The Weekly Wrap: Love Abounds

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Serpentine returns to the winner’s circle at Epsom | Racing Post

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Before we go any further, let’s just make one thing clear: for all the excitement of Saturday and the fact that the Oaks and the Derby were even able to take place this year, let’s not lose our heads and start to think that they should in future take place on the same day in July. They should not. This is an extraordinary year for one big reason beyond our control and it should remain just that.

Right, where were we? Ah, Epsom.

I’ll go to my grave failing to understand why all the world doesn’t love horseracing. For a so-called ‘magnificent triviality’ it doesn’t half get the blood pumping, the emotions soaring and the brain churning before and beyond the great races. And we saw two great races on the Epsom Downs on Saturday, one with a result as thrilling as it was expected and the other as thrilling as it was unexpected.

Love (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}) really did look like she could spend the season conquering all as she swept down the Epsom helter-skelter in a new race record of 2.34:06, narrowly beating the record of Enable three years earlier. Love sets the standard for what looks an exciting crop of 3-year-old fillies this year.

It took Serpentine (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}) roughly a third of a second more to cover the same course and once the shock subsided from his audacious front-running victory it was hard not to view this as anything other than an excellent result. Most of all, of course, for his 30-year-old jockey Emmet McNamara, who, before Saturday had won two group races, both for his boss Aidan O’Brien, and has now added his name to the roll of honour on which all Flat jockeys long to be included.

It could of course be argued that without the delay to the Classic season, Serpentine would not even have run in the Derby. He had won a Curragh maiden just seven days earlier on his third racecourse appearance, three hours before his stable-mate Santiago (Ire) (Authorized {Ire}) landed the Irish Derby. His breeding, however, gives him every right to have been considered a potential Derby winner, with his dam Remember When (Ire) (Danehill Dancer {Ire}) and her sibling Dylan Thomas (Ire) (Danehill) both having knocked on the door at Epsom.

It’s a topsy-turvy year, and ordinarily we would expect to see the Derby winner next in the Irish Derby or, even better for those of a more commercial mindset, the Eclipse, lest he be filed instantly under the ‘future National Hunt sire’ label. Both of those options are impossible this year but wouldn’t it be something to see Love and Serpentine take on each other, as well as Enable (GB) and possibly Ghaiyyath (Ire), in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth S. on July 25? What a shot in the arm that would be for a great race which has somehow, inexplicably, lost its lustre of late.

Together Alone
An initial thought as Serpentine flashed by the famous winning post more than five lengths ahead of the chasing pack was ‘what more can be said about those over-achievers Aidan O’Brien and Galileo?’ Appropriately, it was Galileo himself who first caused O’Brien’s name to be etched on the list alongside a Derby winner. From the 19 horses to have won the race since then, another seven have been trained by him, while Galileo has now featured as the sire of five Derby winners (and grandsire of one). Together and alone, they are record-breakers in myriad ways and we are fortunate to be alive to witness what will forever be regarded as a significant chapter in the history of racing and breeding.

A new chapter was started the following day at Chantilly when the former Aidan O’Brien trainee Fancy Blue (Ire) became the first Classic winner for her new trainer and Aidan’s son Donnacha. Last season the filly had been one of the winners which had helped the 21-year-old secure his second champion jockey title in Ireland before hanging up his boots to join his father and his elder brother Joseph in the training ranks.

There was an echo of another Derby winner in Fancy Blue, who is out of a full-sister to the late and often overlooked High Chaparral (Ire) (Sadler’s Wells), who gave Aidan O’Brien his second Derby victory the year after Galileo. There has been more focus though on the filly’s sire, Deep Impact (Jpn), who can very much be viewed as the Galileo of Japan and who died almost a year ago at only 17. His legacy will also be long-lasting and it is starting to creep into Europe via his Classic-winning stallion sons Saxon Warrior (Jpn)—out of a Group 1-winning daughter of Galileo—and Study Of Man (Fr), a grandson of Miesque.

In fact it was one of Study Of Man’s relations, the fellow Niarchos-bred Alpine Star (Ire), who was so narrowly beaten by Fancy Blue on Sunday in the Prix de Diane after emphatically winning the G1 Coronation S. at Ascot only just over a fortnight earlier. Her sire Sea The Moon (Ger) stands alongside Study Of Man at Lanwades and both should be given serious consideration by breeders with Classic aspirations but without pockets deep enough for Galileo or Dubawi (Ire).

Millennium Marker
While we will look back and view these early decades of the 21st century as the time of Galileo, the horse named to usher in a new era, Dubai Millennium, is remembered through a now flourishing male line which could so easily have withered and died.

Dubawi was of course a member of the first and only crop of the ill-fated Dubai Millennium. The winner of the Irish 2000 Guineas, Dubawi was then represented in his first crop by Makfi (GB), who won the 2000 Guineas. Make Believe (GB), from Makfi’s first crop, reinforced the line and in turn won the Poule d’Essai des Poulains. He now has a first-crop Classic winner of his own in the Prix du Jockey Club hero Mishriff (GB).

Thirty years earlier, Mishriff’s owner-breeder Prince A A Faisal, had enjoyed Classic success at Chantilly with the Prix de Diane winner Rafha (GB) (Kris {GB}), who is the colt’s third dam. His claims to a future stallion career are further enhanced by two of Rafha’s sons, the successful sires Kodiac (GB) (Danehill) and Invincible Spirit (Ire) (Green Desert).

Make Believe, a three-parts-brother to dual Grade I winner Dubawi Heights (GB) (Dubawi {Ire}), raced in Prince Faisal’s colours but had been bought by him as a foal for 180,000gns from his breeder Simon Hope of Aston Mullins Stud. The prince had also purchased Make Believe’s contemporary, rising freshman sire Belardo (Ire) (Lope De Vega {Ire}), as a yearling at Arqana for €100,000 and the pair ended their careers with two Group 1 victories apiece.

Belardo also did his sire a huge favour by becoming his first Group 1 winner in the Dewhurst S., and, though bred by Ballylinch Stud where Lope De Vega stands, he is now at Kildangan Stud after Godolphin bought into him during his racing career.

Make Believe instead stands at Ballylinch, which is now part of a powerful partnership behind the young stallion.

“Prince Faisal kept a third of Make Believe and on occasion in the first few years we have sent half the broodmare band to him,’ says Ted Voute, who manages the prince’s bloodstock at Eydon Hall Farm, the former base of Gerald Leigh’s successful breeding operation.

“He has ten mares and he tends to keep the average age of the broodmare band quite low. Gerald Leigh was the same way, he often sold mares that were 10 or 12.”

Mishriff’s dam, the winning 10-year-old Raven’s Pass mare Contradict (GB), has had a breeding career of highs and lows. Her first three foals are all black-type earners and in the following three seasons she has failed to produce any offspring.

Voute says, “Contradict is now in foal to Frankel (GB) and we have had a bit of bad luck with her because she would get in foal and then reabsorb before 42 days. We are past that stage now this year so we are hopeful but she will hold on to this one.”

Prince Faisal’s good week may not yet be over as he has TDN Rising Star Seventh Kingdom (GB) (Frankel {GB}), another great grandson of Rafha, entered for Saturday’s G2 Superlative S.

“We might be shooting a bit high with him, but you could have said that we were doing that on Sunday also,” Voute adds of the 2-year-old colt. “He’s not a horse that puts in scintillating work so when he won well first time out we were slightly caught off guard.”

While Mishriff and Seventh Kingdom are both homebreds, their breeder has not been averse to racing other people’s stock, as illustrated by Belardo and Make Believe, and he has enjoyed notable success with his select purchases.

Voute explains, “We don’t really have a [buying] strategy. We’d bought [G2 Prix Greffulhe winner] Ocovango (GB) a few years before that and we got lucky with him. Every now and then when the mood takes him, Prince Faisal will say ‘if you’re in Deauville go and have a look at this one’. He’s always going through the catalogues and the photos online and he usually has his own shortlist. In the case of Belardo he had asked me to go to see a Lawman (Fr) and I didn’t like that colt but I told him I had seen a nice Lope De Vega colt, so that’s how we bought him. At the foal sales when he bought Make Believe we’d made a shortlist of ten with Hugo Merry, because when I am selling I don’t like to sell and buy at the same time. The prince came up from London and we showed him the ten and we were beaten on the first two, a Teofilo (Ire) and a New Approach (Ire), both bought by John Ferguson. So then we took all the Darley horses off the list and the only one left was the Makfi and, lo and behold, that was Make Believe. We took him back to Eydon—all the horses are raised there, and Belardo came back there after the yearling sale. Mishriff of course was also there. There’s a very prolific colts’ paddock called Culworth Road East, in which Gerald Leigh had Barathea (Ire) and Markofdistinction (GB), and we’ve kept the tradition of raising our colts in this massive 30-acre field.”

As for Mishriff’s future stud prospects, Voute adds, “It’s a real stallions’ family now. When the prince sold Invincible Spirit and Kodiac he kept very few shares in both of them and I think perhaps he regretted that, so he kept a good bit of Make Believe and he also kept breeding rights in Belardo. I imagine he will now keep a good part of Mishriff when the time comes for him to go to stud and that will help when he hands over to his sons as they will have an operation that can cover its own costs.”

For Ballylinch Stud, the good news did not end with Mishriff this weekend as Lope De Vega, who is enjoying another typically fruitful season, was represented by the G2 Lancashire Oaks winner Manuela De Vega (Ire). Furthermore, the stud’s freshman stallion and fellow French Classic winner New Bay (GB) (Dubawi {Ire}) is starting to make his presence felt. Since June 12, he has been represented by four winners and, in a manner reminiscent of last year’s freshman champion and fellow son of Dubawi, Night Of Thunder (Ire), it is his strike-rate at this stage which is the remarkable factor as those winners have come from just seven runners.

In turn, Night Of Thunder has continued his ascent and currently heads the second-crop sires’ list with seven black-type winners including a first Classic winner of his own, the G2 Oaks d’Italia winner Auyantepui (GB). The unbeaten filly was bred by Massimo Parri, head of the Italian TBA and owner of Allevamento Le Gi in Tuscany. Trained until now by Nicolo Simondi, Auyantepui’s recent 50% purchase by Australian-based OTI Racing means that she will transfer to the Chantilly stable of first-season Italian trainer Mario Baratti, a former assistant to Marco Botti and Pascal Bary.

Adaay On The Hunt
Goken (Fr) has been the leader of the European first-season sires’ competition since flagfall, and his first winner, Livachope (Fr), duly became his first group winner last week when extending her unbeaten record to three in the G3 Prix du Bois, leading home her paternal half-sister Axdavali (Fr).

With ten individual winners on the board, the son of Kendargent (Fr) is only one ahead of Whitsbury Manor Stud’s Adaay (Ire) (Kodiac {GB}), who is the sire of Twaasol (GB), winner of the Woodcote S. at Epsom, and Doctor Strange, who took third in Sunday’s G3 Premio Primi Passi.

Kodiac and his half-brother Invincible Spirit account for five of the top 11 stallions in the table, including Prince Of Lir (Ire) and Kodi Bear (Ire) by the former, and Invincible Spirit’s sons Territories (Ire) and Shalaa (Ire).

 

 

 

 

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