A contemporary of Workforce, Eishin Flash won the Japanese Derby six days before Workforce won the Derby at Epsom. Workforce started his stallion career in Japan in 2012 but he struggled to sire Graded winners and is now siring promising jumpers at Knockhouse Stud in Ireland.
Eishin Flash ran as an older horse, adding the Group 1 Tenno Sho (Autumn) at five and Group 2 Mainichi Okan at six. The 2022 season proved something of a breakthrough for Eishin Flash, with his son Vela Azul making tremendous progress after being switched from dirt to turf. He won four of his seven starts on turf, including the Group 1 Japan Cup.
However, Kingmambo owes the renaissance of his male line largely to King Kamehameha, Japan’s champion sire in 2010 and 2011 prior to the unstoppable rise of Deep Impact. Conceived in America but foaled in Japan, King Kamehameha was out of the Irish-bred Manfath and came from the same Aga Khan female line as Blushing Groom. With essentially a non-Japanese pedigree – without any Sunday Silence or Hail To Reason blood – King Kamehameha was in an ideal position to thrive in an industry steeped in Hail To Reason blood if he thrived on the racecourse. And thrive he did.
King Kamehameha was to win seven of his eight races, including his two starts late in his juvenile season. Although his first five starts had all been over distances between 1,800 to 2,200 metres, King Kamehameha was very impressive when he tackled 1,600 metres for the first time, taking the Group 1 NHK Mile Cup by five lengths in a fast time. Only three weeks later, he was tried over 2,400 metres in the Tokyo Yushun. Up against a field which included the very successful future stallions Heart’s Cry and Daiwa Major, King Kamehameha won again, establishing that he possessed the versatility to match his talent.
Rested through the summer, he returned to win the Group 2 Kobe Shimbun Hai over 2,000 metres, but that proved to be his final start.
It’s a measure of King Kamehameha’s ability as a stallion that he managed to finish sixth among Japan’s leading sires of 2022, despite having been on restricted duties for a few years prior to his death at the age of 18 in 2019. More importantly, several of his stallion sons have also taken high rank. It was his fast son Lord Kanaloa who went closest to denying Deep Impact his 11th consecutive championship.
In fifth place came another son Duramente, winner of the Japanese 2,000 Guineas and Japanese Derby. Rulership also took eighth, meaning that the top ten contained not only King Kamehameha but also three of his sons. Three more Kingmambo-line stallions also finished in the top 25, with Eishin Flash 21st, King Kamehameha’s tough dirt horse Hokko Tarumae 22nd and Leontes 24th.
The male line also shone on the two-year-old table, which was headed by Duramente. With Rulership third, Lord Kanaloa eighth and Hokko Tarumae 11th, four sons of King Kamehameha made the top 12.
Despite its success, the Kingmambo male line hasn’t always enjoyed much luck, and I have already mentioned several of his descendants which died comparatively young. While Kingmambo lived to be 26, he had to be pensioned at the age of 20 because of an arthritic condition in his neck. Similarly, the latter part of King Kamehameha’s stallion career was restricted by a health issue. Having sired as many as 210 foals in one of his earlier crops, he was credited with only 50 foals in 2014, followed by crops of 112, 72, 96, 72 and 75. Even so, his total output amounted to 1,884 foals, compared to the 913-foal legacy left by Kingmambo.
Sadly, son Duramente is another who has been denied a full innings, as this dual Classic winner succumbed to acute colitis in September 2021 at the age of nine. His loss appears to be a major blow both to the Shadai Stallion Station and the Japanese breeding industry. A son of the champion Japanese mare Admire Groove, Duramente ranked alongside Japan Cup winner Rose Kingdom and Japan Cup Dirt winner Belshazzar as one of the numerous high-class performers which King Kamehameha numbered among his 454 foals out of Sunday Silence mares.
Duramente’s second dam Air Groove had also been a major winner and she too succeeded with King Kamehameha, producing the Hong Kong Group 1 winner Rulership, whose own Group 1 winners include Caulfield Cup winner Mer de Grace and the top 2022 two-year-old Dolce Mor, winner of the Asahi Hai Futurity.
Coincidentally, Duramente’s 2022 crop of juveniles completed a family stranglehold on Japan’s three Group 1 races for two-year-olds, with his daughter Liberty Island taking the Hanshin Juvenile Fillies 17 days before his son Dura Erede narrowly landed the Hopeful Stakes at 90/1. Of course, Duramente was also represented in the 2022 Arc by Titleholder, winner of the Group 1 Tenno Sho (Spring) and Group 1 Takarazuka Kinen.
Duramente left only five crops, the last being a 2022 group of 95 foals. There are 118 two-year-olds and 122 three-year-olds by him in 2023. His string of high-class performers in his first three crops were sired at fees of either ¥4,000,000 (£25,600) or ¥6,000,000 (£38,000). By the time of his death, his fee had risen to ¥10,000,000 (£64,000) and it would no doubt have risen higher.
Lord Kanaloa, another of King Kamehameha’s most successful sons, was priced at ¥20,000,000 (£128,000) in 2020 and ¥15,000,000 (£96,000) in 2021 and 2022. Lord Kanaloa was one of the main beneficiaries of Deep Impact’s forced retirement from stallion duties and it could pay to make a note of the Aidan O’Brien-trained Beginnings, his very promising daughter out of the Classic-winning Winter.
A name to watch out for in the future could be Leontes, winner of the Group 1 Asahi Hai Futurity Stakes in 2015. He was bred to be good, his dam being Cesario, an excellent racemare and producer. Narrowly beaten in the Oka Sho, the Japanese 1,000 Guineas, Cesario went on to take the Oaks and then became the first Japanese filly to win an American Grade 1 when she took the American Oaks at Hollywood Park.
Cesario has three Group 1-winning sons to her credit, the first being Japanese St Leger and Japan Cup winner Epiphaneia (by Symboli Kris S), now Japan’s highest-priced stallion at ¥18,000,000 (£115,000).
Waiting in the wings is champion Saturnalia, a son of Lord Kanaloa who retired to stud in 2021. In the meantime, three-parts brother Leontes has three Group 3 winners from his first two crops as well as Pink Kamehameha, winner of the Saudi Derby on dirt in 2021.