Supporting Al Kazeem at the heart of Oakgrove Stud plans
Son of Dubawi to cover 15 of the operation's broodmares
Owner-breeder John Deer will lend Oakgrove Stud superstar Al Kazeem plenty of home support this year with the four-time Group 1 winner set to cover 15 of his 40-strong broodmare band.
Few will be unfamiliar with Al Kazeem's tale. Acquired by the Queen to stand at the Royal Studs after an initial racing stint during which he won three top-flight contests over ten furlongs, the son of Dubawi was found to be subfertile and covered a limited book, before exploding back onto the scene with a repeat win in the Tattersalls Gold Cup in Deer's colours at the Curragh in 2015.
Al Kazeem returned to Oakgrove Stud, situated opposite Chepstow racecourse, the following year and from there has been carefully managed to cover decent sized books of over 50 mares in 2016 and 2017.
"Al Kazeem is a very special horse to the boss," said David Hilton, who took over from Tim Lane as stud manager last April. "He tends to stamp his foals - they're strong, correct and well-made and all they want to do is please you.
"You'd also imagine that any of his two-year-olds who did well last year will train on."
Two of Deer's standout mares to be assigned to the ten-year-old this year are Marlingford, an unraced Oasis Dream half-sister to Zambezi Sun carrying to Charm Spirit, and Poplin, a Listed-placed Medicean mare who will pay a return visit to the sire.
Poplin, a 320,000gns purchase for Oakgrove at Tattersalls in 2013, is out of Lancashire Oaks winner Pongee, a brilliant producer from Luca Cumani's excellent Souk family.
"Poplin's the sort of mare that Al Kazeem will suit - she's a nice, big mare with plenty of size and quality," said Hilton.
"She hasn't had a runner yet but her three-year-old Excelebration filly is with Eve Johnson Houghton and her two-year-old Australia filly will be going to Roger Charlton.
"Her Nathaniel yearling filly is also a real cracker and has a massive, great walk on her.
"Marlingford has a fantastic Juddmonte pedigree and was bought in 2016 as a mate for Al Kazeem. He didn't get her in foal on her first two covers, which is why we sent her to Charm Spirit.
"Al Kazeem's best filly last year was the Listed-placed sprinter Golden Spell and she is out of an Oasis Dream mare, so we know the cross can produce a speedy one."
Al Kazeem's dam, the 20-year-old Darshaan mare Kazeem, is in foal to Kingman. The stud will decide on her future after she foals this year.
"We're going to let her foal and see how she copes with it," said Hilton.
"We've been very lucky because her last three have all been fillies, so hopefully we can keep the family going.
"She's got a very nice yearling filly by Oasis Dream and quite a racey looking two-year-old filly by Kingman, who's on the farm and just cantering away."
Azeema, a winning Averti half-sister to Al Kazeem, is among the seven Oakgrove mares heading across the Irish Sea this year and has a date with high-class sprinter Caravaggio.
Also visiting last year's Commonwealth Cup winner will be Aquarelle Rare, a daughter of the 2001 Prix de Diane winner Aquarelliste.
"We're supporting the Scat Daddy horses," said Hilton. "We're sending two to Caravaggio and two to No Nay Never. Caravaggio is a gorgeous horse and will put plenty of speed into them."
Aquarelle Rare hails from the same Wildenstein family as Breeders' Cup Classic hero Arcangues and Altesse Imperiale, another mare on Oakgrove's books.
Altesse Imperiale, a winning Rock Of Gibraltar mare, has already thrown the Racing Post Trophy third Altruistic and US Listed winner September Stars.
"Apart from Kazeem, Altesse Imperiale is the best producing mare that we've got," said Hilton.
"She's got bags and bags of quality and produced a very smart Gleneagles filly this year and will visit Oasis Dream.
"He's a sire that Mr Deer loves. He's proven himself as a racehorse and he's also a phenomenal broodmare sire, and we're supporting him with two very nice mares this year."
Joining Altesse Imperiale at Banstead Manor to be covered by Oasis Dream will be Exceed And Excel mare Exceptionelle, whose two-year-old Kingman filly will go into training with Charlie Hills.
"I've been impressed by Kingman," said Hilton. "The filly's been broken in at home and been ridden away. She's doing everything very easily, and I'd like to think she's a good start for the mare."
What a gal
Oakgrove's glittering broodmare band also includes Be My Gal, a Group 3 winner for the operation bred on the same Galileo-Danehill Dancer cross as elite winners Alice Springs, Minding and The Gurkha.
Having been rested last year, she will now grace the court of Al Kazeem's sire Dubawi at Dalham Hall.
A half-brother to Be My Gal by the same sire was sold by the operation for 200,000gns to the Hong Kong Jockey Club at Book 1 last year.
"Be My Gal will be having a good covering every year," said Hilton. "She's a lovely, big mare and has a very nice first foal by Oasis Dream, a colt, who has plenty of quality about him. She's our best younger mare."
Lady Grace, a Listed-winning sprinter by Orpen, returns to Enable's sire Nathaniel, the source of her highly rated son Glencadam Glory - a creditable ninth behind Wings Of Eagles in last year's Derby.
"Hopefully Glencadam Glory will make it as a Group horse," said Hilton. "On the back of him, Lady Grace will return to Nathaniel this year. We try to support him with some nice mares."
Oakgrove have three daughters of Lady Grace on their books - Penmaen, a Listed-winning sprinter by Pivotal pregnant to Zoffany who is lined up for No Nay Never; Pennard, an unraced daughter of High Chaparral due to Australia and set to visit Golden Horn; and the winning Shamardal mare Milady, who has already delivered a Territories filly foal and is on Teofilo's dance card.
"Milady has a very correct Territories foal," said Hilton. "She isn't the biggest mare, but the filly is a good size and has plenty of presence at this stage.
"Teofilo can put a bit of size into her, he's got a great track record and probably goes under the radar a little bit. It's the first time we're using him. Milady has a nice, deep shoulder and will probably suit him."
The Listed-placed Azamour mare Zamoura has already delivered a filly foal by Oasis Dream and will join Pennard in going to champion three-year-old Golden Horn.
"He was a phenomenal racehorse and is a cracking individual," said Hilton. "He'll put size and scope into anything and it's the same Green Desert line as Oasis Dream."
Clairette the highlight from first crop
Al Kazeem's daughter Clairette carried Deer's colours to win the second division of the Quidhampton Maiden at Salisbury in September to get him off the mark as a sire.
Past winners of the race include subsequent Prix Marcel Boussac scorer Sulk and the 1994 Oaks and Irish Derby heroine Balanchine.
"It was a very special day when Clairette won in John's colours," said Hilton. "She'll probably come back early and Roger thinks very highly of her. The hope is that she'll be a black-type filly this year.
"John's an incredibly passionate breeder and a huge supporter of British racing. What's great as well is that John's son Philip shares his passion for the stud and breeding, so I hope we'll be breeding top-class animals for a long time to come."
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