Five races that defined the great stallion's stud career
Oaks, Guineas and Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe winners among his best runners
2004 Oaks, Ouija Board
Having been crowned champion first-season sire the previous autumn, all eyes were on Cape Cross’s first three-year-olds as the 2004 turf season got under way, and in the shape of Ouija Board the stallion had found himself a talent of exceptional proportions.
The filly began her campaign with a six-length success in the Pretty Polly Stakes, and better was to come as she backed that performance up with a remarkable seven-length drubbing of favourite All Too Beautiful to land the Oaks, and provide Cape Cross with the first of six Classic successes as a sire.
Of course, Ouija Board went on to add six further top-flight successes to her CV, but she never managed to better the Racing Post Rating of 124 she achieved at Epsom, and it is likely that her exploits that June afternoon had a much more profound impact on the stud career of Cape Cross than simply providing him with a Group 1 winner.
Not only did her Epsom success hammer home the extent to which Cape Cross’s progeny could progress from two to three, but it inspired the Tsui Family to send their iconic mare Urban Sea, the dam of Galileo, to him the following year, a mating that resulted in six-time Group 1 winner Sea The Stars.
2009 2,000 Guineas, Sea The Stars
With the likes of Delegator, Rip Van Winkle and Mastercraftsman around, the John Oxx-trained Sea The Stars flew into the 2,000 Guineas picture somewhat under the radar. But with his raking stride carrying him to the front inside the final furlong at Newmarket the Christopher Tsui-owned colt produced a commanding performance to claim the season’s opening Classic and ensure he would never again be underestimated.
That victory began a remarkable run which culminated in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe and included six consecutive Group 1 successes in six consecutive calendar months, a record that marked Sea The Stars down as one of the greatest racehorses of recent generations.
Regardless of what followed, that success on the Rowley Mile guaranteed Sea The Stars a prominent position at stud, and in 2010 he took up residence at the Aga Khan’s Giltown Stud to become the first major sire son of Cape Cross to become available to breeders.
From there, Sea The Stars has sired the likes of Taghrooda, Harzand, Sea The Moon and Zelzal, all of whom look likely to have chances of ensuring the Cape Cross name remains a feature in pedigrees, be it in the top or bottom half, for generations to come.
2014 Derby, Australia
It could be said that Ouija Board had done more than her fair share to elevate Cape Cross to to his lofty perch through her own racetrack exploits. But in 2014 she did her sire another good turn when her son Australia lived up to his pedigree, being by a Derby winner and out of an Oaks winner, by winning an Epsom Classic.
That victory almost certainly contributed to the growing popularity of his daughters with breeders, with the likes of Western Hymn, Trumpet Major, Beautiful Romance and Al Jazi all being produced by mares sired by Cape Cross.
That also helped secure Australia’s place at stud at Coolmore, where he has covered 314 mares in his first two seasons, significantly increasing the number of foals that will bear the name of Cape Cross within the first two generations of their pedigrees.
2015 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, Golden Horn
By the time the 2015 renewal of the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe had come around Golden Horn had already landed the Dante Stakes, Derby, Coral-Eclipse and Irish Champion Stakes.
However, he had also tasted defeat at the hands of the unheralded Arabian Queen in the Juddmonte International, and when winning at Leopardstown he had jinked violently right under pressure, a combination of which had the doubters questioning his form and resolution, and leaving him with something to prove in the Longchamp showpiece.
But Golden Horn produced an emphatic response to the naysayers, demolishing the redoubtable Flintshire by an authoritative two lengths under an inspired Frankie Dettori ride, securing his place among racing’s immortals and giving Cape Cross his second Arc winner.
It was also announced after that race that Golden Horn would be standing his first season at stud under the Darley banner at Dalham Hall Stud, meaning Sheikh Mohammed’s operation had managed to secure an heir apparent to its own Cape Cross, who was to be pensioned in the following season.
2016 Irish 2,000 Guineas, Awtaad
Just months after Cape Cross's retirement from covering duties, Awtaad provided a timely reminder that the fire still burned brightly within his progeny by landing last year’s Irish 2,000 Guineas for Kevin Prendergast in the colours of Hamdan Al Maktoum.
Success at the Curragh provided Cape Cross with his 12th top-flight winner, fourth individual Classic winner - and his second to have scored at a mile, an important point with Awtaad’s stallion career in mind.
The Shadwell homebred has since taken up residence at Derrinstown Stud, and his first book was already full by December, with breeders keen to ensure the presence of Cape Cross blood in the stock in the future.
His arrival at Derrinstown also means that Cape Cross now has sons standing at each of the Aga Khan's, Darley's and Shadwell's bases, and with those studs all boasting their own enviable broodmare bands, the future of the Cape Cross line could not be in better hands.