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South African sensation Soft Falling Rain dies aged nine

The champion juvenile was due to cover a full book of mares at Wilgerbosdrift

Soft Falling Rain wins the 2013 Nayef Joel Stakes at Newmarket
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Soft Falling Rain, the top-class South African two-year-old who also enjoyed some noteworthy results in Europe and Dubai, has died aged just nine.

The son of National Assembly had been expected to cover a full book of mares during his fourth season standing at Mary Slack's Wilgerbosdrift.

Bred by Highlands Farm Stud, Soft Falling Rain is one of 16 elite winners sired by the unraced National Assembly, a son of Danzig, while he is also one of five successful offspring produced by the winning Giant's Causeway mare Gardener's Delight. His siblings include Grade 2 Heineken Cape Stayers scorer Let It Rain, Hong Kong winner My Nephew Eric and the smart sprinter Splendid Garden.

Soft Falling Rain shared his family with leading US sire Smart Strike, sire of current stallion sensations Curlin, English Channel and Lookin At Lucky.

He fetched R350,000 (£17,945/€20,185) when offered at the inaugural Cape Yearling Sale in 2011, where he was bought by Angus Gold and Form Bloodstock on behalf of Sheikh Hamdan's Shadwell operation.

Soft Falling Rain on parade at Wilgerbosdrift
Trained by Mike de Kock throughout his career, Soft Falling Rain went undefeated in South Africa, where he made four starts at two, a run that culminated with victory in the 2012 Grade 1 SA Nursery, in which he beat the likes of top-flight winners The Hangman, Love Struck and War Horse.

He was subsequently named Equus champion two-year-old colt for the 2012-13 season.

He was then shipped to Dubai, where he recorded a hat-trick of wins, including the Group 3 UAE 2,000 Guineas and the Group 2 Godolphin Mile. He was then transferred to Britain, where he finished a fine second to Gregorian in the Hungerford Stakes before regaining the winning thread in emphatic fashion in the Group 2 Joel Stakes.

He defeated Montiridge by three and a half lengths, with other talented performers like Premio Loco, Penitent and Glory Awaits left trailing in his wake. 

By the time the curtain came down on his racing career, Soft Falling Rain had won eight of 13 starts and earned over £740,000 in prize-money.

Retired to Slack's Wilgerbosdrift in the Western Cape of South Africa in 2015, Soft Falling Rain proved instantly popular and was fully booked throughout his brief spell at stud.

Soft Falling Rain's debut crop of yearlings made a significant impression at the sales around South Africa in 2018. He was the leading first-crop sire by aggregate at the 2018 Cape Premier Yearling Sale, where his sons and daughters grossed R4 million (£205,160/€230,850) in total, including a R1.4m colt bought by Shadwell.

His stock also proved in high demand at the 2018 Emperors Palace National Yearling Sale in Johannesburg, where he was the fourth leading sire overall, with his yearlings fetching a total of R10.295m.

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Retired to Slack's Wilgerbosdrift in the Western Cape of South Africa in 2015, Soft Falling Rain proved instantly popular
E.W. Terms
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