Although it cost only €9,000 to buy Danedream when the daughter of Lomitas appeared at Baden-Baden’s breeze-up sale in 2010, it isn’t difficult to argue that this stunning winner of the Arc has a female line worthy of an Arc winner.

If you trace her female line back eight generations, you come to a mare called Saana. The daughter of Asterus, born in 1931, was good enough to win the Prix de la Salamandre and finish third in the Prix de la Foret, but she did even better as a broodmare. It is her Mahmoud filly Geranium who ranks as Danedream’s seventh dam, and there are also some very good racemares in the intervening generations.

For example, Danedream’s sixth dam, the Pharis mare Monrovia, won both the Prix de Royaumont and Prix de Royallieu, while her fifth dam, the Djebel mare Damasi, was runner-up in the Prix de Pomone. Then there’s Danedream’s third dam Lady Berry, who won the 1973 Prix Royal-Oak to improve her record for the year to five wins from six starts. Lady Berry then took part in a very good edition of the Arc, finishing fifth of 27 behind Rheingold, Allez France, Hard To Beat and Card King.

However, it is another of Saana’s daughters which interests me here. This was Marcel Boussac’s famous mare Esmeralda, by Tourbillon. Esmeralda is a reminder of the days when top-class racehorses often shone over sprint distances at two before progressing to much longer trips as mature performers. Esmeralda’s juvenile season consisted of three wins from three races, starting with a record-breaking victory in the Prix Morny over five furlongs. She followed up with wins in the Prix La Rochette and Prix de la Foret. In taking the Poule d’Essai des Pouliches, Esmeralda improved her unbeaten run to five and she was considered unlucky to lose the Prix de Diane. That was the first of a string of defeats which Esmeralda suffered at three and four, but she recovered her form well enough towards the end of 1943 to finish second in the Arc, a race in which she also finished fourth in 1944 while acting as a pacemaker for Boussac’s Prix du Jockey-Club winner Ardan.

Esmeralda visited Boussac’s 1942 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe winner Djebel, even though they shared the same sire, Tourbillon

Esmeralda started her broodmare career in 1945. Perhaps because of the constraints of those difficult times, Esmeralda visited Boussac’s 1942 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe winner Djebel, even though Djebel shared the same sire, Tourbillon, as Esmeralda. It is worth adding that Tourbillon’s sire Ksar was inbred 3 x 2 to Omnium II, so the inbreeding to Tourbillon involved a horse who was himself closely inbred.

The mating produced a filly, Coronation, who wasted little time in displaying the family’s talent. Even though both her parents had performed well in the Arc, Coronation was fast enough to win the Queen Mary Stakes and Prix Robert Papin. Coronation also won the Poule d’Essai des Pouliches but didn’t look exceptional until she joined 27 others in the line-up for the newly revamped Arc in 1949. She quickened in dazzling style with 300 metres left to run and drew away to win by a distance officially estimated as four lengths but considered by many to be more like six. The parallels between Danedream and Coronation include the general astonishment which greeted the ease of their victories.
Let’s hope that the parallels end there. Coronation failed to win a top race at four, though she was a head second to Tantieme in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot. Worse was to follow. The incestuously-bred mare was barren in each of the ten years she was covered. Three of her matings were with Auriban, which would have produced foals inbred 3 x 3 x 3 to Tourbillon.

Inbreeding can work well
While 2 x 2 inbreeding appeared to scupper Coronation’s prospects as a broodmare, there are plenty of examples of successful broodmares which are inbred 2 x 3 or 3 x 2. Juddmonte enjoyed plenty of success with the sisters Viviana and Willstar, who had Nureyev as their sire and a mare by Nijinsky as their dam, to create 2 x 3 to Northern Dancer. Viviana produced Sightseek, a seven-time Grade 1 winner who earned nearly $2.5 million, and Tates Creek, a dual Grade 1 winner whose earnings fell just short of $1.5m. Willstar, for her part, produced the Prix de la Foret winner Etoile Montante.

Sadima, another mare inbred 2 x 3 to Northern Dancer, has excelled as a broodmare, producing two colts of international calibre in Youmzain and Creachadoir, plus a Group 3-winning daughter in Shreyas. Yet another example of a good broodmare inbred 2 x 3 to Northern Dancer was the French-bred Smala.

The daughter of Antheus produced Chichicastenango, who proved himself much superior to his sire Smadoun by winning the Prix Lupin and Grand Prix de Paris. Majestic Roi, winner of the 2007 Sun Chariot Stakes, is another out of a mare inbred 2 x 3 to Northern Dancer.

Pairing Sadler’s Wells with his three-parts-brother Nureyev has proved a popular means of inbreeding to Northern Dancer

Significantly, none of the mares mentioned here won anything better than a Listed race, so it is tempting to credit their close inbreeding with their success as broodmares. But before anyone concludes that close inbreeding is an easy route to success, they must remember that unwanted traits can be entrenched just as easily as virtues. There is the added concern in an industry with a shrinking gene pool that future prospects could become compromised for any mare closely inbred to a major influence.

Pairing Sadler’s Wells with his three-parts-brother Nureyev has proved a popular means of inbreeding to Northern Dancer. There are even three Group winners by sons of Sadler’s Wells out of daughters of Nureyev, including two by Galileo. That excellent Galileo colt Rip Van Winkle became the first Group 1 winner sired by a son of Sadler’s Wells from a grand-daughter of Nureyev and now he has been followed by High Chaparral’s much-travelled son Wigmore Hall. Having enjoyed little luck when fourth to Cape Blanco in the Arlington Million, the four-year-old gelding gained well-deserved compensation when he took the valuable Northern Dancer Turf Stakes at Woodbine.

Sadler’s Wells mares have also enjoyed plenty of success when mated with stallions with Nureyev blood, a prime example being Pivotal’s excellent daughter Immortal Verse.

Of course, many breeders have opted to combine Nureyev and Sadler’s Wells by means of Kingmambo and his sons, as we were reminded when Campanologist – one of six top-flight winners sired by Kingmambo from daughters of Sadler’s Wells – returned to form in the Preis von Europa.

Rock solid despite Japan stint

I have never been a great fan of Coolmore’s occasional policy of leasing stallions to Japan for a season. While it can provide an immediate solution for a stallion who might be suffering a temporary downturn in popularity, I have always felt that the loss of a crop is likely to create greater problems further down the line.

However, I have to admit that Rock Of Gibraltar seems to have suffered no harm from being leased to Japan for the 2007 northern hemisphere season.

The lease came about while Rock Of Gibraltar’s first crop of two-year-olds was racing in 2006. Following his remarkable exploits on the track, which featured seven consecutive Group 1 victories (the first two as a juvenile), Rock Of Gibraltar had been easily the highest-priced new stallion of 2003, at €90,000.

The announcement that Rock Of Gibraltar had been leased to Japan came on October 24. At that point he had been represented by only one Group winner, the Beresford Stakes winner Eagle Mountain, but he enjoyed his first Group 1 success as a sire within days of the announcement, when Mount Nelson took the Criterium International.

Even so, Rock Of Gibraltar ranked only fifth among the first-crop sires on the domestic table, which was less than everyone had hoped for.

It was a very different story by the time Rock Of Gibraltar returned to Ireland. He ranked as high as seventh on the 2007 leading sires’ list, thanks to Group successes by Eagle Mountain, Yellowstone, Kitty Matcham, Theann and Unilateral on the home front, with others by Utrecht and High Rock in France. There was also a strong support team of Listed winners in Europe and US stakes winners.

With his fee set at a more reasonable €35,000, there was plenty of demand for Rock Of Gibraltar’s services in 2008 and he covered 196 mares.

Consequently he has a strong team of 2011 juveniles, including Coral Wave (Group 3 C L Weld Park Stakes), Rockinante (Group 3 Autumn Stakes), Samitar (the Group 3 Albany Stakes winner who gained compensation for her narrow defeat in the Fillies’ Mile by winning a valuable sales race) and So Fast (winner of the Group 3 Prix La Rochette and a fast-finishing second in the Group 1 Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere).

In addition to these juveniles, Rock Of Gibraltar has demonstrated his versatility with a team of four-year-olds which include the Group 1 Golden Jubilee winner Society Rock and the Group 2 Prix de Royallieu heroine Sea Of Heartbreak. This crop also contains the disqualified 1,000 Guineas ‘winner’ Jacqueline Quest.