Concealed beneath the many success stories written by various stallions at Royal Ascot, Oratorio recorded a notable, if unlikely, double on Saturday.
The first crop of the 2005 Eclipse winner are currently four-year-olds, and one of these – the Irish-bred filly Tidara Angel – credited the son of Danehill with his first Grade One victory over jumps when landing the Prix Alain du Breil on Auteuil’s star-studded ‘French Champion Hurdle’ card. The same afternoon also saw Oratorio sire his first Oaks winner.
Trained by John Oxx for Mrs Barbara Keller, Celendine landed a smooth success in the EBF Coolmore Stud Ulster Oaks at Down Royal. While this definitely wasn’t Epsom and while the Ulster Oaks, a handicap for fillies and mares, isn’t one of the world’s most prestigious Oaks imitations, this was still a notable win by a decent filly in a historic race. It was also the first leg of a double for Oxx, whose second winner also had connections to Epsom Classic glory: the Aga Khan’s home-bred colt Sinntani, nine-length winner of a 10.5-furlong maiden race, is a three-year-old Dalakhani half-brother to the 2000 Derby winner Sinndar.
Sadder news concerning Irish-based stallions centres around the recent death of King’s Theatre. Trained by Henry Cecil for Sheikh Mohammed, King’s Theatre landed his biggest victory when taking the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes at Ascot in 1994. He retired to Ballylinch Stud as an exciting prospective Flat stallion and he got some good winners in this role, but more recently he became one of several sons of Sadler’s Wells to dominate in the National Hunt sphere.
Aged 20 at the time of his death from colic, he had already established an admirable record as a sire of hurdlers and steeplechasers, his good winners under National Hunt rules including Cue Card, Menorah, Riverside Theatre, Wichita Lineman and Captain Chris. His death represents a sad loss to National Hunt breeding, although happily he should have plenty of young sons and daughters still waiting to represent him in the future.