No halting the Invincible Spirit bandwagon as sire sons shine at Royal Ascot
Nancy Sexton looks at the growing legacy of the Irish National Stud stallion
As soon as there was any inkling of the potential of Invincible Spirit as a sire of sires, stallion masters wasted no time in jumping on the bandwagon.
The notion that the Irish National Stud veteran could have an important role to play through his sons proved spot on. Many have been highly successful, among them Kingman and top Australian sire I Am Invincible. Even those who have fallen to the colder side of fashion remain in the news, one example being Lawman, who sired Fillies’ Mile winner Pretty Gorgeous out of his tenth crop.
That trend was further underlined at Royal Ascot last week, a meeting at which Invincible Spirit was showcased in a rather good light.
From the meeting’s opener, in which Kingman’s Palace Pier captured the Queen Anne Stakes, to the final day, when the former 55-rated Mayson gelding Rohaan continued his remarkable progression for Dave Evans with victory in the Wokingham Handicap, Invincible Spirit was never far from the action.
Three of his sons - Kingman, Mayson and Profitable - sired Group winners, while Cable Bay, National Defense and Shalaa were represented by top-three finishers.
The highlight was undoubtedly the opening-day Group 1 double secured by Palace Pier and Oxted, a son of Cheveley Park Stud’s Mayson, in the Queen Anne and King’s Stand Stakes. Then on Friday, Dragon Symbol added further to the collection by finishing first past the post in the Commonwealth Cup. The colt is one of 16 stakes performers from the first three crops of Highclere Stud’s Cable Bay.
Of particular significance going forward, however, was the outcome to the Queen Mary Stakes, won by the Profitable filly Quick Suzy over the American raider Twilight Gleaming to ensure a one-two finish for Invincible Spirit granddaughters.
An excellent sprinter for Clive Cox who struck at Royal Ascot himself in the King’s Stand Stakes, Profitable has been popular throughout his stud career to date at Kildangan Stud and a strong proposition commercially - a powerful horse, his first yearlings looked the part at last year’s sales, as an average of over 40,000gns attests.
That, in turn, will always lead to an element of hype, but with a Queen Mary Stakes winner now on his record alongside several promising other types, notably the dual scorer Thunder Love and debut winners Ammolite and Zebelle, that pressure has been alleviated to some extent.
Similarly, Twilight Gleaming’s performance marked an important moment for her sire, National Defense, particularly so given that the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere winner has only 29 first-crop two-year-olds on the ground. At £75,000, Twilight Gleaming was also the most expensive of his 20 yearlings to pass through the ring by her sire last year.
However, arguably taking centre stage as the sire of two winners and damsire of another was Mayson.
At a fee of £4,000, July Cup winner Mayson is very much a friend of the smaller breeder. He was a reliable and tough sprinter during the course of an 18-race career for Richard Fahey and it is those attributes, namely speed, soundness and durability, that often underpin his stock.
Oxted, bred by Homecroft Wealth Racing out of the useful sprinter Charlotte Rosina, is his leading performer in six crops of racing age, but don’t bet against Rohaan making a successful leap into Group 1 company sooner rather than later.
The pair are two of nine stakes winners sired by Mayson in five crops that average out at 83 foals. Several have been effective two-year-olds, notably Global Applause (won National Stakes), Dance Diva (won Empress Stakes) and Maystar (won Prix Moonlight Cloud), to complement an older Group winner such as Oxted.
There is the perception that Mayson is a soft-ground sire, triggered no doubt by his easy win on bottomless ground in the 2012 July Cup. However, more than 50 per cent of his runners have won when faced with good or good to firm ground in Britain and Ireland, and, in a show of versatility, it was riding good to firm for Oxted's King’s Stand Stakes victory and soft for Rohaan’s Wokingham success.
“Richard Fahey has always said that his stock go on different types of ground,” says Chris Richardson, managing director of Cheveley Park Stud. “Like himself, they’re very genuine and tough individuals. They’re versatile and, in that, I think there’s a bit of his damsire Pivotal coming through.”
Mayson’s popularity has waned in recent years - he has 34 two-year-olds on the ground and covered 61 mares last year - but in the fast-moving world of bloodstock fashion, he isn’t alone in that trend, especially as a lower-priced middle-aged stallion. However, he covered more than 70 mares this year and, given his current vein of form, is no doubt back on the radar of several breeders.
“He’s a little superstar really,” says Richardson. “These types of stallions keep the smaller breeder in business. He gets a winner most days but has also proven that he can get a top-class horse. The number of stallions standing in England is not what it was ten years ago and it’s important to have a horse like this that British breeders can use.”
The success of Mayson, described by Richardson as “very enthusiastic about life and a gentleman to be around”, capped an excellent week for Cheveley Park Stud, who were also on the scoresheet as the owners of Indie Angel, successful in the Duke of Cambridge Stakes, and breeders of Berkshire Shadow and Significantly, successful in the Coventry Stakes and Palace of Holyroodhouse Stakes.
Significantly is a son of Garswood, who holds an entry in the Tattersalls July Sale following a stint in France, and out of the Mayson mare Rosebride. Mayson’s eldest daughters are still only seven yet his record as a damsire also includes the useful two-year-olds Devious Angel and Aint Misbehaving, both of whom are by Cotai Glory. It’s an encouraging start (in a department that Invincible Spirit has yet to truly excel in) and one that promises to add another dimension to this likeable stallion.
There are currently nine stakes-producing sons of Invincible Spirit at stud in Europe. In addition to the well established names, several of the younger horses are also showing promise, including Territories, who is operating at a winners to runners strike-rate just shy of 40 per cent, and Shalaa, the sire of Irish 1,000 Guineas third No Speak Alexander.
All of which should be music to the ears of those studs in charge of the latest sons coming through. It’s a powerful group given it includes Magna Grecia, Eqtidaar, Invincible Army and Inns Of Court, all of whom have been well supported by breeders.
The royal meeting also provided further affirmation of the increasingly important role that Rafha has to play within the breed.
Through her place as the dam of both Invincible Spirit and Kodiac, Prince Faisal’s Prix de Diane winner Rafha sits in the background of six of the week’s winners and 18 of the top-three finishers.
As outlined, it was something of a landmark meeting for the Invincible Spirit tribe. However, within a relatively short space of time, Kodiac’s importance has extended beyond his own reputation as a high-profile source of speed and into the powerful territory of successful sire of sires.
That newfound status was well on show last week as two of Kodiac’s sons, Ardad and Kodi Bear, sired the Norfolk Stakes one-two, Perfect Power and Go Bears Go.
For Overbury Stud’s Ardad, the success of Perfect Power accentuated the fast start that he has made with his first crop.
As a Windsor Castle Stakes winner and expensive breezer, Ardad was expected to throw sharp types. And sharp they are, yet trainers also speak of a genuine and determined attitude, an aspect that tends to be typical of the Kodiac line.
Ardad, who like Perfect Power was bred by Tally-Ho Stud, is the fourth son of Kodiac to sire a stakes winner - only five of them have runners - and the second to sire the winner of the Norfolk after Ballyhane Stud’s Prince Of Lir, successful last year courtesy of The Lir Jet.
Ardad’s haul also included Coventry Stakes third Vintage Clarets, while Kodi Bear was also represented by the Commonwealth Cup third Measure Of Magic alongside Go Bears Go. Rathbarry Stud’s Kodi Bear is a stallion who has impressed this season, with the Oaks runner-up Mystery Angel and the fast French two-year-old Diablotine also helping push him to within the top four European second-crop sires.
As for Kodiac, he made his presence felt thanks to the Commonwealth Cup winner Campanelle. Another bred by Tally-Ho Stud, her duel with the first-past-the-post Dragon Symbol encapsulated Rafha’s growing influence, that colt being a son of Cable Bay and therefore a grandson of Invincible Spirit.
For a filly who was described by her trainer Sir Henry Cecil as being “knee high to a bumble bee”, that’s quite a legacy.
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