Telescope attracts plenty of viewers at Shade Oak Stud
The seven-year-old son of Galileo is standing his second season
Around 100 people turned out for the recent open day of Shade Oak Stud in Shropshire, one of the leading British National Hunt stallion operations. The weather gods were kind and it remained dry throughout the day, as the six stallions on the roster were paraded.
The most recent recruit to Shade Oak Stud is Scorpion, a son of Montjeu who stood the past nine seasons at Castle Hyde Stud in County Cork.
“Scorpion was an opportunity too good to miss,” said the stud's Peter Hockenhull. “It’s funny because we hadn't been looking for another stallion. His runners have been doing great for him.”
Looking ahead to the Cheltenham festival, Hockenhull is hoping Might Bite, who currently holds an entry for the RSA and the JLT, can fly the flag for Shade Oak.
“Might Bite has a lot of sheer ability but Cheltenham will be a different matter,” he said. “On the one hand, you want to see the novices going to the festival and on the other, you want to see the trainer let them mature.”
Hockenhull also reflected on the warm reception given to dual Group 2 winner and King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes second Telescope in his first season at Shade Oak Stud last year.
The Thoroughbred Breeders' Association's elite mare scheme allowed the son of Galileo to cover an enhanced book last year, he said.
“It was a crucial part of standing Telescope, and the quality of mares he has received has continued to increase. In 2016 he covered 29 elite mares, and this year we have had 42 applications from owners of elite mares.
“The quality of mares helps the stallion and how they are perceived, when the stock go through the sales ring.”
The TBA elite mares scheme offers discounts of between £2,000 and £4,000 off the advertised stud fee of a stallion on the scheme, but the mare must meet certain criteria.
“It was a huge decision to bring in Telescope, but one that appears to be paying off,” continued Hockenhull. “Hopefully, it will secure the stud for the next ten years.”
Those gathered were also treated to the sight of Telescope’s very first foal, as he was paraded with his dam.
While Telescope is getting every chance to succeed at stud, Hockenhull acknowledged studmate Recharge faces a tougher path to recognition.
“Recharge has such good physical attributes, and a lovely pedigree, but with his rating he might have to 'do a Midnight Legend' if he is to make his name. I’ve personally seen the quality of his stock and that’s why he’s here.”
With the Cheltenham festival less than a month away, Hockenhull revealed a private ambition he had to return Recharge into training after his first breeding season and to aim him at the Champion Hurdle.
“Recharge was rated very highly as a four-year-old and I decided I would have to try him over obstacles,”he said. “He showed a very versatile and accommodating temperament, to go from covering for a season, to being put back into training, and while it didn’t work out after he had a niggle, that really endeared him to me.”
So does Hockenhull think Britain and Ireland should mirror France in trying entires over jumps? Not quite, as he explained.
“Jumps ability as a stallion is not something I would look for,” he said. “Instead, I'm looking for the highest quality of Flat racehorse.
For us, the big three factors are the racecourse rating, their optimum distance as a racehorse and the paternal sire.
“That is what has been tried and tested over the years.”
Black Sam Bellamy, an 18-year-old brother to Galileo and half-brother to Sea The Stars, spent five years in Germany before arriving at Shade Oak, and Hockenhull is still hopeful he can continue to produce classy jumps runners such as The Giant Bolster and Hollies Pearl.
“He was really at the start of his career when he came back from Germany [from Gestut Fahrhof] but I would be surprised, with a pedigree like his, if he cannot get another serious horse,” he said.
"Hopefully he will be around to reap the rewards if that does happen."
A Black Sam Bellamy brother to Cultivator, who was third in a Grade 2 novice hurdle at Sandown in December, was being put through his paces in the schooling ring beforehand and impressed Hockenhull, who bred him from late stud stalwart Alflora, with how he was extending.
British breeding appears to be enjoying a golden period, with the likes of Coneygree, Cue Card, Rule The World and Thistlecrack all carrying the GB suffix, and Hockenhull said that is “largely down to Kayf Tara”.
“That gives hope to others. If he can do it, so can other stallions in Britain,” he added.
“What people may not realise is that there is a legacy of owners who have been rewarded for racing fillies and mares in Britain and they will return. They might have gone to Midnight Legend or Kayf Tara when they each stood for a lot less, and it has given them the belief in using British stallions.
“We had originally planned to stand [the ill-fated] Brown Panther, and I was unsure about taking another stallion on, but thought what’s the harm in looking. When I saw Telescope, I thought he was gorgeous. If I hadn't gone to see him, I might not have bought him.
“For a stallion to make it, they need to be getting really good mares, and they need to be supported through thick and thin. That's what’s needed before they can stand on the results on their own offspring.”
Breeders impressed by talent on show
Andrew Davis is the co-breeder of Cannon Fodder, who earned a Racing Post Rating of 131 for finishing third to Vroum Vroum Mag in a Grade 2 mares’ hurdle at Ascot last season.
Davis visited the open day along with Richard Kempster of Kinsale Stud and both were impressed by the stallion talent on show.
“Telescope is the exciting one, and I do like Scorpion as well,” said Davis. “We’ve also bred to Lucarno, and he sired Ticinese, who won his point-to-point at Loughanmore,” said Davis.
Kempster agreed with Davis: “Scorpion has got some very good horses, while Telescope’s foals look good as well.”