Rajasinghe: 'A Few People Have Cottoned On To The Stats'

Rajasinghe boasts an 80% strike-rate with his first crop of runners | National Stud


Everybody loves a bargain, especially in January in the midst of a cost-of-living crisis. The latter may barely have affected the bloodstock sales so far, but a knock-on effect may be felt if smaller or syndicate owners start to reduce their racing investment, which in turn would surely have a bearing eventually on the lower end of the yearling market. The top tier generally takes care of itself, while the middle market has been given a great boost by increased international participation, though that in itself is not necessarily a great boost for the long-term health of racing and breeding in Britain and Ireland.

Breeders with mating plans still to be decided, and who may be wincing at some of the stallion fees advertised, could do worse than adding the name of Rajasinghe (Ire) to their list of sires under consideration.

We talked to Rajasinghe's owner Phil Cunningham back in April just ahead of the son of Choisir (Aus) being represented by his first runner, Talamanca (GB). That Mickley Stud-bred gelding has now run 11 times for three wins and is the most prolific of his sire's runners. As noted by Brian Sheerin when assessing the last year's freshman sires in Saturday's TDN, the group numbers only 10 to date, but remarkably eight of them won races in 2022, and three achieved an official rating of 80+, headed by the listed-placed Waiting All Night (GB), a Cunningham homebred.

Last spring, Cunningham told TDN: “He's had limited numbers and limited support so I think we've got to do it the hard way, which is to do it ourselves.

“We've got a nice little crop this year, some more next year and a few more the following year. Hopefully he will become more popular with everyone else by then and he'll have a few more runners.”

Doubtless the owner-breeder is delighted with the start made by his stallion, who, like Cunningham's dual Classic winner Cockney Rebel (Ire) before him, is standing at the National Stud. The Newmarket farm is sure to have plenty of visitors this spring, with Stradivarius (Ire) still exerting plenty of pulling power and Lope Y Fernandez (Ire) likely to be busy again. But those visiting should not ignore the well-made son of the late Choisir, who was a very good stallion in his own right and whose prowess continues to be so well advertised by his Irish-based son Starspangledbanner (Aus).

It doesn't necessarily follow that Rajasinghe will be similarly successful, and of course he will need to build on that 80% strike-rate with some proper stakes horses if he is to take his career to the next level, but he has dropped enough hints during the last year that he can get your mare a runner if given the chance.

So far, outside the backing of his owner, he hasn't been given many opportunities. He had 24 foals in his first crop, 14 in his second, which are the juveniles for this coming season, and 26 born in 2022. Only once has he covered a black-type winner, and in his most recent season he is listed with Weatherbys as having covered just nine mares, mostly owned by the Cunningham family. One of the outside breeders, Morecool Racing, will be pleased to have supported him again this year as, since they sent New Road Side (GB) (Paco Boy {Ire}) back to be covered, her Rajasinghe son Hougoumont (GB) has won two of his four starts for Julie Camacho.

The majority of the stallion's offspring of racing age are in the stable of Richard Spencer, the retained trainer for Cunningham's Rebel Racing and for whom Rajasinghe was a breakout star when winning the G2 Coventry S. in 2017 in Spencer's second season with a licence.

The Newmarket trainer admits with a smile that he is of course biased, but he is also well placed to have a handle on plenty of Rajasinghe's runners so far. He says, “He's basically stamped his offspring very much like himself. He was very laid-back. He thrived on his work and was very easy in himself and had a great attitude with everything he did.

“From the mares that have been sent to him, and this is no disrespect to any of them, they weren't the best mares that you could have asked for, but he has definitely upgraded them judging on progeny they've produced in the past. Their attitudes are great, wind great, and for what is on offer for breeders at that level in England, you can't really find anything much better, I don't think, on the market.”

Spencer continues, “I know I'm probably biased, but we've had such great success this season from the horses that have run, and everything has won or been placed. The ones that have been placed that haven't won will win. And the ones we haven't run, for various little reasons, that will run in this year coming have all got ability to win races. There's not one amongst them you think, 'Oh God, we're not going to win with him.'

“They are all capable of winning, from relatively low-grade mares, and they've got size and scope. I think a few people have cottoned on to the stats, but I think [his offspring] are value for money and real 'trainers' horses' at the moment, whilst they're able to be bought.”

Spencer has had a fresh intake of horses who have just turned two and says that better results could be seen this year.

“I genuinely think the ones we've got coming through are a better quality again. Phil had some some fillies with decent ratings that have gone to stud to support him and I think in the next couple of years we'll see even better quality coming through,” he notes.

“So it's exciting from our side of things, seeing it behind the scenes with what we've got to come, and with the GBB scheme running as well now, which is fantastic, it's a big incentive to be sending a mare to a British stallion.”

Rajasinghe was 15th overall in the first-crop sires' table for Britain and Ireland on prize-money. When judged by number of individual winners, he achieved a top-10 finish with far fewer runners than any of his rivals in that top echelon–and of course on his percentage of winners to runners he was best of all at 80%.

For a stallion standing right down the bottom of the fee table at £3,000, a strike-rate at the top of the table should perhaps open a few eyes, hopefully followed by a few wallets.

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