The Weekly Wrap: Full Mark's For Top Colt

St Mark's Basilica heading out on to the track ahead of his victory in the Eclipse |


A fortnight to go, apparently, until England casts aside all restrictions following the 16-month weirdness of the pandemic era. 'Freedom day', as it has been dubbed by those of Boris Johnson's government who are not currently serving time on the naughty step, has unfortunately not come in time for the regular 'July week' festivities in Newmarket. There will be racing with a reduced crowd and a sale taking place pretty much as normal, but without any of the parties and stallion parades that have become the staple of the town's midsummer highlight. As long as there's still an ice-cream stall at Tattersalls this week the bloodstock press bench will be happy.

It is fervently hoped that Ireland is granted similar freedom by its government before too long, for in our own small world the ongoing uncertainty regarding dates and locations of the yearling sales, in particular the Orby, is not helpful at all. The conflicting press releases of last week first clarified then muddied the situation and as much as it provides ongoing headaches for the sales companies, it can also be no fun for the consignors currently trying to line up staff for the season.

The past week's highlight came of course in the Coral-Eclipse, courtesy of the increasingly admirable St Mark's Basilica (Fr) (Siyouni {Fr}). Last season's champion 2-year-old and the second Classic winner bred by Bob Scarborough from the Galileo (Ire) mare Cabaret (Ire), the colt  was apparently oblivious to the lofty, globetrotting reputations of Mishriff (Ire) (Make Believe {GB}) and Addeybb (Ire) (Pivotal {GB}) as he strode past them up the Sandown hill. A potential rematch in the Juddmonte International is a thrilling prospect, as is the potential battle between Palace Pier (GB) (Kingman {GB}) and Poetic Flare (Ire) (Dawn Approach {Ire}) in the Sussex S.

It seems crazy to think that up until this weekend there had been the pervading feeling that Aidan O'Brien was having something of a quiet season. He had by that stage won six European Classics, which is hardly slacking, but the overturning of talking horses High Definition (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}), Santa Barbara (Ire) (Camelot {GB}) and Bolshoi Ballet (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}), the latter managing just seventh in the Derby as the lone Ballydoyle runner, exacerbated that impression. 

We've come to expect the Ballydoyle colts to dominate, but so far this year the stable has been largely carried by the fillies. Love (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}) made a sensational belated return at Royal Ascot and she is backed up by a strong Classic generation that includes the mightily impressive Oaks winner Snowfall (Ire) (Deep Impact {Jpn}), English and Irish 1000 Guineas winners Mother Earth (Ire) (Zoffany {Ire}) and Empress Josephine (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}), and Prix de Diane heroine Joan Of Arc (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}). 

That is, of course, apart from St Mark's Basilica, who emulated Shamardal, Lope De Vega (Ire) and Brametot (Ire) in winning both the Poule d'Essai des Poulains and Prix du Jockey Club since the latter was reduced in distance to 10.5 furlongs in 2005. Beating a pair of seasoned older horses, even in a small field for the Eclipse, puts him to the head of his generation for now, until we see how Poetic Flare fares at Goodwood and Adayar at Ascot, in what could be a King George for the ages.  

Also of significance for St Mark's Basilica, whose future lies at Coolmore, will be the early stud careers of his aforementioned half-brother and of Sottsass (Fr), who is bred on the same Siyouni-Galileo cross.

Sweeping The Board

In the mix for the King George among the older brigade is the quiet achiever Broome (Ire) (Australia {GB}), who secured a memorable international Group 1 double for Aidan O'Brien over the weekend when landing the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud. The 5-year-old, who became his sire's fourth Group 1 winner, has been a model of consistency this year, winning at each stakes level up to Group 1 since the opening day of the season, as well as being beaten a short-head when second in the G1 Tattersalls Gold Cup and finishing runner-up to Wonderful Tonight (Fr) (Le Havre {Ire}) in the G2 Hardwicke S. at Royal Ascot. 

While Australia's season is gathering a head of steam, credit must also be given to Broome's dam Sweepstake (Ire), who was a member of the first crop of Acclamation (GB) and became his second black-type winner in a matter of days when landing the listed National S at Sandown in May 2007.

Though she visited Galileo in 2012, her best results to date have come from her two matings with his son Australia, with Broome's full-brother Point Lonsdale (Ire) adding further lustre to the family by winning the listed Chesham S. The 2-year-old is also the most expensive of her yearlings to have passed through the sales. He was bought at Book 1 last year for 575,000gns, while the mare's 3-year-old Malathaat (Ire) (Frankel {GB}) was a €500,000 purchase by Shadwell from breeder Croom House Stud at the previous year's Orby Sale.

Acclamation's first crop also included Dark Angel (Ire), who became his first group winner and has done more to enhance the line than any of his paternal half-brothers–though he may yet be challenged for that accolade by Mehmas (Ire).

While his male line is thriving, Acclamation is also enjoying a decent season as a broodmare sire. In this field he had three winners at Royal Ascot, with Point Lonsdale being joined by Perotto (GB) (New Bay {GB}) and Rohaan (Ire) (Mayson {GB}), who is to be supplemented for Saturday's G1 Darley July Cup.

High On The Hill

The weekend's results also provided the second stakes winner of the season–in fact, in eight days–for Tiana (GB) (Diktat {GB}), the pride of Fiona and Mick Denniff's broodmare band.

Racing in Fiona's own colours, Tiana's 3-year-old daughter Auria (GB) (Muhaarar {GB}) landed the listed Coral Distaff at Sandown the Saturday after her elder half-sister Chil Chil (GB) (Exceed And Excel {Aus}) had won the G3 Chipchase S. The latter will line up again this coming Saturday in the July Cup. 

The pair are the second and third stakes winners for their dam following the hugely talented Beat The Bank (GB) (Paco Boy {Ire}), who notched five Group 2 wins as well as a Group 3 and listed success among his nine victories for Andrew Balding. He was also an important first group winner for his late owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha of King Power Racing, who was then emboldened to give 500,000gns for Chil Chil at the Tattersalls October Yearling Sale.

Tiana was herself also bred by Denniff from the second mare she purchased, Hill Welcome (GB), back in 2001. The daughter of Most Welcome (GB) was bought as a 3-year-old at Doncaster having placed just once in seven starts for Barry Hills. Despite an underwhelming race record, she owned a decent pedigree as a half-sister to the G1 Middle Park S. winner Stalker (GB) (Kala Shikari {Fr}), but she was overlooked at the sale by all bar Denniff, who picked her up for just 3,000gns. The breeder will undoubtedly view that sum as money very well spent. 

Hill Welcome went on to produce 10 winners from her 12 foals, with the Oh So Sharp S.-placed Tiana being one of three black-type performers along with the G3 Molecomb S. runner-up Mary Read (GB) (Bahamian Bounty {GB}) and the 103-rated Aboyne N Beyond (GB) (Exceed And Excel {Aus}). 

Tiana is not the only daughter to have established her own successful branch at the Denniffs' Nottinghamshire farm as Mary Read's treble-winning daughter Dubai Bounty (GB) (Dubai Destination) is the dam of the late Kachy (GB) (Kyllachy {GB}), whose nine wins included the G3 Molecomb S.

Now a black-type winner herself, Auria will be an exciting returnee to Denniff Farms eventually, but her next task looks likely to be the G3 Atalanta S. back at Sandown in August.

Tiana's current 2-year-old by Dubawi (Ire) could broaden the family's success as she is now in America having been bought last October by Mike Ryan. The agent is pleased with her progress and told TDN that she has been given some time to mature before she heads into training this autumn, most likely with Chad Brown. 

Breakthrough Success For Isfahan

Sisfahan (Fr) may have been bred in France but he brought about a notable breakthrough for his German-based sire Isfahan (Ger) when emulating his father by winning the G1 Deutsches Derby on Sunday.

It was not only an important first-crop Classic winner for the Gestut Ohlerweierhof stallion but it also makes Isfahan the only one of the second-crop sires in Europe to have been represented by a Group 1 winner this season. Of that group, Mehmas was the only sire to achieve that feat last year.

Isfahan was bought by Holger Faust for owner Stefan Oschmann's Darius Racing for €35,000 at the BBAG Yearling Sale of 2014 and, following a racing career which saw him win the German Derby, G3 Bavarian Classic and G3 Preis der Winterfavoriten, he was retired to stud by the owner. Oschmann has supported Isfahan not just with his own mares but also at the sales, and was last year rewarded with the stallion's first group winner, Isfahani (Ger), who landed the G3 Premio Guido Berardelli in Rome on debut.

Isfahan was the second-busiest stallion after Soldier Hollow (GB) in his first year at stud, but German covering numbers are significantly lower than those recorded by some stallions in Britain, Ireland and France. He covered 67 mares in 2018, followed by 46, then 35 in 2020.

Sisfahan, who is the first winner of Germany's most prized race for the country's champion trainer Henk Grewe, is also yet another feather in the cap of Guy Pariente's Haras de Colleville. Pariente is currently the leading breeder in France–ahead of such luminaries as Wertheimer & Frere and the Aga Khan–and so much of his success rests on his stallion Kendargent (Fr), the broodmare sire of Sisfahan.

Now 18, it is perhaps remarkable that Kendargent only notched a first Group 1 winner this season with Skalleti (Fr), who was also bred by Pariente, as was his Group 2-winning brother Skazino (Fr).

He had, however, already been represented with a top-flight winner as a broodmare sire when Sealiway (Fr) won last season's Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere. That result was doubly pleasing for Pariente as not only was the colt another Haras de Coleville graduate but he is by Kendargent's young stud-mate Galiway (GB).

In France this season, Pariente has already celebrated 38 wins from 65 starters bred at his Normandy farm, which has now also supplied the toast of Germany.

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