Kingsbarns to be bred on northern hemisphere time
The son of Galileo has been found to be subfertile
After two seasons in South Africa, Racing Post Trophy winner Kingsbarns has been found to be subfertile, but his first local crop of foals born in 2016 is so outstanding that Gaynor Rupert’s Drakenstein Stud plans to breed the seven-year-old on both northern and southern hemisphere time to enhance his chances of success.
The unusual plan for the horse in South Africa, where the travel of horses out of the country is restricted due to rigid international regulations to prevent the spread of African Horse Sickness, was suggested by breeder and golf hero Gary Player.
“Kingsbarns has a fertility issue. We only got about 50 per cent of his mares in foal, so he’s not commercially viable,” said Rupert recently in the midst of social events for the L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate festival and the International Thoroughbred Breeders’ Federation Congress in Cape Town.
“But he’s such a wonderful- looking specimen and he’s the only Group 1-winning son of Galileo in South Africa,” she added.
“The 14 foals born this year are so good-looking. In fact, Gary Player, who’s a great breeder and who loves Kingsbarns and has one foal, said ‘Why don’t we breed him on northern hemisphere time and we can either send [the foals] to England or wait and race them here.’”
Rupert said Drakenstein will make Kingsbarns – who completed his second season in South Africa last autumn after standing one season
at Coolmore’s Castlehyde Stud in Ireland in the spring of 2015 – available to breeders for the northern hemisphere breeding season that begins in mid-February.
Located in the Western Cape, Drakenstein owns the stallion, who was the second-highest-rated European juvenile of 2012 behind only Dawn Approach, in partnership with Coolmore, who raced him.
To date, only four foals have been registered from Kingsbarns’ tenure at Castlehyde, according to available records.
Bred by Annemarie O’Brien and trained by her husband Aidan, Kingsbarns is from the prolific family that produced champions Rip Van Winkle and Halling, as well as Dubai World Cup winner African Story and Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup winner Danish. His fourth dam, Mesopotamia, was Britain’s top juvenile filly of 1963.
Rupert said she would like to race some of Kingsbarns’ progeny in Britain and believes his first foals have the potential to be good runners anywhere.
“We’d love to breed a champion by him, and, looking at the babies on the farm, we feel quite confident we will. Perhaps we’ll have a son who will be a champion and be a sire,” she said.
Drakenstein advertises Kingsbarns’ fee as R15,000 (£897/€1,049), an amount Rupert said is “just to cover our costs”.
“The more of his offspring we can manage to get, the better,” she said, adding that breeders will have ample opportunities to be sure their mares are serviced since any who might not get in foal on northern hemisphere time could be bred back on regular southern hemisphere scheduling.
Veterinarians have advised that Kingsbarns’ fertility could improve over time.
“It’s just one of those things you don’t know why it happens. He’s physically absolutely fine – he passes all the tests – but when we breed to him, the sperm seem to be a little deformed and that obviously must be having an effect,” Rupert said.
“He’s a young horse. He’s very happy, he’s relaxed; he’s let down exquisitely, so [his fertility] is something that might come right.
“We actually thought this year that his fertility would improve a lot because he looked so magnificent, but it stayed at about 50 per cent.
“You never know with horses and we can only hope. But 50 per cent is a lot better than nothing.”