Breezers At Stud Testament To Quality On Offer

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Kodiac has a number of breeze-up sire sons | Tally-Ho Stud

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The European breeze-up sector prides itself as a source of quality, a notion that held particular weight in 2021 as graduates Native Trail (Fr) (Oasis Dream {GB}) and Perfect Power (Ire) (Ardad {Ire}) signed off their juvenile campaigns with victories in the G1 Dewhurst S. and G1 Middle Park S.

Added to that, various graduates are currently more than holding their own at stud. This isn't a new development–older representatives such as Society Rock (Ire) (Rock Of Gibraltar {Ire}) and Paco Boy (Ire) (Desert Style {Ire}) each sired Group 1 winners in their first crops–but it is one that has gained real momentum in the past few years and, as such, the breeze-up industry heads into 2022 on a particularly strong footing when it comes to advertising itself as a source of successful stallions.

Of course, a horse good enough to take up a place at stud can come from anywhere, whether it be as the product of an owner/breeder or a purchase at auction. However, there are some factors at play that may explain the breeze-up sector's growing influence.

Firstly, pinhookers naturally target horses that will come to hand relatively early, or at least stand up to the rigours of early training. They are widely regarded as excellent judges of young horses; after all, they are often spending their own money, making the need for a good-looking, well-balanced horse imperative.

As a result, a number of the horses that go through the breeze-up system will be bred to be quick and/or possess the early physical strength to hold commercial appeal. Graduates such as A'Ali (Ire) (Society Rock {Ire}), Ardad (Ire) (Kodiac {GB}), Dream Ahead (Diktat {GB), Mehmas (Ire) (Acclamation {GB}), Prince Of Lir (Ire) (Kodiac {GB}), Sands Of Mali (Fr) (Panis) and Ubettabelieveit (Ire) (Kodiac {GB}), all of whom shone over sprint distances at two, fall into that category as does Far Above (Ire) (Farhh {GB}), who captured the G3 Palace House S. as a 4-year-old before retiring to Starfield Stud.

As we know, such precocity and speed is coveted by the stallion market. Throw in the likelihood of the horse in question being a correct and athletic individual and the opportunities are immediately there for him to take up stallion duties as a commercial prospect.

Kodiac in Demand

That is also particularly true if the horse is a son of Kodiac (Danehill). The Tally-Ho Stud stalwart is a favourite among breeze-up buyers for his ability to throw sharp, fast individuals and given his recent emergence as an accomplished sire of sires, it is no surprise to see several of his stakes-producing sons sit at the forefront of the breeze-up sire movement, notably Ardad, Prince Of Lir and Adaay (Ire). Of Kodiac's others sons, Kodi Bear (Ire) has been represented by the talented breezers Go Bears Go (Ire), himself surely in line for a place at stud as a Group 2-winning 2-year-old, and Mystery Angel (Ire), while Coulsty (Ire) is sire of the top American filly Shantisara (Ire), another breezer.

It was arguably the emergence of Ardad as Britain's leading first-crop sire for Overbury Stud last season that set the seal on Kodiac's arrival as a noted sire of sires.

Winner of the G2 Flying Childers S. for John Gosden following his purchase for £170,000 by Blandford Bloodstock at the 2016 Goffs UK Breeze-Up Sale, it stood to reason that Ardad would throw fast runners and so it proved, with Perfect Power and G3 winner Eve Lodge (GB) contributing to an excellent first crop that currently contains 23 winners.

As such, last season's sales saw him return a yearling average of 53,516gns–a rise of 246% from 2020–while the stallion himself earned a fee increase to £12,500 from £4,000.

There are shades of Ardad in Mickley Stud's new recruit Ubettabelieveit, another Kodiac breezer who won the G2 Flying Childers S. Ubettabelieveit was a 50,000gns Tattersalls October Book 1 purchase by the dynamic duo of Roger Marley and John Cullinan of Church Farm and Horse Park Stud. All was going well for them with the colt until Covid hit and ravaged the 2020 breeze-up season. Consequently, Ubettabelieveit was sold privately to trainer Nigel Tinkler on behalf of Martin Webb Racing.

“I'd seen the horse in Book 1 but had left to go home,” recalls Cullinan. “Roger rang me and said that this horse seemed to be falling through the cracks and that we should have a go. I'd no problem buying a Kodiac, as he's been very good to us, and this horse had a fast look to him.

“He showed plenty of boot from an early stage. I remember Nigel rang looking for something so he went to Roger's, rode two of them himself and picked Ubettabelieveit.”

Webb and Richard Kent of Mickley Stud were busy at the sales stocking up on mares to send to Ubettabelieveit, who stands for £5,000. However, he has also attracted plenty of outside interest.

“He's gone down very well,” says Kent. “Some shrewd Irish breeders have bought into him.

“Every day you open the paper and a son of Kodiac has had another winner. They seem to have this unusual aspect where they have loads of speed and a very good temperament. The two don't often go together–it's more speed and lunacy. We'll be supporting him with 40 mares of our own. It's stuck with me how they have always done it at Tally-Ho. I remember Tony O'Callaghan saying that if you can't support them yourself, then how can you expect others to do so?”

Speed aligned with a sober temperament is also a major key to Mehmas. Like Ubettabelieveit, the son of Acclamation is a graduate of Church Farm and Horse Park, having been sourced as a yearling for 62,000gns. He went on to resell for 170,000gns to Peter and Ross Doyle on behalf of Al Shaqab Racing at the Tattersalls Craven Sale and sent to Richard Hannon, won less than a month later at Chester. Victories in the G2 July S. and G2 Richmond S. followed as well as placings in the G1 National S. and G1 Middle Park S. before his retirement ahead of his 3-year-old year to Tally-Ho Stud.

Today, Mehmas boasts 16 stakes winners headed by the Group/Grade 1 winners Supremacy (Ire) and Going Global (Ire), and is the champion first- and second-crop sire of his generation. A revelation at stud, his success has been achieved off fees of €10,000 and €12,500, and he will stand for €50,000 in 2022.

“Mehmas never gave any impression that he was smart when I had him as he was so laid back,” says Cullinan. “When I sent him over to Roger, I said to him that I thought there was some improvement to be had but it was hard to tell as he was completely horizontal. Then when he was first asked to quicken, he went whoosh.

“Hannon asked me when he'd bought him whether he should give him a break but I said no, kick on and run him. He ran him at Chester about only 20 days afterwards, which he won, and then he won again about ten days after that at Newbury.

“I remember seeing him the day after he won the Richmond and it was like he was out on a pony trek. It's that attitude that he puts into his stock. If there's three in a line with a furlong to go, I know I'd like to be backing the Mehmas because they put their head down and try for you.”

Support for A'Ali

Tally-Ho is rarely far from the action as far as breeze-ups are concerned, whether as the home of Mehmas or the vendors of such accomplished runners as Ardad, Perfect Power and Dream Ahead, himself the sire of four Group 1 winners who has relocated to Bearstone Stud for 2022.

The stud also bred A'Ali, another fast horse who is new to Newsells Park Stud at a fee of £7,500. Like his sire Society Rock, A'Ali was a breeze-up purchase by Anthony Stroud, in his case for £135,000 from Star Bloodstock at Goffs UK in 2019. Sent to Simon Crisford, he swept the G2 Norfolk S., G2 Prix Robert Papin and G2 Flying Childers S. at two and trained on to win the G3 Coral Charge and G2 Sapphire S. at three.

“He really was an admirable performer,” says Julian Dollar, general manager of Newsells Park Stud. “He's a neat, straightforward horse and I'm told he was well recommended at the breeze-ups by Matt Eves and Byron Rogers [of Star Bloodstock], where he set a good time.

“He danced every dance at two and turned up again at three. He's got an excellent temperament, he's a very enthusiastic character, and if he throws that, his progeny will have a fighting chance.

“He'll be well supported. We're planning to send Maureen, a fast Group 3 winner, as well as My Special J's, who won the Debutante and is a stakes producer, and Pelerin, a stakes-winning Shamardal mare. We also bought a mare last year called Pretty In Grey–she is a listed-placed half-sister to Lady Bowthorpe and she will go to A'Ali as well.”

Outside mares slated to visit A'Ali also include the listed scorers Riskit Fora Biskit (Ire) (Kodiac {GB}) and Fig Roll (GB) (Bahamian Bounty {GB}), herself dam of Group 3 winner Al Raya (Siyouni {Fr}).

Bansha Gems

A productive association between Stroud Coleman Bloodstock and the breeze-ups also includes Group 1-winning sprinter Sands Of Mali, one of the highlights of the 2017 Tattersalls Ascot Breeze-Up Sale when purchased by the agency for £75,000, and G2 Norfolk S. winner Prince Of Lir, who sold for £170,000 at Goffs UK in 2016. Both were purchased on behalf of the Cool Silk Partnership, sold by Bansha House Stables and now form part of the roster at Ballyhane Stud.

Prince Of Lir sired G2 Norfolk S. winner The Lir Jet (Ire) in his first crop while Sands Of Mali covered 152 mares in his first season in 2021 at €6,500.

“I just loved Sands Of Mali,” says their consignor Con Marnane. “I'd had his brother Kadrizzi, who had been very fast, so I knew the family, and then Sands Of Mali was this big, gorgeous yearling, very imposing.

“I remember he was one of the first ones to breeze that day at Ascot. It was very bad weather and he had hail stones hitting his head, yet he still did a very good breeze.”

He adds, “I've sent a couple of mares to him. I'm a big fan and if they have anything like his temperament and will to win, they'll be ok.”

Marnane is also looking forward to seeing how another former graduate Robin Of Navan (Fr) (American Post {GB}) performs at stud. Also purchased by Stroud Coleman, in his case as an Arqana breezer, he went on to win the G1 Criterium de Saint-Cloud for Harry Dunlop and now stands at Haras de la Barbottiere in France alongside fellow Group 1-winning breezer Donjuan Triumphant (Ire) (Dream Ahead), a graduate of Lynn Lodge Stud.

French breeders also have access to G1 Prix du Jockey Club winner The Grey Gatsby (Ire) (Mastercraftsman {Ire}), a graduate of Grove Stud who threw last year's German listed winner Mylady (Ger) from his first crop for Haras du Petit Tellier, and G1 Poule d'Essai des Poulains runner-up Le Brivido (Fr) (Siyouni {Fr}), who holds court at Haras de la Haie Neuve.

France was also formerly home to The Wow Signal (Ire) (Starspangledbanner {Aus}). Compromised by fertility problems, the ill-fated stallion sired last year's G1 Poule d'Essai des Pouliches heroine Coeursamba (Fr).

American Influence

European breezers have traditionally fared well in the US–think War Of Will (War Front), Ete Indien (Summer Front), Rockemperor (Ire) (Holy Roman Emperor {Ire) and Mr. Monomoy (Palace Malice)–and in return, they now exert a growing presence within the American stallion ranks.

Chief among them is Claiborne Farm's War Of Will. Bred in Kentucky by Flaxman Holdings Ltd from their famous Aviance family, War Of Will was pinhooked by Norman Williamson out of the Keeneland September Sale and reoffered at the Arqana May Breeze-up, where he was sold to Justin Casse on behalf of Gary Barber and returned to the States.

Under the care of Mark Casse, he developed into a top-flight and versatile performer, winning the GI Preakness S. on dirt and GI Maker's Mark Mile on turf.

He sits among a clutch of top-class performers to pass through the hands of Williamson's Oak Tree Farm, which hit Group 1 heights again last year as the vendor of unbeaten champion 2-year-old Native Trail. Williamson also pinhooked and sold Australian Group 1 winner Contributor (Fr) (High Chaparral {Ire}), now a young Group 1 sire at Mapperley Stud in New Zealand.

“War Of Will was a half-brother to Pathfork, a very good 2-year-old in Ireland, and so I thought the pedigree might translate well over here,” recalls Williamson. “He had a backward look to him as a yearling but I still thought he would make plenty. When he didn't sell, I went straight back to them and luckily was able to come to a deal.

“He was a big horse even then, very well-balanced with a good shoulder and a big stride on him. Even though he was big, he still packed a fair bit in as a 2-year-old–he was second in the Grade I in Canada [Summer S.] and beaten only three lengths in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf, so that just tells you how good he was. And then of course, he went on to win his Grade Is as an older horse.”

War Of Will was very popular in his first season at $25,000, covering 143 mares–a Claiborne record–to place him in a strong position to extend Danzig's legacy at the farm.

“We had been looking for the heir apparent to War Front and we believe War Of Will could fill that void,” says Walker Hancock, president of Claiborne Farm. “War Front has 15 sons who have sired stakes winners and War Of Will is arguably his most accomplished son with the strongest pedigree.

“He also fits my grandfather's criteria to a tee; he showed precocious juvenile form by being a Grade I performer at two, he won an American Classic at three, trained on to win a Grade I at four, has a fantastic pedigree and is a strong physical to match.

“It's amazing how similar he is to War Front. They have the same physical from the side, with War Of Will being half a hand taller at 16.2. We expect his offspring to be just bigger models than the normal War Fronts, which is often his only critique.”

Grade I versatility also underpins the race record of Taylor Made Stallions' Mshawish (Medaglia d'Oro). He was a good pinhook for Johnny Collins of Brown Island Stables, blossoming from a $10,000 yearling into a €170,000 breezer and, like War Of Will, pulled off the notable feat of scoring at the top level on dirt and turf as winner of the GI Donn H. and GI Gulfstream Park Turf H.

That theme of versatility is now shining through at stud, with his first crop headlined by French Group 3 winner Bellharbour Music, another European breezer, and G3 Pennine Ridge S. winner Sainthood. He also boasts a promising British-based runner in three-time scorer Mobashr, fittingly also a Brown Island pinhook.

New York, meanwhile, is home to the Mocklershill graduate Mr. Monomoy. Another Arqana May breezer, the half-brother to Monomoy Girl (Tapizar) returned to the U.S. upon a bid of €180,000 from Mandore International and went on to win the 2020 GII Risen Star S. at Fair Grounds. He is about to commence his second season at Waldorf Farm.

There was an era when breeze-ups, certainly those in Europe, were viewed primarily as a last chance to move young stock on, an idea that today firmly lives in the past. However, it is also a testament to the relentless improvement in the quality of horses on offer that they today are viewed as a legitimate source of successful stallions. Who knows, perhaps another Mehmas or Ardad is lurking within this year's collection.

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