By Andrew Caulfield
Long ago, I used to have the dubious pleasure of spending my wintery Saturday mornings watching my young son playing soccer. If ever the team fell behind in the score, an extremely enthusiastic mother of another player used to harangue the boys with the repeated question of “How much do you want it?”
This is an important question in all sports, including horse racing. Desire, or the will to win, constitutes a major weapon in any horse’s armoury and this desire was evident on several occasions last week, most notably in the G2 Princess of Wales’s S. The admirably tough Hawkbill showed all the enthusiasm we have come to expect of Kitten’s Joy’s progeny and he clearly wanted it more than his regally-bred stablemate Frontiersman.
The will to win is also part and parcel of the extraordinary success enjoyed by Galileo’s progeny, as his inexperienced son Gustav Klimt showed in winning the G2 Superlative S. after being badly hampered.
Another stallion whose progeny often outbattle their rivals is Dark Angel, whose exploits have seen his fee go from €10,000 in his first season in 2008 to €65,000 this year. This substantial rise hasn’t been on a straight trajectory, as Dark Angel was available for around €7,000 in his second, third and fourth seasons. Nowadays it is easy to forget that demand for his services quickly dwindled, with his crop size in his first three years falling from 93 foals to 62 and then 39. Fortunately, he became the leading Irish-based first-crop sire of 2011 and it has been onwards and upwards ever since. Remarkably that first crop is still making its mark, with his now 8-year-old sons Sovereign Debt and Gabrial finishing first and second in the G2 bet365 Mile in April.
One of the first signs that Dark Angel’s career was about to enter a new phase came in 2013, when the Aga Khan sent him several mares. The Aga has been rewarded this year with the black-type winners Rehana (G3 Athasi S.) and Markazi (Prix Omnium II). Other leading breeders also began to use Dark Angel and the summer of 2015 brought news that Sheikh Mohammed’s Darley operation had purchased “a few shares, not a major stake” in the son of Acclamation.
However, the 2016 Return of Mares lists at least 23 Darley mares–now under the Godolphin banner–among the nearly 200 mares covered by Dark Angel last year. The Shadwell branch of the Maktoum family, which has campaigned such successful Dark Angels as Estidhkaar, Markaz, Heeraat, Alhebayeb and the potentially exciting Battaash, was also well represented, with 10 mares. Numerous other successful breeders also featured on the list, including the Wertheimer brothers, Juddmonte, Cheveley Park, Newsells, Hascombe, Highclere, Kilcarn, Moyglare and the Niarchos Family, so Dark Angel’s transformation from cheap speed horse to elite stallion is now well advanced. We can expect him to add significantly to his current tally of three Group 1 winners.
Godolphin’s admiration for Dark Angel must have risen even higher now that Harry Angel has followed Lethal Force as Dark Angel’s second winner of the G1 July Cup. This colt was purchased after he had landed his second Group 2 success, in the Sandy Lane S., having earlier followed in Dark Angel’s footsteps in winning the Mill Reef S.
Lethal Force currently ranks third among this year’s leading first-crop sires, even though he was much more effective as a 3- and 4-year-old than he was as a juvenile. There are already several other stallion sons of Dark Angel, with Alhebayeb and Heeraat having their first yearlings this year. Next in line comes the dual Group 2 winner Gutaifan (Prix Robert Papin and Flying Childers S.), who is arguably best placed to emulate Dark Angel, as he stands alongside his sire at Yeomanstown Stud. Gutaifan covered over 200 mares at a fee of €12,500 in his first season in 2016. Then there’s Markaz, a talented brother to Mecca’s Angel, a dual winner of the G1 Nunthorpe S. Markaz stood his first seaso this year at Sheikh Hamdan’s Derrinstown Stud.
Godolphin must be keenly anticipating adding Harry Angel to the impressive Darley stallion team which was on display at Dalham Hall last week. The colt certainly possesses that will to win, to the extent that he has been a little too keen on a couple of occasions, but he was very professional when he decisively accounted for Limato, Brando and Caravaggio in the July Cup three days ago. Because of this keenness, Harry Angel is unlikely to be asked to tackle more than six furlongs, even though there is some stamina in his pedigree. Dark Angel’s progeny have an average winning distance of 7.6 furlongs and Harry Angel’s broodmare sire–the 1989 July Cup winner Cadeaux Genereux–had an AWD of 7.9 furlongs.
Cadeaux Genereux sired a wide range of Group 1 winners, from the fast 2-year-olds Bahamian Bounty, Embassy and Hoh Magic to that highly successful stayer Red Cadeaux, but Harry Angel’s dam Beatrix Potter wasn’t one of his better efforts. She failed to win during a 15-race career in Ireland but was placed in handicaps over six, seven and eight furlongs. Her Racing Post rating stood no higher than 68.
I mentioned that Cadeaux Genereux numbered the July Cup among his victories, so it is appropriate that Harry Angel is the second July Cup winner out of one of his daughters. The first was Dream Ahead, the 2011 winner who went on to add the G1 Sprint Cup at Haydock–a possible target for Harry Angel.
Harry Angel’s appeal as a potential stallion includes the fact that he has no inbreeding in his first five generations. He does have several lines to Northern Dancer, including one through Danzig, but these famous stallions are back in the fifth generation. Harry Angel therefore has plenty of scope for mares from the Danzig male line which has supplied Dark Angel with the group winners Lethal Force, Ardhoomey, Birchwood, Estidhkaar, Persuasive, Exogenesis, Heeraat and Battaash, the last named being an impressive winner of the G3 Coral Charge earlier this month.
Harry Angel’s second dam, the Grand Lodge mare Great Joy, was listed placed over seven furlongs as a 3-year-old in Germany. She is the dam of Rathbarry Stud’s stallion Xtension. This son of Xaar had a CV featuring a second in the G2 Coventry S., a victory in the G2 Vintage S., a fourth place in the G1 2000 Guineas and two victories in the G1 BMW Champions’ Mile in Hong Kong.
Grand Lodge stayed a mile and a quarter and so too did Spectacular Bid, the GI Kentucky Derby and GI Preakness winner who sired Harry Angel’s third dam, Cheese Soup. Although Cheese Soup never raced, she was a half-sister to stakes winners by Lyphard, Blushing Groom and Riverman. Cheese Soup’s best effort as a broodmare was her Caerleon filly A La Carte, a listed winner over a mile, but one of her daughters visited Cadeaux Genereux to produce Wathab, a very useful Irish 2-year-old who was second to One Cool Cat in the G1 National S.
Harry Angel’s fourth dam Avum was a half-sister to Lord Avie, a champion American 2-year-old. Although he was by an unfashionable sire–the minor winner Lord Gaylord–Lord Avie carved out a respectable record as a stallion, with four American Grade I winners to his credit, which arguably bodes well for Harry Angel when his racing days are over.