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If someone asked me to nominate the best Thoroughbred racing and breeding countries in the world, I would not hesitate to highlight the following where substantial prize money is on offer:
Among the best countries to raise a Thoroughbred racehorse, especially those with an ideal climate are New Zealand, Australia, Ireland, Britain, France and the USA. These regions provide a return on investment owing to the substantial monies distributed to owners, trainers and jockeys. Whilst Japan offers by far the most prize money, it suffers to some extent from Hokkaido’s very cold winters and is a restricted jurisdiction.
The United States of America, on the other hand, unfortunately suffers from two big negatives, namely State laws with different regulations (no National body is in control) and the serious consequences from use of illegal drugs. Drug testing in the USA is improving, but it still has a long way to go.
Let’s face it, British racing tends to be in some kind of decline. It is in a downward spiral because British racehorse owners suffer from pitiful returns on investment. There is now a trend for northern hemisphere racehorse owners and breeders to seriously invest in the racing and breeding industry in Australia and New Zealand.
Young trainers in Britain and Ireland are considering options to make a career change and move down-under. Asian owners have increased their interest and investment in Australasia. The importation of proven performers from Britain and Europe, horses purchased especially for stakes events beyond 1600m, provide racing fans with tantalizing competition and entertainment. Racing thrives on exciting contests of stamina.
I recently turned 80 years of age, having enjoyed more than 60 years involvement with the breeding of racehorses here and overseas. During this timespan I witnessed amazing changes, mostly good ones, and watched certain sire lines disappear and powerful female lines disappoint. The gene pools in major racehorse breeding nations have changed.
I’ve observed a decline of quality genotypes in countries which last century produced many great champion performers – countries like Italy, Chile, Argentina, and Canada. Their Thoroughbred gene pools have weakened.
However, since 1945, there has been tremendous progress in Ireland, Japan and Germany to upgrade the racehorse and I am truly happy France is once again going in the right direction after decades of no Government tax incentives (or subsidies) available to French horse breeders.
In the past few years Australia and New Zealand have become a mecca for the production of outstanding female performers. Whereas Australia might have the edge on breeding the best sprinter-milers and concentrate on juvenile performance, New Zealand maintains its production of high-class stayers as well as brilliant milers.
In past decades, we looked to the table of our Leading Sires by progeny earnings as a good guide, but since the world has introduced huge purses for a few big races such as the Dubai World Cup, the Saudi Cup, etc. and with a new race yet to receive stakes status, namely The Everest, the winners of these valuable races distort progeny earnings statistics; but does it really matter? I believe many of us will examine the Average Earnings Index of stallions for a clearer picture.
Stallions covering more than 150 mares each season will obviously sire more runners, more winners and therefore have an edge – but their AEI will reflect actual quality of their progeny. How many stakes winners are produced from those big numbers?
Mother Nature always tries to protect her species and I imagine she will eventually dictate future results concerning fertility, health, physical and mental soundness. She also commands respect when it comes to climate change.
SONS OF SAVABEEL
New Zealand’s leading sire Savabeel is without doubt a wonderful source of high-class stamina. His progeny exceed at all distances and on different track conditions. His dominant influence was transmitted to his best performed sons and daughters. One hopes his stakes-winning sons will maintain the now famous sire line of Sir Tristram who was an exceptional stallion possessing a remarkable pedigree.
Savabeel (Zabeel-Savannah Success) has been leading sire for many years and transmitted excessive nervous energy to many of his progeny. Among young sons are Noverre (Waikato Stud), The Chosen One (Highview Stud), Cool Aza Beel (Newhaven Park), What’s The Story (Navara Park Stud) and Embellish (Cambridge Stud). I think I understand why the gurus at Waikato Stud decided to stand Savabeel because the stallion’s pedigree pattern appears studded with DNA jewels of the Stud Book – a fabulous collection of many dominant genes.
Sir Tristram was a phenomenal sire of Group winners for Cambridge Stud. The stallion’s pedigree shows genetic impact from high-class mares such as Selene, Lavendula II and further back to Canterbury Pilgrim. Yet to me, the intrinsic highlight of his pedigree is the amount of influence inherited from America’s great sire PRINCEQUILLO (Prince Rose-Cosquilla by Papyrus). What a tough horse he was. His damsire Papyrus won the English Derby and is regarded as being the best son of champion Tracery.
It’s a known fact in Kentucky that Princequillo was able to correct conformation weakness of any mare he covered and sire sound foals. He was able to upgrade the performance of progeny on a consistent basis. Bull Hancock said it was mainly the daughters of Princequillo who enabled Nasrullah to become leading sire and importantly, to improve temperament.
In the pedigree of Savabeel, we need to identify ancestors tracing to Princequillo because he might be a pivotal link when selecting suitable mares for Savabeel’s sons. Let’s begin with Sir Tristram who has a daughter (Somethingroyal) and a son (Round Table) of Princequillo.
When Sir Tristram was matched with Nureyev’s daughter Lady Giselle, the result was Zabeel who inherits more impact from famous sire Tracery. Lady Giselle has two sources of Tracery, one via Lady Angela and the other via Forli.
When Zabeel was matched with Savannah Success (Success Express-Alma Mater) it produced Savabeel, winner of the W. S. Cox Plate- and Spring Champion Stakes-. What then did Savannah Success supply to her foal to create a multiple Group 1 winner? Her sire comes from Princequillo’s male line, ie. from Prince John to his son Speak John and in turn to his son Hold Your Peace.
Success Express carries Lady Angela via Nearctic, grandsire of Nijinsky II who appears via Dancing Champ (broodmare sire of Success Express).
Alma Mater, second dam of Savabeel, carries a source of Princequillo via Baldric II, the sire of Without Fear. Furthermore, we get more of Tracery’s son Papyrus via Star Kingdom who appears via Todman, the sire of Savabeel’s third dam Virginia.
Now, Virginia is a mare by Better Boy, son of My Babu (Djebel-Perfume II by Badruddin from Lavendula II) and thus reinforces Lavendula II, the mare doubled in Sir Tristram’s pedigree.
Success Express stood in Australia at Widden Stud (NSW), Heytesbury Stud (WA), Trelawny Stud (NZ) and ended up at Vinery Stud (NSW). He won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Stakes- and was linebred to the brothers Sir Gallahad III and Bull Dog, and linebred to the brilliant English stakes winner Challenger.
Once you have achieved the Teddy and Tracery connection one must respect its genetic dominance.
Teddy and Tracery (with many superior ancestors in common) successfully blended with Northern Dancer’s genotype. Teddy sired Bull Dog and Sir Gallahad III who feature in the pedigree pattern. Naturally the folk at Waikato Stud knew all this.
So what does all this mean? How does it relate to sons of Savabeel? Well, it is possible that to continue with Group 1 success from this line we might test mares with some of the following strains – Princequillo, Papyrus, Tracery, Lady Angela, Star Kingdom, Bull Dog, Sir Gallahad III, Asterus, Case Ace, My Babu, Northern Dancer and try to introduce sources of Sadler’s Wells, Nureyev and Hail To Reason (sire of Roberto and Halo).
NOVERRE (Savabeel-Magic Dancer by Rip Van Winkle) stands for NZ $10,000 fee at Waikato Stud. His career was cut short because of a suspensory ligament injury which happened after he won the NZ 2,000 Guineas-. He was a talented miler. His dam is by Rip Van Winkle who carries the important strains of Sadler’s Wells, Miswaki, and Nureyev.
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Noverre’s third dam Bella Nova is by Star Way and brings in another daughter of Selene (Chaucer-Serenissima). The young stallion might need to cover mares with Princequillo, Biscay, Northern Dancer, Mill Reef and Teddy. He has a powerful zig-zag line.
EMBELLISH (Savabeel-Bling by O’Reilly) won the NZ 2,000 Guineas- and was runner-up in the Listed Karaka Million 3YO Classic. He is linebred to Sir Tristram 3×4 via a son and a daughter. His dam possesses the strains of Mill Reef, Northern Dancer, Round Table (by Princequillo) and My Babu (grandson of Lavendula II). Based at Cambridge Stud, I reckon this young stallion should suit mares with Sadler’s Wells, Galileo, Montjeu, and especially Danehill.
WHAT’S THE STORY (Savabeel-Tall Story by Carnegie) won twice and was runner-up in the New Zealand Derby-. His pattern shows considerable stamina and since his dam is by a son of Sadler’s Wells, might require mares with Nureyev’s strain. Also note, Riverman (broodmare sire of Carnegie) is the product of the Nasrullah/Princequiillo nick. Mares with Storm Cat might suit because his dam Terlingua is by Secretariat (a Narullah/Princequillo product).
COOL AZA BEEL (NZ) (Savabeel-Cool ‘N’ Sassy by Testa Rosssa) was Champion 2YO of New Zealand and won the Sires’ Produce Diamond Stakes-. He is linebred to Without Fear, Northern Dancer, Special and brings in Bletchingly, grandson of Star Kingdom. It is a strong female line. Perhaps the strains of Danehill, Sadler’s Wells, Nureyev and Mr Prospector will suit. His fee is set at $16,500. He stands at Newhaven Park, NSW.
New Zealand is also home for the young Japanese-bred stallion Satono Aladdin (Deep Impact-Magic Storm by Storm Cat). This very sound Group 1 winner shuttles to Rich Hill Stud in New Zealand, having commenced stud duties at the Shadai Stallion Station in Hokkaido. I recall his third dam Water Dance (Nijinsky II-Luiana by My Babu) was a lovely mare with exceptional quality.
Note the stallion’s dam is bred on the successful Storm Bird/Nijinsky II mix, ideal for speed at a mile or more. I am rather keen to follow the progeny of Satono Aladdin because he should get outstanding milers and eventually become a valuable broodmare sire. He might extend Halo’s male line of Sunday Silence in Japan and New Zealand.
The strength of the horse industry in Australia has caused stallion service fees to skyrocket. If a recession comes along caused by excessive inflation and higher interest rates, one might need to be prudent this year with your budget for stallion service fees.
However, if a specific mating is designed with a stallion that is expensive for your budget, always enquire about foal shares – various stud farms will consider a foal share or alternate foal deal with a well-performed mare. You need to justify the match, explaining reasons why your mare suits the stallion.
Some of Storm Cat’s first and second crop Graded stakes winners were the result of foal share contracts I organized when working at Overbrook Farm in Kentucky.
If you have constraints of budget for stallion fees, perhaps my hitlist for small breeders to consider will be of some benefit. Please do your homework regarding speed, stamina, clean air-flow, temperament etc. The stallion should be selected to upgrade conformation for sound performance.
BULLBARS (Elusive Quality-Accessories by Singspiel) tracing to outstanding mare Anna Paola. Sire of Mr Brightside from limited runners. Great pedigree here. Fee: $9,900 at Orange Court Stud, South Australia.
GRUNT (NZ) (O’Reilly-Ruqqaya by Van Nistlerooy. He might be a surprise package because he is linebred to Pompeii Court (3×4) and crack mare Hunza (3×5). His dam is half-sister to Ocean Park. The second dam is by Zabeel. Grunt probably needs Mr Prospector’s strain for his best runners. Fee: $13,750 at Yulong Stud, Victoria.
MAGNA GRECIA (Invincible Spirit-Cabaret by Galileo). Won the English 2,000 Guineas- over a mile and comes from a strong female line. An athletic horse with nice conformation. I think he will be a good sire and probably needs Mr Prospector’s strain. Fee $19,250 at Coolmore Stud.
PARIAH (Redoute’s Choice-Secluded by Hussonet). Won San Domenico Stakes-Gr3 and runner-up in Blue Diamond Stakes-. Deep girth. This promising young stallion is linebred to Biscay, Sir Ivor, Northern Dancer, Natalma and Native Dancer. Well balanced pattern. Might surprise. Fee: $16,500 at Arrowfield Stud.
REBEL DANE (California Dane-Texarcana by More Than Ready) sire of champion Fireburn and Group 3 winner Subterranean. Now at Widden Stud, NSW. Fee: $27,500 and I suggest you might enquire about a foal share.
SAXON WARRIOR (Deep Impact-Maybe by Galileo). This is a high-class performer from Halo’s male line of Sunday Silence. He won the English 2,000 Guineas-after scoring an impressive victory at Doncaster in the Racing Post Trophy. Indications are he can take Danehill again, but he really suits all those Mr Prospector and Roberto lines. He should succeed with mares possessing a source of Kaoru Star, Biscay, Luskin Star. Fee: $19,250 at Coolmore Stud.
SUPIDO (Sebring-Lady Succeed by Brian’s Time, son of Roberto). Brilliant sprinter, Group 3 winner, Group 1 placed from the female line of Northern Dancer, Natalma. Linebred to Almahmoud, Hail To Reason, Halo. Suits all the Star Kingdom tribe, especially Biscay, as well as Sadler’s Wells, Galileo and Danehill lines. Fee: $8,800 at Widden Stud, NSW. One of my favourite young stallions.
VICTOR LUDORUM (Shamardal-Antiquities by Kaldouneeves). Outstanding two year-old in Europe, won Prix Jean-Luc Legardere- over 1600m at Longchamp and French 2,000 Guineas- at Deauville. He is inbred 3×3 to Irish Oaks- winner Helen Street and sports a triple of champion English 2YO Petingo. Suits many different strains. Fee: $24,750 at Darley, Kelvinside.
DIVINE PROPHET (Choisir-Prophet Jewel by Encosta de Lago). Handsome bay stallion with deep girth, winner of the Caulfield Guineas-. He probably needs mares with sources of Sadler’s Wells, Nureyev. Already sire of stakes winners including Promitto (Skyline Stakes-Gr2). Choisir was an outstanding, world class sprinter. Fee: $16,500 at Aquis Stud, Queensland.
ENCRYPTION (Lonhro-Guelph by Exceed and Excel). Won Danehill Stakes-Gr2, runner-up in Oakleigh Plate-. His dam was champion 3YO Filly and is 3/4 sister to Bivouac. Mumtaz Mahal family of Jesmond Lass, Canny Lad, Royal Charger, Nasrullah. Guelph is inbred to Danehill 2×3. Suits sources of Roberto, Halo, Mr Prospector, Biscay, Kaoru Star, Luskin Star and Redoute’s Choice. Fee: $13,200 at Eureka Stud, Queensland.
UNBEATEN US MILER
In North America, a colt named FLIGHTLINE (Tapit-Feathered by Indian Charlie-Receipt by Dynaformer) has exploded on the racing scene to remain undefeated with five wins and earnings of almost US $1.4 million. Bred by Summer Wind Equine, Flightline is yet another example of the successful link between Storm Cat and Nijinsky II. He is linebred to sons and daughters of Mr Prospector with duplication of Northern Dancer and Secretariat.
Teddy and Tracery figure in the pattern further back.
Flightline’s wins include the Pacific Classic-Gr1 at Del Mar going 10 furlongs in fast time, by 19 lengths the Metropolitan Handicap-Gr1 at Belmont Park, and last year scored impressively in the Malibu Stakes-Gr1 over 7 furlongs at Santa Anita.
Feathered, the dam of Flightline, was a consistent stakes performer. She was second in the Starlet Stakes- and third in the Frizette Stakes- as a juvenile, and progressed to win the Edgewood Stakes-Gr3 at Churchill Downs over a mile. She was gallant when runner-up in the American Oaks- on turf at Santa Anita.
In Germany at Baden Baden, the Grosser Preis von Baden- was won by a very smart stayer over the 2,400m distance. MENDOCINO a four year-old colt by Adlerflug won from highly rated Torquartor Tasso (also by Adlerflug). Mendocino seems headed for the Arc at Longchamp. His fourth dam is a full sister to Mill Reef.
Lope de Vega’s DREAMLOPER, a 5 year-old mare, surprised by winning the valuable Prix Moulin de Longchamp- over 1600m against stiff opposition.
The big question on everyone’s lips is whether His Highness the Aga Khan will accept with his champion three year-old homebred colt Vadeni by Churchill for the 2022 running of the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe- in early October or perhaps bypass it for the Breeders’ Cup meet?