The Weekly Wrap: Coming Of Age

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Ioritz Mendizabal celebrates as he crosses the line on St Mark's Basilica | Scoop Dyga

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In February, the inevitable announcement came that Pivotal (GB) was to be pensioned at Cheveley Park Stud at the age of 28. David and Patricia Thompson's homebred son of Polar Falcon has been one of the great British breeding stories of the last few decades and the sturdy chestnut has been a great friend to small and major breeders alike through his magnificent stud innings. 

As he continues his retirement, so does his legacy gain momentum. A few months before Pivotal was retired, his son Siyouni (Fr) had been crowned champion sire in his native France for the first time. The Aga Khan Studs stallion had only missed out on earning that title in the two previous seasons to Galileo (Ire) and Nathaniel (Ire), respectively the sires of the high-earning Arc winners Waldgeist (GB) and Enable (GB) in those two years. Then Siyouni got his own Arc winner, Sottsass (Fr), augmenting a profile which already had a properly classy look to it.

In each of the last four seasons, Siyouni has been responsible for a French Classic winner. His first-crop daughter Ervedya (Fr) had actually got the ball rolling in 2015, winning the Poule d'Essai des Pouliches for her and her sire's breeder the Aga Khan. A little gap ensued, but Le Brivido (Fr) was soon knocking on the door, and was only a short-head away from claiming the Poule d'Essai des Poulains two years later when being so narrowly beaten by Brametot (Ire).

Then came Laurens (Fr) to claim the Prix de Diane as one of her six Group 1 victories in France, Britain and Ireland, starting a Classic run which was continued by Sottsass in the Prix du Jockey Club of 2019, Dream And Do (Fr) in last year's Poule d'Essai des Pouliches before the 2020 European champion 2-year-old St Mark's Basilica (Fr) made good on his juvenile promise to land the Poulains for Aidan O'Brien and the Coolmore team. 

Of course Siyouni can't take all the credit here, as St Mark's Basilica's Group 3-winning dam Cabaret (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}) has already shown herself to be a producer par excellence for Australian breeder Bob Scarborough via her son Magna Grecia (Ire) (Invincible Spirit {Ire}), winner of the 2000 Guineas in 2019. This repeats the cross seen to good effect in Sottsass, who is out of arguably the most celebrated active broodmare in France, Starlet's Sister (Ire). 

Doubling up on Danzig has done no harm in the case of Laurens and Dream And Do, while Siyouni's other top-level winner, the GI EP Taylor S. victrix Etoile (Fr), is out of a mare by Authorized (Ire) and is, like Laurens, inbred 4×4 to Danzig. A similar cross to this is found in the Siyouni 2-year-old Kaltham (Fr), a daughter of dual Arc winner Treve (Fr), who is by another Derby-winning son of Montjeu (Ire) in Motivator (GB).

Like Pivotal before him, Siyouni started out at stud standing for a relatively small fee of €7,000, which has gradually climbed to €140,000, making him the most expensive stallion in France, just as his own sire was in Britain when Pivotal's covering price climbed to £85,000 in 2007 and 2008. In both cases, lofty reputations look to be well earned.

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For Basque-born jockey Ioritz Mendizabal, the Covid-19 pandemic has been both a blessing and a curse. Last July, when travel restrictions meant that neither David Egan nor Frankie Dettori could make the trip to Chantilly, he won his first Classic aboard Mishriff (Ire) (Make Believe {GB}) in the G1 Prix du Jockey Club for Britain's champion trainer John Gosden.

Mendizabal's good season continued when he rode Audarya (Fr) (Wootton Bassett {GB}) to victory in the G1 Prix Jean Romanet for James Fanshawe, but he was then prevented from travelling to Keeneland to ride her in the GI Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf after testing positive for Covid. The now-suspended Pierre-Charles Boudot picked up the winning ride on Audarya in America, but fortune swung back in Mendizabal's favour when Ireland's champion Aidan O'Brien came calling on Friday for him to take the ride on St Mark's Basilica. 

“Winning the Guineas is fantastic,” the jockey told Jour de Galop. “But you cannot know the emotion of even having your name in the same line in the race card as Aidan O'Brien. He is the best trainer in the world. I knew I was going to ride St Mark's Basilica on Friday at 2pm and it was extremely satisfying that Aidan O'Brien called on me.”

Wow Takes A Bow

In his short racing career, The Wow Signal (Ire) (Starspangledbanner {Aus}), an early star of the now-defunct Ascot Breeze-up Sale, went from winning an Ayr maiden to success in the G2 Coventry S. and G1 Darley Prix Morny, to finishing last in the G1 Qatar Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere and then out. 

His stud career was similarly short-lived. From covering 40 mares at Haras de Bouquetot in 2017 and 12 the following season, The Wow Signal's poor fertility meant that he had only 15 registered foals in France before he died from laminitis in the spring of 2018.

From a family which includes Shadwell's Poule d'Essai des Pouliches winner Ta Rib (Mr Prospector), The Wow Signal now has his own posthumous winner of that same race despite his seriously limited opportunities. Coeursamba (Fr) was bred by three members of the Mestrallet family, including Julie Mestrallet, who consigns at the French sales under the name of her Haras de l'Aumonerie. She owns only two broodmares, with the Quesnay-bred Marechale (Fr) (Anabaa), the dam of Coeursamba, being the first bought by Mestrallet from a claiming race in the French provinces. 

When The Wow Signal won the Coventry he was following something of a Royal Ascot tradition for his sireline. His sire Starspangledbanner won the G1 Golden Jubilee S. on his second start for Aidan O'Brien after moving from the Australian stable of Leon Corstens, and in turn his father Choisir (Aus) had been the poster boy that opened the floodgates for Australian sprinters heading to the Royal meeting, having won both the King's Stand and the Golden Jubilee back in 2003.

Starspangledbanner was also famously subfertile in his early years at stud but a combination of patience and good management has seen him continue his stallion career while remaining popular with commercial breeders. 

He too was represented among the stakes winners over the weekend when the Fozzy Stack-trained juvenile Hermana Estrella (Ire) landed the G3 Coolmore Stud Irish EBF Fillies' Sprint S. on debut, with the horses in behind her including favourite Contarelli Chapel (Ire) (Caravaggio), who had earned a TDN Rising Star for her own impressive debut success three weeks earlier.

Bred by Mark and Aisling Gittins at Castlefarm Stud from The Last Sister (Ire), a daughter of the Gittins family's G1 Prix Jean Prat winner Lord Shanakill, Hermana Estrella had been sold as a foal for just 2,500gns. She transpired to be a profitable pinhook for Timmy Hillman of Castledillon Stud, who resold her as a yearling for £42,000 to her trainer and Hubie de Burgh at last year's relocated Tattersalls Ireland September Yearling Sale.

The family has worked well with that sireline in the past as The Last Sister's half-sister Lady Springbank (Ire) is a dual Group 3-winning daughter of Choisir. Hermana Estrella may now be given her own chance at Royal Ascot in the G3 Albany S.

Snowfall On The Knavesmire

We usually expect to see something special at York in the spring and indeed both formal Classic trials threw up decent winners. Galileo was the broodmare sire of yet another European Classic winner at ParisLongchamp on Sunday and he could yet chalk up further success in this realm in the coming weeks with Snowfall (Jpn), who was highly impressive in winning the G3 Tattersalls Musidora S. Like Saxon Warrior (Jpn) before her, she is bred on the Deep Impact (Jpn)-Galileo cross. Her mother fell somewhat short of her lofty name of Best In The World (Ire), and in fact she herself finished last in the Musidora in 2016. She did, however, later collect the G3 Give Thanks S. As a full-sister to Arc winner Found (Ire) and a daughter of Group 1 winner Red Evie (Ire) (Intikhab), Best In The World of course had plenty to recommend her, and her first foal is now second-favourite behind stablemate Santa Barbara (Ire) (Camelot {GB}) for the Cazoo Oaks.

The Dante meeting also proved to be a highly successful one for trainer Ed Walker, who has a crack sprinter on his hands in Starman (GB) (Dutch Art {GB}). The 4-year-old is still lightly raced and has been beaten just once in his five starts for owner/breeder David Ward, who bought his dam Northern Star (Ire) (Montjeu {Ire}) at the Goffs Orby Yearling Sale for €50,000 through Ed Sackville. She won just once but has already produced two stakes performers with her first two foals. Sadly, the mare died after producing a Kingman (GB) filly, named Lodestar (GB), in 2018.

Northern Star's first foal, Sunday Star (GB) (Kodiac {GB}), is a dual winner with multiple stakes placings, including finishing third in the G3 Summer Fillies' S. at York last season. Starman is smarter still and now has two Group 1 sprint entries at Royal Ascot.

Sackville also did Ward a favour when selecting Primo Bacio (Ire) at Tattersalls October Book 1 two years ago from her breeder Kildaragh Stud. A winner last December on her fourth start for Walker, the daughter of Awtaad (Ire) has taken major strides forward in her 3-year-old season and, following a first-up fourth in the G3 Fred Darling S., she now has bold black type thanks to her three-length win in the Oaks Farm Stables Fillies' S., which is run in memory of the late racing journalist Michael Seely.

Primo Bacio's victory not only completed a double for Walker and Ward, but also initiated a stakes double last week for her Derrinstown Stud-based sire Awtaad. Both she and the Sir Edmund Loder homebred Bellosa (Ire), who won the listed Betway King Charles S. at Newmarket on Saturday, are members of the Irish 2000 Guineas winner's first crop, as is last season's Leopardstown winner Ebeko (Ire). The latter was subsequently exported to California, where she won the listed Zuma Beach S. for trainer Peter Miller.

Rising Stars Of The Stud Ranks

There has been plenty of activity in the European first-season sires' table over the last week. Overbury Stud's Ardad (Ire) doubled his tally of winners to eight, with Beautiful Sunshine (GB) and Superior Force (GB) among those to have added to the impressive run for the partnership of trainer George Boughey with Amo Racing and breeze-up consignor/pre-trainer Robson Aguiar.

The National Stud duo of Aclaim (Ire) and Time Test (GB) both got off the mark on Saturday, with Aclaim's first winner, Cachet (Ire), another breeze-up graduate trained by Boughey, being awarded a TDN Rising Star for her Rowley Mile debut.

Galileo Gold's first winner, Ebro River (Ire), struck at Doncaster on Saturday and, appropriately, the colt is trained by Galileo Gold's former trainer Hugo Palmer in the colours of his former owner Al Shaqab Racing, and was bred by Tally-Ho Stud, where the 2000 Guineas winner now stands.

Ribchester (Ire) was another freshman to be represented by a TDN Rising Star in the last week in the form of Gisburn (Ire), the facile winner of a Newbury maiden on Friday for Richard Hannon and owners Michael Kerr-Dineen and Martin Hughes. He is likely to head next to the Coventry S. 

Meanwhile at the head of the table presently on progeny earnings is Ribchester's fellow Darley sire Profitable (Ire). His four winners include the Gavin Cromwell-trained Quick Suzy (Ire), who was runner-up to the aforementioned Hermana Estrella in the Group 3 at Naas on Sunday. Events at Royal Ascot will surely bring further clues as to the prowess of the latest crop of young stallions.

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