Lady Bamford’s wonderful achievement of owning and breeding a second winner of the Oaks – Soul Sister’s clear-cut victory in June coming 14 years after Sariska defeated Midday at Epsom – is just reward for her long-held commitment to producing Classic stock instead of ephemeral two-year-old talents, a deep investment in the best bloodlines and all-important patience in the process bearing fruit.
Soul Sister’s dam, the 15-year-old Group 2-winning and multiple Grade 1-placed Dream Peace, and the two-years-older Sariska are among 28 mares who reside at the accomplished horsewoman’s stud on 110 acres of the famed Daylesford estate in a patch of heaven on earth near Moreton-in-Marsh in Gloucestershire.
Lady Bamford has made Daylesford Farm a pioneer in organic farming and food production, with a respect for nature its core tenet, and it is a similar story when it comes to thoroughbreds.
Chris Lock, who formerly ran the nearby Stratford Place Stud and became manager of Daylesford Stud upon the retirement of Charlie Brewer three years ago, is the man charged with the task of raising traditionally bred racehorses with the same ethos.
“It’s difficult to be 100 percent organic with horses but we do all we can to be as natural as possible,” he says. “The stud has been going around 30 years, and was started when Lady Bamford retired four or five of her racehorses. It developed into a passion and a broodmare band grew from that, and we’re all very proud that there are still mares from some of those earliest families on the farm.
“Lady Bamford has always loved the Classics; she isn’t so interested in having five or six-furlong two-year-old winners, and the aim is to keep improving the stock. We have some exceptionally nice mares with top pedigrees now, and they go to the right stallions, so we’re doing all we can to achieve success.”
Lock reports that his employer is a regular presence on the stud, and takes a keen interest in the mares and young stock.
“She’s very hands-on, and at least once a week we’ll go round the farm looking at the mares, foals and yearlings, and she comes out to see plenty of foalings,” he says.
“She knows all her old families and enjoys seeing the horses develop throughout the year.
“She’s always been a keen rider so she’s very switched on. There’s no point trying to hide a bad horse from her with a good one, put it that way! She has a good eye and picked out Dream Peace at the sales.”
Dream Peace, a high-class racemare whose first three dams – Truly A Dream, Truly Special and Arctique Royale – were also Pattern winners, and whose three-parts brother Catcher In The Rye ran second in the Poule d’Essai des Poulains, cost a cool 2,700,000gns when she was offered as a broodmare prospect at the Tattersalls December Mares Sale of 2013.
Soul Sister, by Frankel, is her fifth winner from as many runners, and her fourth black-type runner after Prix Thomas Bryon winner Dreamflight (also by Frankel) and the Listed-placed pair Herman Hesse (by Frankel again) and Questionare (by Galileo).
“A shortlist of five or six fillies and mares would have been drawn up for Lady Bamford by Hugo Lascelles and Charlie [Brewer], and then she would have looked at them herself,” says Lock. “She tells me that as soon as she saw Dream Peace she fell in love with her, and wasn’t going to leave Tattersalls without her.
“Hugo warned her she’d be expensive. A filly coming straight off the track with that sort of race record, pedigree and physique always will be. But sometimes you’ve got to be brave and go for it, and thankfully it’s worked out.”
Lock and the infant Soul Sister arrived on the farm at a similar time three years ago. He says: “It’s easy to say now, but she was always a nice filly and was consistently high up on our grading system. She was strong, a great walker with a calm attitude and good bone. We couldn’t have dreamt that she’d be this good, of course, but we had an inkling that she might be all right.”
Dream Peace herself doesn’t tend to put her own head above the parapet, though. “You’d nearly forget she’s here,” says Lock. “She’s the quietest mare. You can put her in a field with any horse, and there’s never any fuss or fighting; she’s almost hidden in the herd.
“She’s 15.3 hands, nice and compact, with good bone and a great hindquarter. She’s the perfect mare, really: not too big and not too long. She’s quite attractive for a Dansili, with a nice head on her.”
Soul Sister was Dream Peace’s sixth offspring but first filly – “we were getting a bit worried until she came along,” admits Lock – but she now has a yearling half-sister by Le Havre (“great hind leg and good shoulder, excellent walker”) and foal half-sister by Sea The Stars (“very attractive and similar to Soul Sister”).
Dream Peace also has a two-year-old colt named Son Of Peace in training with Andre Fabre. “He’s a typical Sea The Stars but Andre has told us he’s not far off coming out, so he could be a fair bit more forward than Soul Sister.”
So enamoured were the Daylesford Stud team with Son Of Peace that Dream Peace is back in foal to Sea The Stars.
“Lady Bamford is a big fan of Sea The Stars, so we like to use him as much as we can, although I’d imagine the mare will go back to Frankel next year – we’d be mad not to,” says Lock.
Sariska, a homebred daughter of Pivotal and early yearling purchase Maycocks Bay who notched the Anglo-Irish Oaks double by winning at the Curragh practically on the bridle, sadly hasn’t been quite so brilliant at stud. She has produced three winners, albeit one of those is the Listed third Snow Moon.
“She hasn’t worked out quite as well as we’d hoped, and she’s now retired, but her three-year-old Kingman filly Tygress ran well on debut for Andre recently and her last offspring is a two-year-old filly by the same sire called Pellegrin,” says Lock.
“Sariska owes us nothing, though. She was phenomenal, especially in the Irish Oaks that day – Jamie Spencer was just a passenger. Snow Moon is producing some really nice foals for us, too.”
As so often seems to happen, Sariska was outshone in the breeding shed by a less talented half-sister. Gull Wing – a daughter of In The Wings and Maycocks Bay who wasn’t entirely devoid of talent, as a winner of the Further Flight Stakes – clicked with Pivotal to produce Group 2 victors and King George runners-up Eagle Top and Wings Of Desire, as well as Oaks third The Lark.
“It’s remarkable that Gull Wing turned out to be the better broodmare,” says Lock. “But unfortunately she only gave us one daughter, The Lark, and in turn that mare sadly died of colic at a relatively young age, leaving us only two colts.”
Star Of Seville, a third Oaks winner of sorts bred and owned by Lady Bamford, having struck in the 2015 Prix de Diane at Chantilly, is yet to be represented by a winner but her future lies ahead of her.
“She has three-year-old and two-year-old colts by Dubawi and a yearling filly by the same sire, and we’re pleased with what she’s got, and so is John Gosden,” says Lock. “She’s in foal to Baaeed and Star Spirit, her daughter by Deep Impact, has a filly foal by Starspangledbanner and is in foal to Havana Grey. We’re trying to bring in a little bit of speed here and there.
“This is a family that Lady Bamford has done well with, as she also bred the St James’s Palace Stakes runner-up King Of Comedy from their dam Stage Presence, who was a brilliant producer. Queen Of Comedy, a winning Kingman full-sister to King Of Comedy, has been to Sea The Stars for her first cover this year.”
All’s Forgotten, a winning Darshaan half-sister to stakes winners Parole Board and Remain Silent bought from Tattersalls for 140,000gns in 2007, was also a grand servant to Daylesford Stud. She clicked with Galileo, sire of her earlier 2,000 Guineas third Gan Amhras, to produce Lady Bamford’s Bahrain Trophy winner Shantaram and Listed scorers Forever Now and To Eternity.
“All’s Forgotten was very good to us and fortunately she gave us some very nice daughters we’re breeding from,” says Lock. “To Eternity’s first foal True Testament, by Siyouni, ran third in the Prix Guillaume d’Ornano and Prix Niel last season and has stayed in training at five as Andre is very sweet on him and thinks he might be an Arc horse.
“To Eternity has been a touch unlucky since, as she had a lovely Lope De Vega foal who passed away and a Siyouni full-brother to True Testament who succumbed to colic.
“Fortunately we also have Sacred Path, a winning Galileo full-sister to To Eternity, who has a three-year-old filly by Siyouni named Shiva Shakti who placed at two for John and Thady Gosden, along with a Siyouni yearling filly and Wootton Bassett filly foal.
“All’s Forgotten is also the dam of One Morning, a Gleneagles filly who has won and shown some good form for Michael Bell, and it’s likely she’ll come back to the stud to carry on the line, so we’re lucky to have lots of young fillies from this family.”
Another Daylesford Stud family buzzing with relevance is that descended from Seta, a Listed-winning daughter of Pivotal out of a Generous half-sister to Gerald Leigh’s Classic-winning siblings Barathea and Gossamer. The 16-year-old is the dam of Random Harvest, runner-up in the Princess Elizabeth Stakes and Duke of Cambridge Stakes, and One Evening, second in the Pontefract Castle Stakes.
“Random Harvest is a lovely, genuine mare who is hard to pass when she gets in front, as she loves a bit of a fight, she’s just been a bit unlucky this season,” says Lock. “We’ll let her have a go in the Falmouth Stakes. It’s a bit of a punchy target but she’ll be retired at the end of the year so why not go for it? One Evening is also a good filly and John is adamant that there’s a nice race in her.
“Seta has a Too Darn Hot two-year-old gelding named Jazz Scene who’s working away nicely for Sir Mark Prescott – he only had the operation as he was a rig so just had a bit of discomfort, he has no temperament issues – and she’s in foal to New Bay.”
Daylesford Stud also recently reaffirmed its belief in stamina with its 1,000,000gns acquisition of dual Group 3 winner and Prix Jean Romanet second Rosscarbery through Charlie Gordon-Watson at Tattersalls in December. She is by Sea The Stars from a stout German family, with her Listed-winning dam Rose Rized being a daughter of Authorized and German Oaks winner Rosenreihe.
Rosscarbery, who was left with Paddy Twomey to race on at five this year, justified the purchase by winning the Munster Oaks at Cork in June on her seasonal bow.
“Lady Bamford was keen to get a strong German family onto the stud farm, and it’s a pedigree that’s still developing,” says Lock. “She does have a lot of stamina in her background so we’ll have to be careful how we mate her when the time comes, but the best thing is she’s incredibly tough and takes her racing well. Looking at prices last year, she probably wasn’t bad value, really.”
All those families are highly distinguished, but according to Lock it is Spirit Of India, a non-winning, nine-year-old Galileo mare out of Sundari, a Group 2-placed Danehill half-sister to Bahrain Trophy winner Mr Singh, that gives Lady Bamford the biggest thrill.
“Spirit Of India is the only mare we still have from Lady Bamford’s original My Ballerina family,” he says. “She’s very proud to be breeding from a descendant of that first purchase. Spirit Of India has made a fair start, and her two-year-old colt, a son of Caravaggio named Veer, is in training with Charlie Hills.”
Lady Bamford might have a healthy respect for history but she is also cognisant of the fact that broodmare bands need regular injections of new blood, and that there is a danger of staying families becoming too slow.
To that end, Gordon-Watson went to market in recent years to buy some sharper fillies.
Pamplemousse, a Siyouni half-sister to Prix Jean Romanet winner Odeliz, was bought from the Arqana Breeze-Up Sale of 2016 for €400,000 and was a Listed winner over seven furlongs at Chantilly at three, while Suphala, a Frankel half-sister to Listed sprint-winning two-year-old Sivoliere, was sourced from the same company’s August Yearling Sale a year later for €650,000 and took the Prix Chloe.
Gordon-Watson’s buys from the Arqana Breeze-Up Sale in 2019, meanwhile, included Queen Of Love, a Kingman half-sister to smart two-year-olds Dark Liberty and Sunstrike who cost €650,000 and became a Listed winner over a mile at Saint-Cloud, and Tropbeau, a filly by Showcasing out of a daughter of July Cup heroine Frizzante who cost €180,000 and went on to win at Group 2 level and finish placed in the Cheveley Park Stakes and Prix Maurice de Gheest.
“It’s been a concerted effort to try to bring in some speedier, sharper bloodlines after one or two generations of breeding for Classics,” says Lock. “We’re not throwing the baby out with the bathwater, though; when we talk about speed we’re looking for milers rather than sprinters, but with a bit more juvenile form.
“Pamplemousse has a Galileo three-year-old filly named Jade Vine with Andre who was due to make her debut recently but pulled a muscle. The trainer speaks highly of her. She has a nice Too Darn Hot yearling colt and has gone back to that sire on the strength of him. Unfortunately she’s a little difficult to get in foal.
“Suphala has a very nice Lope De Vega yearling filly and a smart Wootton Bassett colt foal, and she’s gone to No Nay Never this year. Tropbeau has taken to motherhood like a duck to water and her first foal is a Frankel colt foal who we’re over the moon with. She’s back in foal to Night Of Thunder.
“Queen Of Love also produced a Frankel colt as her first foal this year, and she’s in foal to No Nay Never.”
Daylesford Stud is also adopting a commercial edge in another way that will soon become public when catalogues for the yearling sales are published, but is being revealed here for the first time.
“We’re having a bit of a shift and going back down the traditional owner-breeder route of selling colts and keeping fillies,” says Lock. “In the past we’ve kept everything, but our horses in training numbers have become a bit high, and so we’re taking some to market. We also want to be a bit more proactive commercially.”
Among the yearlings who are under consideration for being sold at Arqana in August are the Too Darn Hot colt out of Pamplemousse and the same sire’s filly out of Seta – what would be a rare female offering “only because we have lots of fillies from the family,” Lock says.
Pencilled in for Book 2 of the Tattersalls October Yearling Sale are a Wootton Bassett colt out of Pioneer Spirit, a winning daughter of Galileo; a No Nay Never colt who is the first foal out of the well-bred Invincible Spirit mare Spiritus Sanctus; and an Oasis Dream colt out of Halfwaytothemoon, a placed Sea The Stars mare from the family of Classic-winning siblings Bosra Sham, Hector Protector and Shanghai.
Bound for Tattersalls in December, meanwhile, are an Oasis Dream colt out of Spirit Of India and a No Nay Never colt out of Made By Hand, a half-sister to Haydock Sprint Cup hero G Force. The Castlebridge Consignment will present the stud’s lots.
The market can be a little wary when owner-breeders decide to put their yearlings up for sale for the first time, but ignoring such well-bred lots from the farm that has produced the exciting Soul Sister and stakes-placed half-sisters Random Harvest and One Evening in the last few weeks alone would be looking a gift horse in the mouth.