Powerful Partners In Play For Waldgeist

|

Waldgeist, the co-top-rated horse of the year in 2019 | Caroline Norris

By

It is almost half a century since Ballylinch Stud took delivery of its previous winner of the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. In 1970, Sassafras (Fr) (Sheshoon {GB}) became the first horse to get the better of Nijinsky (Northern Dancer), beating the Triple Crown winner by a head at Longchamp before taking up residence in the beautiful tiled box which was once home to The Tetrarch (Ire) (Roi Herode {Fr}).

That stable still stands away from the main stallion yard at Ballylinch and within its historic walls now is the 2019 Arc winner Waldgeist (GB) (Galileo {Ire}), who caused an upset of his own when scuppering the chances of the Arc hat-trick seeker Enable (GB) (Nathaniel {Ire}). His win was no fluke, however, and Enable was far from the only horse he had to beat. Looking back over the finishing order from Oct. 6 last year, one finds the two best 3-year-old colts of the season, Sottsass (Fr) (Siyouni {Fr}) and Japan (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}), along with Magical (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}), the winner of four Group 1 races in 2019 including the Champion S. a fortnight after the Arc.

Since that glorious day in Paris, Waldgeist has gained one final bit of recognition for his distinguished racing career in running Enable and Crystal Ocean (GB) (Sea The Stars {Ire}) to a three-way tie for the title of Longines World’s Best Racehorse. He follows the brilliant Sea The Stars (Ire) (Cape Cross {Ire}) as the last Arc winner before him to retire to stud in Ireland and now has a high bar to aim for in his second career.

In this pursuit he won’t struggle for a helping hand. Crucially, Ballylinch Stud has a knack for finding and making stallions, aided by some strategic partnerships. In the case of Waldgeist we find the familiar name of Dietrich Von Boetticher’s Gestut Ammerland as co-owner and breeder, and the new stallion will be able to call on support from that Bavarian farm’s broodmare ranks. The German link is strengthened through another in the breeding partnership of Waldgeist, the Jacobs family’s Newsells Park Stud, which formed a third of the trio along with Coolmore.

Ammerland and Ballylinch have already teamed up successfully in the stud career of another former Andre Fabre trainee, the dual French Classic winner Lope De Vega (Ire) (Shamardal), who now heads the roster of five stallions at Ballylinch.

“Ammerland and Newsells Park Stud are both exceptionally good breeders and they’ve both shown they can breed Group 1 winners on a fairly regular basis so it’s great to be working with them on this project with Waldgeist. We’re working on the same type of approach as we did with Lope De Vega when we started him,” says Ballylich Stud’s managing director John O’Connor. “Both Ammerland and ourselves will send Waldgeist 14 or 15 mares each, including some of the mares who worked very well with Lope De Vega like Burning Heights (Ger), who is the dam of Blue De Vega (Ger), who was one of Lope De Vega’s early group winners.”

Ammerland is also sending Lope De Vega’s listed-winning daughter Sassella (Ire), as well as the Group 1 winner Grey Lilas (Ire) (Danehill), who is already the dam of the Prix de Diane winner Golden Lilac (Ire) and Australian Group 3 winner Grey Lion (Ire), both by Galileo (Ire).

The combination of Galileo and Danehill blood has had particularly noted success and it is the opportunity to combine these two through Waldgeist which is one of the appealing elements for O’Connor, who says, “I think one of the interesting things about this particular horse and his pedigree is that he is a top-class Galileo whose dam line is completely free of all the lines that have done so well with Galileo himself. So Danehill, Storm Cat, Pivotal: he’s very open to sending mares from any of those lines which I think will be a big advantage to him.”

Also of advantage has to be the fact that Waldgeist is just one of the latest high-class performers from a distinguished dynasty. His dam Waldlerche (Ger), a daughter of Monsun (Ger) bred by Newsells Park Stud, won the G3 Prix Penelope and is from the celebrated Gestut Ravensberg family of the German St Leger winner Wurftaube (Ger) (Acatenango {Ger}), who is Waldgeist’s third dam. Waldlerche has also produced the G2 Prix de Malleret winner Waldlied (GB) to Galileo’s son New Approach (Ire) and her 2-year-old of last season, the TDN Rising Star Waldkonig (GB) (Kingman {GB}), looked a group horse in the making on his sole appearance for John Gosden.

“I’m always positive about young stallions whose own dams are really good,” O’Connor notes. “In this particular case, Waldlerche is a group winner herself and she has bred a Group 1 winner with her first foal and a Group 2 winner with her second foal. That’s an outstanding start, and of course Waldkonig looks very exciting. It is worth bearing in mind while we’re all excited about him, though, that he’s won a maiden so far as a 2-year old but by that time Waldgeist had already won a Group 1. He was much more precocious than people give him credit for.”

That juvenile Group 1 in question was the Criterium de Saint-Cloud on his third start, in which Waldgeist beat a field which included two subsequent Derby winners—Wings Of Eagles (Fr) (Pour Moi {Ire}) and Capri (Ire) (Galileo {Ire})—Caulfield Cup winner Best Solution (Ire) (Kodiac {GB}) and the Melbourne Cup winner Rekindling (GB) (High Chaparral {Ire}).

Newsells Park Stud reinforces the Danehill approach by sending his grand-daughter Date With Destiny (Ire), the sole offspring of George Washington (Ire), who is the dam of Galileo’s G3 Royal Whip S. winner Beautiful Morning (GB). Also on the list from the British-based farm is Keene Dancer (GB) (Danehill Dancer {Ire}), a daughter of G1 Prix de l’Opera winner Kinnaird (Ire) (Dr Devious {Ire}) and half-sister to Berkshire (GB) (Mount Nelson {GB}). Newsells Park Stud’s dual Grade I winner Dynaforce (Dynaformer), who has worked well with a son of Galileo to produce the listed winner Aljezeera (GB) (Frankel {GB}), is another member of Waldgeist’s first book, which is likely to number between 130 and 140.

Outlining a number of the Ballylinch broodmares who will be heading to the farm’s new stallion, O’Connor says, “We’ll be sending him Alava (Ire) (Anabaa), the dam of Forest Ranger (Ire) (Lawman {Fr}), who is a Group 2 winner. We will give him a certain amount of Danehill blood when we get a chance so we’ll also be sending Colonia (Fr), a Grade III winner in the United States by Champs Elysees.”

Ballylinch and Ammerland teamed up to buy a Siyouni (Fr) 4-year-old named So Unique (Fr) for €210,000 at Arqana in December. “We thought she would suit him and she was a group-placed 2-year-old,” explains O’Connor.

Another daughter of Siyouni bought specifically to go to Waldgeist is Barkaa (Fr), winner of the G3 Prix Vanteaux.

Charteuse (Fr), a listed winner and Group 3-placed daughter of Lawman (Fr)—a stallion O’Connor knows well—is another in the book having joined the Ballylinch herd in 2016 when she was bought for 825,000gns.

Dookus (Ire) (Linamix {Fr}) was responsible for one of the first-crop stakes winners for Frankel (GB) in the Ballylinch-bred dual Group 3 winner Frankuus (Ire) and she will now be covered by Waldgeist.

“Her family has gone very well with Galileo because her sister [Pharmacist] bred Red Rocks (Ire), so that will be a good cross,” says O’Connor. “Another mare from that family called Fairy Dancer (Ire) is also going to him. She is a half-sister to Red Rocks by Fastnet Rock (Aus).”

G2 Prix de Pomone winner Highlands Queen (Fr) (Mount Nelson {GB}) is another well-credentialed mate for Waldgeist, along with the proven producer Lady Livius (Ire) (Titus Livius {Fr}).

O’Connor says of the latter, “She helped start Lope De Vega by producing his Group 3 winner Burnt Sugar (Ire), and she also helped to start Tamayuz (GB) by breeding Brown Sugar (Ire).”

He continued, “Group 3 winner Lady Pimpernel (GB) is also going to Waldgeist. She’s by Sir Percy (GB), a horse I like a lot, and we’re also going to send a nice speed mare called Majestic Dubawi (GB) who won the Firth of Clyde S. Dubawi blood seems to go very well with Galileo and she had plenty of pace herself.”

Among other mares purchased for Ballylinch Stud in recent years, the G2 Balanchine winner L’Amour De Ma Vie (Dansili {GB})—bought for €600,000 when in foal to Galileo—is another slated for Waldgeist, along with listed winner Planchart (Gio Ponti) and the G2 Flying Childers S.-placed Sound of Guns (GB) (Acclamation {GB}).

O’Connor adds, “Other shareholders are sending him some nice mares, including Hit The Sky (Ire) from Knocktoran Stud, and the Aga Khan is sending Raydiya (Ire), the dam of Group 2 winner Raydara (Ire). There are some lovely mares coming from all over the continent.  What is interesting is that there are quite a few mares coming from Germany from breeders looking to inbreed to the Wurftaube family, and of course that family is valued so much across the continent.”

He continues, “The shareholders believe in him and that’s a huge start for any stallion, and when they are as good a racehorse as he was with such a good pedigree they deserve a shot. If we stand a stallion we only do it on the basis that we think he’s good enough to get behind him ourselves so we are giving this fellow similar opportunities that we gave to Lope De Vega when he started off. We are gratified by the support from some of the leading breeders across Europe.

“The great thing about having a very strong syndicate behind a young stallion when he is starting off is the support that they get in their early years, which is crucial. The business has got to the point where decisions on whether stallions are good or not are made at an earlier and earlier stage, so getting good support behind them for their first book of mares is now more important than ever.”

 

Not a subscriber? Click here to sign up for the daily PDF or alerts.