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Five big breeding angles to watch out for on British Champions Day

Martin Stevens on a sire to note on soft, an Urban Sea masterclass and more

Addeybb: son of Pivotal could bounce back to form on his favoured softer going
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Pivotal one to watch when it's soft

With soggy going in store for Qipco British Champions Day once again, punters might do well to follow the progeny of a soft ground sire.

One stallion who is widely thought of as effective in such conditions is Cheveley Park Stud stalwart Pivotal.

His offspring do not need the mud to fly to excel, but they have a 14 per cent wins-to-runs ratio in Britain and Ireland on soft and heavy compared with 13 per cent on good or good to firm; not a huge difference, but the fact that Galileo, for instance, returns stats of 18 and 17 per cent for firm and good to firm versus 14 to 15 per cent on surfaces ranging from good to soft to heavy suggests there might be something in it.

Pivotal holds a strong hand at Ascot on Saturday, and the fact his runners will be getting their toe in could give them a competitive edge.

Pivotal: sire of previous British Champions Day winners Farhh and Maarek

In the British Champions Sprint Stakes he is represented by Brando, a dual winner on soft and a narrowly beaten runner-up in the Haydock Sprint Cup on heavy last time out, and Son Of Rest, who comes into the race having dead-heated in a heavy ground Ayr Gold Cup.

Pivotal also has two declared for the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes. Addeybb took the Lincoln on soft ground and the bet365 Mile on good to soft in the spring but disappointed in the Lockinge on good to firm, so could bounce back in more suitable conditions, while Lightning Spear has put up his three best Racing Post Ratings – all 122, including when successful in the Sussex Stakes in August – on good or good to firm, but does have three Group 1 placings to his name on soft.

Pivotal's final British Champions Day entrant, Balmoral Handicap hopeful Zwayyan, won over the course and distance on good to soft last year.

Perhaps the apparent liking of Cracksman, bidding for back-to-back triumphs in the Champion Stakes, for softer going is attributable to the fact his dam Rhadegunda was a heavy ground Listed winner by Pivotal.

Pivotal has notched two British Champions Day winners since the meeting was inaugurated in 2011 – Farhh in the Champion Stakes and Maarek in the Sprint, both coming on ground described as soft.

Another Group 1 star for Dar?

When the Dubawi colt out of Dar Re Mi raised the roof at Book 1 of the Tattersalls October Yearling Sale by selling to Qatar Racing for 3,500,000gns on October 10, his dam had an excellent progeny record but had not yet been represented by a Group 1-winning offspring.

Four of her first five runners had gained black type, with sisters Lah Ti Dar and So Mi Dar going close in top-flight races, but none had yet come out on top.

That all changed just three days later when two-year-old son Too Darn Hot made it four wins from four starts with a commanding victory in the Dewhurst.

Dar Re Mi could double her tally of Group 1-winning progeny in the space of a week as Lah Ti Dar is a warm order for the British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes after winning her first three starts and finding only Kew Gardens too good in the St Leger on her fourth.

Dar Re Mi never ran at Ascot in a glittering career that took in three Group 1 victories, but she is a half-sister to Rewilding, who landed the Prince of Wales's Stakes at the royal meeting at the track, and to King Edward VII Stakes second Kilimanjaro and the dam of Gold Cup third Darasim.

Argentello, a son of Intello out of Dar Re Mi's half-sister Evita, is among the leading contenders for the Balmoral Handicap after winning his last two starts.

Sea of success in Champion Stakes

Less than a fortnight after Urban Sea featured as ancestress of the first eight home in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, the grande dame of modern European breeding features in the pedigrees of all bar one of the eight runners in the Champion Stakes.

As per usual, Urban Sea's influence is felt most strongly through her multiple champion sire son Galileo. He is represented in his own right by Ballydoyle stablemates Capri and Rhododendron, while his dual world champion son Frankel also has two progeny entered in the race – Cracksman and Monarchs Glen.

Both Rhododendron and Cracksman are out of mares by the increasingly important broodmare sire Pivotal. Variations of this cross are bound to become more and more popular.

Czech raider Subway Dancer is out of a daughter of Galileo, who lies second to Pivotal in this season's broodmare sire table.

Urban Sea (left): legendary broodmare dominated this year's Arc result

Galileo features in the third generation of the Jim Bolger-bred, owned and trained Verbal Dexterity, a son of Vocalised whose maternal granddam Luminous One is a second-crop daughter of the Coolmore phenomenon trained by Bolger to a Listed placing.

As well as having bred good horses from Galileo mares, the master of Coolcullen also holds breeding rights in the stallion sons he trained to Group 1 glory, New Approach and Teofilo, as well as New Approach's champion son Dawn Approach. His staunch support of Galileo in his early years at stud has proved to be the key to the stable's continued success.

Urban Sea's other outstanding sire son, Sea The Stars, fields Crystal Ocean in the Champion Stakes.

The only runner in the prestigious Group 1 this year who the legendary broodmare cannot claim a stake in is rank outsider and presumed pacemaker Maverick Wave.

Keeping it in the family

Two mares have produced multiple British Champions Day winners since 2011: Kind, whose sons Frankel and Noble Mission both scored in the Champion Stakes, with Frankel also taking the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, and Persario, dam of Champions Sprint Stakes-winning half-brothers Deacon Blues and The Tin Man.

The Tin Man makes his fourth consecutive appearance in the Champions Sprint on Saturday, having won one and finished fourth and fifth the other two times, so could make it three Champions Day successes for the 19-year-old Bishop Of Cashel mare Persario.

The Tin Man takes the British Champions Sprint Stakes in 2017

There are a pair of broodmares who could go from nought to two Champions Day winners in the space of the afternoon this year, as they are doubly represented on the card.

The three-time Group 1-winning Pivotal mare Halfway To Heaven is the dam of Magical, who goes for the British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes, and Rhododendron, who is in the Champion Stakes just over an hour later. Both daughters are by Galileo.

The winning Anabaa mare Dialafara has one son by Galileo, Cypress Creek, in the British Champions Long Distance Cup and another, Capri, in the Champion Stakes.

Kind, Halfway To Heaven and Dialafara are, or have been, mated with Galileo, the greatest sire in the world, on multiple occasions.

That arguably makes the achievements of Persario all the more admirable. Her Champions Sprint winners Deacon Blues and The Tin Man and another black-type offspring, Holley Shiftwell, are each out of different, much cheaper sires in Compton Place, Equiano and Bahamian Bounty.

A ripper season for Whipper

Whipper was a three-time Group 1 winner at two, three and four and a three-parts brother to the brilliant filly Divine Proportions, and he was given strong support when he retired to Ballylinch Stud at a fee of €12,000.

However, bar a few highlights such as Prix de l'Abbaye winner Wizz Kid, his results were disappointing on the whole and he now stands in the French provinces at a fee of €3,800.

Lord Glitters (right): part of a resurgence for his exported sire Whipper

Despite that, a bit of a resurgence in 2018 has meant he has two decent chances of a winner in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes on Saturday – Recoletos, a dual Group 1 scorer this season in the Prix du Moulin and Prix d'Ispahan, and Lord Glitters, who in the same space of time has won the Strensall Stakes and achieved podium finishes in the Queen Anne and Sussex Stakes.

Whipper has also been on the mark this year with Group 3 Prix de Lutece winner Jackfinbar.

That run of good form has likely come too late to restore the 17-year-old stallion to full commercial popularity, but at his bargain basement fee he should find a few more friends among breeders next year.


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