Stats study pays off for Gold Cup winning breeder Mayoh
Faith in late, great British jumps sire Midnight Legend rewarded
Bryan Mayoh's immediate response to his homebred Sizing John winning Friday’s Timico Gold Cup at Cheltenham was unprintable, but the drive to his friends Peter and Emma Hockenhull’s Shade Oak Stud to celebrate after racing allowed for more sober reflection.
Mayoh and his ex-wife Sandra bred Sizing John by sending the French-bred mare La Perrotine to the late Pitchall Farm resident Midnight Legend, a stallion the keen statistician had been banging on about to everyone he knew because of the quality emerging from his modestly bred crops.
La Perrotine, a daughter of obscure French Group 3 winner Northern Crystal, was trained by Howard Johnson to win a Hexham bumper and three novice hurdles at Sedgefield.
“The deal to buy her was done in the bar at a Doncaster sale,” Mayoh remembers. “Howard said the mare had gone wrong on her tendons in the mares’ final at Newbury and couldn’t run again but he thought she was very talented and asked if I would like to buy her. After a bit of haggling, a price was agreed.
“She was better than she was able to show on the racecourse and she stands 16.2 hands and is a very elegant, good-looking mare. The only thing is, my stats show that the broodmare sire is very important in a mating, and I didn’t know much about Northern Crystal, so I’m pleased it’s worked out.”
Sending the attractive La Perrotine, whose racing career was limited by injury, to the tough-as-nails and plainer looking Midnight Legend – a rare high-class jumper in Britain left ungelded and granted a stallion career – looked a complementary combination on paper, and so it has worked out, with Sizing John appearing to have inherited the best of each his parents’ traits.
“It could have gone very wrong if he had inherited a different set of genes,” Mayoh acknowledged. “But for once, everything that could go right, did.”
In 2009 Mayoh was preaching the virtues of two British-based jumps sires, Kayf Tara and Midnight Legend, arguing they were as good as any stallion in Ireland. That year he masterminded the mating of Sizing John and sent Astar Love to Kayf Tara to produce talented hurdler Lifeboat Mona.
“If only I got it right all the time, I’d be a very rich man,” he said.
Mayoh is also an accomplished breeder of guinea pigs, and asked the crunch question of which gave him more satisfaction, rodents or racehorses, he replied: “I’ve won best in show at the Bradford Small Animal Show twice and there is no comparison. This [breeding Sizing John] is miles better.”