Those present at the TBA awards dinner last June may recall seeing Mickley Stud’s Richard Kent with a heavily bandaged arm as the result of an untimely nip from stallion Multiplex which resulted in a badly broken thumb.
Strong painkillers got Kent through the evening and, if Multiplex was in the doghouse then, he most certainly isn’t now, as the young stallion has made a terrific start to his stud career, with a winners-to-runners strike-rate this season of 33% at the time of writing.
“We’ve forgiven him,” says Kent. “I said if he got us some good fillies I wouldn’t mind and he’s paying us back now.”
“We were very drunk after All Fur Coat’s win at Chester but it wasn’t far for us to stagger home”
By Danehill from one of Juddmonte’s best families, which includes Warning, Commander In Chief and Rainbow Quest, Multiplex was purchased in 2007 by Shropshire-based Mickley Stud in partnership with Alan Stennett and Lord Huntingdon.
“I knew we had to make a change in direction from covering jumping mares,” says Kent, who stands five stallions at Mickley, including Horse & Hound Cup winner Overbury. Despite being a stalwart of the British jump sire ranks, he has covered just four mares this season.
“Allan Stennett had recently sold his business well and he agreed to help me with the finance. We bought six mares to support Multiplex, including Shemriyna, whose yearling filly by him sold for 145,000gns at Tattersalls.”
The sire’s first crop made a pleasing start in 2011, with 21 runners accruing 14 wins between them. Two first-crop fillies gained black type, including subsequent Fred Darling Stakes runner-up Radio Gaga, who became Multiplex’s first Classic starter in the 1,000 Guineas, and three achieved a rating in excess of 90.
His second crop has continued in similarly promising fashion: Dreamy Ciara won twice in April, Studfarmer scored on his debut in May and All Fur Coat sailed home in the mud to win the Lily Agnes Stakes at Chester. She is heading for Royal Ascot’s Queen Mary Stakes.
Kent says of the pure-breeding bay stallion: “He’s improving his mares and getting the job done. About 95% of his winners were bred here at the farm for our clients. We’ve encouraged them to use him so in that respect it’s been great that he’s having some success.”
It’s not only the stud’s clients who have benefited. Kent has put a number into training himself, including All Fur Coat, and Mickley Stud is listed as breeder or co-breeder of a number of his winners, while Kent bred Latte with his brother Edmond, who is the sole breeder of dual winner Daddy Warbucks.
“Without Multiplex we’d probably have gone skint by now,” Kent admits frankly. “We were very drunk after All Fur Coat’s win at Chester but it wasn’t far for us to stagger home – and I sold five more nominations on the back of that!”
The achievements of broodmare Claba Di San Jore were highlighted in this column last month and her record has improved again since then with the Premio Presidente Della Repubblica victory of her Shamardal four-year-old Crackerjack King, who became the mare’s third Group 1 winner.
“Remarkably, Botti is not the only trainer in Newmarket with two potentially Melbourne-bound half-brothers”
Crackerjack King has now moved to England to join his half-brother, the Gran Premio di Milano winner Jakkalberry, at the yard of Marco Botti. The siblings caught the eye of Darren and Liz Dance of Australian Thoroughbred Bloodstock, who now own Jakkalberry outright and have purchased a half-share in Crackerjack King. Naturally, with such a major Australian stake in the pair, their long-term aim this season is the VRC’s Spring Carnival, with Jakkalberry a possible Melbourne Cup contenter and Crackerjack King pencilled in for the Cox Plate.
Remarkably, Botti is not the only trainer in Newmarket with two potentially Melbourne-bound half-brothers. William Haggas has the Group 3 winners Harris Tweed and Beaten Up, geldings by Hernando and Beat Hollow respectively, out of the Akarad mare Frog, who died this spring after foaling a Sir Percy filly now named Tadpole. Beaten Up is another to have been part-sold to Australian owners.
Perhaps even more remarkable is the fact that both trainers’ fathers were involved in the breeding of the siblings. Brian Haggas has enjoyed a tremendous association with Frog, whom he bought as a yearling for 16,000gns. She won five races on the bounce in his colours at five different courses within a three-week period. With a tally such as that, there are no prizes for guessing that Frog was trained by Haggas junior’s former boss Sir Mark Prescott.
Retained as a broodmare, she has bred six winners from eight runners, including the aforementioned pair and Froglet, by the Haggas-trained Derby winner Shaamit.
Frog’s finest hour may yet be to come, however, as her Motivator daughter Vow, sold to Highclere Thoroughbred Racing as a yearling, has impressed many with her two unbeaten runs to date and she heads to Epsom in a bid to win back-to-back Oaks for the Somerville Lodge team. Also resident at the Haggas yard is Tweed, Frog’s two-year-old daughter by Sakhee.
Harris Tweed, named after Brian Haggas’s company, may find himself running under an adjusted moniker if he races in Australia to avoid confusion with the New Zealand-bred gelding of the same name who finished fifth in the Melbourne Cup in both 2009 and 2010. (Incidentally, the son of Montjeu was ridden in his trackwork by Toby Coles during a stint in the southern hemisphere before he took out his training licence in Newmarket).
While Marco Botti can’t boast four members of the same equine family under one roof at the same time, all of Claba Di San Jore’s offspring have been trained by various members of his own family, having been bred by Azienda Agricola Allevamento Deni, a partnership which includes the trainer’s father Alduino.