Godolphin stockpiling sire prospects and War Front proves a point
Martin Stevens with his reflections on a busy week of big-race action
Godolphin started the season with something to prove after a dearth of big-race success for the royal blue silks in recent seasons. In a remarkable reversal of fortune they now appear to be stockpiling stallion prospects for the Darley roster, thanks to the exploits of the operation's homebreds, yearling purchases and more expensive acquisitions of horses in training.
Postponed, paraded at the Darley stallion parade during July week, will presumably cover his first mares for the organisation next year, and he will at some point likely be joined by July Cup hero Harry Angel, a son of a fashionable sire in Dark Angel and with a score in the Mill Reef Stakes at two that will add gloss to his appeal for commercial breeders.
Hawkbill, winner of the Princess of Wales's Stakes on Thursday, would be an interesting breeding proposition as a son of Kitten's Joy, although he looks the type that Godolphin will enjoy campaigning on the international stage for as long as he holds his form.
Barney Roy, Blue Point, Home Of The Brave, Ribchester and Thunder Snow are among the other Godolphin-owned colts who could be placed in Sheikh Mohammed's various stallion bases across all levels of the market, while July Stakes winner Cardsharp and narrow Grand Prix de Paris runner-up Permian, owned by the sheikh's son Hamdan, would be able to pass on very different qualities if they were eventually given stallion roles.
Godolphin continued to rationalise numbers at Tattersalls this week, with 66 fillies and mares sold for just over £4 million. At this rate the operation could end up with more stallions than broodmares.
Joking apart, few breeders would begrudge the big-spending Sheikh Mohammed his fair share of success, but monopolies are never good for customers. With Darley having already introduced 18 new names to their European roster in just the last two breeding seasons alone, it must be hoped the vibrancy of competition in the stallion market is not further diminished.
An important score for Coolmore
Roly Poly, who landed the Falmouth Stakes with authority on Friday, became the first Group 1 winner over the age of two in Europe for Kentucky sire War Front since Declaration Of War took the Juddmonte International in August 2013.
In the intervening period Declaration Of War has retired to stud and covered four books of mares in the northern hemisphere, with Actress becoming a first stakes winner from his debut crop in the Group 3 Anglesey Stakes on Saturday.
During that time War Front had managed to supply five two-year-old Group/Grade 1 winners trained on this side of The Pond, including a champion at that age in Air Force Blue.
And although some three-year-olds by War Front have run with credit in top-flight company in Europe – such as Prix du Jockey Club third War Dispatch and Roly Poly herself, twice second to stablemate Winter this season – the Falmouth Stakes was an overdue reminder that the stallion's progeny can be as successful beyond their juvenile seasons.
It was an especially important result as Coolmore have placed their faith in War Front as an effective outcross for their many top-class daughters of Galileo and other sires from the Sadler's Wells line; he was, for instance, chosen as the first stallion to cover Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe heroine Found this year, according to reports.
Roly Poly is out of another special mare for Coolmore: the first Group 1-winning daughter of Galileo of their own, Misty For Me, who struck four times at the highest level including in the Irish 1,000 Guineas.
War Front and Misty For Me have really clicked, as Roly Poly's year-younger brother U S Navy Flag was a game second to Cardsharp in the Group 2 July Stakes at Newmarket on Thursday.
Another boost to War Front's reputation as an effective sire of three-year-olds and older horses in Europe came at the Curragh on Sunday, when Spirit Of Valor made all to score in the Group 2 Minstrel Stakes.
Broodmare sire table comes alive
Long deceased or retired names usually cluster at the head of leading lists of broodmare sires, as those veterans have sufficient crops of daughters old enough to have produced their own progeny.
So in recent seasons the division has been dominated by Sadler's Wells, Darshaan and Danehill, with Danehill Dancer joining the fray last year.
However, this year's table has active stallions at numbers one and three by earnings – Pivotal (£2,947,401 up to Sunday) and Galileo (£2,776,917), with Sadler's Wells (£2,811,001) just demoting his son into third after his maternal granddaughter Enable stormed to victory in the Irish Oaks on Saturday.
Pivotal, damsire of Poule d'Essai des Pouliches winner Precieuse and Irish Derby second Cracksman, was represented in this department last week by Group 2 Summer Mile scorer Mutakayyef and Group 3 Summer Stakes winner Mystic Dawn.
Galileo, meanwhile, had his pot swollen by the efforts of Roly Poly and U S Navy Flag at Newmarket, while St James's Palace Stakes hero and Eclipse second Barney Roy looks set to contribute more this year. Wouldn't it be something if Galileo could top both the table of sires and broodmare sires in the same season?
Another sire still in service whose daughters are excelling as broodmares is Dansili. He is in sixth place in the broodmare sires' table, thanks mainly to Pretty Polly Stakes winner Nezwaah and Derby second Cliffs Of Moher.
Curiouser and curiouser...
What do the outstanding middle-distance performers Dylan Thomas and Singspiel, the Dante Stakes winner and Derby fourth Glory Of Dancer and the three-times raced maiden Denounce have in common?
The rather surprising answer is that they all sired winners of notable sprint contests within hours of each other on Saturday.
Dylan Thomas, now on dual-purpose duty at Castle Hyde Stud, supplied Caspian Prince, who took the scalp of Marsha to win the Group 2 Sapphire Stakes at the Curragh, while the late Singspiel was also represented by a son winning a stakes race over roughly half the distance over which he himself excelled in the shape of Take Cover, who took the Listed City Walls Stakes at York.
Denounce, who achieved an RPR of just 82 when second in a Newmarket mile maiden and has covered only a few mares at a chickenfeed fee in his stallion career, was represented by Danzeno, who scored in the ultra-competitive five-furlong handicap at Ascot.
Incidentally, Denounce is a half-brother to the maternal granddam of high-class sprinter Bated Breath, who is blossoming as a sire and whose progressive son Ekhtiyaar put in a power-packed finish to win a competitive sprint handicap at Newmarket on Thursday.
Some of those weekend winners from unexpected sources have female families that explain their prowess at sprinting: Take Cover, for example, is out of a five-furlong winner by the speedball Magic Ring.
Caspian Prince really is more of a head-scratcher though, as he and his half-brother Spirit Quartz, who finished second in the Nunthorpe, are out of an unraced Rainbow Quest sister to County Hurdle winner Desert Quest.
Lest we should think breeding sprinters is pot luck, the best of that class on show on Saturday, July Cup hero Harry Angel, is by a fast two-year-old in Dark Angel, who has proved a dab hand at siring sprinters – as the likes of Battaash, Lethal Force and Mecca's Angel have demonstrated. His damsire Cadeaux Genereux also won the July Cup himself.