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Hootenanny out to build on breakout year for sire Quality Road

Nancy Sexton meets Doug Arnold as he launches Royal Ascot hero's stallion career

Hootenanny lit up Royal Ascot in 2014 with his Windsor Castle Stakes victory
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The stallion business is quite a different beast from the one of 17 years ago when Doug Arnold was in the midst of launching Bernstein at his Buck Pond Farm in Kentucky. Arnold proved to be right on the money as Bernstein, a top European two-year-old, hit the ground running with his first two-year-olds before developing into a force across both hemispheres.

Bernstein’s septet of first-crop stakes winners came out of a group of just 37 foals - in fact, only three of the top 15 leading American freshman sires in 2004 had more than 65 foals, a far cry from today where three-figure crops are deemed essential. But the ideology of performance, pedigree and physical remains the same and in Hootenanny, Arnold is hopeful that he has a horse of a similar template to Bernstein with which to go to war.

Campaigned by the Coolmore partners, Hootenanny was one of the shining lights of the juvenile generation of 2014. An extremely precocious colt typical of the raiders we have come to expect from trainer Wesley Ward, he blitzed the field in the Windsor Castle Stakes at Royal Ascot before falling only a half-length short to The Wow Signal in the Prix Morny. The crowning point of his juvenile season, however, came at Santa Anita in October, when he stretched out to a mile to take the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile under Frankie Dettori. In the process, he helped ensure that his sire, Quality Road, ended 2014 as America’s leading first-crop sire.

Hootenanny won again at three and four in the US and was beaten only a head in last year’s Grade 2 King Edward Stakes at Woodbine. He now heads to stud on the back of a breakout year for Quality Road, one which featured Grade 1 winners Abel Tasman, Caledonia Road and City Of Light. 

Another Grade 1-winning son of Quality Road, Darby Dan Farm’s Klimt, is currently extremely popular with breeders. Arnold is hopeful that at a fee of $5,000, Hootenanny - in whom Coolmore have retained an interest - can follow suit.

“He won the Windsor Castle in a really good time,” says Arnold. “And then he went on to win the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf. So he had a lot of talent. 

“I think he has great appeal. First of all, I think the two-year-old buyers will love him. And then he should have crossover European appeal.”

Hootenanny was bred by Barronstown Stud but he boasts the influence of Edward ‘Ned’ Evans on both sides of his pedigree. Evans died in January 2011 just weeks after his brilliant homebred Quality Road had retired to stand at Lane’s End Farm. He also bred Hootenanny’s dam, the Hennessy mare More Hennessy, out of his successful Intentional Move family.

“The front of Hootenanny - his shoulder and neck - are more Quality Road but I see Hennessy in his hind end and he’s been a tremendous influence,” says Arnold. “I don’t think he’s really your typical turf horse to look at - I reckon he could have had a really good career on dirt had they gone that way.”

He adds: “Wesley Ward is going to breed a lot to him, which is a great thing. He’s a very good breeder and he has some good mares - he had a stallion, Bring The Heat, that he did very well with. 

“The one thing Wesley said to me was that this horse is really smart. And to me that’s an important attribute because while horses have to have speed, they also have to be smart enough to react the right way in a race, to make the right move.”

Hootenanny joins Buck Pond during a time of resurgence for the farm. After the success of Bernstein, who went on to sire Tepin and Karakontie at Castleton Lyons, and latterly Doneraile Court, another stallion who made his name off a low fee, Arnold took a break from standing stallions. However, the stallion barn wasn’t empty for long and the farm enters 2018 with a roster of five horses, including the tough dual Grade 2 winner Wildcat Red, who is also new for 2018, and the 2014 Travers Stakes winner V E Day, a son of English Channel from the same Golden Trail dynasty as Dynaformer who stood his first season in New York. Conveyance, a Grade 3-winning son of Indian Charlie whose first crop are yearlings, and the Giant’s Causeway stallion Niagara Causeway complete the quintet.

“The one thing I have noted over the years is that certain types that make it as stallions,” says Arnold. “The thing I loved about Bernstein is that he had that one freaky race in Europe [when he won the 1999 Railway Stakes] and then a brilliant pedigree - those things gave him a real chance, especially with the way he looked. Then I think it’s important to get the right types of mares to these horses. I’m not a great advocate of big books - I almost apologised to people when Conveyance bred a first year book of 61 mares - but I am a big advocate of getting the right type.”

At a fee of $5,000, Hootenanny will probably have to do it the hard way. But Arnold has done it before and his enthusiasm for the horse alongside the rest of the roster is infectious despite the potential pitfalls associated with standing any stallion.

“This business has changed so much,” he says. “Now it’s all conglomerates - you have supertrainers, superstallions farms. And the one thing about this industry is you know pretty quick whether they’re going to make it or not. People make up their minds very quickly, more quickly now than ever.

“It’s hard but having said that, I’m pretty grounded. I believe in my horses. I have plenty of mares and I will support my stallions because I believe in them. Timing can be everything and with Hootenanny, I think we’ve come in at the right time. I’m thrilled to have him.”

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Timing can be everything and with Hootenanny, I think we’ve come in at the right time. I’m thrilled to have him
E.W. Terms