Cracksman stallion deal set to keep bloodstock industry hooked
Martin Stevens considers a crunch question that will captivate breeding fans
This article was first published in May 2018
A straightforward, wide-margin victory in the Prix Ganay by Cracksman on his seasonal reappearance at Longchamp on Sunday whetted the appetite for what looks sure to be a fruitful four-year-old campaign.
For those enthralled by the intrigue of the bloodstock industry, it also raised the question of where last year's European champion – a rare top-notcher in independent ownership – will eventually stand as a stallion.
The major studs will likely have already made overtures to Cracksman's owner and breeder Anthony Oppenheimer in the hope he will either sell his charge to them, or at least entrust him to them in a partnership arrangement.
The most obvious reason is that Cracksman is the highest-rated colt in training in Europe, having also won the Champion Stakes last year by seven lengths to go with victories in the Great Voltigeur Stakes and Prix Niel and placings in the Derby and Irish equivalent.
He even has a two-year-old score to his name – considered all-important by stud masters to emblazon on marketing material – having won by clear water on his only start at that age.
But Cracksman possesses other qualities that give him added allure as a stallion prospect.
Whichever stud gets to stand the horse will boast the first significant stallion son of the almighty Frankel on its books – or possibly one of the first, with Eminent and Elarqam set to polish their breeding credentials this season.
Cracksman's maternal pedigree also holds strong appeal, as he is out of Rhadegunda, a Listed-winning daughter of Pivotal, an increasingly important broodmare sire. His half-brother Fantastic Moon took the Solario Stakes, as a rare son of Dalakhani forward enough to strike in Group company in the summer of his two-year-old season.
Rhadegunda – who returned to Frankel last year – is out of the winning St Radegund, who in turn was a daughter of Green Desert and 1,000 Guineas and Sussex Stakes heroine On The House.
This is a family that has been nurtured by the Oppenheimer family's Hascombe and Valiant Studs for decades, and indeed Cracksman and the other brilliant colt of recent times to have carried the operation's black and white silks and red cap, Golden Horn, share the same fourth dam – the Lorenzaccio mare Lora.
One thing that those breeders licking their lips at the prospect of sending mares to Cracksman will have to bear in mind is inbreeding. As the colt has Galileo and Danehill – the sire and damsire of Frankel – as well as Pivotal and Green Desert so close up in his pedigree, repeating ancestors in a mating will be difficult to avoid.
That is not necessarily a bad thing, however, and will certainly not put off those stud-owning suitors.
Where might the winning bid come from? On previous form, the long-range favourite would have to be Darley's Dalham Hall Stud, which won the race to stand Golden Horn thanks, presumably, to the offer for the stallion to be owned in partnership between Oppenheimer and Sheikh Mohammed at a location close to Hascombe and Valiant Studs in Newmarket.
Mind you, thanks to the sheikh's unrivalled financial firepower in the bloodstock industry, Darley is the natural first guess as the purchaser of any independently owned blue-chip colt.
But many other big-spending studs will surely also throw their hats into the ring for Cracksman. Coolmore would presumably welcome an outstanding grandson of its phenomenal sire Galileo, while the likes of Ballylinch Stud, Cheveley Park Stud and Gilltown Stud could maybe be in the reckoning. Or perhaps Oppenheimer would choose to assign Cracksman to the National Stud in Newmarket, as Paul Mellon did with the great Mill Reef.
Then there is the prospect of Cracksman being sold to stand in Japan as so many top-class middle-distance horses have been down the years, most recently stars such as Harbinger and Novellist – that is if Oppenheimer could bear to see the horse leave Europe. The Yoshida brothers' well-known adoration of Frankel, who has given them Soul Stirring, might encourage them to make an offer they consider to be hard to refuse.
The outcome of the negotiations over Cracksman's stallion career that will go on behind closed doors this season will only be marginally less thrilling than his subsequent racecourse exploits, for followers of breeding matters at least.
INDEPENDENT AND IN DEMAND?
Five other colts who could be targeted by stud owners
Pedigree 4yo b c Sea The Stars-Crystal Star (Mark Of Esteem)
Owner Sir Evelyn de Rothschild
The St Leger runner-up – successful on his seasonal bow in the Gordon Richards Stakes last Friday – is a sibling to three other high-class talents in Crystal Capella, Crystal Zvezda and Hillstar.
Pedigree 3yo gr c Havana Gold-Blanc De Chine (Dark Angel)
Owner Global Racing Club and Elaine Burke
Exactly what most commercial studs crave – a precocious and pacey talent – and by an up-and-coming sire with the in-demand Dark Angel as damsire to boot.
Pedigree 3yo b c Exceed And Excel-Whazzat (Daylami)
Owner Bill and Tim Gredley
The Gredleys must be beating off stallion masters with a stick for this colt, who won the Mill Reef Stakes at two and the Greenham Stakes on his three-year-old debut last month. He is also by noted sire of sires Exceed And Excel and is from the immediate family of the influential Invincible Spirit.
Sands Of Mali
Pedigree 3yo b c Panis-Kadiania (Indian Rocket)
Owner The Cool Silk Partnership
Last year's Gimcrack Stakes winner could take high rank among the sprinters in 2018 judged on his Prix Sigy win last month. His precious speed could compensate for his sire not exactly being hot property.
Pedigree 3yo b c Frankel-Without You Babe (Lemon Drop Kid)
Owner John Gunther and Tanya Gunther
This Frankel colt could be anything after winning both his first two starts by six lengths, while his value is enhanced by being a half-brother to Grade 1-winning miler Tamarkuz.
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