Whitsbury Manor Supporting Its Own

The first foals by Havana Grey hit the ground in 2020 | racingfotos.com


When starting off a new stallion, an important part of inspiring confidence in outside breeders is for the horse's home farm to be giving him plenty of support. This is routinely the case at Whitsbury Manor Stud, where the pedigrees of their stakes-winning offspring are liberally spiced with names from its own roster on both sides.

Take, for example, the two group winners from the first crop of Due Diligence last season. Both Good Vibes (GB) and Streamline (GB) were bred at Whitsbury Manor from daughters of the farm's late resident Compton Place (GB). The same can be said for young Shadwell sire Tasleet (GB), by the Harper family's flagship stallion Showcasing (GB) out of Bird Key (GB), by Cadeaux Genereux (GB).

“I'm the one speaking to the breeders and I can't be recommending horses if we're not sending mares to them ourselves,” says stud director Ed Harper. “We won't buy a horse unless we're happy sending him 10, 12, 20 mares. We will regularly think about a stallion prospect while he's racing and think that we all quite like him and then we say, 'would we be happy sending 20 of our own mares?' It's a very different feeling answering that question. You suddenly know whether it's a horse you want or not and if the answer is yes, then you have to have a crack.”

As we speak, Harper has just welcomed the first known foal by Havana Grey (GB), born on Jan. 13. While Due Diligence has first 3-year-olds this season and the first crop of Adaay (Ire) will hit the track, as much scrutiny will be given to the foals being born over the next few months of the Group 1-winning sprinter Havana Grey, a great grandson of Galileo (Ire), by Havana Gold (Ire).

“The beauty of Havana Grey is that we could pretty much breed to him blind with our mares because he is fairly unique in that he is a genuine sprint option from the Galileo line,” Harper notes. “There are fast stallions from the Galileo line, of course, but not out-and-out sprinters. So we have our speedy Danzig line mares–our Green Desert line mares, our Danehill line mares –and actually finding different sire line options for them to keep the speed but to mix it up is tricky. But when you have Havana Grey, he just suited every single one. There wasn't a single mare that we couldn't have bred to him if we wanted to.”

He adds, “After such a busy first season for him, we are keen to keep up the momentum and are supporting him again with around 20 of our own mares.”

These include the homebred Cliffhanger (GB) (Canford Cliffs {Ire}), who is currently in foal to Adaay. The 6-year-old is a half-sister to the G3 Jury S. winner Pastoral Player (GB) (Pastoral Pursuits {GB}) and to listed winner Chil The Kite (GB) (Notnowcato {GB}). Also on Havana Grey's dance card is Springing Baroness (GB) (Bertolini), the dam of last season's Brocklesby winner and G3 Molecomb S.-placed Show Me Show Me (GB) (Showcasing {GB}), who is another to be carrying to Adaay, while treble winner Sufficient (GB) (Showcasing {GB}), out of the G1 Prix Saint Alary place-getter Good Enough (Fr) (Mukkadamah), will visit him in her first season.

Harper reports that the two group winners for War Front's young son Due Diligence both remain in training, with Streamline being aimed at the G1 Commonwealth Cup. He says, “We are delighted with the start Due Diligence got off to with his first 2-year-olds, so we are sending him around a dozen mares this season, including sending back the dams of his two group winners.”

Those daughters of Compton Place are Ahwanee (GB), the dam of Streamline, who is not in foal this year, and Satsuma (GB), who is carrying a member of Havana Grey's first crop. Her G3 Cornwallis S. winner Good Vibes was bought by David Redvers for 390,000gns at the recent Tattersalls December Sale and has joined the stable of Michael Dods from David Evans.

For Whitsbury Manor Stud's young son of Kodiac (GB), Adaay, his home mares for the season include Showcasing's half-sister Frequent (GB) (Three Valleys), who is currently in foal to Havana Grey.

“She's a lovely-bodied mare, she's got all the room and shoulder to produce nice stock and she's already produced a good horse by Foxwedge (Aus), called Rathbone (GB), who could make up into a black-type sprinter,” Harper notes. “But she does have a mediocre hind leg and Adaay is so reliable with hind-leg conformation, so it's a mixture of trying to send him nice pedigrees and him helping us out from a conformation point of view.”

Another on Adaay's book for the year is the 90-rated seven-time winner Stellarta (GB) (Sakhee's Secret {GB}).

Harper adds, “It's a scary time when a stallion has his first runners. There's huge anticipation: his yearlings sold very well and are spread around different trainers. He was a very fast and early horse himself so hopefully they'll be get-up-and-go 2-year-olds. Shadwell, who we own Adaay in partnership with, were very supportive of his yearlings in the ring.”

The early success of Whitsbury Manor Stud's headline stallion Showcasing has guaranteed that he remains a popular choice for breeders and among the farm's mares on his list for the season is the 19-year-old Bird Key, who is also currently in foal to him and has already provided Showcasing with one of his four young stallion sons, the G2 Duke of York S. winner Tasleet. The list of Showcasing's sons at stud is completed by Soldier's Call (GB), Advertise (GB) and Cappella Sansevero (GB).

“Bird Key is getting on a bit now so not only do we want to repeat the recipe but I wouldn't want to be sending her on a long journey,” says Harper. “I'm not going to pretend I knew what we would get when we first sent her to Showcasing but in hindsight she is a tank of a mare, very strong with big shoulders, and she is by a proper stallion in Cadeaux Genereux. It's the physical substance that I like to go to Showcasing whilst keeping the speed.”

He continues, “Now that Showcasing has shown that he works best with quality speed pedigrees, we have either purchased new fillies with what we believe to be the right credentials, or are sending back our mares that have already crossed successfully with him.”

These include Mecca's Gift, a daughter of the July Cup winner Frizzante (GB) (Dark Angel {Ire}). The latter's half-sister Frangipanni (GB) (Dansili {GB}) is the dam of Showcasing's exciting 3-year-old, the G2 Prix du Calvados winner Tropbeau (GB).

“She was a bit of a no-brainer purchase for us,” says Harper, who bought the 4-year-old Mecca's Gift at the Horses-in-Training Sale for 25,000gns.

Place In My Heart (GB) (Compton Place {GB}), the dam of the dual group 2 winner Heartache (GB) (Kyllachy {GB}), was sent to Banstead Manor Stud to visit Kingman (GB) last year and she will now visit Showcasing, a mating which has already produced the black-type earner Heartwarming (GB).

Another recent purchase, Damdam Freeze (Fr) (Indian Rocket {GB}), the dam of two black-type offspring already in Kendam (Fr) and Kenfreeze (Fr), both by Kendargent (Fr)), is not in foal this year but also heads to Showcasing.

Harper says, “With Showcasing now, it is a case of how we make the best use of him and keep the momentum going. I strongly believe that it is by sending him fast mares. His success is helping the other stallions, too, because he has showed that it is possible for us to create a stallion that goes up through the rungs. I think Adaay and Havana Grey in particular are benefitting from that.”

Of those to be leaving the farm temporarily to be covered by outside stallions, Harper has elected to send Bubbly (GB) (Excelebration {Ire}), a half-sister to the dam of crack sprinter Marsha (Ire) (Acclamation {GB}), to Zoustar (Aus) at Tweenhills.

“I follow Australian racing closely and have seen how well he's doing,” he explains. “He's a gorgeous-looking horse and we bought Bubbly with a view to potentially coming to Showcasing second time around. She's a little light physically and I wanted to put real size and substance in her first time up so that we don't get a small first foal. Zoustar was a good option and we like to support other independent studs when we can.”

The aforementioned Heartwarming will visit Darley's new stallion Too Darn Hot (GB) in her first season.

“We probably tend to experiment a little bit more with outside stallions when the mares are maidens because we're happier to send them off in the lorry,” Harper reasons. “It's a turn of foot that I really look for in a stallion and Too Darn Hot had that. Although he is from a more middle-distance family I'm confident that he will pass on speed. He's quite close-coupled and she's fairly long in the back so it might just work well.”

Tafilly (Ire) (Red Rocks {Ire}), a full-sister to the dam of Fox Champion (Ire), will go to that German 2000 Guineas winner's sire Kodiac (GB).

Harper concludes, “Con Marnane bred Fox Champion and sent her dam to Prince Of Lir (Ire) and she produced a good-looking yearling who sold very well last year. So that pedigree has been tested well with the Kodiac sireline and it will be great to start Tafilly off with a proven sire of his calibre. Tally-Ho Stud have been very good supporters and have bought foals from us, so if we have a reason that we can support them we like to do that.”

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