Why for Oasis Dream it's a case of form is temporary but class is permanent
Martin Stevens looks at the record of a solid source of Group 1 winners
Pedigrees can be researched back to when Eclipse was a foal and forensic analysis can be applied to stallion performance, while scientific advances have given us greater insight into how a horse's genetic make-up affects its ability. But many matters in bloodstock still defy logic.
One such seemingly inexplicable turn of events has been the levelling off of what had been a swift and steep upward curve in the stud career of Oasis Dream.
The Banstead Manor Stud resident has never struggled for support, and no wonder as he was a champion at two and three and retired with a persuasive pedigree, being a Green Desert half-brother to a Classic winner in Zenda. He covered 40 black type-winning mares in his first season and made the best of those chances straight off the bat.
Each of his first five crops, foaled between 2005 and 2009 and conceived at fees ranging between £25,000 and £30,000, yielded a double-figure tally of black-type winners.
The first crop contained four top-level winners in Aqlaam, Lady Jane Digby, Prohibit and Tuscan Evening as well as the bright talents Captain Gerrard, Main Aim, Starlit Sands and Visit.
In the second crop followed three more Group/Grade 1 winners – the brilliant Midday, Naaqoos and Querari – and one more arrived in the third crop, in the shape of Arcano, along with German 2,000 Guineas scorer Frozen Power and the high-class pair Rainfall and Showcasing.
There were no elite winners in the fourth crop, but there were two smart two-year-olds in Approve and Waiter's Dream as well as a Coolmore-purchased top seller at Book 1 of the Tattersalls October Yearling Sale in Rudolf Valentino.
Normal service resumed in the fifth crop, which included five Group/Grade 1 winners in Goldream, Jwala, Muarrab, Opinion and Power.
Oasis Dream's sixth crop, born in 2010 and the last bred before his fee jumped dramatically from £30,000, produced only five stakes winners and none at the highest level. But the seventh and eighth crops, conceived at prices of £65,000 and £85,000, fared better with 15 and 11 stakes winners apiece.
That eighth crop encompassed the sire's best runner on Racing Post Ratings, the exceptional sprinter Muhaarar, as well as a Middle Park Stakes winner in Charming Thought.
It was with subsequent crops that momentum began to slow for Oasis Dream, however. The ninth crop, born in 2013 and the second bred at that lofty £85,000 fee, has mysteriously mustered just one stakes winner and that was hardly a flagbearer as it was the overseas Listed scorer Mirage.
The class of 2014, this year's four-year-olds, were bred at a fee of £80,000 and has produced only three stakes winners headed by Italian Oaks winner Folega and surprise Summer Stakes scorer Mystic Dawn. The fruits of the following breeding season, when the covering price returned to £85,000, are headed by four stakes winners now aged three, including the Wertheimer brothers' Group 1-placed filly Polydream.
The baffling bare fact is that the number of stakes winners Oasis Dream has notched among his three-, four- and five-year-olds combined is three fewer than he managed in his six-year-old crop alone. Moreover, none of his crops born after 2012 have generated a Group/Grade 1 winner.
Consequently, Oasis Dream's covering fee has steadily fallen in recent years: from £75,000 to £50,000 in 2017 and down again to £30,000 in 2018.
The quieter spell is difficult to interpret. Has he perhaps been a little overshadowed by his own studmates Dansili and Frankel? Has he failed to click with a different type of mare sent to him as his fee soared after early success?
Either way, recent results have suggested there are better times ahead.
Oasis Dream recorded a Listed double with his three-year-olds at Naas on Monday, with Mrs Gallagher, conqueror of the exciting Mabs Cross at Bath last month, confirming the form in a decisive victory in the Polonia Stakes and the consistent Imaging beating a competitive field to take the Tetrarch Stakes. It would be no great surprise if either Mrs Gallagher or Imaging found further improvement to gain more Group race glory in time.
Several Oasis Dream four-year-olds have also shown good form in handicaps of late and have the potential to claim black type. Oasis Charm landed the valuable Suffolk Handicap at Newmarket on Saturday for Godolphin, while the Marco Botti-trained Crowned Eagle, a half-brother to Group 2 winners Eagle Top, The Lark and Wings Of Desire who finished down the field in the Derby last year, stuck on well to take the Rosebery Handicap at Kempton in March.
Even more encouragingly, Oasis Dream has already fielded two juvenile winners from his 2016 crop bred off a fee of £75,000. No Lippy, who scored at Doncaster last month for Mark Johnston, is engaged in the Lily Agnes Conditions Stakes at Chester on Wednesday, while the William Haggas-trained Carrie's Vision was an admirably tough winner at Yarmouth in recent weeks.
Another Oasis Dream two-year-old, Barend Boy, looks a winner in waiting for Hugo Palmer after placed efforts on his first starts at Leicester and Newmarket.
Breeders who have kept the faith in Oasis Dream and taken advantage of his falling fee might just be rewarded as more of the sire's well-bred stock come out and win big races, despite the earlier blip in his record.
Similarly, buyers who remembered all those early stars for the stallion such as Midday and Muhaarar and consequently refused to desert his stock in the ring last year, despite his yearling average slipping from 145,696gns to 82,172gns, might just have found themselves a bargain for swimming against the tide.
Those breeders and buyers have recognised that in the case of Oasis Dream, form is temporary but class is permanent.
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