A first for Frankel and the marvel of Meon Valley: Anapurna's breeding in focus
Martin Stevens pores over the pedigree of the Oaks heroine
Anapurna delivered a victory in the Oaks at Epsom on Friday that will give pedigree enthusiasts and bloodstock industry professionals plenty to chew over in the immediate aftermath and with this autumn's sales and next year's covering season already in mind.
Listed below are some of the most important points about her breeding.
1. Frankel proves a point
The filly, trained by John Gosden for Meon Valley Stud, becomes a first European Classic winner for undefeated dual world champion Frankel as sire.
She hails from the third crop sired by Frankel at Banstead Manor Stud and although he has amassed six Group/Grade 1 winners already – including no less than a world champion in Cracksman and a Japanese Classic heroine in Soul Stirring – there had been some mutterings about the absence of a scorer in one of Europe's major Guineas, Derby, Oaks or St Leger races from his progeny record.
That lack of a European Classic winner had been highlighted by the fact that some of Frankel's contemporaries and juniors such as Camelot, Declaration Of War, Kingman and Nathaniel had beaten him to the punch by achieving the feat.
Anapurna will go some way to silencing those doubters who weren't satisfied with the remarkable volume of quality in Frankel's crops – as proven by a 17 per cent black-type winners to runners ratio – because they didn't yet contain a European Classic winner. The sire's two other representatives in the race, Frankellina and Mehdaayih, were not disgraced by finishing sixth and seventh either.
This year's Oaks serves to reiterate that Banstead Manor Stud houses two of the most exciting proven young stallions in Europe and indeed anywhere in the world in Frankel and Kingman.
Kingman has been in red hot form with his first crop of late, with son Persian King having taken the Poule d'Essai des Poulains and looking to back up in the Prix du Jockey Club on Sunday and the likes of King Of Comedy, Nausha and Private Secretary notching stakes successes.
Both he and Frankel look likely to boast six-figure covering fees in the 2020 breeding season in Europe. In the meantime, mare owners wanting to send their charges to the pair to southern-hemisphere time in Newmarket this autumn will need to stump up £80,000 for the sire of Anapurna or £70,000 for the source of Persian King.
2. Meon Valley are simply marvellous
The foundation of illustrious Hampshire nursery Meon Valley Stud with a handful of relatively inexpensively bought fillies in the late 1970s is by now a well worn story, but it bears repeating in the afterglow of Anapurna's victory.
Stud owner Egon Weinfeld, assisted by bloodstock agent Richard Galpin, cherry-picked three fillies from the yearling sales at Tattersalls in 1977 – Odeon, One In A Million and Reprocolor.
Odeon, a Royal And Regal half-sister to Listed winner and 1,000 Guineas fourth Princess Bonita, cost 38,000gns and went on to win the Galtres Stakes and finish second in the Nassau, Park Hill Stakes and Fillies' Mile. She was the granddam of Oaks victress Lady Carla, sold by Meon Valley to Wafic Said as a yearling for 220,000gns, and Irish 1,000 Guineas third Starbourne.
Reprocolor, a daughter of top-class miler but ordinary sire Jimmy Reppin, set the stud back 25,000gns and won the Lingfield Oaks Trial before finishing fourth in the Epsom Classic. She founded an extraordinary family for the stud in double quick time, thanks to seven of her first eight foals being fillies.
Among Reprocolor's many top-class descendants are daughter and Irish Oaks heroine Colorspin, dam of Group 1 winners Kayf Tara, Opera House and Zee Zee Top, and Group 3 winner and 1,000 Guineas third Bella Colora, dam of champion Stagecraft.
One In A Million, meanwhile, was an 18,500gns daughter of Rarity who triumphed in the 1,000 Guineas and Coronation Stakes and produced a filly even better than herself at stud in the shape of Milligram, conqueror of Miesque and Sonic Lady in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes.
Another of One In A Million's daughters, Coronation Stakes third Someone Special, became dam of Juddmonte International winner One So Wonderful and Group winners Alnasr Alwasheek and Relatively Special.
Anapurna, who gives Meon Valley Stud a first Oaks winner in home silks, is a member of the One In A Million clan as she is out of Dash To The Top, a quirky but highly talented daughter of Montjeu who finished second in the Yorkshire Oaks and fifth in the Irish Oaks.
Dash To The Top is a half-sister to Warwickshire Oaks winner Dash To The Front, dam of dual Group 1 heroine Speedy Boarding, out of Millennium Dash, a winning daughter of Nashwan and Milligram.
Meon Valley Stud could be in for a monumental Epsom Classic weekend as their homebred Dante Stakes scorer Telecaster – a scion of the Reprocolor dynasty being out of Shirocco Star, beaten a neck into second in the Oaks – is among the leading fancies for the Derby on Saturday.
3. Sadler's Wells inbreeding gathers pace
Anapurna becomes a second Oaks winner with close inbreeding to Sadler's Wells, with her sire Frankel being a paternal grandson of the Coolmore legend via Galileo and her damsire Montjeu being a son.
In breeding terms, that makes her inbred 3x3 to Sadler's Wells.
Enable, who struck at Epsom two years ago, was even more closely inbred – 2x3 – as she is by another son of Galileo in Nathaniel out of a mare by Sadler's Wells himself.
They join a growing number of high-class horses whose pedigrees contain duplications of Sadler's Wells, of which Dewhurst winner Parish Hall (3x3, by Galileo's son Teofilo out of a Montjeu mare) was one of the most high-profile harbingers.
Since then there has also been the likes of Derby runner-up Cliffs Of Moher (2x4) and Eminent (3x3), while over jumps there are the likes of Commander Of Fleet (3x3), Footpad (3x2), Pentland Hills (3x3) and Tiger Roll (3x3).
The emergence of stars inbred to Sadler's Wells on the Flat was always highly likely, such has been the success of Sadler's Wells and leading sons Galileo and Montjeu and others like Barathea, High Chaparral and In The Wings. It was inevitable over jumps where Sadler's Wells has been even more dominant, with less competition from the Danehill, Green Desert and Storm Cat lines.
Doubling up on the influence of Sadler's Wells is evidently no bad thing in the right mating, and those squeamish about inbreeding would do well to remember that horses would not be so picky if they were left to their own devices turned out in a field.
However, with the Derby on Saturday featuring 12 out of 13 entrants hailing from the Galileo sire-line and the other being by Montjeu's son Camelot, there might rightly be cause for concern over a narrowing of the gene pool in elite stamina breeding.
Effective middle-distance sires with no Sadler's Wells in their genetic make-ups are urgently needed, and none are more aware of that than Coolmore themselves.
The custodians of Sadler's Wells, Galileo and Montjeu and the chief beneficiaries of their brilliance, they have scoured the world for worthy outcrosses – the likes of American Pharoah, Deep Impact, Dubawi and Justify coming on to their radar in recent seasons.
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