Champion Racehorse, Sire Pivotal Dead

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Pivotal | racingfotos.com/Trevor Jones

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Pivotal (GB) (Polar Falcon-Fearless Revival {GB}, by Cozzene), Cheveley Park Stud's homebred champion sprinter who went on to have a huge impact as a sire and broodmare sire, died age 28 peacefully in his paddock at Cheveley Park Stud on Friday morning. Pivotal had been pensioned at Cheveley Park since covering a very select book of mares earlier this year.

Chris Richardson, managing director of Cheveley Park Stud, said, “The story associated with the 'Mighty' Pivotal is truly extraordinary, considering he was the result of the very first covering his sire, Polar Falcon, was given. Thankfully, as a yearling, it was decided to retain him to race, rather than offer him for sale, as we did with the other yearling colts by Polar Falcon that year. Whilst in the hands of trainer Sir Mark Prescott, Pivotal truly put Cheveley Park Stud on the map, giving owners David and Patricia Thompson their first Group 1 winner in the stud's famous red, white and blue colours.

“Having covered a relatively small book of mares in his first year, his resulting progeny excelled and inspired at all levels, which they have continued to do throughout his career, both domestically and internationally. On the world stage, Pivotal has excelled as a sire, a sire of sires and as a broodmare sire, to the highest level and all of us at Cheveley Park Stud have been so blessed to have been part of his life for 28 years.”

Bred by David and Patricia Thompson out of another homebred, the Sir Michael Stoute-trained dual winner Fearless Revival, Pivotal joined the Sir Mark Prescott ranks in 1995 when, as detailed by Richardson, he was kept back from the yearling sales.

“Pivotal was a very interesting horse because he was big and awkward and clumsy as a yearling,” recalled Prescott in an interview with the TDN's Emma Berry last November. “He was the first covering of his sire and he was the first foal of his mother. And neither ever did as good again.”

Prescott recalled the first time he saw Pivotal at Cheveley Park Stud.

“I can see the field now actually, and there standing in the corner was Pivotal: wet, and bedraggled, and heavy,” he said. “He fell off the box when he came here but the first time we worked him, he absolutely flew. And it was a complete shock; normally you've got an idea.”

Pivotal broke his maiden at second asking in October of his 2-year-old campaign by 2 1/2 lengths going six furlongs at Newcastle. As referenced by Prescott, Pivotal would only once more go that far, when off the board behind Anabaa in the 1996 G1 July Cup, but that lone blip at three was bookended by victories in the G2 King's Stand S. and G1 Nunthorpe, enough to earn him champion sprinter honours.

“Sir Mark put him on the map,” said Richardson. “He broke the all-age track record at Folkestone and he gave the Thompsons their first Group 1 win in their Cheveley Park colours, which was obviously very special to have a homebred colt do that.”

Pivotal returned to his birthplace to take up stud duties in 1997, standing for £6,000. He would dip to £5,000 in years three through five but would never again stand for less than five figures following his first season with 3-year-olds. That first crop would come to number nine stakes winners and three Group 1 winners headed by Cheveley Park's Kyllachy (GB), who emulated his sire with a Nunthorpe win before joining him at stud, while Golden Apples (GB) won a trio of Grade Is in America. Another multiple Grade I-winning mare in America followed in the next crop in Megahertz (GB), and by the time that Cheveley Park-bred won the 2005 GI Yellow Ribbon S. for Bobby Frankel, Pivotal's fee had climbed to £65,000. That is because the likes of triple Group 1-winning sprinter Somnus (GB), G1 Sun Chariot and G1 Lockinge S. winner Peeress (GB) and G1 Irish 1000 Guineas scorer Saoire (GB) had continued to boost his stock.

Among those to follow shortly thereafter were the G1 Sun Chariot S., G1 Nassau S. and G1 Irish 1000 Guineas winner Halfway To Heaven (Ire); G1 Pretty Polly S. and G1 Prix Jean Romanet victress Izzi Top (GB); G1 Dubai World Cup winner African Story (GB); dual Oaks scorer Sariska (GB); G1 Prix Jacques le Marois and G1 Coronation S. winner Immortal Verse (GB); G1 Champion S. and G1 Lockinge S. scorer Farhh (GB); G1 Deutsches Derby winner Buzzword (GB); G1 Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere scorer Siyouni (Fr), his heir apparent at stud; and G1 Poule d'Essai des Poulains winner Falco (GB).

If there is one trend among the aforementioned Group 1 stars, it is that there aren't many: the Pivotals soon proved their ability to win the best races in any country, on any surface and at nearly any trip, and to maintain their ability over many seasons. This is perhaps best exemplified by his 2014 crop, his last large crop, which included two of his best-ever runners in Addeybb (Ire)-the winner of the three Group 1s in Australia and Ascot's G1 Champion S. over the past two seasons at ages six and seven–and Avilius (GB), who won three Group 1s Down Under ranging from a mile to a mile and a half in 2019 at the age of five. Pivotal's 2014 crop also included Glen Shiel (GB), winner of the G1 British Champions Sprint S. last year at age six, and runner-up in the same race this year.

Pivotal, who stood for as much as £85,000, has sired 157 stakes winners, 89 of those group winners and 32 Group 1 winners. He has sired stakes winners at a rate of 11% of his starters, and those have come in 12 different countries. Beginning with his 2015 crop, Pivotal began covering greatly reduced numbers, but prior to that he averaged 8.5 stakes winners per crop. Pivotal was eight times the leading British-based sire by individual winners in a calendar year, and was twice the leading British-based sire by earnings.

It didn't take long, either, for Pivotal to establish himself as an extraordinary force as a broodmare sire, with no greater example than the aforementioned Halfway To Heaven, whose three stakes winners include the prolific Group 1-winning daughters of Galileo (Ire), Rhododendron (Ire) and Magical (Ire). Another blue hen daughter of Pivotal among the Coolmore broodmare ranks is Beauty Is Truth (Ire), who is responsible for the Group 1 winners Hydrangea (Ire), Hermosa (Ire) and The United States, all by Galileo.

Pivotal is likewise the broodmare sire of Love (Ire) and Cracksman (GB), both standouts of their generations, as well as American turf champion Main Sequence, standout sprinter and young sire Advertise (GB), triple G1 Prix de la Foret victress One Master (GB), G1 Commonwealth Cup winner and young sire Golden Horde (GB) and French Classic winners Olmedo (Fr) and Precieuse (Ire) among many others. Pivotal's daughters have produced 26 Group 1 winners, the most recent of those, appropriately, being Immortal Verse's 2021 G1 Cheveley Park S. winner Tenebrism (Caravaggio). Pivotal was champion European broodmare sire in 2017 and 2019, and his daughters have supplied 127 stakes winners, 74 of those group winners.

Seven of Pivotal's sons have sired Group 1 winners, with the most prolific of those being the Aga Khan's French-based Siyouni, whose six Group 1 winners include the generational leaders St Mark's Basilica (Fr), Sottsass (Fr), Laurens (Fr) and Ervedya (Fr). With the first two now in their formative years in the Coolmore stallion barn, Pivotal's sireline looks short odds to live on.

“He has had a fantastic life, but it is a sad day,” Richardson said. “It is hard for everybody here. The stallion handler, John Rice, has looked after him for all these years, day and night, and has slept next door to him. So it is very hard for everybody here. It is like seeing somebody for 20 years every day–they become really close friends.”

The Pivotal story is not yet finished being written, either.

“Of his last crop of foals, we have two fillies and a colt, and from the last crop of 30 mares he covered in 2020, he got 15 in foal,” Richardson said. “There are around 10 foals born this year, that we will look forward to seeing perform. We are fortunate that around 75% of our broodmare band has a Pivotal influence.”

 

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