In the world of Greek myths, the royally-bred Cassandra was granted the ability to see the future, only for Apollo to invoke a curse which meant that no-one ever believed her predictions.
I wouldn’t claim to share Cassandra’s powers, but I have suggested often enough that someone should stand a top-notch son of Sunday Silence in Britain or Ireland. Unfortunately, my pleadings have gone unheeded – and are likely to remain so. The stallion who single-handedly transformed the Japanese industry died in 2002, so his youngest sons will be nine by the time the next breeding season rolls around.
The evidence suggests, though, that one of Sunday Silence’s best sons might indeed have greatly benefited the European breed. In 2007 we saw Sunday Silence’s grand-daughter Natagora show precocious talent to win the Prix du Bois and Prix Robert Papin, before taking the Cheveley Park Stud Stakes to claim second place behind Zarkava among Europe’s juvenile fillies. Natagora then trained on so well that she won the 1,000 Guineas, even though her sire Divine Light had stood in France at only €2,500.
Divine Light’s fee reflected the fact that he had won only four of his 26 starts, spread over five seasons. Although he failed to win a stakes race, Divine Light had a couple of notable near-misses, including in the Grade 1 Takamatsunomiya Kinen.
“The evidence suggests that one of Sunday Silence’s best sons might indeed have greatly benefited the European breed”
Walmac Farm apparently shared my enthusiasm for Sunday Silence and managed to obtain one of his Grade 1-winning sons in the summer of 2007. This son, Hat Trick, had established himself as Japan’s champion miler in 2005 with victories in the Grade 1 Mile Championship in Japan and the Hong Kong Mile. However, he lost his form quite dramatically at the age of five in 2006 and he was retired after another disappointing effort in 2007. Perhaps this loss of form compromised his reputation in Japan, making him surplus to requirements in an industry already steeped in Sunday Silence blood.
Even though Hat Trick is by an American Horse of the Year and has an American Grade 2 winner as his dam, finding acceptance in the American industry during a difficult economy has evidently not been easy. Having started out at $15,000, his fee was down to $6,000 in 2011. His book size has also fallen substantially, from 120 mares in 2008, to 57 in 2009 and then to 32 in 2010. Hat Trick was also sent to Australia for the 2008 southern hemisphere season but attracted only 36 mares and the trip hasn’t been repeated.
Perhaps all that will change now that Hat Trick’s first-crop son Dabirsim has become the leader of his generation, thanks to a dominant display in the Group 1 Prix Morny. Still unbeaten in four starts, he had previously won the Prix de Cabourg. Dabirsim dwarfed most of his Morny rivals and appears to have inherited much of the size and scope of his sire, who stands over 16.2 hands.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of Dabirsim’s pedigree is that his dam Rumored is by Royal Academy, which makes her a grand-daughter of Nijinsky. The 1970 Triple Crown winner played a major part in Sunday Silence’s stallion success. Sunday Silence sired 39 named foals from 22 daughters of Nijinsky, with one mare – Dancing Key – producing the champion fillies Dance Partner and Dance In The Mood, and the champion colt Dance In The Dark. Sunday Silence also had 31 foals out of mares by Nijinsky’s Japanese son Maruzensky and their percentage of stakes winners was as high as 16%, with the outstanding Special Week and champion two-year-old Mejiro Bailey among them. Sunday Silence also sired Japanese Group winners from daughters of Caerleon, Jade Robbery, Royal Academy and Yamaninsky.
Nor is Hat Trick the first son of Sunday Silence to shine with Nijinsky line mares. The Japanese superstar Buena Vista is by Special Week out of a Caerleon mare, making her inbred 4 x 3 to Nijinsky. Manhattan Café owes three of his Grade 1 winners to the Nijinsky line, as he sired the Tenno Sho Spring winner Hiruno d’Amour from a Lammtarra mare, the Shuka Sho heroine Red Desire to a Caerleon mare and the NHK Mile Cup winner Jo Cappuccino to a grand-daughter of Caerleon.
I was rather surprised to note that Dabirsim is only the third northern hemisphere Group 1 winner out of a Royal Academy mare. However, the previous two were Rule Of Law, winner of the St Leger, and Finsceal Beo, winner of the English and Irish 1,000 Guineas, so you don’t need to be Cassandra to see that Classic success could easily lie in Dabirsim’s future.
Good prospects for Dansili with Mr P line
A distance the width of a cigarette paper was all that prevented Dansili achieving a remarkable Group 1 double in the space of just over two hours with his foals out of Distant View mares. After Bated Breath lost out so narrowly to the big-headed Dream Ahead in the Sprint Cup, Emulous easily landed the Matron Stakes on her Group 1 debut.
These two come from a sample of only 12 foals, with the Celebration Mile winner and Emulous’s Listed-winning sister Daring Diva among the other ten. There must be a fair chance that these figures will become even more impressive over the next few years, as Juddmonte has a yearling sister to Bated Breath, a foal brother to Emulous and a foal sister to Zacinto.
But Distant View is by no means the only son of Mr Prospector to have made a significant contribution to Dansili’s success story. Entifaadha, who maintained his unbeaten record when he landed the Acomb Stakes, is out of a Kingmambo mare; Zoffany, winner of the Phoenix Stakes last year and twice second at Group 1 level in 2011, is out of a Machiavellian mare; and Proviso, a four-time Grade 1 winner in the US in 2010, is out of a Woodman mare. As there are only just over 80 foals of racing age out of mares by sons of Mr Prospector, these high-class performers represent a powerful incentive to send Dansili more grand-daughters of Mr P.
One son of Mr Prospector whose daughters have yet to shine with Dansili is Gone West, but that didn’t stop Dansili siring the Grand Prix de Paris winner Zambezi Sun from a mare by Gone West’s son Zafonic.
War’s path continues on upward curve
When the stallion fees for next year are announced, it is long odds-on that War Front’s fee will be a lot higher than $15,000, the son of Danzig’s advertised fee for 2011.
Few stallions were in better form as autumn approached than Claiborne’s nine-year-old resident. August 20 saw him represented by his first Grade 1 winner when Summer Soiree took the Del Mar Oaks, to record her third Graded stakes success of the year and her second on turf. Eight days later came Grade 1 winner number two, when his very speedy son The Factor won the Pat O’Brien Stakes.
Then, on the opening day of September, his son State Of Play became the first Graded winner from his second crop when landing the Grade 2 With Anticipation Stakes on turf.
Surely the fact that four of War Front’s 2011 stakes winners have scored on turf should alert Europeans to War Front’s potential, but the timing isn’t ideal. He has just two third-crop representatives in Keeneland September Book 1, with another ten in Book 2. There are no War Front youngsters in Tattersalls’ October Sales or Goffs’ Orby.
The explanation is that it is now the rule, rather than the exception, that support ebbs away from young American stallions over their first three or four seasons. Even a farm as well-connected as Claiborne wasn’t able to staunch the flow for War Front, whose first crop, born in 2008, numbers 72 named foals from 109 mares. He covered 80 mares in his second year, for 63 foals, and it was down to a book of 64 mares, for 43 foals, in year three.
Fortunately, War Front’s popularity received a considerable boost when five of his first-crop juveniles sold very well at the 2010 two-year-olds in training sales, with a book of 90 mares being the result. Once again, it is a safe bet that his book was back in three figures in 2011, as he enjoyed a rewarding February, thanks to the Grade 2 victories of The Factor and Soldat.
This suggests that there will be more War Front yearlings in the 2012 and 2013 sales, but it may be a while before he adds to his European winners, which include the Irish all-weather Listed winner Warning Flag and his Listed-placed French son War Pact.
War Front’s emergence as a Grade 1 sire must be all the sweeter for Claiborne because he promises to end the farm’s long wait for a worthy heir to the great Danzig. Polish Navy became the first son to stand alongside Danzig at Claiborne. This triple Grade 1 winner was sent to Japan in 1992 after a slow start. Hardly had he been sold than he came up with his first Grade 1 winner in Ghazi and his second crop contained Sea Hero, winner of the 1994 Kentucky Derby.
Claiborne then seemed to secure the Danzig succession with the arrival of two more sons in 1995: dual Breeders’ Cup Mile winner Lure and Boundary. But Lure proved sub-fertile and Boundary was pensioned at the age of 15 in 2005 because of declining fertility. However, his legacy includes top-level winners Minardi, Pomeroy and Big Brown, winner of the Kentucky Derby and Preakness.