The Well Runs Deep at Coolmore

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Galileo | Coolmore

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For breeders, hope springs eternal, and at Coolmore spring appears to be springing early. Less than halfway into January the snowdrops are already nodding their optimistic heads while the daffodil bulbs appear to be eager to join in. Meanwhile in the deluxe stables there are new blooms of a different kind to be found, as top-class gallopers of recent years are now the budding stallions of tomorrow.

Before we address the recent intake at the most famous of Ireland’s stud farms, due praise must be given to Coolmore’s hardiest of perennials, Galileo (Ire), seemingly in rude health at 21 and standing at the farm which has been his home since 2002 alongside five of his sons—Australia (GB), Churchill (Ire), Gleneagles (Ire), Highland Reel (Ire) and The Gurkha (Ire)—while nearby at Castlehyde Stud stand Gustav Klimt (Ire) and Ruler Of The World (Ire). Furthermore, Order Of St George (Ire), Sans Frontieres (Ire) and Soldier Of Fortune (Ire) can be found on Coolmore’s National Hunt roster.

“We’re drilling for oil,” says Coolmore’s Director of Sales David O’Loughlin as he ponders the quest for the youngblood who will eventually wrest the baton from his father.

Despite the fact that 14 of Galileo’s sons have already sired a Group 1 winner, it seems hard to imagine that even one of them will go on to match his own formidable record, but then it also seemed unlikely that Sadler’s Wells’s towering career would ever be surpassed. However, in October 2018, son usurped father when Galileo, now a nine-time champion sire, was represented by his 74th Group/Grade 1 winner, Magical (Ire).

“Coolmore is involved on three continents, we’ve got an interest in America, Australia, and Europe,” says O’Loughlin. “The world has got much smaller, there’s so much more international racing, and that’s all reflected in our roster. But most of them come back to Galileo in some shape or form—the Galileo mares, the sons of Galileo.

“Many of the stallions were bred here in Coolmore, so we’ve a lot of faith in these horses. They’ve come through our farms, comes through the best of our bloodlines, they’re sirelines we can all believe in. Sire families, top-class racing families that produce lots of Group 1 horses.”

Among the new intake on the Flat roster this year, Gustav Klimt is the sole son of Galileo, but U S Navy Flag represents the increasingly successful cross of Claiborne’s War Front with mares by Galileo, while Saxon Warrior (Jpn) is a result of the broader international search for other lines to use with daughters of the champion, and is by Japan’s leading sire, Deep Impact (Jpn). Sioux Nation (Scat Daddy) is the only newcomer free of Galileo blood as the dual-hemisphere Group 1 winner Merchant Navy (Aus) has not joined his sire Fastnet Rock (Aus) on the shuttle north this season.

Through his exotic sireline and familiar female family, it is Saxon Warrior who perhaps best represents the vision of Coolmore’s founding fathers John Magnier, Robert Sangster and Vincent O’Brien, with a number of his forebears having played their parts in the early years of the breeding empire. It is a family rippled with Classic distinction: his fourth dam Rose Of Jericho (Alleged) produced Derby winner Dr Devious (Ire) (Ahonoora {GB}), while third dam Rain Flower (Ire) (Indian Ridge {Ire}) is the dam of Oaks winner Dancing Rain (Ire) (Danehill Dancer {Ire}).

Dancing Rain’s half-sister Sumora (Ire) (Danehill) proved an altogether speedier and more precocious package. Bred by Sangster with King Bloodstock, the listed-winning sprinter returned to the fold in 2011, when MV Magnier bought her from Croom House Stud for 2.4 million gns at the end of the year in which her daughter Maybe (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}) had sailed through an unbeaten juvenile season, culminating in victory in the G1 Moyglare Stud S. Maybe went on to run third to Homecoming Queen (Ire) (Holy Roman Emperor {Ire}) in the 1000 Guineas but that she never returned to her imperious best is of no consequence now that she has produced an unbeaten champion 2-year-old who became a 2000 Guineas winner.

O’Loughlin says, “Saxon Warrior was never beaten at a mile. He’s got such a great pedigree. He’s by Deep Impact, one of the best stallions in the world. He’s out of a Galileo mare who was a champion 2-year-old herself. It’s a great sire-producing family and an international family. The commercial world in particular at the moment is all about the international horse. The international buyers, they are the mainstays, the most important people at the sales.”

During the year in which Maybe was notching her string of five juvenile wins, the year-older Misty For Me (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}), already a dual Group 1 winner at two, added the G1 Irish 1000 Guineas and G1 Pretty Polly S., to her list of achievements. Extra glory was to come in her follow-up career with her second foal Roly Poly (War Front) landing three Group 1 wins, a feat matched by her full-brother U S Navy Flag. In an age in which speed and precocity are such requisites for the commercial market, it’s hard to see how this son of War Front will not be given every chance to succeed.

“He was a very quick horse,” says O’Loughlin of U S Navy Flag. “The first horse since Diesis to do the Middle Park and Dewhurst double, and he had the class to go on and win the July Cup at three. His dam was one of the best Galileo fillies Aidan [O’Brien] ever had. She has already bred a Group 1 winner by War Front in Roly Poly, so it’s a very fast family. Again it’s a family we have a lot of faith in. He’s a very tough horse, very genuine, as was his dam, as was his sister. So I think you have all the qualities there: speed, soundness, class.”

That Galileo has been an equally successful producer of top-class colts and fillies creates its own problem in finding outcrosses for his daughters in the broodmare band but this is being alleviated to a degree by the stallion whose name has never been far from the bloodstock news in recent years despite the fact that he died in December 2015. Scat Daddy was not perhaps fully appreciated during his eight-year tenure at Coolmore’s Ashford Stud, but posthumously his legacy is gathering pace. In Kentucky, he is succeeded at Ashford by last year’s Triple Crown winner Justify as well as Mendelssohn, while Coolmore’s Irish division appears, at this nascent stage of his stud career, to have an exciting heir in No Nay Never. The Scat Daddy line is reinforced in Ireland by Caravaggio, whose first foals are expected imminently, and the G1 Keeneland Phoenix S. winner Sioux Nation.

“I think it’s going to be a big part of the future for us now that we have so many of these good racemares by Galileo and we’ve covered them with War Front, we’ve covered them with Deep Impact, and we’re also trying Dubawi (Ire),” notes O’Loughlin. “What’s very exciting for us as well is that we now have a horse like No Nay Never and the other good Scat Daddys, and they are going to be made for the Galileo mares, too. So we’ve lots of options. Galileo has been working with so many lines, particularly the Danzig line, but there are so many options out there. He’s becoming tremendously influential as a broodmare sire.”

He continues, “We had Scat Daddy’s sire, Johannesburg, who was trained out of Ballydoyle. They all compliment each other: with a horse like Churchill (Ire), who’s Galileo over Storm Cat, and Misty For Me is Galileo over Storm Cat, it’s very encouraging for the Scat Daddy over Galileo [cross]. It gives us great hope for Gleneagles (Ire), another son of Galileo who’s out of a Storm Cat mare, who has his first runners this year.”

A year ahead of Gleneagles are two of his paternal half-brothers who delivered the Coolmore partners that most cherished prize on the first Saturday of June in consecutive years. The Derby winners Ruler Of The World and Australia (GB) each made a notable start with their first 2-year-olds last season, the latter with far greater ammunition, and hopes will be high that their early stakes winners will progress as would be expected of their parentage.

Gleneagles, so physically reminiscent of his sire and who achieved what to stallion masters must be the holy trinity of ‘stallion-making’ races when romping from the English Guineas to Irish Guineas to St James’s Palace S., is the next to be tested. He has his own rather charming foible in that he dislikes wearing rugs, so breeders viewing him this winter will find him woollier than his stud mates, but he already oozes that calm poise so well mastered by his sire and grandsire before him. It’s as if he’s already become accustomed to being admired by onlookers, and for a horse of his pedigree, with its abundant sprinkling of Group 1 winners and his close relationship to Giant’s Causeway, that is perhaps no surprise.

After Highland Reel (Ire) last year, who has been well supported at Coolmore as well as at Adam Sangster’s Swettenham Stud in Australia, the latest of Galileo’s sons to join the fray is Gustav Klimt. Against some of those aforementioned luminaries, he could be found wanting on race record—the G2 Superlative S. at Newmarket was the pinnacle of his success but he was third in the G1 Irish 2000 Guineas and was only half a length behind Without Parole (GB) (Frankel {GB}) when second in the G1 St James’s Palace S. Gustav Klimt’s neat stature may also be held against him by some, though we don’t have to look too far beyond even his own sireline to remind ourselves that when it comes to stallions, size isn’t everything.

What this small horse with a big walk does have going for him in bundles is his pedigree, as O’Loughlin explains. “He’s out of Massarra (GB), who’s a full sister to Kodiac (GB) and a half sister to Invincible Spirit (Ire). I know a lot of Irish breeders who made a lot of money along the way out of Kodiac and Invincible Spirit, and they are horses who upgrade their mares. This is a great chance to get in at a lower level, particularly in these tougher times, to breed to a horse with such a pedigree, who had the ability to be placed in the Guineas, the Sprint Cup, most of the good races through the year, and he was a Group 2 winner as a 2-year-old. He was a much better racehorse at two than Kodiac or Invincible Spirit. But to have that racing ability, the really good looks, and that pedigree backing him up, he has a great chance.”

To have sons of Galileo, War Front, Scat Daddy and Deep Impact retiring together in one year may on one hand reflect the increasing internationalisation of the bloodstock business, but they also trace back to those glory days in North America, particularly in Kentucky, which both inspired the launch of Coolmore and in turn were boosted by the big-spending triumvirate of Magnier, O’Brien and Sangster.

The blending of bloodlines on different continents is nothing new, but it is a practice which is being quite forcefully reinvigorated of late.

O’Loughlin says, “There are Australians breeding in Europe, there are Europeans breeding in Australia, the Americans are back in Europe, selling and buying—there was a very strong presence at Book 1 last year from all over the world, but particularly from America. To reiterate, it’s a small world, but the bloodlines traditionally have intermingled, and that’s what breeding is all about, the international mix.”

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