Medaglia d’Oro Coming Up ‘Roses’ Down Under


Astern | Racing and Sports


The Sadler’s Wells (Northern Dancer) over Danehill (Danzig) cross has enjoyed extensive success in Europe in recent years, yielding a host of stars headed by the mighty Frankel (GB) (Galileo {Ire}). Galileo is, of course, the most obvious Sadler’s Wells-line horse to nick with mares by Danehill or one of his sons, but he is not the only one to achieve great results via this recipe. There are vast numbers of good Danehill-line mares in Australia, while the Sadler’s Wells line is still reasonably well represented there, even though antipodean breeders no longer have access to the influential Sadler’s Wells stallions Galileo, High Chaparral (Ire), Montjeu (Ire) and Scenic (Ire). At present, the line’s most notable antipodean representative is arguably Darley’s excellent dual-hemisphere sire Medaglia d’Oro (El Prado {Ire}). This admirable horse has already produced last year’s G1 Golden Slipper S. winner Vancouver (Aus) (Medaglia d’Oro) from a Danehill mare, and now the impressive first-up victory of Godolphin’s home-bred 3-year-old colt Astern (Aus) (Medaglia d’Oro) in the G2 Run to the Rose at Rosehill suggests that the nick has struck gold again.

Medaglia d’Oro has proved a great asset to the Darley roster since his recruitment in 2009. He had been a top-class and durable racehorse, who had helped his sire El Prado (Ire) (Sadler’s Wells) to top America’s General Sires’ Table in 2002: Medaglia d’Oro had been El Prado’s highest-earning son that year when finishing in the first two in four Grade I races, most notably winning the G1 Travers S. Medaglia d’Oro proved his toughness by racing for four seasons, during which he scored at Grade I level in each of three consecutive years and only twice finished worse than second. From his first crop emerged the outstanding champion Rachel Alexandra, and his early success prompted Sheikh Mohammed to buy a majority share in him in June 2009, one month after that terrific filly had registered the first of her five Grade I triumphs by winning the G1 Kentucky Oaks by 20 1/4 lengths. Medaglia d’Oro was consequently transferred from Stonewall Farm to Jonabell, and also began shuttling to Darley’s Kelvinside Stud in New South Wales. Sheikh Mohammed presumably paid a fortune to buy his stake in Medaglia d’Oro, but it is now clear that those millions represented money extremely well spent.

Now aged 17, Medaglia d’Oro has gone from strength to strength in the USA, as his 2016 stud fee of $150,000 suggests. It is not fanciful to suggest that it might be higher still in 2017, especially if his seven-time Grade I-winning daughter and ‘TDN Rising Star’ Songbird can extend her unbeaten record still further. Currently, Medaglia d’Oro’s list of Australian-bred offspring is headed by Vancouver, who has now retired to Coolmore’s New South Wales property after an impressive victory in last year’s G1 Golden Slipper. Vancouver’s breeders, Fairway Thoroughbreds, bred him using the formula which had produced Frankel, trying the Sadler’s Wells line on their mare Skates (Aus) (Danehill). Skates came from a family which has enjoyed great success in Australia over the years. Her dam Skating (Aus) (At Talaq) won six group races including the G1 AJC Doncaster H. in 1993; while her immediate family also contains 1981 G1 WATC West Australian Oaks victrix Badinage (Aus) (Estaminet), as well as Group 1 place-getters Congressman (Aus) (Ksar {GB}) and Superb Effort (Aus) (Habituate {Ire}). Aside from producing Skates, Skating also bred the stakes winners Murtajill (Aus) (Rock Of Gibraltar {Ire}), Bradbury’s Luck (Aus) (Redoute’s Choice {Aus}) and Sunset Run (Aus) (End Sweep). Darley have used the same blue-print, and the hugely promising Astern is the result.

In the first instance, Astern’s breeding sticks to this blue-print because his dam Essaouira (Aus) is a daughter of Darley’s top-class sprinting stallion Exceed And Excel (Aus) (Danehill). But the pattern is even more similar because, like Skating, Essaouira comes from a family which has produced many top-class Australian horses in recent decades. Essaouira herself was clearly a very talented filly, as she carried Sheikh Mohammed’s silks to a six-length victory on debut over 1000 metres at Moonee Valley as a 2-year-old in February 2009. However, she disgraced herself when misbehaving on her second start (when an unplaced odds-on favourite in the Chairman’s S. at Caulfield three weeks later) and never ran again. Her dam Alizes (NZ) (Rory’s Jester {Aus}) had been more successful, winning the G2 Magic Night S. over 1200 metres at Rosehill as a 2-year-old in March 2004 when trained by Tony McEvoy for her breeders Mr. and Mrs. Donnay. She broke the race record in that race, bettering by 0.22 seconds the time recorded by subsequent Golden Slipper winner Bint Marscay (Aus) (Marscay {Aus}) in 1993, but had to go off for a compulsory spell afterwards, as she had returned to the winner’s enclosure with blood coming from her nose. Happily, she was able to bounce back from that setback, finishing second in the G2 Schillaci S. over 1000 metres at Caulfield as a spring 3-year-old.

Alizes’s dam La Baraka (Aus) (Euclase {Aus}) had done even better for Mr. and Mrs. Donnay when winning the G1 AJC The Galaxy over 1100 metres as a 3-year-old at the Randwick Autumn Carnival in 1998. Even greater glory had been attained by La Baraka’s dam Triscay (Aus) (Marscay {Aus}). Trained by Jack Denham for Mr. and Mrs. Geoff White, Triscay established a formidable record in the early ‘90s when her victories included the G1 AJC Champagne S., the G1 AJC Flight S., the G1 AJC Oaks and the G1 QTC Oaks.

Astern has looked a star right from the outset, having won three of his four starts as a 2-year-old, including the G2 Silver Slipper S. over 1100 metres at Rosehill and the G3 Kindergarten S. over the same distance at Randwick. By taking the Run to the Rose on his first start as a 3-year-old, he has established himself as the leader of his generation in Sydney. He has also emphasised the value of using top-class shuttle sires on good Australian families, a particularly pertinent reminder at a time when the pendulum appears to be swinging away from the dual-hemisphere visitors. And he is also providing the latest demonstration of the merit of the Sadler’s Wells-over-Danehill cross.


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