Pure Champion Shifts South

This is a serious horse. Local breeders will remember his dominant front-running display in the Group 1 Windsor Park Plate but some may not be aware that this attractive son of Footstepsinthesand was also successful in Group company in both Ireland and Hong Kong.

Thoroughbreds need to be physically and mentally tough to stand up to 36 starts in Hong Kong and for a stallion to do this is a remarkable achievement. Towards the end of his time in Asia his form did fall away but there are not too many stallions who retained their zest for racing to the extent that when he arrived in New Zealand at seven years of age he was more than making up the numbers at the highest level of competition.

Kiwi breeders may remember him as a front-runner but an examination of his best performances in Hong Kong show that he was a long way from being a one-dimensional racehorse. He certainly showed the ability to accelerate off a strong pace – a quality that many of us look for in assessing a stallion’s prospects. Any stallion with 50 starts on his resume must also have an excellent racing temperament and, as far as soundness is concerned, breeders would have few concerns with an animal which has competed in five different jurisdictions with widely varying racing surfaces.

Finally, those of you who have read my article about He’s Remarkable posted on 3 September will be well aware of my argument that we can easily be guilty of over-using a stallion’s own sire as a predictor of his likely success. If you are considering Pure Champion for your mare, the fact that Footstepsinthesand is not yet a noted sire of sires should not be seen as a negative factor. I’d be more interested in those statistics which tell us that the ability of Pure Champion is no fluke: his sire has produced 42 SWs and 565 winners from 1062 live foals – more than respectable figures.

Pure Champion is currently standing at Willow Glen Stud, Waimate, at the very reasonable fee of $4000 +GST. I am also impressed by Willow Glen’s agistment costs.

Keano Certainly Worth A Thought

Any relative of super sire O’Reilly has immediate appeal as a stallion prospect. If he’s by a stallion which won two championships in Hong Kong and if he was a more than handy racehorse himself, then the attraction grows stronger. Add in a bargain basement fee of $2000 and you’ve got to start doing your homework to see if he suits any of your mares.

As the headline suggests, the stallion I’m talking about is Keano. An expensive yearling, he raced in very strong company over the Tasman and his best win as a 3YO in the QTC Lightning Handicap is easily accessible on Youtube.

He’s already stood in Australia and only became available because his owner decided to sell all his thoroughbred holdings. As www.arion.co.nz shows us, he’s an attractive type; his purchase by Taranaki breeder Jeff Bliss may well prove to be an inspired decision.

Apart from his pedigree, what I really like about Keano is that he was obviously rock-solid sound. There are not many stallions currently available which have had 27 starts over three seasons. Readers of this site will be well aware of how highly I rate soundness in a stallion: whatever a horse’s level of ability, it’s all irrelevant if he can’t be relied on to stay in one piece.

Keano is likely to leave speed and his pedigree has been highly successful in both our and a variety of Asian racing environments. Without giving away too many trade secrets, I expect him to be well suited to mares by Howbaddouwantit, the Rahy and Nijinsky lines holding particular appeal.

Let’s hope Keano gets the opportunity he deserves.

Echoes Of Heaven Has Dream Debut

Whatever he ends up achieving in his stallion career you’d have to agree that Linwood Park’s son of Encosta de Lago carries one of the most evocative names in the Stallion Register.

It’s often been observed that good horses deserve striking names and it would be interesting to undertake a study to see whether there’s a correlation between a first-season stallion’s name and the quality of mares he receives. I’m not suggesting that a horse’s name is a major influence in a breeder’s decision but we’re very brand-conscious in this day and age, so you do have to wonder.

Anyway, Echoes of Heaven is a name with all sorts of positive associations and after the first race at Wanganui last Saturday you’d have to agree that the number of positive associations increased by one. The Duke of Jazz, a $13,500 weanling purchase, defeated a couple of heavily-backed progeny of Savabeel and Darci Brahma narrowly but well. The son of Such Sweet Thunder certainly appealed as a likely juvenile on physical type but, as I’ve observed before, looks are one thing and performance is another.

Interestingly, Echoes of Heaven has had very few representatives at public sales. This year he had one colt in the Select Sale and just four more in the Festival. The Select colt was a half-brother to Group 1 winner Habibi and the three Festival colts which found new homes averaged $13,000. If the former colt sounds familiar, he’s the one that our Cloughmore Racing Partnership bought into. I’d seen him as a possible staying 3YO but he’s done everything right so far and we’re currently trying to find a 2YO trial for him.

Given that there were two offspring of Echoes of Heaven in the first 2YO race of the season, perhaps his progeny will come earlier than many expected. Nevertheless, I still rate him primarily as a legitimate chance to leave classic 3YOs. He was a very handy young stayer, his best performance being a second placing in the Group 1 South Australian Derby before he contracted a serious illness which effectively concluded his career. His full-brother Manhattan Rain is beginning to look an above-average stallion. To date he’s had 41 winners from 87 starters including 5 SW and 5 SP performers.

All in all, Echoes of Heaven is well worth serious consideration as a stallion prospect – especially if you’ve got a Danzig and/or Sadler’s Wells line mare.

Pentire A Sire Of Sires?

Readers of articles posted on this site will be familiar with my enthusiasm for the stallion prospects of the Pentire horse He’s Remarkable. The other day I suggested to a client that HR might be a suitable mating for one of his mares.

“Oh no,” he replied. “I don’t fancy a son of Pentire as a stallion at all”.

I didn’t argue the point as I’ve learned the lesson over the years that thoroughbred breeders are extremely unwilling to jettison their prejudices. (I’d also have to say that there are more instances of otherwise entirely sane human beings following theories founded on a combination of prejudice and bad science in the world of thoroughbred breeding than in any other field of endeavour that I’m familiar with.)

Anyway, let me move on from my prejudices and ask you all a question. What do the following stallions have in common – Sir Tristram, Battle Waggon, Mellay, Noble Bijou, Balmerino, Zamazaan and Star Way. Yes, they are all highly successful stallions but, as they say on TV, there’s more…

That’s right! They are all sons of stallions that many people thought would find it totally impossible to leave sons who could become decent sires, let alone breed-shaping animals. Where would the recent history of New Zealand thoroughbred breeding be without horses of the calibre of Zabeel, Empire Rose, Grosvenor, Battle Heights, Panzer Chief, Battle Eve, Swell Time, Princess Mellay, Powley, The Phantom Chance, Prince Majestic, Bounty Hawk, Good Lord, Lord Reims, Sky Chase, Waverley Star….

You’ll note that I haven’t even got onto listing equine stars whose dams are by one of these stallions.

Anyway, I do think I’ve proved my case. Pentire is certainly a good sire. You’ve got to be considerably better than average to produce 43SWs including 12 Group 1 winners. He’s certainly been considerably more successful than Never Say Die (Battle Waggon), Trictrac (Balmerino) and Star Appeal (Star Way).

Perhaps I should conclude by noting that He’s Remarkable is out of a mare by Zabeel. Now, let me think, Zabeel’s sire was….?

Highly Recommended Indeed!

OK, it’s an obvious headline but I really do think that this Group 2 winning son of Fastnet Rock has a real chance of making it as a stallion.

The deeds of his sire are well known and he’s got a number of well-credentialled sons already shaping very promisingly as stallions. Hinchinbrook, for example, has already had six 2YO winners including the Group 1 winner Press Statement and the Listed winner Flippant. Stryker has a 2YO SW this season and Wanted, whose oldest progeny are now three, has 17 individual winners including a SW and two SP performers.

Highly Recommended’s dam also has a produce record to die for: 9 foals, 5 SWs by four different stallions, 8 winners and the only non-winner already the dam of a Group 2 winner. It’s hard to over-rate the importance of consistency in a pedigree, whether we’re looking for a potential racehorse or a potential stallion, and it’s difficult to find a mare that’s a more reliable producer of racecourse ability.

When a stallion has only one crop on the ground, it’s always difficult to make an accurate assessment as to the quality of his foals. Apart from the old saying of fools and foals going together, good looks and ultimate racing performance are not at all the same thing. What I can say is that I sent two of my mares down to Berkley Stud to be mated with Highly Recommended; both produced colts which appear to be very nice types in terms of conformational correctness. One foal looks very much like his dam, the other much less so. Both are well-muscled for their age but the quality that really strikes a chord for me is their temperament. I have bred over 200 foals and I can’t recall any that have been more sensible and relaxed.

All in all, breeders should seriously consider using Highly Recommended. He’s well priced and seems to have attracted strong books of mares in his first two seasons. He also has the advantage of having a pedigree which complements many of our leading bloodlines.

Stallion Of The Week – Roc de Cambes

Readers of this site will have noticed that May was a great month for Cloughmore – ten individual winners constitutes our second best ever monthly result – but it’s now time to focus our attention on the forthcoming breeding season. My plan is to write a series of articles which focus on stallions which seem to be flying under the radar. There is no significance at all in the order in which these articles will appear, and I’m equally sure that there are stallions which I won’t be writing about which also deserve large books of mares.

I’m starting with the son of Red Ransom because I’ve previously written an article on him and he’s a horse which I’ve always thought is likely to be under-rated. His race record marks him as a racehorse of the highest class; Japanese form has long been undervalued by the New Zealand breeder – Shinko King being a case in point. To my eye, he’s a stunning looking horse and he also boasts a pedigree which appears to suit many mares in our stud book.

I’ve had a good level of success with inbreeding to Turn-to via the Don Eduardo – Prized cross (All In Black, Don Doremo) and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Roc de Cambes continues to cross well with Zabeel. The Group 1 placegetter Reminisce is out of a Zabeel mare and SP Ragnaar is out of a grand-daughter of Zabeel mare. Incidentally, there’s another line of Sir Tristram close up in Ragnaar’s dam.

We often forget that the success of our breeding industry has historically rested on the use of bloodlines which one might describe as stout. Recently we’ve moved away from breeding stayers in order to satisfy the requirements of a variety of Asian racing environments. We continue to do so at our peril.

Don Doremo Devastating at Moonee Valley

As he holds a nomination for the Sydney Cup, it was with more than usual interest that I positioned myself in front of the TV set at 9.15 on Friday to see how Don Doremo would perform in his first race over ground in his current campaign.

The first thing I noticed was that he has grown into a stunning individual. The Robbie Laing stable has clearly done a great job conditioning the gelded son of Don Eduardo; he has a lot more substance than his dam Prangelica (Prized) and he also appears to have a more relaxed temperament.

From the jump Don Doremo cruised to the lead. He over-raced a little in the first few hundred metres but then settled nicely for Vlad Duric. The middle stages of the 2040 event proceeded smoothly and with 600 to go the chasing bunch appeared to be poised to pounce. However, Duric clearly knew the quality of the horse beneath him: a little more rein and daylight appeared between Don Doremo and the opposition. By the finish he was a comfortable four lengths clear and had established himself as one of the most promising stayers in Australia.

Bred by Terry Archer, Don Doremo is bred on the same Don Eduardo – Prized cross as the Hawkes Bay Cup winner All In Black. What attracted me about the cross was that both stallions are bred on the Turn-to – Princequillo cross with several No 16 family lines thrown in. The Turn-to line has a reputation for unsoundness but the other significant influences in the cross certainly haven’t; moreover, one must always remember that the further away a questionable influence is positioned in a pedigree, the less chance it has of having a negative impact.

Let’s hope Don Doremo makes the Sydney Cup field.

Cloughmore Racing Invests In Four Yearlings

The plan was to select just three youngsters at this year’s Karaka sales to buy into but we’re all guilty of succumbing to temptation at some time or other; as Oscar Wilde once wrote, “The only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it”.

Anyway, we started off with the Mastercraftsman – Plain Jill filly which had been one of my top pedigree selections in the Select catalogue. She made $20,000 which I thought was very good value for a nice individual by a proven sire out of a six-win mare which had already left a SW and several other winners. The filly was purchased by Ilone Kelly of New Plymouth.

Next came a lot I hadn’t considered as I had thought a half-brother to a recent Derby winner would command far too high a price for our budget. However, the Echoes of Heaven half-brother to Habibi made just $30,000. Unsurprisingly, she was signed for by Donna Logan; our partnership is looking forward to continuing our association with her successful stable.

The third yearling we were fortunate to become involved with was a Shaune Ritchie purchase, a Darci Brahma – Gabana filly. Foaled in early December, this stunning walking filly won’t come early, but at $16,000 she appears to be something of a steal. Her dam won four and her near relatives include the Group 1 performer, Armstrong.

At this point, our partnership thought that we had achieved pretty much what we wanted to. However, as the sale series moved on to the Festival section, it quickly became apparent that nice fillies were being given away. I noticed that Donna had purchased lot 1065, a Tavistock filly out of a Volksraad mare – the same cross which produced Volkstok’n’barrell. Given that she was also from Empire Rose’s family, this filly looked too good to pass up – especially considering her $16,000 price tag.

So there we are, the proud owners of a minority holding in four promising thoroughbreds. Let’s hope at least one of them is as good as Candle In The Wind.

That Was Impressive!

Candle In The Wind’s conclusive win in today’s Windsor Park Stud Karaka Stayers’ Cup justified her owners’ opinion that she is a horse of considerable class. However, it’s fair to say that Hugh Bowman’s masterful ride had a significant impact on the result.

We all know that stepping a horse up appreciably in distance is one of the most difficult feats for a trainer to manage successfully and it was a triumph for Team Logan that the transition went so smoothly. Hugh Bowman’s contribution was equally meritorious: he managed to settle the Darci Brahma mare back on the fence, improved her when the pressure went on and urged her to the finish without asking any more of her than was necessary. It was a text book ride and much appreciated by the owners.

Readers of this site will recall that our mare was purchased for a mere $2500 from the Select session of the 2011 Karaka sales. Donna Logan had noticed that Darci Brahma’s progeny were not selling well and asked me to sort out a filly with a strong pedigree from the remaining lots. The one that appealed was out of Prefer Blondes (USA). She had failed to win on the racetrack and her only foal to race had been similarly talented but I knew a little about her sire Gentlemen (ARG). He’d been the champion 3YO of his year in Argentina and had then raced in the USA before going to stud. Even though his stud record was modest he had proved to be a consistent sire of minor winners. Moreover, he had won six Group 1 events and Prefer Blondes’ dam was Let’s Sgor, 1991 Joint Wrightson Filly of the Year and winner of two Group 1 contests. Anyway, a quick visit to the trusty Arion Pedigrees site convinced me that this was the filly to go for.

It’s nice to be right but there’s always a significant dose of sheer blind luck involved in the process of finding a “good one”.

Let’s hope our luck holds at next week’s sales series.

Karaka Opportunities Abound

I was hoping to be able to report on Candle In The Wind’s Rich Hill Mile success, but one of the ongoing truths of the Festive Season is that we don’t always get what we want. The good news was that our Darci Brahma mare did herself proud, finishing more strongly than anything else in the Group 2 event and confirming our thoughts that she has the ability to be competitive at the highest level.

Regular readers of this site will recall that the mare was one of three yearlings the Cloughmore Racing Partnership bought into after the Karaka sales four years ago. A minority share in each horse for a minimal sum and although our Thorn Park – Grace Park colt broke down in his first preparation and our Lucky Unicorn – Durham Walk filly had limited ability, the Darci Brahma – Prefer Blondes filly has proved to have above average ability and provided the five of us with a lot of enjoyment – and a reasonable financial return. The fact that the Lucky Unicorn filly turned out to be a half-sister to top sprinter Durham Town hasn’t been bad news either – she’s currently in foal to Ekraar.

Anyway, now that the Cloughmore Racing concept has worked reasonably well, I feel that the time is right for a second partnership to be put together. The idea is for an initial investment of around $250 per person and the partnership’s holding in each horse selected to be somewhere between 10% and 20%. The original partnership has five members but this could be easily extended if the demand justified it. However, the key aspect of the partnership is that monthly payments be affordable – any arrangement will be structured so that racing does not become a financial strain on us. I should also point out that I charge no fees of any sort for arranging or managing partnerships.

I’ve recently completed my Karaka Yearling Sales Buyers’ Guide which involves analysing the pedigrees of every lot in the Select and Festival session. I’ve identified a number of horses which I rate highly in terms of their genetic potential; if any of these are purchased by trainers I have worked with in the past, they will be the yearlings I will focus on in including in the 2015 Partnership. I’m especially keen on yearlings by stallions which are out of fashion to some extent: Candle In The Wind cost a mere $2500, an outrageous price for a filly by a stallion standing at $20,000 but in 2011 all sorts of baseless rumours about his progeny were floating around. Current stallions which I think are highly likely to be undervalued by yearling buyers are Bachelor Duke, Captain Rio, Falkirk, Mastercraftsman, Postponed and Towkay. (I’ve included Mastercraftsman here because many of his progeny are quite plain).If we get very lucky we might add a stallion like Nadeem to the list. However, whatever the attractions of a yearling’s pedigree any prospective racehorse also has to have good conformation and a decent temperament.

Anyway, please feel free to get in touch if you’d like further information on anything outlined above.