The Weekly Wrap: The Power And The Glory

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Atomic Force wins the Prix Robert Papin | Scoop Dyga

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It has been quite the week for two young stallions from Tally-Ho Stud. We barely stopped hearing about Mehmas (Ire) last season during his record-breaking assault on the freshman sires' championship, and the big question is always how a stallion will follow up on that early promise. It can be a long way to fall after a reputation is so swiftly created, but in the case of the 7-year-old son of Acclamation (GB) it looks very much as if he is consolidating his position as a stallion to follow with great interest. 

He now leads the second-season sires' list in Europe and has accrued progeny earnings almost double his nearest rival, Territories (Ire). A further nine black-type winners have been added this year, including Saturday's G3 Anglesey S. winner Beauty Inspire (Ire) and Going Global (Ire), who has doubtless broadened Mehmas's international appeal by winning three graded stakes in California. 

Almost certain to try his hand next in stakes company will be Gubbass (Ire), of whom we will hear more in tomorrow's TDN, the unbeaten winner of the Weatherbys Super Sprint.

Mehmas's fee rose in line with that burgeoning reputation from his 2020 low of €7,500 to €25,000 (he began his career at €12,500). By all accounts, his book was not difficult to fill at that price. Quite the opposite in fact.

Cotai Glory (GB) joined the Tally-Ho roster the following year and, of the 85 named foals from his first crop, more than half of them have already made it to the racecourse: 46 at the time of writing, of which 21 are now winners.

Six of those winners came in an eye-catching week for the 9-year-old stallion, which also included a second group victory for Atomic Force (Ire), who has now landed the G2 Prix Robert Papin and G3 Prix du Bois from his two French forays. Trained by Kevin Ryan for Siu Pak Kwan, the juvenile was gelded after his runner-up finish on debut at Musselburgh and has won all three subsequent starts. Naturally, he is now ruled out of a stud career himself but that only means that, like his sire, Atomic Force could potentially have a fairly lengthy career, whether he remains in Europe or heads to Hong Kong, where his owner is also heavily involved.

Cotai Glory himself raced for four years, winning the G3 Molecomb S. in his debut season. The son of top dual-hemisphere sire Exceed And Excel (Aus) had the G2 Flying Childers S. at his mercy on his next start, only to jink within the final furlong and unship his rider George Baker. An out-and-out sprinter, he raced beyond the minimum trip only five times in his 30 starts, and ran his fellow freshman sire Profitable (Ire) to a neck when second in the G1 King's Stand S. as a 4-year-old.

Over the last few years, there has been a concerted push by French racing to encourage more British owners to race in France for improved prize-money. How much the pandemic and onerous restrictions have acted as a deterrent for owners who would be unable to travel to see their horses is unknown, but undoubtedly the double whammy of Covid and Brexit has led to a significant drop in horse movements between the UK and France. 

Ryan is one of those trainers who has persisted with travelling horses and now has two group wins to show for it, while Charlie Appleby landed last week's G1 Grand Prix de Paris in scintillating fashion with the Irish Derby winner Hurricane Lane (Ire) (Frankel {GB}). 

Remarkably, the Robert Papin has been won by British-based trainers in nine of the last 10 years, and has only gone to a French trainer in 11 of the last 30 years. The first three home this time around were all trained outside France, with Italy's Vincenzo Fazio sending out the runner-up Baghed (GB) (Twilight Son {GB}) and George Boughey continuing his good season with the third-placed Hellomydarlin (GB). The latter represents another young Tally-Ho Stud resident, Galileo Gold (GB), who is alone among his peers in having sired two first-crop stakes winners to date in the listed winners Ebro River (Ire) and System (Ire). Both Hellomydarlin and Ebro River were bred by the O'Callaghans at Tally-Ho, as was Saturday's Redcar novice winner Uncs (Ire)–another from the Boughey stable.

Tally-Ho Stud can also claim some reflected praise from Cotai Glory's nearest challenger in the freshman sires' table, Ardad (Ire). The Overbury Stud stallion is currently leading the British charge and has similarly encouraging statistics in that he had only 63 named foals, 31 of which have run to date providing him with 14 winners including the G2 Norfolk S. winner Perfect Power (GB). He is trained by Richard Fahey, who also has Ardad's G2 Coventry S-placed Vintage Clarets (GB). Ardad was himself bred and breezed by Tally-Ho and is a son of the stud's flagship stallion Kodiac (GB), who is now in danger of being upstaged by some of his barn-mates.

Japan's Global Outlook

On the back of a strong Tattersalls July Sale in Newmarket, the JRHA's dominant Select Sale also returned a clearance rate of 93% and some eye-watering figures for its consecutive sessions of yearlings and foals in Hokkaido. The equivalent of roughly £150 million (€175 million) was spent across the two days, and though international participation is not necessarily a theme of the sale, particularly during the pandemic, there is no shortage of global interest when it comes to the bloodlines on offer. 

Even among just the top ten lots on each day, the foals and yearlings represented mares who had been recruited, usually by the Yoshida brothers, from around the world, including America, Australia, Argentina, Britain, Ireland, France and Germany.

Katsumi Yoshida also contributed last week to a new world record for the pandemic-inspired boom market of digital sales when buying the Australian Group 1 winner Funstar (Aus) (Adelaide {Ire}) for A$2.7 million. This made her the second highest-priced broodmare sold in Australia this year whether online or in person.

Yoshida's Northern Farm is also home to Funstar's fellow Group 1-winning half-sister Youngstar (Aus) (High Chaparral {Ire}) whom he acquired for A$1.4 million. Another of their half-sisters, the minor winner Baggy Green (Aus) (Galileo {Ire}), is the dam of the treble Group 1 winner Tofane (NZ) (Ocean Park {NZ}), and the family traces its way back through the first two generations at least, to Ireland and Britain.

The sisters are grand-daughters of Bill Gredley's User Friendly (GB) (Slip Anchor {GB}), who won the Oaks, Irish Oaks, Yorkshire Oaks and St Leger and was second in the Arc through her outstanding Classic season. She was sold at the end of her racing career at Keeneland for $2.5 million to Kazuo Nakamura and her first two daughters, User History (Mr Prospector) and Lady Venus (Kingmambo), both ended up as broodmares in Japan. Resold four years later to Barronstown Stud for $1.7 million, User Friendly went on to produce seven winners in Europe, including Funstar's dam Starspangled (Ire) (Danehill).

The family has also been represented in Europe in recent seasons by the Gredleys' 2018 champion juvenile filly Pretty Pollyanna (GB) (Oasis Dream {GB}), a grand-daughter of User Friendly's half-sister Friendlier (GB) (Zafonic).

Pure Anticipation

This Friday may provide a first chance to witness the latest runner from Ecurie des Monceaux's high-class broodmare Starlet's Sister (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}).

The chestnut filly Pure Dignity (GB), a Dubawi (Ire) half-sister to Arc winner Sottsass (Fr) (Siyouni {Fr}) and multiple Grade 1 winner Sistercharlie (Ire) (Myboycharlie {Ire}), topped Arqana's Select Sale last September when sold to Fawzi Nass and Oliver St Lawrence for €2.5 million. She is now in training in Newmarket with Roger Varian for her owners HH Shaikh Nasser Al Khalifa and KHK Racing and has her first entry at Ascot in the John Guest Racing British EBF Fillies' Novice Stakes on the opening day of the King George meeting.

Meanwhile, ongoing changes to restrictions, particularly between France and England, continues to make planning for the early part of the sales season a little fraught. Arqana's flagship August Yearling Sale had to be delayed last year until September and was thus renamed the Select Sale. The British government's announcement on Friday that travellers returning from France will have to undergo 10 days' quarantine and PCR testing threw a spanner in the works just ahead of so-called Freedom Day.

It is possible to attend both Arqana and the Goffs UK Premier Sale, which starts a week after the end of the August Sale and six days after Arqana's V.2 if taking up the test-to-release option after five days of quarantine, which of course comes at another extra cost. However, the rules are set to be reviewed once more at the beginning of August, so there is still hope that the 10-day quarantine, which does not apply to other countries on the UK's 'amber list' of foreign destinations, is removed before the European sales season gets underway. 

At least there is now free movement between Britain and Ireland. Long may that last, especially when it comes to offering some sort of stability for those sales companies and consignors trying to finalise yearling plans.

Royal Flush

The Queen may have only made it to her beloved Royal Ascot for the final day of the meeting but her horses are ensuring that she is enjoying a throughly decent season even if she cannot be on track. Tactical (GB) (Toronado {Ire}), King's Lynn (GB) (Cable Bay {Ire}) and Light Refrain (GB) (Frankel {GB}) are all homebred listed winners in the royal silks this year, with the latter also winning the G3 Summer S. on her latest outing on July 9.

On Friday, The Queen was represented by three runners from three different stables at Newbury and Newmarket, and all returned victorious, including Portfolio (Jpn), a daughter of Japan's late champion sire Deep Impact (Jpn) out of the listed winner Diploma (GB) (Dubawi {Ire}) who has won her last two starts for Sir Michael Stoute. 

McCain Girls Chip In

Donald McCain may have trained a Grand National winner of his own and been closely connected to the most famous Grand National horse of all time through his father's training of Red Rum (GB), but a Class 6 handicap and a maiden hurdle on July 14 nevertheless combined to provide an equally special day.

McCain's two daughters, Abbie and Ella, have both pursued a career in the saddle, with Abbie currently riding as a conditional over jumps and Ella as an apprentice on Flat. Last Wednesday, the stable's two winners at Uttoxeter and Ripon were each ridden by a McCain.

The trainer tweeted, “2 daughters, 2 rides, 2 codes, flat and jumps, 2 winners!! A very proud day.” Rightly so.

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