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WHEN three year-old filly Kay Cee won the Kingston Town Classic-Gr.1 in late December she not only emulated her sire Playing God, who won the race in 2010 and 2011, but continued the success of a branch of the Danehiill (USA) male line that has enjoyed great success in WA.
She is a granddaughter of VRC Derby-Gr.1 hero Blackfriars who began his stud career in the west in 2001 and proved the dominant sire there before his death in late December 2017.
Blackfriars (Danehill-Kensington Gardens (NZ) by Grosvenor (NZ)), who won from 1400m-2500m, was bred by Robert Sangster’s Swettenham Stud and raced for Sangster before retiring to Scenic Lodge in WA on a $7700 fee and his immediate success saw that fee reach $22,000 in 2013. The flag bearer among more than 488 winners of $45.7m (41SW) is multiple Gr.1 winner Black Heart Bart (ex Sister Theresa by At Talaq), winner of 17 races and $4.72m, the latest being the Underwood Stakes-Gr.1 at Caulfield in September 29, his second success in that race after taking the event in 2016.
He also won the Futurity-Gr.1, Orr-Gr.1, Memsie-Gr.1 and Goodwood-Gr.1, underlining his versatility with elite level wins from 1200m-1800m. Black Heart Bart’s dam is by the Melbourne Cup-Gr.1 winner At Talaq (USA)) and his second dam, the Adrian Knox Stakes-Gr.3 winner Alma Mater (Semipalatinsk (USA)-Sweetie by Without Fear (FR)), carries a 3×3 double of the brothers Noholme (a Cox Plate winner) and Todman (the first Golden Slipper winner), both by Star Kingdom (IRE).
While Black Heart Bart is the best by his sire, Kay Cee’s sire Playing God (ex Dolly Will Do by Rubiton) was pretty good as well, winning the Kingston Town twice and finishing second in the race in 2013. He also won the WA Guineas-Gr.2, Northerly Stakes-Gr.3 and Listed Aquanita Stakes and travelled east to place in the Australian Guineas-Gr.1 and Australian Cup-Gr.1 and also finished second in the WA Derby-Gr.1, earning a Timeform of 121 and WA Horse of the Year honours in his classic season. He retired to Mungrup Stud ($6600) in 2014 and stud owner Gray Williamson said at the time of the son of Danehill, “no local
horse of his calibre has stood here since Aquanita”.
He retired with eight wins, four seconds and seven thirds in 42 starts for earnings of $1,669,200. With his oldest just four, Playing God has had 37 starters for 21 winners (45 wins) of more than $2.7m. Kay Cee, a Listed winner before landing her Gr.1, is his best winner, but he also has WATC Sires’ Produce-Gr.3 winner Lordhelpmerun (Snippeston) and Listed winner and Railway-Gr.1 third Platoon (Oratorio) to earn black type, a stakes winners-to-runners ratio of 8.1%. He has winners out of mares
by Bletchley Park (2), Grandera, Lonhro (2), Comfy, Metal Storm, Due Sasso, Marooned, Orientate, O’Reilly, Oratorio, Xaar, Pricelessly, Arazi and Fasliyev. This is a pretty good effort for a sire who had just 37 first crop foals, 29 in his second crop and only 19 in his third crop (fee $4400). Things are looking up though, as his first winners saw his book increase to 57 in 2017 and 75 in 2018 (fee $11,000) and he had strong support in 2019.
Playing God’s dam is STC Birthday Card-LR runner-up Dolly Will Do, a winner of five races at 1200m and a daughter of champion sprinter Rubiton (Century-Ruby by Seventh Hussar (FR)), whose second dam is by Todman. Dolly Will Do left nine winners from her 15 foals including Playing God’s very good brother God Has Spoken, a winner of eight races (1100m-2100m) and $1.18m including the C.B. Cox Stakes-Gr.2 and Gr.1 third in the Kingston Town.
Both these sons of Blackfriars were bred by Durham Lodge and God Has Spoken went to stud a year later than his brother on the very modest fee of $1100 and his stock are already showing promise. He was still a bargain at $2200 in 2019 at Rivercrest Park after looking after books of 80 and 70 in 2017 and 2018 and 83 the previous season after an initial book of 46.
Anything Tudor (Taipan II-Tudor Vain by Vain), second dam of Playing God and God Has Spoken (family 29), was a very good short course performer in Sydney, winning six races to 1250m and finishing third twice at Listed Level (June Stakes, Reginald Allen Handicap) before producing eight winners from 10 foals, Dolly Will Do the only one to earn black type. Tudor Vain, by Golden Slipper winner Vain from dual city winner Lady Shyly (Pipe of Peace (GB)), won 17 races to 1200m including a couple in Sydney before producing five winners including Listed winner La Posette, by Todman’s son Imposing. Lady Shyly’s dam Star Empress is a daughter of Star Kingdom (IRE)-Irex by Midstream (GB) and this gives Anything Tudor a 3fx4f cross of this grandson of Hyperion as her sire Taipan II (Bold Ruler) Ii is out of the brilliant Ritmar, the Star Kingdom daughter who won the Lightning Stakes before her export to the US. Dolly Will do has three lines of Star Kingdom (5mx4f,5f), the third coming via Rubiton’s second dam Briar’s Toddy (Todman) and she also carries a double of Nasrullah (5mx4m).
Kay Cee, her sire’s first Gr.1 winner is out of Flirt ‘n’ Hope, a daughter of McFlirt (Kaapstad) and Lizzy Long Legs, a daughter of Steel Glow (Pago Pago). Kay Cee is inbred 5mx4m to Sir Tristram, third dam All Moonshine and inbred 5mx4f to Selene and
5fx5f Lavendula as well as 4fx3m Princequillo.
Kay Cee’s fourth dam Star Boots is by Star Moss is by Mossborough (dam All Moonshine) and carries three lines of Chaucer (4f,4fx5m). Playing God stakes winner Lordhelpmerun has Danzig 4mx5m,5m, once via Green Desert whose dam is by Sir Ivor (sire of Sir Tristram) while the talented Platoon, third in the Railway-Gr.1 in 2019, has a second dam by Jevington (Todman) and his dam sire brings in lines of Nasrullah, Round Table and Star Kingdom and his third dam Country Edition has Hyperion 3fx4m and Fairway 3mx5f. Many of Playing God’s best runners also feature lines of Grey Sovereign (Nasrullah), a horse found in many WA pedigrees as the line has done very well there.
Doubling Sir Tristram has also worked.
Playing God’s female line has been in the antipodes for a long time, arriving with the importation of Lady Emily (GB) (Manfred-Don Cossack mare by Don Cossack), whose dam is a half-sister to English Oaks winner Landscape (Rubens). Playing God’s 11th dam Pardon (Yattendon) won the VRC Oaks and his ninth dam Mira won a Bagot Handicap and produced a Toorak Handicap winner, while her granddaughter Versatile (Pistol (GB)), seventh dam of Playing God and God has Spoken, left a very good one in VRC Newmarket/Toorak Handicap winner and sire El Golea (Eastern Monarch (GB)).
The male line of Playing God is full of appeal too as Blackfriars is bred on a successful cross, being a son of the nine times Champion Australian Sire Danehill (Danzig-Razyana by His Majesty), out of Gr.1 placed Kensington Gardens by VRC Derby-Gr.1 and VRC Sires’ Produce-Gr.1 winner Grosvenor, a son of Sir Tristram (IRE). The Danehill cross with Sir Tristram and his sons has produced the likes of NZ Horse of the Year Darci Brahma (dam by Zabeel), VRC Derby hero Nothin’ Leica Dane (Sir Tristram), Cox Plate winner Dane Ripper (Sovereign Red), Champion Stakes winner Viking Ruler (Sir Tristram), Hong Kong champion Lucky Owners (Kaapstad) and NZ 2000 Guineas winner Danske (Sir Tristram).
Danehill, who was the Champion Three-Year-Old Sprinter on the International Classification in 1989, won four of nine starts at 6f-7f and was also third in the English 2000 Guineas-Gr.1 (8f) in race record time behind Nashwan. But sprinting was Danehill’s forte as he won the Ladbroke Sprint Cup-Gr.1 (6f in 1:12.75) at Haydock and ran a track record in winning the Cork and Orrey Stakes-Gr.3 (6f in 1:12.95 by three lengths) at Royal Ascot.
What many people probably don’t realise is that there is another dazzling sprinter at the base of this pedigree in the shape of Blackfriars’ fifth dam Easter Bride (Emir d’Iran-Graceful Bride by Golden Grace) who won the King’s Stand Stakes-Gr.1 (5f)) at Royal Ascot in 1952. Australasian-born descendants of Easter Bride and her dam Graceful Bride have proved a versatile bunch, producing stayers like the Sydney Cup winners General Command and Mr Prudent, Adelaide Cup winner Cheong Sam, Melbourne Cup winners Straight Draw and Ethereal and Caulfield Cup winner Ilumquh as well as brilliant juveniles like T.J. Smith Stakes-Gr.1 winner Darci Brahma (also by Danehill), Karrakatta Plate winner Vain Marceau, Manawatu Sires’ Produce Stakes winner Happyanunoit (later a multiple Gr.1 winner in the US), QTC Sires’ Produce winner Zamoff, classic winners like Grand Echezeaux and sprinters including Oakleigh Plate-Gr.1 winner Gleaming Waters. Other family members include Romanee Conti, Stony Bay, Hurrah, Mr Independent and Confectioner.
Which probably goes some way to explaining the aptitudes of the six winners produced by Blackfriars’ dam Kensington Gardens (NZ), an AJC Oaks-placed daughter of the VRC Derby winner Grosvenor (NZ), a son of Sir Tristram (IRE) who was also smart enough to snare the VRC Sires’ Produce Stakes-Gr.1 at two and Caulfield Guineas-Gr.1 at three. Kensington Gardens also left Listed winner Waterford Road, SA Oaks-Gr.1 winner Larrocha, Listed winner Lion’s Gate and Gr.2 winner Manton to matings with Danehill.
Tilly Foster, the unraced second dam of Blackfriars, is by another NZ champion in Vice Regal (by the Relic horse Bismark II (GB)-Kind Regards by Le Filou (FR)) and this gives Kensington Gardens a double of a wonderful NZ sire Le Filou 4fx4f, as he is also the sire of Grosvenor’s second dam. Next dam Gentle Thoughts (Ardistaan (GB)-Watch It (GB) by Ennis) won two races at 1200m in NZ and produced four winners. Watch It, dam of Gentle Thoughts, produced the stakes winner Mary Be Good, while Blackfriars’ fifth dam, the earlier-mentioned Easter Bride, won nine races (5f-6f), including the King’s Stand Stakes and was third in the Nunthorpe Stakes, two of England’s premier sprints.
In Racehorses of 1952, Timeform rated the three-year-old at 118 and wrote, “a very speedy filly: does not stay beyond 5f: best suited by a sharp track and firm going: won a minor handicap at Wolverhampton, the King’s Stand Stakes at Ascot and the Singleton Handicap at Goodwood: finished third in the Nunthorpe Stakes at York, beaten a half-length and 1.5 lengths by Royal Serenade and Grey Sovereign; a smart sprinter.”
Despite producing just three winners from her seven foals, Easter Bride (family 16) proved a marvellous broodmare. Her imported daughters Watch It (GB), Easter Rock (GB) (by Rockefella; her descendants include Trocane, Hurrah, Regal Shot, Wavertree, Richbourg, Romanee Conti, Ethereal, Grand Echezeaux, Darci Brahma, Federalism, Stony Bay, Demerara, Fair Dinkum, Zamoff, Confectioner) and Easter Rocket (GB) (by Rockefella; Gleaming Waters, Happyanunoit, Mr Independent, Vain Marceau, Dual Marceau, Zamination and Mr Prudent) founded strong families, mostly starting in NZ.
They were imported there following the success of Easter Rock’s half-sister Sunbride (Tai-Yang) dam of Straight Draw (Melbourne and Sydney Cups), Ilumquh (Caulfield Cup) and General Command (Sydney Cup, The Metropolitan) and second dam of Terrific (14 wins, runner-up Cox Plate), Sunbride’s descendants also include Chilton, Triumphal Queen, Dayana, Grand Cidium, Gold Pulse and Idea.
Blackfriars proved a champion at stud in WA and it would be fitting if his branch of the Danehill male line continues to be a force in the west. He has two very good sons in Playing God and God has spoken and Kay Cee’s Gr.1 win, a triumph for a three year-old filly, could be the start of even more success. n