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Saturday, 17 November, 2018

Stand by for a bold show from an upgraded juvenile crop

Martin Stevens on the Whitsbury Manor Stud stallion's inexorable rise

Showcasing: has performed miracles with progeny bred for £5,000 and less
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Among what is looking increasingly like an exceptional vintage of sires whose first two-year-olds raced in 2014, Showcasing received the largest price hike in percentage terms for 2015 of all his peers.

The 233 per cent rise in fee to £15,000 edged out the 220 per cent increase applied to Lope De Vega between those same years, which took him to €40,000, and the 186 per cent rate of inflation in the case of Siyouni, who went to €20,000 after the success of his debut juveniles.

No pressure on Showcasing, then, to produce the goods with that first more expensively bred crop of two-year-olds who are set to grace racecourses this year.

Actually, it might be a little unfair to load unachievable expectations on the strong, sloping shoulders of Showcasing on that basis alone, as the mathematics of his fee increase in 2015 are skewed simply because he started from such a small base.

Before talking about his well-bred representatives we can look forward to over the next 12 months, it is worth reminding ourselves of just how admirable the sire's achievements are considering he stood at just £5,000 in his first season at Whitsbury Manor Stud and at £4,500 in the following three.

Showcasing, trained by John Gosden for his owner-breeder Khalid Abdullah, was among the best sprinting two-year-olds of his generation, finding only Arcano a head too good on his debut and then winning a Yarmouth maiden doing handstands, taking the Gimcrack Stakes by two lengths and finishing a length third behind Awzaan in the Middle Park Stakes.


SHOWCASING – THE FACTS AND FIGURES

Pedigree 11yo b Oasis Dream-Arabesque (Zafonic)

Stands Whitsbury Manor Stud, Hampshire

2018 fee £35,000

Runners 216

Winners 124

Strike-rate 57%

2017 yearling average £87,600


A close second to Prime Defender in the Duke of York Stakes provided an auspicious start to his three-year-old campaign but, after lacklustre efforts in the Golden Jubilee Stakes and July Cup, he was retired due to a niggling hock injury and was sold as a stallion prospect to Whitsbury Manor.

His introductory fee was likely inhibited by that lack of a Group 1 score and the fact his father Oasis Dream was then unproven as a sire of sires, although that point was mitigated by his brilliant distaff pedigree: a half-brother to talented sprinter Camacho out of the Listed-winning Zafonic mare Arabesque, herself a daughter of Cheveley Park Stakes heroine Prophecy. Also, the price was set in the autumn of 2010 as the bloodstock industry was still in the doldrums from the worldwide economic crash.

As it turned out, the price was right at £5,000 and Showcasing covered around 120 mares in his first season – Whitsbury Manor strictly limits books – including six black-type winners. The resultant crop has yielded four Pattern winners including one who really got the ball rolling for the sire in Cappella Sansevero, winner of his first three starts at two and sold to Qatar Racing for £1.3 million to top the inaugural Goffs London Sale in 2014. The day after the auction the Ger Lyons-trained colt finished second in the Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot and he went on to win the Round Tower Stakes and run fourth in the Middle Park Stakes.

Showcasing's other debut two-year-olds included Toocoolforschool, who strolled to a seven-length success in the Mill Reef Stakes; Prize Exhibit, who took third in the Oh So Sharp Stakes and fourth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf and has gone on to win a pair of Grade 2 contests in the US; and Listed Harry Rosebery Stakes scorer Accipiter. By the end of his freshman season he had reeled off 25 winners at a commendable clip of 50 per cent of his runners.

Cappella Sansevero: the highlight of Showcasing's debut juvenile crop

Not only that, but those two flagbearers Cappella Sansevero – out of a mare with a best Racing Post Rating of 74 and sourced as a yearling for 25,000gns – and Toocoolforschool – whose dam has an RPR of 67 and who was a 16,000gns breeze-up buy – suggested Showcasing was that holy grail for studmasters: an upgrader of stock. Hence the price increase to £15,000 at the end of 2014, although several multiples of his previous fee, did not deter breeders and that winter Whitsbury Manor faced the high-class problem of having to disappoint clients as it stuck to its guns of maintaining its ceiling on mare numbers per stallion.

In the intervening three Flat seasons since then, Showcasing has done nothing to suggest such clamour for his services was unwarranted, and indeed his fee has risen further still as he has enhanced his record with more inexpensively bred runners.

First-crop son Projected, who took a pair of backend two-year-old races for Andre Fabre, emulated Prize Exhibit by developing into a top turf performer in the US and landed a Grade 2 at Laurel Park aged five for Chad Brown in September.

Showcasing's second-crop runners, the results of him covering 119 mares including five black-type winners in 2012, bettered the achievements of their predecessors. They included three Pattern winners – Quiet Reflection, a dual Group 1 heroine in the Commonwealth Cup and Haydock Sprint Cup; Tasleet, who landed the Duke of York Stakes before running second in three Group 1 sprints last year; and Conselice, winner of the Italian 1,000 Guineas. 

Quiet Reflection: the dual Group 1-winning sprinter was sold to Coolmore for 2,100,000gns

Quiet Reflection, a £44,000 breeze-up graduate sold on to Coolmore and Blandford Bloodstock for 2,100,000gns last month, and Conselice, originally a 4,200gns foal, will likely be beginning their careers as broodmares now, but Tasleet gives more cause to believe it will be a big year for Showcasing, as he stays in training in pursuit of deserved Group 1 laurels.

The third year at stud is often when commercially priced stallions struggle for support and it was no different for Showcasing, with only 68 mares, two of them black-type winners, covered in 2013. Still, that crop has done its bit to maintain momentum, yielding Listed scorer Moonlit Show and 100-1 Windsor Castle Stakes second Savannah's Dream.

Showcasing's popularity recovered in 2014, the year those first two-year-old runners would dazzle on the track, and he was sent 116 mares, four black-type winners among them. The resultant foals, last year's juveniles, included De Bruyne Horse, the winner of the Woodcote Stakes (later disqualified) and a Listed event at Vichy, Out Of The Flames, third in the Queen Mary Stakes, and Shalailah, second to Happily in the Silver Flash Stakes.

Among the darker horses who turned three on Monday and could showcase their sire this year are Dice Roll, who landed the valuable Arqana October sales race at Chantilly and was fourth in Listed company at Deauville, and Monadee, the comfortable winner of a six-furlong novice stakes at Kempton on his third start for Roger Varian last month.

And so to Showcasing's much vaunted, more dearly produced two-year-olds of 2018 who bring with them that certain pressure for the stallion to step up another gear: they are the fruits of 130 mares covered in 2015, 11 of them black-type winners.

The 71 who came under the hammer as yearlings posted an average price of around £87,600, up 83 per cent on the figure for the preceding crop in 2016. They included a half-brother to last season's May Hill Stakes second Dark Rose Angel sold to Godolphin for €460,000 at Goffs; a half-sister to stakes winners Billesdon Bess and Billesdon Brook knocked down to John Gosden for 380,000gns at Tattersalls; and a filly out of a three-parts sister to 2,000 Guineas runner-up Vital Equine who went the way of John and Jake Warren for 330,000gns, also at Newmarket.

Others Showcasing juveniles who look the part on paper are the brother to Prize Exhibit sold to Shadwell for 110,000gns, the half-sister to Nunthorpe Stakes second Stepper Point bought by Joe Foley for 210,000gns, and the half-sister to last season's Queen Mary Stakes and Flying Childers Stakes scorer Heartache.

Considering what Showcasing has managed with offspring conceived at fees of £5,000 and less – two top-class sprinters in Quiet Reflection and Tasleet and two seven-figure sellers in Quiet Reflection again and Cappella Sansevero, among numerous winners at laudable strike-rates – the anticipation of what he might achieve with those juveniles produced from better raw materials means the Flat season cannot come quickly enough.


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Showcasing was among the best sprinting two-year-olds of his generation
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