Rathasker's Rising Tide

Bungle Inthejungle stands at Rathasker Stud | Caroline Norris


When standing a stallion there appears to be a defined path that most are destined to follow. Busy in year one, numbers drop in year two and three, and then your fate is sealed on whether their first crop can run or not. In the case of Bungle Inthejungle (Ire) and Coulsty (Ire), both have proven that their stock can run and can compete at the top level, with Winter Power (Ire) and Shantisara (Ire) having won Group 1 races for both sires, respectively. This gives Maurice and Madeline Burns of Rathasker Stud, where the stallions call home, every reason to be excited for the year ahead.

“Winter Power, who was a very good 2-year-old and progressed at three to win the G1 Nunthorpe S. at York, is very typical of Bungle's [stock],” says Maurice Burns. “They're precocious, they're strong, they have loads of speed and it's just another feather in his cap to produce a Group 1 winner. Because she showed how high a Bungle can go, his yearlings last year sold extremely well and have gone to some very, very good trainers.”

Last year's crop of yearlings made up to €125,000, which is 10 times the stud fee those horses were conceived on, and the “good trainers” who have a Bungle Inthejungle 2-year-old include Mark and Charlie Johnston, Michael Dods, and John Quinn among others. No doubt the icing on the cake for Bungle Inthejungle's 2021 season is the fact that Winter Power was bred by Maurice's brother Patrick Burns of Newlands House Stud.

Bungle Inthejungle's first crop were quick to suggest that he is a sire capable of getting precocious 2-year-olds, and in the first months of the flat season in 2018 there was hardly a juvenile maiden that went by without a Bungle Inthejungle either winning or catching the eye, most notably through Rumble Inthejungle (Ire) winning the G3 Molecomb S. at Goodwood. In his second crop, Living In The Past (Ire) won the G2 Lowther S. and so it was only fitting that a Group 1 winner should be found in his third crop.

“It is the same for everyone who has a stallion when they have the first runners,” Burns says. “You're praying that they are going to come out and be precocious, and win, and Bungle just did that. They came out, they ran, they won, he did exactly what we were hoping he would do. He did well the first year, then we filled him up well for the next year and things progressed on from there. Thank God Coulsty also had a good start.”

Boasting some of the best statistics in the book, Coulsty had smaller numbers to go to war with but those that have run have certainly made people stand up and pay attention to the young son of Kodiac (GB).

“He didn't have big crops on the ground but he took every opportunity he got,” said Burns. “The mares he got were bread-and-butter mares but he produced some very good horses and you know there is only one stallion from that crop who has two Group 1 winners and then you have New Bay (GB) and Coulsty with one apiece.”

The aforementioned Shantisara became Coulsty's first top-level winner in the GI Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup at Keeneland and her story has been well documented. A 10,000gns breeze-up purchase by agent Federico Barberini from breeze-up maestro Robson Aguiar, Shantisara's progression has certainly been a rags-to-riches tale and has helped to put a lot of people onto her sire.

Burns added, “On the stats, he's fantastic. A lot of the switched-on breeders are using him this year because last year we had over 100 mares to him. The more numbers you have the better chance you have of producing good horses so we'll see how high he can fly. If he keeps going on the way he's going, he's going to do very, very well.”

The third stallion to make up the Rathasker roster is Gregorian, who has returned to his place of birth and is by the stud's stalwart Clodovil (Ire), who is now retired. Gregorian's progeny have been flying the flag for him worldwide with Gregorian Chant (GB) winning graded races Stateside and his top performer being a Group 2 winner.

“He came up with a good filly in 2020 which was Plainchant (Fr) and she was the top-rated 2-year-old filly in France that year. He's got two stakes-winning horses in California so it means that he's internationally successful,” says Burns. “He's a very solid horse and he's one of those horses that has a very high winners-to-runners ratio.”

All three stallions have been kept at affordable fees for 2022 with Bungle Inthejungle spearheading the roster at €8,000. With their popularity you could hardly blame a considerable jump up in fees for each of their stallions but the patriarch of the family operation explains the decision behind the value to be found in his covering shed.

“We're a small family operation and we have a number of breeders who have used us for years,” says Burns. “You don't want to push them away, you want to keep them in the game with you. As the stallions progress, you take small steps forward and if you take a small step forward then the people who were with you at the start can stay with you. If take a large step you've got a new bunch of clients or maybe you don't have any clients at all.”

As breeders themselves the Burns family recognise the mutual benefits of stallions doing well.

“When you have successful horses on the farm everybody gets a lift from it,” Burns says.  “When you go to the market and people are asking to look at the Bungle or the Coulsty or the Gregorian it is good for us and it's good for our clients. Your farm is based on what stallion you have or what stallions you use, and if your stallions are doing well then it's good for everyone.”

As the breeding season inches ever closer and larger crops start running for the Rathasker stallions it will be no surprise if everyone involved starts taking bigger steps forward together.

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