As James Willoughby highlights this month, it is a misguided approach that sees the St Leger shunned by many of the season’s best three-year-old colts.
How refreshing to hear from connections, even before the statuesque German filly Wild Coco won the Newsells Park Stud Stakes at Newmarket in July, that she was considered a potential Leger candidate by her stable. Of course, for a filly, commercial concerns are less of an issue. Winning the oldest Classic with a colt virtually guarantees he will be regarded as a potential jumps stallion at best and largely overlooked by the Flat market.
The well-bred 2006 winner Sixties Icon has yearlings this year from a first crop of just 39 live foals. Of the catalogues available to date, just seven of his offspring appear at the forthcoming British and Irish sales.
In Germany, where owner/breeders are still prevalent, and soundness and longevity as a racehorse are paramount for potential stallion prospects, things are a little different, as a glance at the BBAG Yearling Sale catalogue will show.
The admirable middle-distance duo of Silvano and Samum – each of whom raced for four consecutive seasons – are best represented among living stallions, and both have been champion sire in Germany. In England, Samum’s full-brother and fellow Deutsches Derby winner Schiaparelli is a new recruit to the National Hunt ranks.
Wild Coco’s breeder Gestüt Röttgen features as part of our extended yearling sales season coverage this month. Julian Muscat assesses the influence German bloodlines have had on racing worldwide and relates how Röttgen has been preserved, at the wish of its late owner Maria Mehl-Mulhens, with the express intention of bettering the German racing and breeding product. If recent results are anything to go by, her admirable ambition is working.
Success brings tough decisions
A wonderfully consistent flagbearer for British breeding this season has been Treasure Beach. Through his rigorous and successful 2011 programme he gives lie to the theory that the thoroughbred breed is becoming ever frailer.
Aidan O’Brien should be congratulated for his bold campaigning of the colt, which saw him beat Natahaniel on his seasonal debut in the Chester Vase before failing by only a head to win the Derby. Subsequent victories in the Irish Derby and Secretariat Stakes, sandwiching his fourth-place run in the Grand Prix de Paris, define him as one of the brightest stars in a galaxy chock-full of sparkling rivals this season.
Carl Evans visited his breeders, Brian and Jane Hammond of Ashley House Stud, who have been faced with the quandary foisted on many small outfits associated with a good horse: to sell or not to sell.
“Treasure Beach has been a fairy story but now I have to be businesslike,” says Brian, who will send his dam Honorine to this year’s December Sale.
Such an empassioned emphasis on staying bloodlines from this corner is not intended to negate the importance of speed in a pedigree, or to denigrate those stallions with a sprinting background.
Last month saw the retirement of one of Britain’s most celebrated stallions of recent decades: Green Desert. While naturally associated with sprinters, Green Desert’s sons Cape Cross and Oasis Dream have provided us with such exciting middle-distance horses as Sea The Stars, Ouija Board and Midday.
Appropriately, his most recent Group 1 winner was the Shadwell-bred Markab, in last year’s Haydock Sprint Cup, a race won by Green Desert himself in 1986. As broodmare sire, his Group 1 winners include Makfi and Total Gallery.
Following restricted covering duties for the veteran in recent seasons, there will be few of his sons and daughters available in forthcoming sales, though Book 1 at Tattersalls includes a half-brother to recent Grade 1 winner Dubawi Heights among the six yearlings on offer. Green Desert’s final crop of foals numbers just ten.
Class will out in any sphere, and from a running start in 1990, when he was leading first-season sire, Green Desert, now 28, has been a major force in world breeding for more than 20 years. His influence will continue to be felt down the generations.