By Andrew Caulfield
About 100 years ago the American journalist Lincoln Jeffens visited the fledgling Soviet Union and declared “I have seen the future; and it works.”
Well, he got that one very wrong, so I am hesitant to say that I too have seen the future; and it works. My moment of epiphany came when the ‘TDN Rising Star’ Masar forged away to win the G3 Solario S. in decisive fashion on his first appearance for 70 days. This son of New Approach may well be a star of the future–his trainer Charlie Appleby thinks next year will be his year–but that is not what I’m talking about. It’s his pedigree which interests me, as he is the first group winner inbred to Urban Sea. This extraordinary mare appears in the third and fourth generations of Masar’s pedigree (as does that excellent stallion Ahonoora).
If ever there was an ideal medium for inbreeding, it was surely Urban Sea. You will hardly need me to remind you that this Miswaki mare, who had no inbreeding in her first four generations, was a top-class racemare whose victories included the G1 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. Or that she then developed into one of the most successful producers since the introduction of the pattern race system. She is also one of only two Arc-winning fillies to have produced an Arc winner.
The bare facts are that she had nine starters from 11 live foals and eight of them won. More importantly, all eight winners–Urban Ocean, Melikah, Galileo, Black Sam Bellamy, All Too Beautiful, My Typhoon, Sea The Stars and Born To Sea–became stakes winners. Six scored at group level, with four becoming Group 1 winners.
A reminder of the scale of Urban Sea’s impact at Classic level is that Galileo and Sea The Stars won the Derby, with Galileo also taking the Irish Derby, while Melikah was placed in both the Oaks and Irish Oak. All Too Beautiful was second in the Oaks before becoming the dam of Wonder of Wonders, another runner-up in the Oaks. Even Urban Sea’s non-winning daughter Cherry Hinton, who was group-placed during her brief career, has produced the G1 Irish Oaks winner Bracelet.
With Galileo and Sea The Stars both siring Derby and Oaks winners, the possibilities for inbreeding to Urban Sea are growing year by year. For example, there are already five foals of racing age sired by Sea The Stars from Galileo mares, with 2 x 3 inbreeding to Urban Sea, and several daughters of Sea The Stars have visited Frankel, producing 3 x 3.
Darley have also been experimenting with 3 x 3 inbreeding to Urban Sea with Masar’s second dam Villarrica, a daughter of Melikah. Her 2009 Teofilo filly Everglades won a couple of middle-distance races in the French Provinces, but her 2014 New Approach colt Royal Legend was culled by Godolphin for as little as £1,500 at Doncaster in January. Clearly close inbreeding to Urban Sea isn’t a sure-fire means of producing smart performers, but in the long term I am confident that we will be seeing plenty of good winners with this type of pedigree in the future.
In a colt as well-bred as Masar, it is possible to attach too much importance to the inbreeding in his pedigree. He has every right to be well above average, simply because his pedigree is packed with smart performers
His sire New Approach is a Derby winner by a Derby winner and New Approach’s dam Park Express was also top class. Masar’s dam Khawlah also performed at a high level. She looked to have a bright future early in her 3-year-old season when she defeated the high-class South African filly Mahbooba to take the G3 UAE Oaks and then accounted for the future Group 1 winner Master of Hounds in the G2 UAE Derby. Unfortunately, it was more than 13 months before Khawlah returned to action and she never recaptured the form she had shown on Tapeta. Khawlah in turn is a half-sister to Vancouverite, who earned a Timeform rating of 118.
It is also relevant that Khawlah is a daughter of Cape Cross, who was responsible for Urban Sea’s brilliant son Sea The Stars and for the outstanding Ouija Board, who produced the dual Derby winner Australia to Galileo.
Masar’s second dam Villarrica stayed a mile and a half, even though she was by Selkirk. She rather let the side down as a racehorse, being rated no higher than 84 by Timeform after winning a Warwick maiden race and a Salisbury apprentice handicap. However, she has made amends as a broodmare and she is a half-sister to two group winners out of Melikah.
The first was Monsun’s son Masterstroke, was good enough to finish third behind Solemia and Orfevre in the Arc, and the second is Moonlight Magic, who earned a tilt at the Derby with his victory in the G3 Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial. More recently he won the G3 Meld S. Like Khawlah and Sea The Stars, he is by Cape Cross.
With his star-studded pedigree, Masar has every chance of joining the Darley stallion team if he can win at the top level next year. Of course, his sire New Approach has been based at Dalham Hall since he commenced stallion duties in 2009. The fact that New Approach’s fee has dropped from £80,000 in 2014 and 2015 to £30,000 this year illustrates that his career hasn’t gone nearly so well as seemed likely back in 2012.
That was the year his first crop enjoyed a sensational Royal Ascot, with the future 2000 Guineas winner Dawn Approach taking the G2 Coventry S., New Fangled the G3 Albany S. and Tha’ir the Chesham S. New Approach’s first crop has kept up the good work, to the extent that no fewer than eight of its 94 members have become group/graded winners, others being the Oaks winner Talent and the Nassau S. winner Sultanina.
Unfortunately, his next few crops have been less productive. Although his second crop contained the Group 1 winners Potemkin and Elliptique, their major successes were gained at the age of five, in Italy and Germany. There have been no further Group 1 winners from crops three, four and five, but the possibility exists that crop number six will see a revival, as it is the first of his crops sired at £80,000.
The early signs are encouraging. Only seven of the 92 2-year-olds have raced so far in Britain or Ireland but they feature Masar and Hey Gaman, a listed winner at Newbury. The third British winner is New Show, who looked potentially useful when he made a winning debut at Ayr at the end of July. New Approach also has a useful prospect in France in the Fabre-trained Cascadian, who followed up a winning debut with a second at listed level.
The fact that so few of New Approach’s current 2-year-olds have raced so far suggests that trainers are now being more patient with his progeny, in the knowledge that several of his good winners have shone at the ages of five and six. Perhaps that flurry of first-crop Royal Ascot juvenile winners gave the wrong impression.