By Andrew Caulfield
If I heard correctly–and I think I did–brash presenter Matt Chapman of At The Races described Sunday’s G1 Prix de Diane heroine Laurens as “big, buxom and butch.” In this quest for alliteration, Chapman could justifiably have added bold, brave and brilliantly bought to his rather non-p.c. accolade.
“Bold” because the strapping daughter of Siyouni made much of the running on the way to the first two of her three Group 1 victories, in the G1 Fillies’ Mile and the G1 Prix Saint-Alary.
“Brave” because she has fought back grimly after looking likely to have victory snatched from her in each of her Group 1 wins, which she has taken by a nose, a short head and a neck. Her two other wins, in a maiden and the G2 May Hill S., were gained by a neck and a head, so she has a terrific record in photo finishes.
And “brilliantly bought” because her earnings have now risen to the equivalent of more than £1.1 million, to thoroughly justify her owner’s decision to pay £220,000–the top price for a filly–at Goffs UK’s Premier Yearling Sale. Her purchasers also needed to be brave and bold, as Laurens was conceived when Siyouni’s fee was still a bargain €7,000 in his fourth season.
There was also the record of the previous runners out of her dam Recambe to take into account. The first, the filly Autignac, was a winner over jumps by Solon, a stallion best known as the sire of the high-class hurdler Solwhit. And the second, the Siyouni filly Murviel (who wasn’t mentioned in the catalogue), had raced seven times, including in a claiming race, and had never finished closer than fourth. Murviel’s final appearance, just a few days after Laurens’s purchase, saw her pulled up in a hurdle race at Dieppe. Recambe’s third foal, a 2014 son of Manduro called Anemoi, hadn’t raced but he appeared at Huntingdon earlier this year to win a National Hunt flat race. Needless to say, there were some much more accomplished relatives close up in Laurens’s pedigree, as can be seen from her catalogue style pedigree.
According to the TDN‘s report on the Doncaster sale, Shadwell were the underbidders on Laurens, leaving John Dance and Daniel Creighton of Salcey Forest Stud to add “the sleek bay” to Dance’s portfolio. “She had the pedigree and a lovely walk–she just oozed class,” Creighton said. “The fact that she’s eligible for French premiums gave us the confidence to have that one last bid.” Consignor Anna Sundstrom admitted that she hadn’t expected the filly to sell as well as she did, but added that “she’s a lovely filly who has just kept blooming”–something Laurens continues to do as a racehorse.
Bearing in mind that Siyouni did his winning from five to seven furlongs and was never tried beyond a mile, credit for Laurens’s stamina must go to her dam Recambe, a Cape Cross mare who won over a mile and a quarter before moving up the distance scale, to gain a further success over 2900 metres–an extended mile and three-quarters–at Clairefontaine. Recambe, who had cost 20,000gns as a yearling, comes from a female line which in the past has done sterling work for the Aga Khan and Marcel Boussac. Laurens’s sixth dam is Rose Ness, a half-sister to the 1969 Prix de Diane winner Crepellana. Rose Ness is also the fourth dam of those outstanding performers Daylami and Dalakhani.
Although I mentioned that Laurens was conceived when Siyouni’s fee was only €7,000, it now stands at €75,000, which makes him the highest-priced stallion ever to stand in France. His career has therefore followed a similar trajectory to that of his evergreen sire, Pivotal. The Cheveley Park stalwart also started out as an inexpensive commercial sire, at a fee of £6,000 in 1997. His fee soon fell to £5,000 but the exploits of his inexpensive early crops soon sent his fee soaring and by 2006 he had become the highest-priced British-based stallion, at £65,000. Pivotal maintained that position for another two years, when his fee rose to £85,000, and then shared the top spot with Dansili in 2009 and with Dansili and Oasis Dream in 2010.
Laurens is the first to suggest that Siyouni can also emulate Pivotal by siring high-class performers which stay much better than he did. Pivotal’s numerous Group 1 winners feature such as Sariska (Oaks and Irish Oaks), Buzzword (Deutsches Derby), Farhh (Champion S.), African Story (Dubai World Cup), Queen’s Jewel (Prix Saint-Alary), Halfway To Heaven (Nassau S.) and Izzi Top and Chorist (both winners of the Pretty Polly S.). One of his sons, Eagle Top, also went within a nose of winning the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth S.
Pivotal is now a highly respected sire of broodmares, having overcome Sadler’s Wells and Galileo to take last year’s championship. But what about his stallion sons? There have inevitably been some disappointments, such as his Poule d’Essai des Poulains winner Falco and his St James’s Palace S. winner Excellent Art, but his fast son Kyllachy carved out a solid career by siring the likes of Sole Power, Twilight Son, Krypton Factor, Dragon Pulse and Heartache. Captain Rio did likewise in Australasia.
Farhh is also showing distinct potential with his 38-strong first crop, which features Sunday’s G2 Prix Hocquart winner Nocturnal Fox, the Derby runner-up Dee Ex Bee, the G3 Acomb S. winner Wells Farhh Go, and the talented Iconic Sunset.
It is Siyouni, though, who seems best placed to inherit Pivotal’s crown. To the end of 2017, all of his racing-age offspring were the result of his €7,000 labours in his first four seasons. Even so, he finished fourth on France’s leading sires’ table for 2017, beaten only by Nathaniel, Galileo and Sea The Stars, and he topped the sires of 2-year-olds table. Now he holds a clear lead on France’s 2018 general sires’ table, thanks to the group-winning efforts of Laurens, Finsbury Square, Barkaa and City Light. He has also enjoyed group/graded success with La Signare in the U.S. and Aylmerton in Australia, with the latter’s Group 2 success prompting the decision to make Siyouni available to breeders wishing to use him to Southern Hemisphere time.
Shuttling him to Australia would be out of the question now that he is so valuable, and also because he has been kept very busy in recent years in France. He covered 190 mares at €20,000 in 2015, 224 at €30,000 in 2016 and 191 at €45,000 in 2017. This upwards surge was prompted by the emergence from his first crop of Ervedya, who supplied him with his first Classic success when she took the 2015 G1 Poule d’Essai des Pouliches, having been France’s highest-ranked 2-year-old filly of 2014. Ervedya’s class was also apparent when she added further Group 1 successes in the Coronation S. and the Prix du Moulin.
What is particularly impressive about Siyouni’s growing list of group winners, which now extends to 15, is that most of them are out of mares with unremarkable racing records. Jersey S. winner Le Brivido, who was beaten only a short head in the G1 Poule d’Essai des Poulains, is out of La Bugatty, who was fourth in a 13-furlong maiden race at Lisieux on her only start. The G3 Prix Perth winner Siyoushake is out of Shakeyourbody, who gained her only success in an 11-furlong maiden race at Avignon. The dam of the fast Group 2 winner Finsbury Square won only once from 18 starts, and Laurens’s dam Recambe was rated 39 kg, which equates to a figure of around 86.
The fillies Volta (G2 Prix de Sandringham) and Bourree (a Group 3 winner in France and Germany) are out of mares which never made it to the races, while the G3 Prix Imprudence winner Spectre is out of Inez, a Dai Jin mare who won once from two starts in Germany. It is a similar story with Sacred Life, who ranked among the best of last year’s French juveniles following his impressive wins at Deauville and Saint-Cloud. His dam Knyaszhna never raced.
This year’s Group 3 winner Barkaa, who was beaten four lengths by Laurens in the Prix de Diane, is out of Dentelle, a winning Apeldoorn mare whose career ended when she was pulled up in a claiming race over hurdles. La Signare, recent winner of the GIII Wonder Again S. at Belmont Park, ended her career with three runs in claiming races.
It is going to be fascinating to see how Siyouni fares with his more expensive crops, starting with this year’s 2-year-olds, which were sired at €20,000. If Pivotal is anything to go by, Siyouni looks sure to make excellent use of his greater opportunities.