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Thursday, 17 January, 2019

Come back, Kuroshio? Shunned shuttle stallion off to a fine start

Martin Stevens looks at the record of the former Overbury Stud resident

Kuroshio: stood one season at Overbury Stud for just £3,500
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Kuroshio was afforded scant regard by breeders when he shuttled from Australia to Overbury Stud in 2015. He may now just be making them pay for their collective indifference.

The son of Exceed And Excel covered only 33 mares that season and, unsurprisingly, has not made the same trip since.

But among the 22 foals produced by those 33 mares he has already been represented by eight runners. Two have won – Daphinia scoring at Wolverhampton last month and taking second in the Listed Marygate Stakes at York for Henry Spiller, and Kapono taking a Goodwood novice auction stakes by three and a quarter lengths for Amy Murphy on Friday.

Kuroshio has also supplied Tim Easterby's dual runner-up Big Ace, who is entered at Hamilton on Thursday, and the Iain Jardine-trained Samantha James, a promising fourth on debut at Thirsk this month and also a possible for Hamilton.

Those results are all the more impressive when you consider there are still one or two other first-season sires who have three-figure debut crops and have had a double-figure tally of runners on the track, but are yet to field a winner. Similarly, there are plenty of big names yet to move off the one-winner mark.

Moreover, the lack of interest in Kuroshio extended from the breeding shed to the sales ring. His yearlings sold for an average of around £11,600, although a few of his early flagbearers were met with rather more enthusiasm at the Goffs UK Breeze-Up last month, where Samantha James was bought for £35,000 and Kapono made £24,000.

However Daphinia, who now holds precious black type, was a vendor buyback at just £8,000 at the Tattersalls Ireland Ascot Yearling Sale and was initially campaigned by her breeders John and Helen Worboys.

Why was such apathy shown towards Kuroshio? He was, after all, a high-class juvenile and sprinter by a sire beloved by agents and trainers in Exceed And Excel, and a brother to the useful sprinter Believe'N'Succeed, later the dam of Group 1 winner Bounding.

He was Australian-born and raced but there was enough in his pedigree to give succour to European breeders; he hails from a good American family with his dam Arctic Drift a daughter of Gone West and Storm Cat's Grade 1-winning daughter November Snow.

He was also competitively priced at £3,500.

However, Kuroshio was late to be announced as joining the Overbury roster in 2015 – just three days before the preceding Christmas, in fact – and as a non-Group 1 winner he was hardly a household name in Europe.

Commercial breeders will always fight shy of using a name they fear agents and trainers will not recognise in a sale catalogue (and in this case subsequent results in the ring probably proved them right).

Gerald Mosse on his Goodwood winner Kapono

"It was the first time I've ridden Kapono and he's a lovely horse. He travelled just behind the pace and at the two-furlong marker I started to make a move because I had so much horse. I took my time and he did it like a professional. There's no reason why he can't got to Ascot and I would be pleased to ride him again."

In that context you can understand why Qatar Racing decided to play the waiting game with Zoustar, the top-class Australian sprinter they co-own, to see if he could make his name with his early progeny at home before deciding if they should stand him in the northern hemisphere.

Zoustar may have had two Group 1 triumphs to his name, but would British and Irish breeders have taken the leap of faith with a son of an unknown quantity in Northern Meteor in 2014? Perhaps a few would have, but many more will if he makes the shuttle trip next year now that he is Australia's most talked about first-season sire with Group 2 winners Sunlight, Zousain and Lean Mean Machine under his belt.

So, to the question of whether a return trip to Europe could be on the cards for Kuroshio for 2019. It's a long Flat season ahead and with only those 22 two-year-olds to bat for him it is likely he will be overshadowed by his more numerically blessed peers.

Having stood just the one season north of the equator, he would have no younger progeny to keep his name in lights until a hypothetical second crop of European two-year-olds hit the track in 2022 either.

And, of course, come the next breeding season there will be more fresh-faced recruits for breeders to choose from, including Zoustar perhaps.

Yes, we will give Kuroshio extra credit for whatever he achieves this season knowing he has done it the hard way. But it is hard to envisage how a comeback in Europe could be made commercially viable.

By not giving the stallion a fair crack of the whip when he first came to Britain – understandably enough given the circumstances – breeders might unwittingly have denied themselves further access to an admirable source of what they prize so highly: precocious and pacey performers.

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Commercial breeders will always fight shy of using a name they fear agents and trainers will not recognise in a sale catalogue
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