The Weekly Wrap: Not Just A Sister Act


Peter Brant and Michel Zerolo at Chantilly | Emma Berry


It is said that revenge is a dish best served cold. Peter Brant’s revenge mission was delivered under a blisteringly hot Chantilly sun but, for the American owner of Prix du Jockey Club winner Sottsass (Fr) (Siyouni {Fr}), it sure did taste sweet.

Two years ago on the same stretch of turf, Brant’s newly acquired Sistercharlie (Ire) (Myboycharlie {Ire}) was hampered in her run just over a furlong from home in the Prix de Diane and ended up finishing a running-on second to Senga (Blame). That filly alone has more than atoned for initial disappointment and was crowned champion turf mare in America last year after four Grade 1 victories. Brant’s belief in the family has been strong, and he bought Sistercharlie’s half-sister, the Group 3 winner My Sister Nat (Fr) (Acclamation {GB}), last season before shipping her to America to join her elder sibling in Chad Brown’s team.

While that pair—the first two foals of the 10-year-old Galileo (Ire) mare Starlet’s Sister (Ire)—were in-training purchases by Brant, he has had his agent Michel Zerolo in place at Arqana for the past two Augusts to ensure that he ensnared both Sottsass and his 2-year-old half-brother Radiant Child (Ire) (Charm Spirit {Ire}) as yearlings. The sisters had both initially been inexpensive yearling purchases by Paul Nataf, at €12,000 and €20,000 respectively, but the swiftly rising profile of the family meant that the colts raised sums of €340,000 and €400,000 for their breeder Ecurie des Monceaux, which has also been the dominant consignor at Arqana August for a number of years. Stand by for plenty of interest in the Fastnet Rock (Aus) colt out of one of France’s hottest young mares when he appears in Deauville in two months’ time.

“After I purchased Sistercharlie her first run here was in the Prix de Diane and she ran into a lot of trouble but she has won most of her races since then and she has to be one of my favourite horses I’ve ever raced,” said Brant, whose colours were also represented in the Belmont Park winner’s circle over the weekend by G3 Pennine Ridge S. winner Demarchelier (GB) (Dubawi {Ire}), who was bought at Tattersalls as a yearling for 425,000gns.

The newsprint magnate is no stranger to European racing. He raced the outstanding nine-time Group 1 winner Triptych (Riverman), having bought her from Alan Clore during her racing career and, though absent in this part of the world on the racing front for a spell, he delivered a strong signal of intent when spending around €7.5 million on the bloodstock of fellow art collector and owner-breeder Guy Wildenstein during the Wildenstein Stables Dispersal at Goffs in November 2016. His purchases then included Poule d’Essai des Poucliches heroine Beauty Parlour (GB) (Deep Impact {Jpn}), and a more recent in-training buy was another winner of the same race, Precieuse (Ire) (Tamayuz {GB}). Brant has now had the pleasure of seeing a French Classic winner in his own silks and in track-record time on a day of wilting heat.

Dabbing his brow while stoically retaining the jacket of his pinstripe suit, Brant said, “I keep a number of mares in France with Eric Puerari at Haras des Capucines. Probably about 40% of my broodmares are in Europe. We bought [Sottsass] as a yearling and we are planning to keep him here. I was here for the Arc 50 years ago and it’s a race I’d love to win. If he were to retire to stud he could perhaps go to the Breeders’ Cup before that but I think he’s found a home here.”

He continued, “Michel Zerolo and Jean-Claude Rouget picked him out but it didn’t fall on deaf ears as I already had Sistercharlie. Jean-Claude took his time with him and it has paid off. He has two sisters that are really special to me and they are both in the United States. It’s my first European Classic so it’s really special.”

For Rouget, who was in hospital after a minor stroke during his fourth Jockey Club win, and for Christophe Soumillon, who has ridden Sottsass in every race bar the Classic but was required for the Aga Khan’s Zarkallani (Ire), the day must have had its frustrations. But it gave another chance for young Cristian Demuro to shine, two years after recording his first pair of Classic wins with the Rouget-trained Brametot (Ire), and it was yet another opportunity for the team at Monceaux to prove that its excellent results in the sales ring are backed up on the track.

The stud’s delighted frontman Henri Bozo, who bought Starlet’s Sister for €30,000, said, “This is our eighth Group 1 winner that we have bred since 2010 so it’s great for all the people who trust us and buy horses from us.

“[Starlet’s Sister] is an amazing mare and she’s still a very young mare. It wasn’t a stroke of genius buying her: Hubert Guy advised us to buy her—she’s by Galileo with a bit of magic. We’ve used Siyouni a lot and we have a good relationship with the Aga Khan Studs so we are proud and happy to be the first breeder of a Group 1-winning colt by Siyouni.”

He added, “The mare has a very nice filly foal by Dubawi and she is back in foal to him. She also has a strong yearling colt who will be sold at Arqana this summer. Peter Brant has all of the progeny of the mare at the moment and it’s great to see a big fan of horseracing investing in France and trusting the French breeders.”

A sad loss still winning
One of Monceaux’s early Group 1 winners was Chicquita (Ire) (Montjeu {Ire}), bought for owner Paul Makin by Grant-Pritchard-Gordon back in 2009. Makin, who died just over a week ago at the age of 82, sold the Irish Oaks victrix as part of his Paulyn Dispersal in 2013, and she duly topped the Goffs November Sale, setting a new record for a European filly in training when selling to Coolmore for €6 million.

The lure of the bloodstock world proved too strong for Makin, however, and he returned to the ring at Goffs three years later, taking on Peter Brant in his pursuit of Beauty Parlour but ultimately having to play the role of underbidder. It was never dull in the sales ring when Makin was present, and on more than one occasion he rousted dozing members of the press bench to their feet by throwing in an opening bid of seven figures.

The Makin colours—carried most notably by Starcraft (NZ) (Soviet Star) to Group 1 success in Australia, New Zealand, France and Britain—flew high once more in a posthumous tribute to the owner with the victory of Winning Ways (Aus) (Declaration Of War) in the G1 Queensland Oaks on Saturday. Her trainer Garry Newham, who had masterminded the Southern Hemisphere part of Starcraft’s career, had been coaxed out of his retirement from the training ranks by Makin after he decided to return to his native Australia from Hong Kong two years ago.

Galileo goes mainstream
It’s hard enough for racing stories to claim space on the sports pages and bulletins, even on Derby day, when it was pitched against two British teams fighting out the UEFA Champions League final in Madrid, not to mention the rugby premiership final at Twickenham. So it is testament to the extraordinary dominance of Galileo that BBC Radio 5 Live found time within its Derby day broadcast to devote a section to his stud career and his ubiquity in the pedigrees of Saturday’s runners.

The TDN was asked to contribute and to be mindful of the fact that for a more general sporting audience, the intricacies of the breeding industry are most likely fairly alien. Great though Galileo is, it’s unlikely that his name will find its way into the wider public consciousness in the same way as that of Lester Piggott, who has had a similarly significant impact on the Derby. The legendary jockey’s nine victories in the race were commemorated with the first of nine statues at racecourses around the country being unveiled by the Queen at Epsom on Saturday. Just as one might imagine Piggott wasn’t the nervous kind when it came to big race days, he was clearly unfazed at greeting Her Majesty on her arrival at Epsom. As the royal entourage swept down the course and the Queen’s car stopped by the winner’s circle, the 83-year-old stood waiting by his bronze likeness, shades on, hands in pockets, cool as ever.

Derby winners remembered
As we wait, almost certainly in vain now, for another British Triple Crown winner, we are just a year away from the 50th anniversary of the last one, Nijinsky. He was ridden of course by Lester Piggott and trained by Vincent O’Brien, whose tally of six Derby winners was surpassed by his Ballydoyle successor Aidan O’Brien on Saturday. Though Nijinsky went on to sire three Derby winners, his branch of the Northern Dancer sireline now hangs by a thread, unlike that of Sadler’s Wells.

It was therefore pleasing to note that Nijinsky’s great grandson Silvano (Ger) was the sire of both Grade 1 winners at Greyville on Saturday, with both Silvano’s Pride (SAf) and Hawwaam (SAf) being out of mares by one of Silvano’s great rivals in the South African sire ranks, Jet Master (SAf). Hawwaam, bred in partnership Wilgerbosdrift and Mauritzfontein, is owned by Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum and, in recording his third top-level win this year, will have provided some consolation for the owner who saw two of his homebred colts, Madhmoon (Ire) (Dawn Approach {Ire}) and Motamarris (Ire) (Le Havre {Ire}) run into places in the Classics at Epsom and Chantilly.

Hawwaam also highlights the importance of country suffixes for the breeding of Thoroughbreds as he is out of the Grade 3 winner Halfway To Heaven (SAf), not to be confused with Halfway To Heaven (Ire), herself a treble Group 1 winner and now the dam of the previous weekend’s G1 Tattersalls Gold Cup winner Magical (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}).

Sheikh Hamdan’s cousin, Sheikh Mohammed Obaid, saw his fine season continue on Friday with the G1 Investec Coronation Cup winner Defoe (Ire), 16 years after the 5-year-old’s sire Dalakhani (Ire) (Darshaan {GB}) won the Prix du Jockey Club. The Weekly Wrap has always had a soft spot for the Aga Khan’s grey stallion, who was retired from stud duties three years ago. Alas, Defoe, as a gelding, cannot continue this branch of a line which was made famous at Epsom by Mill Reef, Shirley Heights (GB), Reference Point (GB) and Slip Anchor (GB). It now largely hinges upon another grey Jockey Club winner, Reliable Man (GB), and Conduit (Ire), who stands at Hugh Suffern’s Tullyraine Stud in the north of Ireland after a stint in Japan.

Conduit, incidentally, made his first 3-year-old strike at Epsom on the day New Approach (Ire) won the Derby, landing a heritage handicap before going on to put his stamp on that particular Classic generation with victory in the St Leger.

Al Asayl rises again
Francis Graffard did a superb for Al Asayl Bloodstock with Bateel (Ire) (Dubawi {Ire}), the winner of the G1 Prix Vermeille and a pair of French Group 2 races, and he is now posting a similarly fine effort with another of the operation’s homebreds by the same stallion, The Revenant (GB).

Like Bateel, the 4-year-old gelding also started his racing career in Britain, where he won on debut at two, and he has thrived since his move to Chantilly, sailing unbeaten through all bar one of his seven starts. The Revenant’s progression this year is particularly noteworthy: he won the listed Prix Altipan on March 10, followed by the G3 Prix Edmond Blanc three weeks later and then the G2 Badener Meile last Thursday.

The Revenant, who is now being freshened up for an autumn campaign, is the second foal of his dam, the dual Group 3 winner Hazel Lavery (Ire) (Excellent Art {GB}), who was bought for €850,000 by Al Asayl when carrying her first foal by Frankel (GB). Her final appearance on the racecourse came when winning the G3 St Simon S., beating Frankel’s brother Noble Mission (GB), who went on to win Group 1 races in Britain, Ireland and France.

When one door closes…
One of the most interesting elements of working for TDN is being able to visit yards and watch horses and their trainers at work, but we may not be invited back to Chantilly after an unfortunate incident yesterday morning.

Embarrassingly, it took not one but two Group 1-winning trainers to rescue this correspondent from behind a stubbornly locked bathroom door and when brains and screwdrivers failed to solve the problem, it was left to the brute force of Fabrice Chappet and Elie Lellouche to assist in the bid for freedom. Sincere apologies to M. Chappet for the splintered doorframe and thanks to M. Lellouche for the help.



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