The last couple of weeks have been fairly momentous for Coolmore's stallion team. At the age of 16, the astonishing Galileo reached the extraordinary landmark of 100 worldwide group/graded winners when his daughter Marvellous lived up to her name in the Irish 1000 Guineas. Then, seven days later, Mastercraftsman became a classic sire with his first crop when his very likeable son The Grey Gatsby dominated the Prix du Jockey-Club.
Mastercraftsman had himself been a very decisive winner of the 2009 Irish 2000 Guineas and he could have a further chance of Classic glory at Epsom later this week. His Group 3-winning daughter Amazing Maria is a contender for the Oaks, though she hasn't raced since her impressive victories last August, and his Group 1-winning son, Kingston Hill, appears to have a good chance of reaching the first three in the Derby a day later. Mastercraftsman could be said to have another Classic winner to his credit, although not one of the Group 1 variety, as his daughter Vague Nouvelle won Italy's version of the 1000 Guineas, the Premio Regina Elena.
This early evidence suggests that Mastercraftsman has the talent to step into the shoes of his sire Danehill Dancer, whose retirement at the age of 21 was announced recently. This is no small compliment. Despite starting out at a very modest fee, Danehill Dancer rose to become champion sire in Britain and Ireland in 2009, having finished runner-up to his sire Danehill in 2006 and to Galileo in 2008. Danehill Dancer also landed the title of champion sire of 2-year-olds on three occasions (2006, 2008 and 2009).
Mastercraftsman will have his work cut out to match Danehill Dancer's worldwide total of more than 80 group winners, but he already has five from his first crop, so the task may not be beyond him. He faces the usual handicap of having a second crop smaller than his first and a third crop smaller than his second. However, some good first-crop yearling prices, coupled with a reduction in his fee to €12,500, fully restored his popularity last year in his fourth season. Then his 2013 success with the likes of Kingston Hill and Amazing Maria boosted his 2014 fee to €35,000 and he is no doubt again much in demand.
Mastercraftsman isn't the only son of Danehill Dancer with a Group 1 winner to his credit this year, as Choisir is the sire of the impressive Lockinge S. winner Olympic Glory. Coincidentally, Choisir and Mastercraftsman share the highest Racing Post rating–127–of all of Danehill Dancer's progeny. Next come three more sons with ratings of 124. One of them is Fast Company, whose first yearlings created quite a stir in the sales ring last year. He has already been represented by four winners, including the high-priced yearling Baitha Alga. Another of the trio rated 124 is Al Shaqab's Planteur, a winner of the G1 Prix Ganay who is standing his first season in France this year. He should prove an asset to the French industry, and The Grey Gatsby's Jockey-Club victory won't have done Planteur any harm.
The Grey Gatsby was sold for only €24,000 as a yearling, but he was clearly much more impressive when he reappeared at Arqana's Breeze Up Sale at Saint-Cloud in May last year. This time he made €120,000, which now looks small fry in comparison to the €857,100 he collected at Chantilly. His consignors at Saint-Cloud–Grove Stud–clearly did a good job, as The Grey Gatsby was ready to make a winning debut just two months after the sale. The colt's classic victory came over 1 5/16 miles, which is very close to the longest distance Mastercraftsman was ever asked to tackle. Although there is no shortage of speed in the bottom half of the colt's pedigree, I wouldn't be surprised were he to stay a mile and a half.
One aspect of The Grey Gatsby's pedigree which will interest American readers is the presence as his third dam of Maximova. This top-class daughter of Green Dancer has made a sizeable impact on American racing as the second dam of Malibu Moon. Although this winner of a maiden special weight race at Hollywood Park doesn't receive a mention in The Grey Gatsby's free brisnet.com catalogue-style pedigree, he has, of course, developed into one of America's best stallions, with a Kentucky Derby winner among his total of more than 30 graded winners.
Maximova is also the third dam of Dynaformer's smart son Temple City, whose first 2-year-olds have sold for up to $230,000.
Another of Maximova's claims to fame is her Group 1-winning son Septieme Ciel, who sired the dam of the phenomenal Cirrus des Aigles. Maximova herself enjoyed Group 1 success in the Prix de la Salamandre–a win which extended her unbeaten record to five. Although that unbeaten record was lost on her final juvenile start, Maximova proved just as effective as a sophomore. There were some doubts about her stamina, though, as she reverted successfully to sprinting after taking third place in the French 1000 Guineas and second in the Irish equivalent.
Maximova appeared to have everything required to develop into a very successful broodmare. In addition to her impressive achievements on the track, she was described by Timeform as a big, attractive, imposing filly and she also had the attraction of coming from the same family as the 2000 Guineas winner Nonoalco and the high-class Stradavinsky. She didn't disappoint. No doubt helped considerably by visiting a virtual who's who of America's best stallions, she produced two stakes winners to Blushing Groom, plus others by Seattle Slew, Nureyev and Mr Prospector (Malibu Moon's Group 1-winning dam Macoumba).
The Grey Gatsby's branch of the family hadn't been a major contributor to the family fortunes until the son of Mastercraftsman came along. His second dam, Maximova's Kingmambo filly Metisse, was a minor winner in France. Metisse has produced a few above-average performers, such as her useful Dansili colt Saint Thomas and The Grey Gatsby's dam Marie Vison. This daughter of the 2000 Guineas winner Entrepreneur went in search of black type after her win over Deauville's all-weather track and succeeded in getting some when a close second in the Prix Solitude over a mile.
The disappointing Entrepreneur was one of the sons which, for a while, raised nagging doubts about Sadler's Wells's ability as a sire of sires. However, he sired a classic winner in Vintage Tipple (Irish Oaks) and now he is the broodmare sire of another Classic winner.
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