In September 2010, as part of our series on great owner/breeders, we featured Gerald Leigh, whose many top-class performers included Brocade, her son Barathea, Markofdistinction and Act One. A major update to the feature is now required thanks to Pierro, who won Australia’s biggest two-year-old race, the Golden Slipper, on April 7 and followed up seven days later with another Group 1 strike in the AJC Sires’ Produce Stakes.
Despite being bred by Darley, Pierro is the product of acquisitions from other major owner/breeders. Sheikh Maktoum’s Gainsborough Stud bought Criquette from Gerald Leigh and she features as the third dam of Pierro via her grand-daughter Right Note, by Daylami, who was exported to Australia, where she is known as Miss Right Note. Following Sheikh Mohammed’s purchase in 2008 of the Ingham family’s Woodlands Stud, Right Note was covered by Australia’s current champion sire Lonhro, with the result being Pierro, who was sold as a weanling by Darley for A$115,000.
Lonhro is currently reverse-shuttling to Darley’s Jonabell Farm in Kentucky, where he has recently covered Right Note’s dam, Sky Song. The daughter of Sadler’s Wells was previously successfully mated with Lonhro’s sire Octagonal and produced Godolphin’s Laverock, the sole Group 1 winner sired by Octagonal during his northern hemisphere stints at Haras du Quesnay.
Another recent big winner for Godolphin from the family is Dubai Gold Cup winner Opinion Poll, out of Criquette’s full-sister Ahead.
Barathea plays his part
Indirectly, Gerald Leigh’s influence extends to Italy, where one of the country’s best broodmares, Claba Di San Jore, is a daughter of Barathea. Her impressive production record extends to two Derby Italiano winners, Awelmarduk and Crackerjack King, Gran Premio di Milano winner Jakkalberry and dual Listed winner Kidnapping, while her current three-year-old, the Dalakhani filly Freezy, is being primed for the Oaks d’Italia.
Jakkalberry is a recent recruit to the British horses in training ranks and is now stabled with Marco Botti, whose father Alduino is Italy’s multiple champion trainer with his brother Giuseppe and is Jakkalberry’s co-breeder. The six-year-old son of Storming Home was previously trained in Italy and was the first Group 1 winner for Botti’s cousin, Endo.
Jakkalberry was purchased over the winter by Australian Thoroughbred Bloodstock as a potential Melbourne Cup candidate. With Group/Grade 1 wins in France and America to his name already with Excelebration and Gitano Hernando, Botti is looking forward to a southern hemisphere raid later this year. He said: “We’ve never had a runner in Australia but hopefully this will be the year.
“Jakkalberry hasn’t been tried over two miles but he ran a good race over a mile and six in Dubai so a little bit farther shouldn’t be a problem. I’m sure he’ll stay and he has the speed and a change of gears.”
Claba Di San Jore, who is booked to Dubawi this year, also has a yearling full-sister to Crackerjack King, by Shamardal.
Field day for Newmarket sires
The Dubai World Cup meeting provided another good day for British-breds abroad and was a particularly fine advertisement for Newmarket stallions with African Story and the Lady Fairhaven-bred Krypton Factor, winners of the Godolphin Mile and Golden Shaheen, continuing to highlight the merits of their sires Pivotal and his son Kyllachy (see Caulfield Files, page 76). Both are resident at Cheveley Park Stud, owned by the stallions’ breeders, David and Patricia Thompson.
Just across the road on Duchess Drive in Newmarket stand Halling and Dubawi, the sires of the second and third Darley-bred winners of the meeting, Opinion Poll (who carries an Irish suffix) and Monterosso, the last-named following in the footsteps of his grandsire Dubai Millennium when landing the World Cup itself.
Last but by no means least, the grand old man of the Newmarket stallion ranks, 24-year-old Selkirk, sired his 15th Group 1 winner when his son Cityscape, captured in the spotlight by George Selwyn on pages 22-23, ran home the emphatic winner of the Dubai Duty Free for owner/breeder Khalid Abdullah.
Souk’s enduring legacy
Fittocks Stud, the breeding operation of Luca and Sara Cumani, recently bade farewell to its most celebrated foundation mare, Souk, who died on April 15 at the age of 24.
Bought by the Cumanis as a yearling, the daughter of Ahonoora won at two and three and was placed in the Listed Sceptre Stakes over a mile. At stud she proved to be a prolific producer, with 11 winners from her 16 foals, including her Listed-winning Darshaan daughter Puce, who subsequently bred the black-type trio of Pukka, Pongee and Lion Sands and was sold by Fittocks Stud for 750,000gns in 2006 in foal to Pivotal.
Members of Souk’s family were as notorious for sales-ring success as they were on the racecourse. Her daughter by Shirley Heights, Shouk, went through Tattersalls’ December Sale in 2001, carrying a Barathea foal later known as Magical Romance. Winner of the Cheveley Park Stakes for trainer Brian Meehan and owner Fergus Wilson, Magical Romance would go on to create her own historical niche as the most expensive broodmare ever sold at public auction, when knocked down for 4.6 million gns to the Rothschild family, and carrying her first foal by Pivotal, who unfortunately was born early, just 23 days after the sale, on December 21, 2006.
Talented though she was, Magical Romance was not the best of Shouk’s daughters. That honour goes to Alexandrova, who won the Oaks, Irish Oaks and Yorkshire Oaks in 2006. Her first foal, the once-raced Kingmambo filly Drops, holds an entry for this year’s Oaks.
Only one daughter of Souk remains at Fittocks, the six-year-old Daylami mare Barter, who has Puce’s daughter, the Lancashire Oaks winner Pongee, for company. “We also have Souk’s final foal, a yearling colt by Yeats,” said Sara Cumani. “I think we’ll have to keep him to race just for sentiment’s sake.
“We sent Souk to Daylami as Darshaan was no longer around and he was the next best thing. Barter didn’t win but she has a lovely High Chaparral filly and a colt foal by Galileo.”
Another member of the family who has already had success with High Chaparral is Barter’s Salse half-sister Sitara, who was sold by Fittocks as a four-year-old and subsequently produced Irish Derby runner-up Golden Sword to So You Think’s sire.
Sara Cumani added: “Souk was a really sweet, kind mare who passed on her lovely temperament to her offspring. They’ve all had a real willingness and have been very easy to deal with.”
Breeder’s Derby fillip
In the space of 12 months, West Australian breeder Trevor Delroy of Wyadup Valley Farm has experienced two incredible highs and one of the inevitable lows which go hand-in-hand with owning and breeding horses.
In April 2011, his homebred Helenus gelding Cedarberg won The BMW at Rosehill, a Group 1 mile and half contest landed this year by the former Cumani-trained Manighar. In the course of his preparation for the Melbourne Cup, Cedarberg died from a suspected heart attack during routine trackwork.
Now, a year on from his memorable top-flight win, Delroy has struck again via homebred Ethiopia’s victory in the Group 1 Australian Derby at Randwick on April 14 – the horse’s first win in four starts. Not only is Ethiopia also by Helenus, both he and Cedarberg are out of daughters of Spectrum.
Helenus is one of former National Stud resident Helissio’s most talented offspring to date, claiming the VRC Derby and Rosehill and Caulfield Guineas among his Group wins. Despite hailing from the Fairy King line, which has produced Australia’s former champion sire Encosta De Lago, Helenus is not one of the most fashionable stallions on the block, but he was West Australia’s leading first-season sire in 2007/08 and Delroy’s faith in him has certainly been rewarded.
The success of British-bred jumpers at Cheltenham continued through to Aintree with three of those successful at Prestbury Park in March – Simonsig, Attaglance and Cape Tribulation – becoming winners at both of the spring’s big National Hunt meetings.
David and Kathleen Holmes of Pitchall Farm Stud will have been particularly pleased with results on the Friday of Aintree. Attaglance, by Pitchall stallion Passing Glance, secured his hat-trick of victories since February 19 by winning the Listed John Smith’s Hurdle, and in the following race, the Listed mares’ bumper, Passing Glance’s stud-mate Midnight Legend sired the first two home.
The only fly in the ointment for the couple was the fact that their homebred mare Call Me A Star, who started favourite for the race, was beaten into second by Eleven Fifty Nine, bred by Martin Rowe. But as Call Me A Star is already a Listed winner, her breeders probably didn’t mind giving best to another daughter of Midnight Legend and thus boosting their stallion’s statistics further. It’s what one might call a win-win situation.
The Catridge Farm-bred Grumeti became the first National Hunt Grade 1 winner for his sire Sakhee when leading home Cheltenham winner Countrywide Flame, by Sakhee’s former fellow Shadwell resident Haafhd, while Lifestyle, a daughter of the late Mickley Stud sire Karinga Bay, helped to boost Nicky Henderson’s Grand National day winners’ tally to four.
Ballabriggs tried valiantly to provide his owner Trevor Hemmings with a third win in the Grand National. While sixth place was the best he could manage, Hemmings’s homebred Cloudy Lane, by his stallion Cloudings, offered the next best thing by winning the Fox Hunters’.
Of course, Aintree was not only a scene of joy for owner/breeders and our sympathies are with the Nelson family and JP and Noreen McManus for the sad loss of their talented and cherished chasers, According To Pete and Synchronised.