This year’s Royal meeting signalled a breakthrough success for Pennsylvania’s new stallion Lord Shanakill, whose four-year-old colt My Dream Boat produced a smart turn of foot to land the Group 1 Prince of Wales’s Stakes.
The Clive Cox-trained star had first sprung to prominence in the Group 3 Prix Perth at Saint-Cloud in November and followed this up with victory in the Group 3 Gordon Richards Stakes at Sandown in May. The Royal Ascot win came as a surprise to most of the racing fraternity, in what was an emotional triumph for jockey Adam Kirby, who claimed two notable Group 1s in the week he became a father.
John Osborne, Chief Executive of the Irish National Stud, was delighted with My Dream Boat’s rise to glory after standing Lord Shanakill for his first five years. It was made more meaningful considering the colt wasn’t lucrative for his breeder, Patrick Monahan, selling for just €3,500 as a yearling.
“It’s a dream come true really for a small breeder with a handful of mares to produce a winner on the greatest stage of all, in one of the most prestigious races in the calendar,” said Osborne.
A $110,000 yearling, Lord Shanakill’s achievement comes on the back of his move across the Atlantic to Pin Oak Lane Farm, in southern Pennsylvania. The ten-year-old made the trip from County Kildare last November, having stood at €5,000 for four of his five years after his retirement from racing in 2010. The Irish National Stud still owns Lord Shanakill and as such remains very closely connected to him and his future.
The move strikes parallels with his second highest-rated offspring, Mr Brightside. The former Jeremy Noseda inmate has been given a fresh chance in the US with trainer Patrick Gallagher, finishing runner-up in last year’s Grade 2 Twilight Derby at Santa Anita.
Lord Shanakill now joins his sire Speightstown on the east coast having become his first Group 1 winner and the first of his progeny to retire to stud. A $2 million breeze-up buy, Speightstown has developed into a champion sire in the US. His racing career only reached its peak as a six-year-old, with his final race bringing victory in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint in 2004.
On the back of My Dream Boat’s success as a four-year-old, it may seem that Spieghtstown’s slower maturing tendency has found its way down the bloodline. This proves contrary to early assumptions that Lord Shanakill would produce sharper types in line with his own early days as a racehorse, when he ran eight times as a two-year-old, winning the Group 2 Mill Reef Stakes and going down by a head in the Group 1 Dewhurst Stakes. At three Lord Shanakill made his top-level breakthrough in the Prix Jean Prat at Chantilly.
Osborne said: “I suppose there was an assumption that Lord Shanakill would produce very precocious two-year-olds and the yearling sales of his first crop would have indicated that.
“But the horses have proved to be a little more like Speightstown, as they have tended to be better with a little bit of time.”
Dr William Solomon, who instigated Lord Shanakill’s European departure, has developed Pin Oak Lane Farm into one of the leading studs in Pennsylvania, a region very much on the up from a breeding sense. The stud mainly handles dirt sprinters, but Solomon has gone on record as saying he believes Lord Shanakill will prove highly effective given his American pedigree.
His unraced dam Green Room, herself a half-sister to Spanish Fern, winner of the Grade 1 Yellow Ribbon Stakes, has also produced Group 1 Fillies’ Mile winner Together Forever, while her bay filly by Sea The Stars sold for €1.1m at Goffs in 2014.
Osborne is confident that for the time being, Lord Shanakill’s move to the US is unlikely to be reversed any time soon.
The people who support him in Pennsylvania deserve to see the fruits of their investment and my guess is he will probably remain in the States
“From what I can tell he’s happy to continue out there and it’s very difficult when a horse starts to chop and change,” reflected Osborne.
“The people who support him in Pennsylvania deserve to see the fruits of their investment and my guess is he will probably remain in the States.”
As the Royal meeting came at the very end of the breeding season, connections are unlikely to know at this stage what impact his first Group 1 win will have in terms of the make-up of his book next year. However My Dream Boat’s Group 3 wins earlier in the season did boost interest.
“The Group 1 is what he probably needed and it arrived just a little too late for this season, but those who did support him were very pleased with themselves,” said Osborne.
“The Gordon Richards [Stakes] certainly raised a few eyebrows when he won that in April and added a few mares to the book.”
My Dream Boat could add another Group 1 to his sire’s record this weekend as he bids to win the Coral Eclipse for owners Paul and Clare Rooney, whose investment in Flat racing continues apace.