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Masar a Godolphin success story with more than a nod to Lodge Park Stud

Martin Stevens speaks to Damian Burns about his family's Derby connections

Masar - with owner and breeder Sheikh Mohammed - has Lodge Park Stud's totemic mares Park Express and Park Appeal in his pedigree
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Masar is first and foremost a triumph for Godolphin breeding. After all, he is by New Approach, who stands at Sheikh Mohammed's Dalham Hall Stud after carrying the silks of his wife Princess Haya of Jordan to victory in the Epsom Classic, and is out of Khawlah, a homebred daughter of the sheikh's great stallion Cape Cross who won the UAE Derby and Oaks.

But the Burns family's Lodge Park Stud in County Kilkenny could be considered the unsung heroes behind Saturday's Investec Derby winner, having bred and sold New Approach and bought and raced Park Appeal, the Group 1-winning dam of Cape Cross.

Paddy Burns owned Park Appeal, an Ahonoora half-sister to 1,000 Guineas third Desriable who emulated her sibling's success in the Cheveley Park Stakes and also took the Moyglare Stud Stakes in 1984. Park Appeal was subsequently sold to Sheikh Mohammed, who bred nine winners from her including Cape Cross as well as the dams of Group 1 sires Diktat and Iffraaj.

Her success on the track encouraged Paddy's son Seamus to seek out another Ahonoora filly at the yearling sales in 1984, and he came home with Park Express after John Warren bought her on his behalf with a bid of 42,000gns that saw off Paul Cole's attentions.

Trained by Jim Bolger for Paddy Burns, Park Express enjoyed a glittering three-year-old season highlighted by trumping Triptych to win the Irish Champion Stakes at Phoenix Park.

She was retained for the Lodge Park Stud broodmare band and produced eight winners, saving the best for last – New Approach, her 13th foal and the result of her mating with Galileo. He was sold to Bolger for €430,000 as a yearling, with Seamus Burns retaining a half share and enjoying a windfall when the colt was sold to Sheikh Mohammed after his champion two-year-old season.

Thus, Lodge Park Stud has brought its influence to bear on six recent Derby winners: not only New Approach most directly as breeder, and his son Masar with responsibility for close ancestors on both sides of his pedigree; but also Cape Cross's sons Sea The Stars and Golden Horn and grandsons Harzand (by Sea The Stars) and Australia (out of Cape Cross's daughter Ouija Board).

Moreover, the farm produced Derby second Walk In The Park, a son of Montjeu out of its Irish 1,000 Guineas winner Classic Park, and pinhooked another runner-up in the Blue Riband in Libertarian, a member of the first crop of New Approach.

Damian Burns, son of Seamus, attributes Lodge Park Stud's affinity with the Classic not just to the quality of land or shrewd breeding theories – although they evidently aren't lacking on either front – but rather to something more straightforward: a desire to produce horses who will stay well enough to win the Derby.

“I think maybe it's a willingness to breed a Derby horse, which a lot of other commercial breeders don't always want,” he says. “We've never been afraid to go to those horses with stamina. We've got yearlings by the likes of Camelot here and are pleased with them.

“A lot of guys are only looking to breed horses for shorter trips, which I've nothing against as we've got Kodiacs here too. But when you get to a mile and a quarter or a mile and a half, breeding actually becomes a little more easy to work out, more so than sprinting which can be a lottery.

“The pool of pedigrees that can perform over those distances at a high level is relatively limited, and although that makes it a little more expensive, it can be done.”

Damian Burns (left) with trainers Mark Johnston (centre) and Ger Lyons

It helps Lodge Park Stud's chances of breeding a Derby winner that it retained the right to send five mares to New Approach each season. So Masar's victory brought about a potential financial boost – as well as confirmation of Burns' hunch that certain matings suit the stallion better.

“We've five yearling colts by New Approach to go to auction this year and I feel we've gradually been working out what type of mares to send to him, so this year our yearlings at auction by him are probably our best crop,” he says. “If you look at Masar, although you could say there are staying elements in his pedigree, he's quite chunky physically and you can see that bit of substance to him.

“I'd say his mares don't need to have pure speed, but perhaps a little bit of class, and physically, they might need a bit of substance. It's a similar case with Galileo.”

Accordingly, Lodge Park Stud's draft of New Approach yearlings at the sales this year comprise a half-brother to 2,000 Guineas runner-up Dubawi Gold and a brother to Chesham Stakes winner Tha'ir, both out of Green Desert mares; also a colt who is the first foal out of Alonsoa, a 7f Listed winner at two by Raven's Pass, a half-brother to Listed winner Baby Foot out of the Oasis Dream mare Baby Houseman and a colt out of Gainful, a Gone West mare who was Listed-placed over a mile.

“New Approach isn't always the most popular in the sales ring – it can be feast or famine, you'll be paid well if you breed the right one and in trouble if you don't,” Burns reasons. “But he's one of those sires that could get an owner a really, really good horse; there's no limit to what you might get. And there's not many sires you can say that about.”

New Approach's return to the limelight also assists Lodge Park Stud as it owns his female relations, not least the money-spinning Alluring Park, his half-sister by Green Desert who is the dam of four seven-figure yearlings including the most expensive horse of that age ever sold in Europe – the 5,000,000gns Group 3 runner-up Al Naamah – and 1,200,000gns Book 1 top lot and subsequent Oaks heroine Was.

Alluring Park has a yearling colt by that pair's sire Galileo likely bound for Book 1 and is in foal to Dark Angel, while the next star producer from the family could be Stellar Glow, a Sea The Stars half-sister to Phoenix Stakes winner Alfred Nobel who is a great-granddaughter of Park Express. The mare, who was twice Listed-placed and not beaten far when sixth in the Irish Oaks, has a Frankel filly foal as her first offspring.

New Approach: Masar's sire, bred by Lodge Park Stud, stands at Dalham Hall Stud

And for one year only in 2018 the Burns family stand the chance of hitting the jackpot with a descendant in the distaff line of Park Appeal, whose family was, understandably, closely guarded by Sheikh Mohammed's Darley breeding operation after proving such a wonderful broodmare.

Burns explains: “Park Appeal only ever had one daughter come up for sale at auction, and it was a few years ago at Goffs – Mansfield Park. Although she was barren, myself and my brother Ronan bought her for €52,000. We weren't going to leave that mare behind.

“We put her in foal to Kodiac and got a yearling filly who's at Ronan's Herbertstown House Stud and is going to the sales Newmarket this year. Unfortunately the mare died after that and she was the only foal we got out of her.”

Perhaps Lodge Park Stud's close association with the Derby will continue in the future by breeding to Masar, the horse who combines the powers of the farm's two totemic daughters of Ahonoora, Park Express and Park Appeal.

Burns appears to already be sizing him up as a stallion prospect.

“He's by New Approach out of a UAE Derby and Oaks winner by Cape Cross from a brilliant family, and he's a smashing looking individual as far as I can see,” he says. “Even that inbreeding to Ahonoora might help, as Ahonoora was a byword for toughness.

“There's not much bad stuff in there!”

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