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Tuesday, 11 December, 2018

Dansili's developing sire-line has all the makings of a dynasty

James Thomas looks at the Juddmonte stalwart's emergence as a sire of sires

Beckford (gold star on cap): the grandson of Dansili scores in the Group 2 Railway Stakes at the Curragh
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With Frankel's second career in full swing and the exciting Kingman's debut crop of yearlings only weeks away from appearing in the sales rings of Europe, big things are afoot at Banstead Manor Stud. But, for all the seismic activity among the junior ranks at Juddmonte, it will take a shift of tectonic proportions before the upstarts can match the shockwaves being sent out by the stud's elder statesman Dansili.

From 14 crops of racing age Dansili has supplied 185 stakes performers, 71 Group/Graded winners, and no fewer than 20 runners who have struck at the highest level. However, to focus on the racetrack record of his progeny alone would be to miss the bigger picture, as the son of Danehill's influence is no longer confined to his sons and daughters on course exploits.

It's no secret that Dansili is a quite exceptional sire of fillies, as his 13 Group/Grade 1-winning daughters attests to, and we are now starting to witness his notable impact as a broodmare sire. He currently sits in sixth, behind only Danehill, Pivotal, Sadler's Wells, Galileo, and Cadeaux Genereux in the British and Irish broodmare sires' table, having already been represented in this division by eight runners with a Racing Post Rating (RPR) of over 100 in 2017.

He is the broodmare sire of the likes of recent Pretty Polly Stakes winner Nezwaah and this year's Derby runner-up Cliffs Of Moher, as well as Irish Oaks heroine Chicquita and the high-achieving quartet Time Test, Snow Sky, Agent Murphy and Astaire, among others. And with big names such as The Fugue, Giofra and Dank all with progeny in the pipeline, it doesn't take much imagination to see Dansili being a force to be reckoned with among the broodmare sire ranks in the coming years.

However, it is not just the ability of his daughters that will ensure Dansili's name will be a fixture in pedigrees long after his own tenure at Banstead Manor has drawn to a close, as he has emerged as a potent sire of sires in recent times. 

His earliest sons to stud, namely Strategic Prince and Thousand Words, both sired the odd high-class performer or two, with the former supplying dual Group 1 winner La Collina and the latter giving us the redoubtable Top Notch Tonto, but neither managed to fully establish themselves.

Firm foundations

Dansili's current sire sons seem to be laying much firmer foundations, however. Leading the charge is Zoffany, whose stud career got off to a hugely promising start with Illuminate, Washington DC and Waterloo Bridge giving him a hat-trick at Royal Ascot with his debut crop in 2015.

Further success followed for Zoffany, with Ventura Storm providing his sire with a first Group 1 winner courtesy of a gutsy display in the Premio Jockey Club at San Siro, while the likes of Foundation and Knife Edge both bagged Group 2 events, and Architecture finished second in both the English and Irish Oaks.

And it seems likely that the best is still to come from Zoffany, with the foals bred in the afterglow of that stellar first crop still to come. It's easy to forget that he started life at stud at a fee of just €7,500, but in 2016 he covered a book of 208 mares at €45,000, of which 69 (33 per cent) are black-type performers, suggesting there is both quality and quantity to come from the Coolmore resident.

Zoffany: the Coolmore sire registered a Group 1 winner from his first crop with Ventura Storm
Another son to have got off to a bright start is Dansili's Banstead Manor studmate Bated Breath. The ten-year-old's first crop rather flew under the radar last year, despite supplying 14 winners across Britain and Ireland at a perfectly healthy winners-to-runners ratio of 32 per cent.

He also produced a trio of Group-race placegetters in his first crop, with Al Johrah finishing runner-up to Lady Aurelia in the Queen Mary Stakes and Tis Marvellous in the Prix Robert Papin, Unabated finishing third to The Last Lion in the Sirenia Stakes and Take A Deep Breath finishing a gallant second to Promise To Be True in the Silver Flash Stakes.

Such results are certainly commendable, especially for runners bred from a fee of just £8,000. But what Bated Breath really lacked was the kind of headline act every young sire needs to put him firmly front and centre.

That, however, looks set to change, as among Bated Breath's second crop of juveniles is the unbeaten Beckford, who was last seen careering away with the Group 2 Railway Stakes at the Curragh. The Newtown Anner Stud-owned colt looks well worth his place in either the Group 1 Phoenix Stakes or Vincent O'Brien National Stakes - both of which he holds entries in, and has played a pivotal role in Bated Breath's current standing among the leaders on the two-year-old sires' table.

Bated Breath also has two progressive three-year-old sprinters on his CV, with Unabated and Ekhtiyaar both looking likely Pattern-class performers should they remain on an upward curve. If Dansili was searching for an heir apparent, he may not have to look much further than his own yard.

Ekhtiyaar (right): the son of Bated Breath lands a competitive Newmarket handicap to achieve a Racing Post Rating of 104
Other domestic representatives of Dansili include Requinto, who has supplied 13 runners with an RPR of 80 or above - including last year's July Stakes third Broken Stones (sold to race in Hong Kong as Packing Stones), and Irish National Stud resident Famous Name, whose first crop of around 50 foals included the talented Escobar.

Gone but not forgotten

Another indicator of Dansili's impact as a sire of sires can be seen in the promising start made by the ill-fated Delegator, who was lost to a suspected heart attack towards the end of his first year with racecourse representatives in 2016.

The former Overbury Stud resident received relatively modest books during his time on covering duty, with his first intake of mares including just one black-type winner and one black-type producer. But that debut crop of 73 foals has so far as yielded nine performers with an RPR of 80 or above, including the dual Group 3 winner Delectation.

Delegator's second crop, 2017's two-year-olds, contains just 35 foals, with 2015's coverings yielding 38 foals and last year's only eight, according to Weatherbys, which means there will be limited evidence with which to judge him by in the future. But there is no doubt that the early signs are that he would have punched well above his weight, having started life at stud at a fee of just £5,000.

Overseas impact

It is not just on home soil that Dansili's influence is being felt, either, as he has a trio of noteworthy sire sons spread across three different continents.

Perhaps the most familiar is Harbinger, Dansili's highest-rated performer (RPR 135) courtesy of a demolition job in the 2010 King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes - the year in which Dansili finished second in the domestic sires' table. The 11-year-old now resides at the Yoshidas' Shadai Stallion Station in Japan, and has sired 188 winners from four crops of racing age.

Among that number are Grade 2 winner Mozu Katchan and the Grade 3 winners Beruf, Persian Knight, Prophet and Dreadnoughtus, who have helped to propel Harbinger into tenth on the leading sires' table in Japan. While at the recent Japan Racing Horse Association Select Sale Harbinger's progeny fetched up to ¥60,000,000 (£415,375/€462,890).

In the southern hemisphere there is the New Zealand-based Zacinto, a Group 2 winner for Sir Michael Stoute whose first two crops - bred at Inglewood Stud from a fee of just NZ$5,000 (£2,870/€3,200) - have yielded Group 1 New Zealand 2,000 Guineas winner Ugo Foscolo among a handful of early scorers.

Flintshire (pink cap): the five-time top-level winner stood his first season at Hill 'n' Dale in 2017
While Dansili, who has already enjoyed his share of stateside success thanks to the likes of Grade 1 winners Proviso, Price Tag and Queen's Trust, looks poised to exert his influence as a sire of sires on that frontier too. Flintshire became the first son of Dansili to stand in the US when retiring to Hill 'n' Dale Farm as the winner of eight races, including five Group/Grade 1s, and £6,248,729 in prize-money earlier this year at a fee of $20,000.

Standing as the property of a partnership comprised of Hill 'n' Dale, SF Bloodstock, the China Horse Club and Juddmonte Farms, all of whom have thrown their considerable support behind Flintshire, the regally bred seven-year-old seems to have everything in place to make a major impact among the US-based turf sires.

It has been 11 years since Dansili first broke into the upper echelons of the British and Irish sires' table. The 2006 season saw him propelled right onto the heels of the likes of Galileo - then an upwardly mobile eight-year-old, Montjeu, and the great breed-shapers Sadler's Wells and Danehill. He is now being mentioned in the same breath as those significant stallions, and with a growing influence through his sire sons, his own branch of the fabled Danehill line looks set for a fruitful future. 

It is not just on home soil that Dansili's influence is being felt, either
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