It’s only natural that many breeders would like to use a son of Danehill, especially after seeing Holy Roman Emperor and Rock Of Gibraltar respectively supply the winners of the latest editions of the 1,000 Guineas in England and Ireland. Not all of them can afford the likes of Dansili, Danehill Dancer, Fastnet Rock and Exceed And Excel but, fortunately, there are some cheaper, proven alternatives, a fine example being Clodovil, who stood the 2012 season at Rathasker Stud at no more than €6,000.
Clodovil has been based at Rathasker ever since he retired at the end of 2003. That was the year he extended his unbeaten sequence to five with a victory over Catcher In The Rye in the Poule d’Essai des Poulains. At that stage he looked destined for a place at one of the major stallion farms, but the remaining part of his career proved anti-climactic, as he could finish no nearer than fifth in three further attempts at Group 1 glory over a mile.
Timeform rated him 116 – a modest figure for a male Classic winner – and the fact that he stands only 15.2hh meant that he wouldn’t be to everyone’s taste. On the other hand, he had the attraction of having Group winners as his first two dams, his dam Clodora being a Prix de l’Opera-winning daughter of another winner of the Poule d’Essai des Poulains, Linamix.
Linamix exceeded expectations as a stallion to the extent that he sired more than 40 Group winners. Clodovil is still a long way short of that sort of figure but he has made a favourable impression without the help of big crops. For example, his first crop numbered only 48 but contained two Group winners.
One, Nahoodh, landed the Lowther Stakes and the Falmouth Stakes in addition to finishing a luckless fifth in the 1,000 Guineas, and the other, the durable seven- and eight-furlong performer Beacon Lodge, has enjoyed stakes success at the ages of two, four and six. This first crop also contained Secret Asset, who failed by only a neck to take the 2011 Prix de l’Abbaye de Longchamp.
The two-year-old Group victories by Nahoodh and Beacon Lodge in 2007 inevitably rekindled interest in Clodovil in the 2008 breeding season, the end product being his largest crop to date, containing 93 foals.
Last year saw this crop represented by the tough and progressive Coupe de Ville, who collected nearly £300,000, and better still has followed this year. Two members of his 2008 crop were in action at Chantilly on June 3, with his rapidly-improving daughter Laugh Out Loud landing the Group 2 Prix de Sandringham.
His other runner, Gregorian, had little chance from a wide draw in the Prix du Jockey-Club but he had earned his shot at this Classic by being beaten only half a length when fifth in the Poule d’Essai des Poulains, a race in which Coup de Ville finished a close eighth. Gregorian went on to finish a close third in the St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot. Toughness has been the hallmark of some of Clodovil’s better progeny and his three-year-old daughter Es Que Love was racing for the 13th time when she just failed to make all in the Listed Sandy Lane Stakes.
The early signs are that Clodovil’s 2010 crop is also going to do well, as he has already had a Listed winner and a Listed-placed runner in Italy.
Three years after Clodovil won the Poule d’Essai des Poulains, the Longchamp Classic fell to Aussie Rules, another small grey colt sired by Danehill from a Lyphard-line mare. Aussie Rules, who stood his first season at Lanwades at a fee of £5,000 in 2012, after five years at Coolmore, has also been in good form. In mid-June he headed the table of British-based stallions in order of percentage of winners among their European three-year-olds. His 21 winners from 45 runners put him ahead of Dubawi, Sir Percy and Oasis Dream.
Tally-Ho Stud’s Kodiac has a handful of useful sprinters among his current representatives and one of them, Stone Of Folca, collected close to £50,000 in landing the ‘Dash’ at Epsom on Derby Day.
Kodiac never managed to win a stakes race but this three-parts-brother to Invincible Spirit has underlined his potential by siring a trio of Listed winners in each of his first two crops. He has only 32 two-year-olds to race in 2012 but is well placed to weather this brief storm, as this royally-bred stallion covered 142 mares in 2010 and more than 160 in 2011.
Ghost’s good run is busting presumptions
Although I have repeatedly warned readers against jumping to conclusions about a stallion’s merit, even I thought it was safe to conclude that Ghostzapper, America’s stunning Horse of the Year in 2004, wasn’t going to make the grade. The fact that Ghostzapper’s fee has fallen from its original $200,000 to only $20,000 seemed to tell its own story.
However, that didn’t stop Ghostzapper notching up as many as five Group/Graded successes with four individual horses during May. This quartet comprised the five-year-old Canadian Grade 3 all-weather winner Hunters Bay and three-year-olds Contested (Acorn Stakes, Eight Belles Stakes) and Better Lucky (Sands Point Stakes), plus Italian colt United Colour (Premio Tudini).
Ghostzapper raced exclusively on dirt, as did his sire Awesome Again, and trainers no doubt expected Ghostzapper’s stock to be best on the traditional American surface. However, that hasn’t happened. Better Lucky and United Colour are turf performers, and four of the six other Graded winners by Ghostzapper gained their best wins on all-weather surfaces, including the Grade 1 winner Stately Victor.
Interestingly, Ghostzapper is a half-brother to City Zip. This talented stallion has unexpectedly developed into one of America’s most effective turf sires (he headed the American turf sires’ table in early June) and his progeny also enjoy plenty of success on all-weather. Perhaps Ghostzapper’s fortunes will continue to rise as more and more of his runners tackle surfaces other than dirt.
Don’t forget, though, his current three-year-olds were conceived in 2008, when his fee was still $150,000, so it will be interesting to see whether he can maintain his current momentum when his cheaper, smaller crops reach the track from 2013 onwards. He had only 58 live foals in 2010 and 48 in 2011.
One reason why it can be unsafe to write off young stallions is that it can take trainers some time to establish their progeny’s requirements. Following Stately Victor’s unexpected Blue Grass Stakes victory in 2010, I asked whether it had been fair to expect Ghostzapper to match strides in the early stages of his stallion career with some of his more precocious rivals. He hadn’t been asked to tackle stakes company until the August of his three-year-old campaign and didn’t become a stakes winner until the end of September, when he won the Vosburgh Stakes.
It was only at the age of four Ghostzapper showed his true worth, topping the World Rankings with a figure of 130 after winning all four starts. In that respect his career mirrored that of his sire Awesome Again. Assigned 117 on the International Classification as a three-year-old, Awesome Again did so well at four that his rating rose to 130.