Henrythenavigator became the first of this season’s batch of freshman sires to notch a Group 1 winner with Pedro The Great’s victory in the Phoenix Stakes at the Curragh on Sunday.
The Aidan O’Brien-trained colt’s triumph in a dramatic race, in which his paternal half-brother and favourite Cristoforo Colombo clipped heels and fell, means that Henrythenavigator significantly closes the gap on New Approach in the European first-season sires’ table.
The Darley stallion has been riding high ever since he managed the unprecedented feat of siring the winners of three stakes races at Royal Ascot – Dawn Approach (Group 2 Coventry Stakes), Newfangled (Group 3 Albany Stakes) and Tha’Ir (Listed Chesham Stakes). But Henrythenavigator, who has six individual winners to New Approach’s three, is now not far behind by prize-money.
Pedro The Great is a half-brother to Coolmore’s 2,000 Guineas winner Footstepsinthesand and is the third black-type earner for his young sire after Railway Stakes runner-up Cristoforo Colombo and the Listed-placed Infanta Branca. It’s easy to overlook the fact that Henrythenavigator, who has had 21 runners so far in Europe, is based at Ashford Stud in Kentucky.
Sixties Icon, the early leader of the seasonal challenge and sire of eight individual winners including Italian Group 3 scorer Chilworth Icon, still boasts the a highly impressive strike rate of 53.33%. He has been overtaken numerically by Whitsbury Manor Stud’s Sakhee’s Secret, who now has 11 winners from 33 runners.
Another freshman with an eye-catching strike-rate is Ramonti, who stood his first season for Darley at Kildangan Stud in Ireland but has subsequently returned to his native Italy to join Allevamento di Besnate. Six of his nine runners to date have won, including the 91-rated Montiridge who won his sole start for Richard Hannon, and dual winner Redressthebalance.