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Tuesday, 23 October, 2018

Coolmore winning the race against time to secure Scat Daddy's legacy

Martin Stevens looks at the late legend's growing ranks of stallion sons

Scat Daddy: the late Ashford Stud resident has his last two-year-olds on the ground
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After the late Scat Daddy took Royal Ascot by storm last year by supplying four winners in Caravaggio, Lady Aurelia, Sioux Nation and Con Te Partiro, I wrote on these pages: “Confidence in the stallion at Coolmore appears sky high – but with only two crops of two-year-olds left to represent him, it will be a race against time to further establish this unexpected wellspring of stallion talent.”

Fifteen months later, it looks very much as though Coolmore are winning that race, and events in the past week or so have confirmed that impression.

Triple Crown hero Justify, who was eight months off making his racing debut at the time of writing in June 2017, has been secured as a stallion prospect by John Magnier and his partners and given an introductory fee of $150,000 at Ashford Stud, where Scat Daddy carried out his duties in the northern hemisphere until his untimely death aged 11 in December 2015.

Justify will embark on his second career at Coolmore's Kentucky headquarters alongside another current three-year-old son of Scat Daddy, the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf and UAE Derby victor Mendelssohn, whose fee has yet to be finalised.

Mendelssohn, who is due to run in Saturday's Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup Stakes at Belmont, should be an easy sell to US breeders, as a former Keeneland September top lot who is a half-brother to the esteemed racemare Beholder and one of the most successful social climbers in the Kentucky stallion ranks, Into Mischief.

Meanwhile it transpired that Caravaggio had covered a bumper debut book of 217 mares at Coolmore's Irish base in Fethard, a number that included 34 black-type winners and 33 daughters of Galileo.

The other significant update to Coolmore's relationship with Scat Daddy since Royal Ascot last year was the fevered demand for the inaugural yearlings by the first son the organisation retired to stud – Norfolk Stakes and Prix Morny winner No Nay Never – and his subsequent bright start as a freshman sire this year.

No Nay Never: excelling as a first-season sire for Coolmore

No Nay Never has posted 22 winners in Europe, most notably Land Force, winner of the Richmond Stakes at Glorious Goodwood, and Ten Sovereigns, who has delivered ostentatious victories on both his career starts and is the odds-on favourite for the Group 1 Juddmonte Middle Park Stakes on Saturday.

A fee increase from his 2018 mark of €25,000 looks a certainty for No Nay Never next year, and Coolmore will likely line up at least one paternal half-brother to join him on their Irish roster. Norfolk Stakes and Phoenix Stakes winner Sioux Nation, beaten less than a length when third to Havana Grey in the Flying Five Stakes on his last start, looks a prime candidate for that job.

Several of Scat Daddy's final-crop juvenile colts who have excelled for Coolmore this year, such as Middle Park Stakes runner Sergei Prokofiev and his stablemate Van Beethoven, could also be granted chances as stallions in time.

It is not just Coolmore that has jumped on the Scat Daddy bandwagon, either.

Covering statistics for this year's new stallions in Britain and Ireland also revealed that Yeomanstown Stud were rewarded for taking the bold step of enlisting the services of dirt Grade 2 winner El Kabeir with a book of 146 mares.

French stallion masters have, furthermore, snapped up last year's Champagne Stakes winner Seahenge – he is heading to Haras de la Haie Neuve, with his racing owner Coolmore retaining an interest – and US turf Grade 3 scorer Seabhac, who will stand at Haras de Saint-Arnoult.

Seahenge: Champagne Stakes winner will stand in France

Other operations have their own Scat Daddy colts who look capable of earning the right to reproduce.

Qatar Racing, for example, has the Gimcrack Stakes runner-up and Flying Childers Stakes fourth Legends Of War – also in the Middle Park – while Darley, who would no doubt crave a son on their roster, will be hoping that the Princess Haya-owned Beatboxer, unbeaten in his first two starts for John Gosden and entered in the Juddmonte Royal Lodge Stakes on Saturday, could be the one.

Legends Of War and Beatboxer are both also members of the valedictory Scat Daddy juvenile crop and who knows what other stallion aspirants are among their peers? Justify, from the sire's penultimate crop, was unraced as a two-year-old after all.

Generally speaking though, with many of Scat Daddy's older stakes-winning sons spoken for and time fast running out for more talents to reveal themselves, stallion masters who want to get in on the act might have to adopt an unorthodox approach.

It would be no great surprise to see chances taken on smart colts who had not quite achieved as much as would usually be expected of stallion prospects. Might Coolmore, for example, find positions for their Coventry Stakes third Murillo or Listed-winning sprinter Dali?

It's easy to be sniffy about stallions whose form falls below Group 1 standard. But we would do well to remember that if sharper minds had never given an opportunity to colts with desirable pedigrees at the expense of race record, we would not have had the record-breaking two-year-old sire Kodiac, a non-black type winning Danehill half-brother to Invincible Spirit, or Sadler's Wells' brother Fairy King, who broke down on his only racecourse start but gave us Encosta De Lago, Falbrav, Helissio and Oath at stud.

Or could stud owners look to South America, not traditionally the most fertile ground for recruits to the European gene pool, but the location of several Scat Daddy sons since the stallion did so well there from his southern-hemisphere seasons? There are several clustered in Chile, where he is regarded as the country's equivalent of Galileo.

Scat Daddy's very first stakes winner in Europe – Daddy Long Legs, who triumphed in the 2011 Royal Lodge Stakes for Coolmore and foreshadowed Mendelssohn by landing the UAE Derby – has got off to a fine start as a stallion in Chile, not that his custodians at Haras Cordillera would probably want to relinquish such a valuable commodity.

Otherwise, those who want to stand a stallion from the Scat Daddy line will have to get into No Nay Never or younger sons.

For that reason, No Nay Never's second-crop yearlings are proving to be in even higher demand than might have been expected this autumn, and Godolphin's decision to revert to purchasing stock by Coolmore sires might have come at a crucial time.

Sheikh Mohammed's team already have an exciting colt by No Nay Never from last year's purchases in decisive Sandown novice stakes scorer Art Du Val.

Overall, then, Coolmore will be satisfied they have more or less cornered the Scat Daddy sire-line. It has come at considerable cost – unconfirmed reports state that $75 million was paid for the Justify breeding rights after he scooped the Triple Crown, while untried young stock signed for by MV Magnier at auction since 2015 have totted up to more than $12m, with $3m spent on Mendelssohn alone.

Still, it will be considered money well spent if it prolongs the survival of the Scat Daddy sire line, which is rapidly looking like a significant crossroads in international pedigrees.


Read more about Scat Daddy...

The story of Scat Daddy, source of Justify and Royal Ascot sire extraordinaire

Race against time for Coolmore to establish a Scat Daddy sire-line

Pinhookers in clover as Scat Daddy's final juveniles soar in value

Scat Daddy's younger brother doing a fine job of upholding family honour

Million-dollar Phoenix filly Mistress Of Love graduates at Newcastle

No Nay Never's second-crop yearlings might just be in even higher demand this autumn
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