Timeform’s opening assessment on Polar Falcon following his Group 1 season in 1991 turned out to be most prescient. “This high-class, versatile and most consistent son of Nureyev will no doubt be a welcome addition to his owner’s Cheveley Park Stud at Newmarket,” it said of that year’s winner of the Ladbroke Sprint Cup and Lockinge Stakes. “David Thompson’s purchasing of Polar Falcon from Michel Zerolo at the end of the colt’s three-year-old career proved an inspired move…”
David and Patricia Thompson have had much cause to celebrate their decision to purchase Polar Falcon since then, with his influence having played a key role in the fortunes of their stud for the best part of three decades.
From a first crop of 45 foals sired at £7,500, Polar Falcon gave the operation its 1996 Nunthorpe Stakes winner Pivotal, subsequently one of the great stallion success stories of the recent era.
Cheveley Park Stud later wisely bolstered its stallion roster by securing Pivotal’s own first-crop son Kyllachy, who emulated his sire by landing the 2002 Nunthorpe Stakes, and now, 29 years after finalising the deal on Polar Falcon, have a further chance of extending the legacy in Kyllachy’s son Twilight Son, whose first two-year-olds race this year.
Hopes naturally run high that Twilight Son can enhance this long-running sequence. An attractive horse built in a similarly strong stamp to his sire, he was like Kyllachy trained at Kingstone Warren by Henry Candy, for whom he made rapid progression to cap an unbeaten six-race streak with victory as a three-year-old in the 2015 Betfred Sprint Cup at Haydock Park.
“The ones I saw look a lot like their sire which they say is a good thing in a stallion”
Kept in training for another year by his breeder Godfrey Wilson, by then in partnership with Cheveley Park Stud, Twilight Son returned the following summer to land the Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot.
Twilight Son was retired at the end of that season with a record of six wins from ten starts. He raced exclusively at 6f, as befitted a background that is so strongly associated with pace; while Kyllachy is a renowned source of speed, Twilight Son is also a half-brother to Music Master, another good sprinter for Wilson.
It’s a commercial profile and Twilight Son was duly well received by British and Irish breeders during his first season as the recipient of 142 mares. The resulting foals will get every chance, being in the hands of the likes of Richard Hannon, Andrew Balding, Mark Johnston, Richard Fahey, Kevin Ryan, Charlie Fellowes, Clive Cox and Roger Varian.
Appropriately, Twilight Son is also represented at Kingstone Warren by a colt, Twilight Calls, owned by Cheveley Park Stud.
“I was impressed with his progeny,” says Candy. “The ones I saw look a lot like their sire which they say is a good thing in a stallion, and the colt I have certainly looks a lot like him.”
A pair of his first yearlings broke into six-figure territory, led by a colt out of Lowther Stakes heroine Soar, for whom Kevin Ryan paid 130,000gns at Book 1 of the Tattersalls October Sale. The following week at Book 2, another youngster, this time a half-sister to Dee Stakes winner Azmeel and to the Listed-winning dam of Group 1 winner Best Of Days, made 115,000gns to David Redvers. She has been named Electric and is with Archie Watson.
When all was done and dusted on the sales season, 75 of his progeny had sold for an average of around 30,000gns.
“Twilight Son has a look of Kyllachy to him and seems to stamp them,” says Chris Richardson, Managing Director of Cheveley Park Stud. “They were well received as yearlings and now they’re in the right hands.”
Cheveley Park Stud have eight Twilight Son two-year-olds in training. They are spread across Karl Burke, Richard Fahey and Archie Watson in addition to Henry Candy, and include Sacristy, a half-sister to the Group 2 winners Supplicant and Penitent, and In Paradise and Hilarity, two homebred granddaughters of Cheveley Park Stakes heroine Gay Gallanta. The word on the group at this early stage is “positive”, according to Richardson.
Pivotal has proven to be remarkably versatile at stud, an aspect that has since extended to several of his sire sons including high-flyers Siyouni and Farhh. In the case of Kyllachy, however, speed is the overriding influence, as would be expected for a horse out of a sprinting daughter of a terrific speedster in Song. And it would be very surprising were Twilight Son to deviate from that trend.
“They were well received as yearlings and now they’re in the right hands”
“They’re properly made sprinters,” says Candy. “The older Twilight Son got, the more he came to look like Kyllachy – the likeness of colour is amazing.
“Kyllachy was a little bit faster of the pair. His win over 5f in the Nunthorpe was some effort whereas Twilight Son did need a full 6f to be most effective. But both of them kept improving and improving with racing. It’s a family thing. Pivotal was the same.”
Twilight Son looked useful at two, when he won both his starts, but improved markedly at three when he progressed from 83-rated handicapper to Group 1-winning sprinter within the space of three starts.
“He was a very lazy worker,” says Candy. “He was very like Kyllachy as a two-year-old, they were not the most robust of young horses and you couldn’t do a huge amount with them.
“We thought he was ok before he ran but weren’t really expecting him to win first time up at Salisbury, and when he did, that was obviously very encouraging.
“Then he went for a nursery at Thirsk. That was a quirky race. He got into a bit of trouble and arrived late on the scene – as it turned out, just how he would like to be ridden.
“The result was that he came to be very well handicapped. The following spring, he won very well at Newmarket’s Guineas meeting and then again in a £100,000 handicap at York. I wanted to run him in another of those good handicaps at Newmarket’s July meeting and I think he would have won that too, but at that stage he was suffering from cracked heels and couldn’t run. He was improving very quickly at that stage.”
When Twilight Son returned from that enforced summer break, it was in the deep end in the Betfred Sprint Cup at Haydock Park. In a field that included the previous year’s winner G Force in addition to the Group 1-winning miler Belardo and former top two-year-old Tiggy Wiggy, Twilight Son hit the front two furlongs out under Fergus Sweeney and held off Strath Burn to win by a head.
A creditable second to Muhaarar in the QIPCO British Champions Sprint Stakes at Ascot capped that successful three-year-old season and further rewards were to follow the next season when he doubled his Group 1 tally in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes, this time under Ryan Moore.
“The Kyllachys I’ve had have been intent on sleeping and eating, which is a good thing,” says Candy. “I also had Corrybrough [winner of the Scurry Stakes] who was on his way to becoming a good horse. Unfortunately, he was never the soundest.
“Hopefully Twilight Son can come up with a son himself to keep it going”
“They’re playful horses, sometimes naughty but not unpleasant. Even when Twilight Son was a four-year-old, you would have to take him to a quiet corner of the paddock to be mounted – he was very keen on bucking Ryan off, just for fun. They’re horses with an advanced sense of humour! “The colt I have, Twilight Calls, is the same. He’s done plenty of decent cantering just to keep the lid on him. He’s a lovely, strong horse, it’s early days but I like him.”
Bred by James Ortega Bloodstock, Twilight Calls is out of Zawiyah, an Invincible Spirit half-sister to last year’s Sovereign Stakes winner Kick On. He was purchased by Cheveley Park Stud for £26,000 out of the Goffs UK Premier Sale.
Pivotal’s influence is today immense, whether as a respected sire of sires or broodmare extraordinaire. And of course, even at his advanced age, he continues to remain a potent source of talent himself – 2020 has already featured a new star in the form of Addeyybb, who recently gave Newmarket something to cheer about when sweeping the Queen Elizabeth and Ranvet Stakes at Randwick for William Haggas.
Now 27-years-old, Pivotal remains in fine fettle at Cheveley Park Stud, where he is covering a restricted book of 30.
“It’s quite remarkable when you think that Cheveley Park Stud have had Polar Falcon, Pivotal, then Kyllachy and now Twilight Son,” says Candy. “I’ve been lucky to have been involved with the line. They’ve been a pleasure to train, and hopefully Twilight Son can come up with a son himself to keep it going.”