By Andrew Caulfield
Judging by the betting for this year’s race, Galileo’s impact on the Derby, both directly and indirectly, looks set to grow and grow, and the same could be said of New Approach, who became the first of Galileo’s three winners of the Epsom classic. In addition to following in his father’s footsteps when he scored by half a length in 2008, New Approach has already been represented by Libertarian, runner-up to Ruler Of The World in 2013, and Masar, the unexpected 2018 winner. Now he has come up with another possible contender in Telecaster (GB), who kept on so gamely to deprive Too Darn Hot of his unbeaten record in last week’s G2 Dante S.
There is some doubt as to whether Telecaster with line up at Epsom, as he will need to be supplemented, and his connections are reportedly worried about asking their colt to race again just 16 days after his battle in the Dante. I tend to take the attitude that there is only one Derby and would remind Telecaster’s connections that he is the product of two admirably durable performers.
New Approach won the Derby just 14 days after he had finished second in the Irish 2,000 Guineas, having already had a hard race when beaten a nose in Henrythenavigator’s 2,000 Guineas. Those efforts were on top of a thorough testing as a 2-year-old, when New Approach was undefeated in five starts on his way to the juvenile championship. Admittedly New Approach needed a rest after the Derby, but he returned to win both the Irish and English versions of the Champion S.
Telecaster’s trainer Hughie Morrison knows all about Telecaster’s dam Shirocco Star, as he trained her throughout a somewhat luckless career. Although she managed to win just one of her 13 starts, this rather quirky performer was beaten only a neck in the G1 Oaks and a short neck in the G2 Prix de Royallieu, as well as finishing second in the G1 Irish Oaks and G2 British Champions Fillies’ and Mares’ S.I have to say that I am delighted to see Mark Weinfeld, of Meon Valley Stud, being rewarded for flouting the widespread belief that a mating between two mile-and-a-half performers is a fast-track route to getting a slow-maturing stayer. While I have to concede that the progeny of such matings may need some time, there is no reason why they cannot shine in the very valuable middle-distance events.
Perhaps the quickest way to back this up in the run-up to the Derby is to mention that the Derby-winning Galileo, who raced just once as a two-year-old, has sired three G1 winners from winners of the Oaks, namely the St Leger winner Sixties Icon from Love Divine, the Derby and Irish Derby winner Australia from Ouija Board and the Coral-Eclipse and Juddmonte International winner Ulysses from Light Shift. Australia’s first crop, of course, has produced two of the leading Derby contenders in Broome and Bangkok. I could also mention the 1966 Derby winner Charlottown, who was by a winner of the 12-furlong Prix du Jockey-Club and the 15-furlong Grand Prix de Paris out of the mighty Meld, heroine of the 1,000 Guineas, Oaks and St Leger.
Mark Weinfeld would probably concede that matings between two middle-distance performers do not always reap their just rewards in the sales ring, as Telecaster showed. He was led out unsold at 180,000gns as a yearling, whereas his year-younger half-brother by the top miler Dubawi realised 1,100,000gns last October, before Telecaster had seen action. With two wins from three starts, Telecaster would obviously now command a very substantial price tag.
Shirocco Star was also led out unsold as a yearling, at 48,000gns, but her breeders had the last laugh, as she proceeded to earn more than £310,000. Shirocco Star’s sire Shirocco never raced at two and never won over less than 11 furlongs, but that didn’t stop him earning the equivalent of over £1.3 million, thanks to Group 1 successes in the Deutsches Derby, Gran Premio del Jockey-Club, Breeders’ Cup Turf and Coronation Cup. Shirocco Star’s dam, Spectral Star, won at around a mile and a half at Leicester as a 4-year-old, so clearly possessed the stamina inherent in her pedigree. Her sire, the high-class Unfuwain, raced exclusively over a mile and a half after winning over a mile as a two year old, and he made his name as a stallion by siring an Oaks winner, three winners of the Irish Oaks and a 1,000 Guineas winner, as well as a top two-year-old in Alhaarth.
Unfuwain’s stamina did not deter Meon Valley Stud from sending Telecaster’s third dam, Hyperspectra, to him, even though this daughter of Rainbow Quest had gained her only win in a brief career over a mile and a quarter. The attraction of this mating was that the Arc-winning Rainbow Quest was a son of Blushing Groom, sire of Unfuwain’s outstanding half-brother Nashwan, winner of the 2,000 Guineas and Derby.
Hyperspectra’s dam, Hyabella, also had a stamina-packed sire in Shirley Heights, a Derby and Irish Derby winner whose progeny had an average winning distance of 12.3 furlongs. So, with a pedigree featuring such as New Approach, Galileo, Sadler’s Wells, Shirocco, Monsun, Unfuwaim, Rainbow Quest and Shirley Heights, it is easy to understand why Telecaster was able to maintain his gallop so well in the Dante S., after appearing to have gone very fast in the early stages.
There is some speed in this famous Meon Valley female line and Hyabella was very useful over a mile, despite being by Shirley Heights. She no doubt owed her speed to her dam Bella Colora, who was beaten only two short heads when third behind Oh So Sharp and Al Bahathri is a vintage edition of the 1,000 Guineas. Bella Colora later showed she stayed beyond a mile, notably winning the G2 Prix de l’Opera.
Bella Colora was the second foal and second stakes winner out of Reprocolor, one of Meon Valley’s brilliant foundation mares. Reprocolor went on to produce Colorspin (Irish Oaks) and Cezanne (Irish Champion S.). It is a measure of the expertise at Meon Valley that Telecaster represents the sixth generation of black-type winners descending from Reprocolor, whose G1-winning descendants also include Opera House, Kayf Tara, Zee Zee Top, Izzi Top, Necklace and Lyric of Light. The founders of Meon Valley certainly got their money’s worth when they invested 25,000gns in a yearling filly by Jimmy Reppin in 1977, with Reprocolor herself winning the Lingfield Oaks Trial and Lancashire Oaks, in addition to taking fourth place in the Oaks