Nought to 20 two-year-old winners in next to no time for Kodiac
Martin Stevens on a remarkable milestone for the Tally-Ho sire
If sharp and speedy two-year-olds are your thing, you can't go wrong with Kodiac: the Tally-Ho Stud stalwart has proved that once again by chalking up an extraordinary 20 juvenile winners before the end of June.
Etefaaq became number 20 when the Richard Hannon-trained colt made just about all and defeated the fast-finishing favourite Dichato – by none other than Royal Ascot hotshot Scat Daddy – to win a 6f novice stakes at Newmarket on Thursday.
Etefaaq demonstrates the high esteem in which Kodiac is held by agents and trainers. He was bought by Tally-Ho Stud as a foal at Goffs for €75,000 and resold to Charlie Gordon-Watson on behalf of owner Al Shaqab Racing at the Tattersalls Craven Breeze-up Sale for 110,000gns.
He was bred by Grennanstown Stud and Cloneymore Farm out of the Zamindar mare Sheila Blige, who shares some responsibility for putting plenty of precocity into the mating as an impressive winner on debut in the May of her two-year-old season and a fair sixth in the Molecomb Stakes.
To put Kodiac's achievement of 20 two-year-old winners before the end of June into perspective, it is nearly double the next-best tally this season, which belongs to his studmate Zebedee on 11.
The likes of Dubawi, Holy Roman Emperor and Shamardal – excellent sources of early talent though they undoubtedly are – supplied 20 or fewer juvenile winners each during the whole of 2016.
A figure of 20 is not far from halfway to the 43 that Kodiac mustered in 2014 to beat the the previous best of 42 in a calendar year set by his half-brother Invincible Spirit two years earlier.
With at least four months of the turf Flat season still to go and plenty of maidens, novice stakes and nurseries on the all-weather in November and December, the son of Danehill must have more than a fair chance of surpassing his own record this year.
And the milestone of 30 might not be far off. From his 2015 crop of 189 foals, Kodiac has 25 placed runners on top of his 20 winners.
And chances of new winners come thick and fast in the next few days.
On Saturday the Pavel Vovcenko-trained filly Yori faces a tough task to break her duck in the Group 3 Prix du Bois at Deauville; similar comments apply to Reflect Alexander, a twice-raced maiden for David Evans who is set to run in the Listed Empress Stakes at Newmarket. There is also Tonkolili, second on her sole start for Sylvester Kirk, who has to take on Queen Mary Stakes third Out Of The Flames in a conditions race at Windsor.
Also on Saturday, Levante Player, third to subsequent close Coventry Stakes runner-up Headway for Tom Dacombe last time, is engaged in a Chester novice stakes; Knowing Glance, a fair fifth despite running green on his debut for Richard Fahey, is in a Newcastle novice stakes; and Inuk, who has not shown much in two starts for her trainer Richard Hughes, is set to run at Lingfield.
In the longer term, there are the debuts of some interesting Kodiac two-year-olds to look forward to as well.
Vale Of Kent, for instance, is a half-brother to Breeders' Cup Juvenile hero Vale Of York bought as a yearling by John Ferguson for Godolphin at 380,000gns.
Hesterya, a sister to Group 3-winning two-year-old Shaden bought on behalf of Al Shaqab Racing for 260,000gns, is with William Haggas; and Hateel, a half-sister to Italian Listed scorer Responsibleforlove bought by Shadwell for the same amount as a yearling is also with the same trainer.
There are several important footnotes to the remarkable rate at which Kodiac has racked up two-year-old winners.
First is that he does quality as well as quantity.
His son Brother Bear was a three-length winner of the Listed Marble Hill Stakes last month and was beaten less than a length when fourth in the Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot, while another son, Roussel, was beaten just a neck into second in the Listed Windsor Castle Stakes at the same meeting. Daughter Madeline was a creditable fifth in the Albany Stakes there too.
Second is that Kodiac's current juvenile crop was bred off a fee of just €10,000, which is easy to forget as he has been renowned as a major-league sire for so long. The year-older crop conceived at €7,500 yielded two Royal Ascot two-year-old winners in Ardad and Prince Of Lir.
For the next three seasons Kodiac commanded the increasing fees of €25,000, €45,000 and €50,000 so we might expect him to have received more Classically-bred mares and his future crops may, on the whole, contain fewer early birds.
For now, though, Kodiac's monumental haul of two-year-old winners looks set to be one of the great feats in the stallion ranks this season.