First-time mother Laurens set for a change of pace in her 2021 covering
James Thomas talks to Dan Creighton about a busy season at Salcey Forest Stud
Mighty mare Laurens, who signed off from her racing days with six Group 1s to her name, is reported to be in rude health as she settles into her second career and is expecting her first foal in mid-March.
The daughter of Siyouni, whose CV includes victories in the Fillies' Mile, Prix de Diane and Sun Chariot Stakes, visited Invincible Spirit for her debut covering last year and plans now call for John and Jess Dance's mare to visit the Irish National Stud stalwart's most exciting sire son in 2021.
"She looks great and has taken very well to life at stud," says Daniel Creighton, bloodstock agent to the Dances and co-owner, with Josh Schwartz, of the place Laurens now calls home, Salcey Forest Stud in Warwickshire.
"She's like any good horse; she knows she's good and has the odd diva moment, but otherwise she's very relaxed about life and we're very happy with her. She's due in mid March and she's having a colt foal. She's going to Kingman this year."
Expanding on the thinking behind pairing Laurens with the Juddmonte stallion, who will stand for £150,000 in 2021, Creighton says: "The only thing Laurens lacked was a turn of foot and Kingman really seems to throw that into his progeny, so hopefully her foal will inherit that along with her class."
"John makes these decisions, obviously he asks my opinion, but the final call is down to him," he says.
"It can be difficult but it's exciting at the same time and to have that kind of decision to make in the first place, and to be able to consider those elite stallions, is something that not everyone is able to do so it's a nice problem to have."
Another of the Dances' mares visiting Kingman this year is Life Of Pi. The daughter of Sea The Stars has got her breeding career off to a bright start as her first foal is the smart Bahrain Pride, a 300,000gns breeze-up horse who went on to land a Listed contest during a promising juvenile campaign.
"She's an exciting young mare," says Creighton. "Bahrain Pride is a nice horse and hopefully he'll progress this year. We sold her Showcasing colt to Shadwell for 150,000gns last year and I've high hopes for him in 2021. Obviously Kingman is by Invincible Spirit, who's a half-brother to Bahrain Pride's sire Kodiac, so that family suits the mare.
"Life Of Pi's half-brother, Temps Au Temps, was rated 108 and he's by Invincible Spirit too, so that's another reason we thought Kingman would suit. She's by Sea The Stars so needs that bit of speed."
Laurens and Life Of Pi are far from the only members of the Dances' broodmare band set for an exciting mating in 2021, with the Listed-winning sprinter Hareem Queen, a daughter of Dark Angel, set to visit Kingman's Banstead Manor studmate Frankel.
"John's keen to use the best stallions he can to give himself the best chance of breeding the best horses possible and Hareem Queen should really suit Frankel," says Creighton. "We've all seen how well sending fast mares to Galileo works, so it should make sense to send those sprinting mares to Frankel too.
"Fivethousandtoone, a good two-year-old by Frankel, is out of a Dark Angel mare so it's a very similar cross to this mating, which will be Hareem Queen's first. Another maiden mare is Fool For You, she's a very good sprinting filly by Lawman and she's going to Dark Angel."
Another talented sprinter who has retired to the Dance broodmare band is Mighty Spirit, a daughter of Acclamation who finished runner-up to Good Vibes in the Listed Marygate Fillies' Stakes. She heads a brace of mares bound for Ballylinch Stud.
"Mighty Spirit is going to Lope De Vega," says Creighton. "He's a stallion I'm a very big fan of and he seems to breed well with most mares. It's very difficult to buy one by him. As with all of John's mares, the thinking was to send her to one of the best stallions around to produce the type of horse you can't afford to buy.
"The foal will be bred on a similar cross to San Donato, who's rated 114. John and Jess raced the likes of her and Hareem Queen, so they have that extra bit of sentimental attachment."
The Group 3-winning Aim To Please joined the Dance string at a cost of £340,000 at the Goffs London Sale in 2017. The daughter of Excellent Art has since produced a colt by Sea The Stars (now two) and has a yearling filly by No Nay Never on the ground.
She is pencilled in to visit one of last season’s most promising first-season sires. Creighton says: "Aim To Please is in foal to Invincible Spirit and will be going to New Bay. She needs a strong type of horse and he suits that profile, we think she'll suit that Classic blood."
Lope De Vega also figured in last year's mating plans, with the Listed-winning Simmie safely in foal to the son of Shamardal, who will stand for a career-high €125,000 in 2021. This time around, the daughter of Fast Company will head across the Channel to visit Laurens' sire.
"Simmie, a Listed winner, is in foal to Lope De Vega and will go to Siyouni this year," says Creighton. "We might send her to France before she foals, I'm still trying to decide what to do because of the whole Brexit business."
Another recent addition to the herd is Joyful Hope, a Listed-winning and Group 2-placed sibling to top-level scorers Awelmarduk, Crackerjack King and Jakkalberry. The daughter of Shamardal has bred one winner from as many runners and has young progeny by Siyouni and Dubawi in the pipeline.
"She's in foal to Too Darn Hot, so I'm excited to see her foal, and she's going to Kodiac," says Creighton. "She's by Shamardal, and that cross has already produced horses like Hello Youmzain, Gifted Master and Umm Kulthum, who was placed in the Cheveley Park Stakes last year. For whatever reason, that's been a very successful cross."
As well as the Dance Thoroughbreds' broodmares, Salcey Forest is home to other clients' mares such as the well-bred Fair Hill, a three-parts sister to Teofilo bought by Creighton Schwartz Bloodstock on behalf of breeder Andrew Davis.
"Fair Hill is the dam of Group 3 winner Fonthill Abbey as well as being a half-sister to Teofilo," says Creighton. "She's going to Sea The Moon this year. he's had a very good start at stud so it's hard to get mares into him now, but I'm a big fan and Andrew has always been a big believer in him as well.
"Fair Hill suits him well in terms of the cross and in breeding. She's in foal to Havana Grey, who's by a son of Teofilo in Havana Gold."
Creighton also outlined plans for some of his own mares, saying: "Utrecht, a Group 3 winner from the family of Hector Protector and Bosra Sham, is going to Earthlight.
"I own this mare with Sam McCullagh of Blackberry Farm. He spends a lot of time researching female families and was a big believer in the mating, telling me that Utrecht has a strong affinity to Earthlight through the inbreeding to Rare Treat. She definitely needs a strong type of horse and Earthlight brings that, he's a very strong, short-coupled individual.
"Incroyable is going to Dandy Man. His foals sold very well last year and Dandy Man has had only three runners out of Singspiel mares and two of them have produced black-type horses, one being Lady Kaya and the other Dr Simpson, so that mating makes lots of sense.
"Other stallions we're using include Bungle Inthejungle, who I think is very good value, Mehmas, who had a great first year, Acclamation, Havana Grey, Sergei Prokofiev and Expert Eye."
More mating plans: