One lesson breeders should never forget is that success tends to breed further success a few years down the line. In the case of emerging sires of two-year-olds, the second wave of success can come as quickly as four years later.
Consequently it was fair to assume that some of the most successful first-crop sires of 2007 would again make an impact on this year’s juvenile racing. If you remember, the top three new sires in 2007 were Acclamation, whose progeny earnings topped £1 million thanks to the efforts of the Middle Park winner Dark Angel, the Listed winners Cake, Pencil Hill and Sweepstakes, and the sales race plunderers Exclamation and Hitchens. That initial crop by the Rathbarry stallion also included a dual Spanish winner called Equiano, who was to play a major role in keeping Acclamation’s name to the fore over the next three years.
Next came Oasis Dream, with his impressive total of six first-crop European stakes winners, while third place went to the Queen Anne Stakes winner Dubai Destination, thanks largely to the Racing Post Trophy success of Ibn Khaldun and Stardom Stakes win of Meeriss.
Four years down the line, all three are responsible for at least one leading two-year-old colt, with Acclamation once more leading the way. With his first three crops getting gradually smaller (they contained 85 foals, then 78 and 58), it was unlikely that Acclamation would maintain his impetus. Sure enough, his second crop has so far produced only one stakes winner, plus a couple of Group-placed performers, while his third crop is still awaiting its first stakes winner; and the same applies to his fourth crop.
That fourth crop was sired at a fee of €9,000, but Acclamation’s runaway success in 2007 rocketed his fee up to €30,000 in 2008, with Equiano’s 2008 King’s Stand victory being enough to keep Acclamation’s fee as high as €25,000 in 2009. But then, following quieter subsequent crops, his fee dropped back down to €15,000 in 2010 and 2011.
The level of a stallion’s fee is usually a very reliable pointer to what our expectations of each crop should be. Some of those who gambled €30,000 on Acclamation in 2008 have already been amply rewarded. By the beginning of August, as many as five Acclamation juveniles had become stakes winners, with Lilbourne Lad and Harbour Watch scoring at Group 2 level, and Angels Will Fall becoming a Group 3 winner.
“The level of a stallion’s fee is usually a very reliable pointer to what our expectations of each crop should be”
The Richmond Stakes victory of Harbour Watch (of whom more below) saw him move to the top of the two-year-old standings, with a Timeform rating of 118p, and also to the top of the betting for the 2012 2,000 Guineas, at prices as short as 6-1. Another of Acclamation’s sons, Talwar, also showed above-average ability in landing the Winkfield Stakes, while Crown Dependency was good enough to finish third in the Norfolk Stakes and fourth in the Molecomb Stakes.
Oasis Dream also has a contender for the title of leading two-year-old in Power, who showed plenty of determination to win the Coventry Stakes and went down narrowly to La Collina in the Phoenix Stakes.
Dubai Destination failed to build on his initial success, to the extent that he so far has only three northern hemisphere Group winners from roughly 450 foals in his first four crops, all sired at fees of £20,000 or £25,000. The son of Kingmambo now stands at a fee of €3,500 as part of the National Hunt team at Glenview Stud.
It mustn’t be forgotten that Dubai Destination was a very talented two-year-old, good enough to defeat Rock Of Gibraltar in the Champagne Stakes. It will be interesting to see how his fifth crop, born in 2009, progresses, as it has already made a fine start via the French colt Family One.
Out of Desert Style’s precocious daughter Ascot Family, Family One was scoring for the fourth time in five starts when he proved much too good for four opponents in the Group 2 Prix Robert Papin. He had been similarly impressive in the Group 3 Prix du Bois.
Harbour Watch’s Classic pretensions stand on Fall
When the Racing Post asked their ‘Goodwood Jury’ whether Harbour Watch is a genuine 2,000 Guineas contender, trainer Marcus Tregoning commented: “He is very promising, but can Acclamation sire a winner of the 2,000 Guineas?”
I’m assuming that the basis of Tregoning’s question is one of whether Acclamation can transmit sufficient stamina, rather than sufficient ability. He has, after all, already sired a pair of Group 1 winners.
Perhaps Tregoning had Finjaan at the back of his mind. He trained this colt by Acclamation’s sire Royal Applause to win a Group race at Glorious Goodwood before running a very close third in the Dewhurst Stakes. Finjaan then took his chance in Sea The Stars’s 2,000 Guineas but took a keen hold and faded after holding every chance approaching the final quarter mile. Tregoning never again asked him to tackle further than seven furlongs.
Royal Applause was a champion sprinter out of a speedy mare who produced the Dewhurst Stakes winner In Command to Sadler’s Wells and the flying Lyric Fantasy to Sadler’s Wells’s brother Tate Gallery. Even so, Royal Applause occasionally sired runners who stayed much better than he did. Indeed, his total of stakes winners over a mile and a quarter or more now stands at nine, including the Group/Graded winners Ticker Tape (American Oaks), Battle Of Hastings (Virginia Derby), Crime Scene (St Simon Stakes) and Take A Bow (Brigadier Gerard Stakes).
“Royal Applause occasionally sired runners who stayed much better than he did”
Is it fair to expect Acclamation to follow suit? Possibly not. The Racing Post credits his stock with an average winning distance of 6.7 furlongs – one furlong less than Royal Applause’s. Acclamation’s first two dams are Princess Athena, winner of the Queen Mary Stakes, and Shopping Wise, a six-furlong winner. Both these mares were sired by winners of the Nunthorpe under one or other of its guises. There could be a ray of hope here, though, as Princess Athena’s sire was Ahonoora, who occasionally transmitted the stamina of his sire Lorenzaccio.
Of course Acclamation accounts for only half of Harbour Watch’s pedigree. The bottom half, which features the exceptional broodmare Fall Aspen as his third dam, offers much more encouragement that Harbour Watch could develop into another 2,000 Guineas winner for Richard Hannon.
His dam, the Woodman mare Gorband, is a three-parts sister to Fall Aspen’s Woodman colt Timber Country, winner of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and Preakness Stakes. Fall Aspen also visited Woodman’s son Hansel to produce Prince Of Thieves, who was third in the Kentucky Derby.
Harbour Watch’s second dam Sherooq won over a mile and produced Kabool, a very smart winner at up to a mile and a quarter. More importantly, Sherooq was a sister to Colorado Dancer, a Group winner at up to 13.5 furlongs who found lasting fame as the dam of Dubai Millennium.
I wouldn’t be doing my duty, though, if I didn’t point out that this family occasionally produced more speed than stamina, as was demonstrated by Fall Aspen’s Danzig colts Hamas and Bianconi, and by her grandson Elnadim.
Have trainers become too cautious?
It makes an interesting exercise to analyse the stallions responsible for the season’s leading two-year-olds up to the end of July. The Racing Post handicappers had allocated ratings of 90 or more to 170 juveniles, of which Acclamation was responsible for seven and his son Dark Angel for five.
Exceed And Excel and Holy Roman Emperor also achieved the admirable total of seven representatives, while Galileo may have surprised some by coming up with five well-rated youngsters, all trained by Aidan O’Brien. Timeform rated Galileo’s daughter Maybe 109p, his son David Livingston 108p and his once-raced son Apollo 106P, so the second half of 2011 could easily prove as rewarding as the first half for the remarkable Coolmore stallion.
Kheleyf, who came up with more than 30 two-year-old winners in his first crop in 2008, has six rated 90 or above, while Choisir, Danehill Dancer, Dansili, Dutch Art, Excellent Art, Red Clubs and Teofilo all have four.
Of the 13 stallions with four or more representatives, four are sons of Danehill, another is a grandson and yet another is out of a Danehill mare. There are also three other sons of Danehill with three representatives. It is no surprise to see Danehill Dancer, Exceed And Excel and Holy Roman Emperor with strong teams of precocious juveniles, but many would not have expected to see Dansili’s name on the list, even though he has left no-one in any doubt as to his tremendous ability as a sire.
“It is no surprise to see Danehill Dancer, Exceed And Excel and Holy Roman Emperor with strong teams of precocious juveniles”
Dansili ran only once at two, when he made a winning debut in October, and hitherto hasn’t established a reputation for quick-maturing stock. The notable exceptions to the rule were Zoffany (Tyros Stakes in July, before becoming a Group 1 winner in August) and Strategic Prince (July Stakes, Group 2 Vintage Stakes). Shaweel was also very effective at two, but his Gimcrack victory came in the second half of the season, as did the Group victories of Proviso, Passage Of Time, Sense Of Joy, Thousand Words and Early March.
I sometimes wonder whether trainers err too much on the side of caution when it comes to training the modern-day two-year-old. That accusation could never be leveled at Aidan O’Brien, the man who won with four Galileo juveniles before the end of July and who was responsible for 13 of the 170 juveniles rated 90+ (compared to Richard Hannon’s 16). Is it just coincidence that O’Brien trains Dansili’s precocious sons Zoffany and Tenth Star, the latter winner of the Listed Golden Fleece Stakes in June?
David Wachman, another Irish trainer, clearly hasn’t heard that Dansili’s progeny need a bit of time. July saw him win the Anglesey Stakes with Dansili’s daughter Fire Lily and the Molecomb Stakes with Dansili’s son Requinto.
Of course it helps if the Dansili two-year-olds are out of fast-maturing mares. Fire Lily’s dam Beauty Is Truth won the Prix Yacowlef and Prix d’Arenberg, while Requinto is out of the Queen Mary and Phoenix Stakes winner Damson.