The results are in: readers' mating plans for Lion Cavern mare Local Spirit
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Here he reveals his readers' excellent and well-argued suggestions for a sire to cover Local Spirit, a shout out that obviously caught the imagination - subscribers can get more great insight from Martin every Monday to Friday.
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Thanks to the many readers who generously gave their time and waived their consultancy fees to supply Lincolnshire breeder James Gray with stallion suggestions for his Lion Cavern mare Local Spirit.
To refresh your memory, the latest case for the Good Morning Bloodstock Crowdsourced Mating Plans Agency™ won a ten-furlong Lingfield maiden and finished second in the Lancashire Oaks in her racing pomp.
As well as being by Lion Cavern, a Mr. Prospector brother to the influential sire Gone West, she is out of the winning Diesis mare Crimson Conquest, making her a full-sister to the brilliant racemare Crimplene.
Local Spirit has produced four winners, namely Active Spirit (by Pivotal), Al Saham (by Authorized) and Classic Collection (by Cape Cross), all smart milers to middle-distance horses on the Flat, and Local Affair (by Teofilo), a Listed-placed performer over hurdles.
James was looking at spending no more than £15,000 this year on the covering fee for the stallion, who had to have a good hind leg. He was open-minded about whether the foal should have obvious commercial appeal for the sales, or be slightly less fashionably bred with a view to racing it himself.
Many readers latched on to the fact that Local Spirit’s highest rated runner, Al Saham, is by Authorized, as is her half-sister Dresden Doll’s Group 2-winning son Prize Money, and suggested tapping into the Montjeu line again.
“Try to breed another Treve by going to Motivator, or try something new with Authorized’s son Santiago,” said Martin Chappelhow, whose name is an anagram of ‘RP wealth champion’, which can only be auspicious.
Bruce Urquhart, based in France, said he “thoroughly enjoys” Good Morning Bloodstock as it is “well researched and amusing.” Don’t let that colour your judgement of his critical faculties, though, as his other comments look more prudent on paper.
“Obviously Authorized was the clear choice and Montjeu looks the go-to grandsire, so what about Masked Marvel?” he said, before throwing in a curve-ball with the more obscure French sire Choeur Du Nord, “who had few runners but enjoyed a fantastic 2021”.
Showing his working out, he continued: “Montjeu had Northern Dancer as his grandsire, while Choeur Du Nord had Northern Dancer on the topside in the fourth generation, and Montjeu had Top Ville as his grandsire on his dam's side, while Choeur Du Nord had Top Ville as the grandsire on the dam's side of Voix Du Nord, his sire.
“As I’m sure everyone would agree, the most potent line into modern National Hunt sires is that of Northern Dancer and we get the added bonus of the great sire appearing on the dam's side, as Choeur Du Nord's dam Cardoudalle is by Cadoudal.
“Then if we really want to go off piste, Cadoudal's sire Green Dancer was responsible for the dam of Halling (by Diesis, a big influence in the family of Lion Cavern), who is the sire of the very useful sire Coastal Path.”
Ian Smart said he is “very much a novice” when it comes to mating plans, but he must be a novice of Coneygree proportions as he reached a similar conclusion to many.
“For a potential National Hunt runner I’d pick Masked Marvel, who stands at Haras de La Tuilerie at €7,000,” he wrote. “His recent exploits include siring Sel Jem, a Grade 1 runner-up at Auteuil, and Teahupoo, a Grade 2 hurdle winner.”
Michael Delahunty, one of Good Morning Bloodstock’s younger readers, sent an extraordinarily detailed run-down of the options available to Local Spirit, which James read in its entirety and described as “Great work – strong opinions backed up by well researched facts”.
Michael’s headline advice was to pick out Motivator as an affordable entry point into the Montjeu sire-line.
“His 44 per cent winners to foals is equal to Authorized,” he said. “He can throw a top-notcher like Treve on the Flat and Grade 1-performing hurdlers in Stormy Ireland, Buzz, Modus and Pentland Hills.
“Camelot is over ten times his fee at €75,000 but his winners-to-foals ratio is lower at 38 per cent and his five per cent stakes winners does not overshadow Motivator’s three per cent too much.
“Although Motivator is not overly popular, I think he represents value and is proven to produce proper racehorses that can perform at the highest level under both codes.”
Michael also described how Doctor Dino had high commercial appeal at sales of National Hunt young stock and was also capable of throwing a classy Flat performer, and put forward a cogent case for Ulysses too.
Remember the name Michael Delahunty: he could be a leading bloodstock journalist of the future, if he can't find a respectable, well remunerated role within the industry.
The fact that the mating between Cape Cross and Local Spirit had come up with a good horse in Classic Collection also inspired many readers.
I particularly enjoyed the mating recommendation from Peter Appleton, who must be a fan of the Masked Singer as he sent an email that gave a series of teasing clues to his choice of stallion until the big reveal at the end. See how quickly you can guess who he’s talking about.
“There is one stallion at Darley in particular who is waiting for Local Spirit to visit,” he wrote. “She has done well by Cape Cross and by the Galileo line through Teofilo; it looks as though a miler to mile-and-four furlongs stallion is exactly what she needs.
“If a stallion with a good back leg is high on the list then this stallion ranks very highly on the checklist; in terms of trading options, again the stallion had his first foals sell well, and if his first yearlings sell well too (as they should) then selling the progeny as a foal this year is an enticing option.
“Equally, so is keeping the horse for the future as this stallion was a proper racehorse who, if teamed up with a mare who produces racehorses, bodes well for stock that can perform on the racetrack (oh, and to add commercial value, he won as a two-year-old, beating Invincible Army).
“If it’s a filly that is produced from the mating, then why not have one who can be traced back to a true blue hen mare! All too good to be true? No, he’s there waiting at the right price, indeed an exceptional price considering his race record and breeding. Who is he? Masar!”
Bernard Mills was equally as evangelical about the son of New Approach.
“I thought that the last request for ideas for the Camacho mare a few weeks ago was quite difficult, but this one is relatively easy – to my eyes at least,” he noted cheerily. It’s a good job this isn’t a genuine consultancy venture trying to justify charging sky-high fees.
“Masar, the Derby winner standing at Newmarket and within the price range, is the obvious choice as he is out of a mare by Cape Cross and that stallion has already fitted well with the mare.
“He’s a really gorgeous looking individual with high-class form. The fact that he’s from the great Urban Sea family adds even further to the appeal and it’s an easy journey from Lincolnshire to Newmarket into the bargain.”
Felicity Webber was working along a similar pedigree theme and she wrote, deploying a wonderful turn of phrase: “Having looked at previous matings and their successes, and considering the appeal of getting a filly (any boy can make a boy but it takes a man to make a girl), I would suggest Iffraaj, who is just down the road in Newmarket.
“He’s a good-looker and he shares common ancestry on his female line with Cape Cross through Park Appeal and on his male line with the mare, through Mr. Prospector.
“I’ve not scrutinised the sales median figures for the stallion,” added Felicity in another example of the sort of honesty that makes me question whether we could ever make a commercial go of our crowdsourced matings consultancy, “but being Wootton Bassett’s dad can’t be a bad selling point.”
Golden Horn, by Cape Cross again, figured highly in Erwin Koenen’s calculations for Local Spirit’s next mating. Erwin certainly couldn’t be accused of not having put in plenty of study, by the sound of it.
“I started with a longlist of stallions focussing on genetic ability for racing performance,” he said. “As distance preference is highly heritable, I included sires with wins at middle distances or with winning progeny. I then deleted sires if their offspring had poor results at the sales.
“Sires with sold offspring on my shortlist include Golden Horn, Ulysses and Waldgeist. My highest-ranked young stallions are Logician, King Of Change and Circus Maximus. Elarqam, a Frankel son standing in France, is also an option.”
Andrew Gray, no relation to James our client, consulted his Proxygene programme and came up with Nathaniel as his top choice.
“Looking at broodmare sires, Lion Cavern, Diesis and Turn-To all go well, particularly with Silver Hawk, as much as Galileo,” he wrote. “Others to make up a top five are Farhh, who has already been tried with the mare though the resultant colt is yet to run; Mayson, who is promising as a broodmare sire too; Dream Ahead; and Holy Roman Emperor.”
Yvee Elbro voted for another beautifully bred, multiple Group 1-winning son of Galileo for Local Spirit.
“Decorated Knight,” read the email. “He’s a Galileo stallion with his dam Pearling being a sister to Giant’s Causeway and You’resothrilling, the dam of Happily, Gleneagles, Marvellous and so on. Decorated Knight is an absolute bargain at €7,500 – well worth the ferry fare.”
Farhh was put forward by Wolf Markham, who remarked: “Local Spirit does well with the Pivotal line and he can produce top-notchers.”
After reading all those recommendations for his mare, James said: “I was interested how many people felt the best way to find value was by going down the National Hunt route. Santiago is a really interesting way into the Authorized line, which has already worked so well in the pedigree.
“I liked Farhh and Ulysses so much I’ve already tried the mating in recent years, and would like to see how they run before I repeat it.”
Reflecting on some of the more popular choices, he added: “I used Masar in his first season and I think he’ll be a very good stallion, but I don’t feel he quite suits this mare and I’ll probably wait until he has runners before using him again.
“Nathaniel might be interesting as the progeny could be Flat or National Hunt, and with his pedigree he could become a great broodmare sire. I also like the Dream Ahead idea. I hadn’t considered him for her, but he is definitely a stallion I’d like to use. I think he’s great value given he’s sired so many good racehorses after being a top horse himself.”
James assures me he’ll let me know his final decision for Local Spirit later in the season. If, after all Good Morning Bloodstock readers’ hard work, he decides to send the mare to his own stallion Falco – as excellent a source of talented athletes as he is – the man from Elusive Bloodstock had better make himself very elusive indeed.
What do you think?
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Don’t forget to check out the Racing Post’s foal gallery and keep sending in photos of your new arrivals to share them with the world.
Naasma threw away her chance on debut at Southwell this month by becoming upset in the stalls and starting slowly, but she kept on well in the closing stages of the race and should have learned plenty from the experience.
The Kevin Ryan-trained three-year-old should therefore put up a better show on her second start in the 1m½f fillies’ novice stakes at Wolverhampton on Friday (5.15).
She has an impressive pedigree too, being by Churchill out of Rockfel Stakes and Falmouth Stakes heroine Music Show, already dam of the smart pair New Show and Fightwithme.
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