One of the evolving trends of the season has been the rise of Makfi as an influence of note. Still relatively young at 13-years-old, Makfi today stands in Japan at the JBBA Stallion Station following stints as a Qatar Bloodstock stallion at Tweenhills Farm and Stud in Gloucestershire and the Aga Khan’s Haras de Bonneval in Normandy. He is a capable stallion, one whose stud record is led by five Group 1 winners across both hemispheres, but at the same time, he was aided by his share of opportunity and it is doubtful that his sale to Japan in 2017 was greeted with much regret by breeders.
Of course, as a well-bred Classic-winning miler, Makfi has every right to become an important influence. Famously sold for just 26,000gns as an unraced two-year-old, Makfi had within a year won the 2,000 Guineas and Prix Jacques les Marois for trainer Mikel Delzangles to set the seal on an excellent first crop for Dubawi.
He was the first son of his sire to stud and also boasted the allure of hailing from the Wertheimer’s Green Valley family, also responsible for Green Dancer and Alhaarth among many others. As such, he was a popular addition to the Tweenhills roster in 2011 at a fee of £25,000.
Makfi has had his moments in Europe, notably as the sire of Poule d’Essai des Poulains and Prix de la Foret winner Make Believe out of his first crop. Yet thereafter followed a Group 1 drought, one that didn’t come to an end until last October when Mkfancy struck in the Criterium de Saint-Cloud. That colt has subsequently been underwhelming in three starts this year.
Currently, however, Makfi is wielding quite a presence across the season. Firstly, his son Make Believe is Europe’s leading second crop sire, his status enhanced by the recent win of Mishriff in the Prix du Jockey Club. Not only that, a daughter of Makfi, Astrelle, is the dam of German 2,000 Guineas winner Fearless King (by Kingman) while others have produced the high-class two-year-olds Tactical (by Toronado) and Sussex Garden (by Acclamation) to complement a list that also includes last year’s Solario Stakes winner Positive (by Dutch Art). Given that Makfi has just 63 daughters with foals of racing age in the northern hemisphere, it is quite an eye-catching record. He has certainly made a quicker start in that department than his sire Dubawi, who was represented by only his first European Group 1 winner as a damsire on Friday when Nazeef obliged in the Falmouth Stakes at Newmarket.
Further fuel was added to the Makfi momentum last week via Make Believe, whose rapid ascendancy for Ballylinch Stud continued with Mishriff’s Classic victory and that of Rose Of Kildare in Thursday’s Group 3 Musidora Stakes at York. Mishriff’s success in the Prix du Jockey Club was obviously a major feather in the cap for his young sire but the tough Rose Of Kildare is a fair flag-bearer as well; bought for just €3,000 as a yearling by trainer Mark Johnston, she has done her connections proud as the winner of three Group 3 races. Fellow Group 3 winner Ocean Fantasy and Listed scorer Tammani complete Make Believe’s quartet of stakes winners.
Meanwhile, granddaughter Sussex Garden, produced by the Makfi mare Mary McPhee, ran a fine second to Mother Earth on only her second start in the Group 3 Coolmore Stud Irish EBF Fillies’ Sprint Stakes at Naas on July 4. In turn, that set the scene for a week that came to be highlighted by Tactical’s win in the Group 2 July Stakes at Newmarket.
Royal homebred Tactical had looked very smart when successful in the Listed Windsor Castle Stakes at Royal Ascot on his previous start yet was arguably even more impressive at Newmarket, sealing the matter over a classy field with a decisive turn of foot. At the line, Andrew Balding’s charge had over a length to spare over Yazaman with daylight back to Escape Route in third.
A likeable colt with a professional way about him, Tactical looks well worth his place in Group 1 company, perhaps in next month’s Prix Morny at Deauville.
In the rain Tactical enhances his reputation with victory in the @Tattersalls1766 July Stakes 🙌
How far could this improving two-year-old go? pic.twitter.com/6udrKwiMDi
— Newmarket Racecourse (@NewmarketRace) July 9, 2020
Tactical is from the third and final Newmarket-bred crop of Toronado. The son of High Chaparral was an exceptional miler for Richard Hannon and latterly Al Shaqab Racing, winning the Champagne Stakes at two and the St. James’s Palace and Queen Anne Stakes at three and four. He has been well supported throughout his stud career by Al Shaqab, firstly at the National Stud in Newmarket, where he stood from 2015 to 2017, and latterly at his current home of Haras de Bouquetot in Normandy. With his stock having also made up to 325,000gns at auction, he has had every chance to do well.
So far, Tactical is his sole Group or Graded stakes winner among a collection of six stakes winners overall. The sextet also includes an Australian Listed winner, Still A Star, bred from his shuttle trips to Swettenham Stud in Australia.
Toronado does, however, get plenty of winners, as illustrated by a 28% winners to foals of racing age strike-rate – a higher figure than that recorded by contemporaries such as Australia, Sea The Moon and Olympic Glory. He can also be relied upon to throw attractive stock, all of which has helped him maintain his popularity in France and Australia (where he covered 197 mares in 2019, the most of any stallion based in Victoria that season).
In the case of Tactical, Toronado may have been aided by the assistance of a smart mare in Make Fast. Tactical is the first foal out of Make Fast, who was trained by Andrew Balding to run second to fellow Royal colour-bearer Light Music in the 2015 Listed Radley Stakes at Newbury. Make Fast looked poised to progress into a stakes winner off the back of that run but although she went on to run second in the Listed Surrey Stakes as a three-year-old, that Newbury performance turned out to be the highlight of her career.
“Tactical is from the third and final Newmarket-bred crop of Toronado”
Indeed, it is a family of noted two-year-old talent. Make Fast was a daughter of Claudio Pizarro’s 2007 Group 3 Oh So Sharp Stakes winner Raymi Coya, a granddaughter of American Grade 1 winner Try Something New and one of the best left behind in the northern hemisphere by the former Coolmore stallion Van Nistelrooy.
Raymi Coya herself joined the Royal Studs as the subject of a mare swap with Qatar Racing when Make Fast was in utero. She has also come to click with Toronado to produce the 82-rated Lingfield Park winner Cranberry and Sun Festival, who was second on debut at Chepstow for Michael Bell last month.
To date, Make Fast and Cranberry are the only winners out of Raymi Coya, who was snapped up for just €9,000 by west country breeder Richard Tucker in 2018. However, the family is very much alive given that she is also the granddam of Friday’s taking Curragh debut winner Teresa Mendoza in addition to Tactical.
No doubt we will be hearing plenty more of both two-year-olds in due course.
As for Makfi, he has made a good start in Japan as the sire of four winners out of his first crop of Japanese-bred two-year-olds. He stood the past season at the JBBA for 2,200,000 yen (£16,300).