Giant's Causeway leaves a monumental legacy in pedigrees
Martin Stevens looks at the iron horse's unblemished record at stud
The Iron Horse leaves an ironclad legacy, one that will not corrode for a long while yet.
The Coolmore great, who has passed away at the age of 21, supplied 31 individual top-level winners. Among those were the likes of Footstepsinthesand, Intense Focus and Shamardal, who have each sired Group/Grade 1 winners in their own right.
Shamardal has by some way been the most influential of those, as his son Lope De Vega is in turn responsible for a host of top-class horses, including Belardo.
The first foals by champion two-year-old and Lockinge Stakes winner Belardo have been born on farms this year. Those new arrivals feature Giant's Causeway in their fourth generation – a vivid illustration of how quickly the stallion built an empire.
Giant's Causeway has also firmly made his presence felt in distaff pedigrees, featuring as damsire of such illustrious names as Beauty Parlour, Evening Jewel, Gun Runner, Hawkbill, Planteur, Soft Falling Rain and Verrazano.
Irish 2,000 Guineas winner Awtaad – out of a mare by Shamardal – again demonstrates how deep Giant's Causeway's influence runs, only 14 years after his own first two-year-olds first stepped on to the racecourse.
That debut crop – the only one conceived at Coolmore in County Tipperary before he was switched to Ashford Stud in Kentucky, where he would remain until his death – certainly hit the ground running.
It yielded Europe's champion two-year-old of 2004, Shamardal, who went on to take the Poule d'Essai des Poulains, Prix du Jockey Club and St James's Palace Stakes at three, as well as unbeaten 2,000 Guineas hero Footstepsinthesand, Coronation Stakes winner Maids Causeway and US Grade 1 scorers Aragorn and My Typhoon.
My Typhoon, out of Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe winner Urban Sea, and Footstepsinthesand, whose dam Glatisant is a well-bred Group 3 winner, showed that Giant's Causeway's achievements came on the back of strong support from mare owners. But there is no point quibbling about the superior chances the sire was granted, because as such an outstanding racehorse equipped with an alluring pedigree he was always only going to receive the cream of the broodmare ranks.
How European breeders must have lamented the stallion's departure across the Atlantic, but their loss was US breeders' gain, as he was anointed North America's champion sire on three occasions.
His progeny in the US included multiple Grade 1 winners Brody's Cause, Carpe Diem, Giant Oak and Take Charge Brandi.
He was not, of course, out of reach of European breeders though, and later crops produced Group 1 winners Dalkala (Prix de l'Opera), Ghanaati (1,000 Guineas and Coronation Stakes), Intense Focus (Dewhurst), Penelopa (Preis der Diana) and Rite Of Passage (Gold Cup).
On the international stage he was represented by top-flight winners in Japan (Eishin Apollon), South Africa (Blueridge Mountain) and South America (Giant Steps and Kung Fu Mambo).
His fee soared to a high of $300,000 in 2006 but had gradually fallen back to $75,000 for this year and last.
In all, Giant's Causeway is the sire of 323 stakes performers, with 104 Pattern winners among them.
Breeders may no longer have access to him but one brother, Freud, is a perennial leading sire in New York. Others – Roar Of The Tiger, Tiger Dance and Tumblebrutus – achieved differing degrees of success in various global outposts.
Moreover, one of Giant's Causeway's sisters, You'resothrilling, is the dam of five Group winners from her first five foals including dual Classic hero and Coolmore resident Gleneagles, while another, Pearling, is the dam of three-time Group 1 winner Decorated Knight, a newcomer to the Irish National Stud this year.