2014 End of Season Awards- ‘The Victors’

Now that the European season is almost over, it’s time to hand out my end of year awards (The Victors)

1. Stallion of the year: Galileo who else? It’s easy to take for granted his year on year domination, but it really is extraordinary. This year so far he has sired another Derby winner in Australia, classic winner Marvellous, Group 1 winners Tapestry and Adelaide. Amongst his older horses Noble Mission has earned the right to stop being referred to as simply Frankel’s brother. More significantly the pipeline looks incredibly strong with Group 1 winning two year olds in Gleaneagles, Together Forever and Found and an even more exciting prospect in John F Kennedy. He does have all the advantages of the best mares and large books but he keeps producing the goods in a way few stallions in history could match.

2. Flop of the Year: Fastnet Rock. Just to show that Coolmore don’t always get it right. Sensational in Australia, Coolmore reverse shuttled him and patronised him with some of their elite mares. He had a slow start with his European two year olds in 2013 but we waited and waited for them to burst onto the scene in 2014 but it never really happened. The Coolmore boys recognised the game was up and sold a job lot of 9 of his yearlings to the Australian OTI syndicate. He has fallen far short of expectations (I would have expected at least 2 Gr 1 winners from that book of mares) and no tears will be shed if he doesn’t return to Ireland.

3. Breakthrough sire of the year: Kodiac. When he retired to stud in 2007 Kodiac had a modest race record with no Stakes wins to his name and his best run being a fourth in the Prix Maurice de Gheest. However he had plenty to recommend him on pedigree being a son of Danehill out of a classic winner in Rafha who was the dam of rising stallion Invincible Spirit. His initial fee was €5000 and that dropped in year 3 and year 4 to €4000. Plenty of winners started to follow and after a proliferation of two year old winners in 2013 his fee reached €10000 in 2014. This year, since the beginning of the season he has been an unstoppable force with his two year olds and more importantly some have demonstrated considerable quality notably. The highlight for Kodiac was the speed machine that is Tiggy Wiggy and for good measure Kodi Bear stepped up on his previous runs to come second in the Dewhurst. In addition the 3 year old Coulsty won a group 3 as did the 6 year old Jamesie. His recent sales results include a large number of six figure sales and he is set for a very significant and justified fee hike in 2015.

4. Second Crop Sire of the Year: Le Havre. Hard to call this award as it could have gone to Sea the Stars, Mastercraftsman or Le Harve. Sea the Stars had a huge amount to live up to being one of the outstanding horses of the era, being a half brother to Galileo and having covered an outstanding book of mares. He has not disappointed having sired a superstar filly in Taghrooda, and a scintillating winner of the German derby in Sea the Moon as part of a very impressive haul of 10 stakes winners. Mastercraftsman had a lesser book of mares than Sea the Stars ((althought not a bad book of mares given his initial fee was €20000) but surpassed expectations by delivering two classic winners in Kingston Hill and the Grey Gatsby. However my selection is Le Havre who despite having won a Prix du Jockey Club was retired at a fee of just €5000. He has repaid his supporters in spades with a dual classic winner in Avenir Certain, a Group 2 winner in Auvray and the high class Le Hoguette amongst 6 stakes winners. He has earned the right to much bigger and better books in 2015.

5. First season sire of the year: Lope de Vega. For most of the season I had the name Starspangledbanner pencilled in for this award. He looked like he had the makings of a fine stallion getting a pair of impressive Royal Ascot winners in The Wow Signal and Alexander Anthem from a depleted first crop (due to fertility issues). However although The Wow Signal added a Group 1, the lustre has slightly faded from this pair and no other stakes winners have emerged. In contrast the offspring of Lope De Vega have really come good as the season progressed and he can already boast of four Group winners headed by recent Dewhurst winner Belardo, backed up by Italian Group 2 winner Here Look and a pair of Group 3 winners in Burnt Sugar and Royal Razalma. In addition Endless Drama put up a most impressive performance when winning today at Naas as he towered over his rivals in every sense. Given that Lope de Vega was better at three when he emulated his own sire Shamardal by winning the French Guineas and Derby Ballylinch Stud must be hopeful that his momentum will continue. Lope de Vega retired at a fee of €15000 and stood for €12500 for the past two years but a big hike is to be expected.

6. Performance of the Year: Sole Power in the Nunthorpe Stakes. Sole Power is a standing dish in the top sprints and won the Nunthorpe back in 2010 (at which time I wrote about his pedigree (http://www.montjeu.com/archives/295). His winning performance in this year’s edition really had to be seen to be believed as he showed remarkable acceleration against high class sprinters.  Enjoy it for yourself here

 

Lope de Vega- something to write about

Lope de Vega was a celebrated Spanish writer, ranked almost the equal of Cervantes and the author of an incredible 1800 plays (thanks Wikipedia). Last weekend’s French Guineas (Poule d’Essai des Poulains) saw another Lope de Vega defeat Dick Turpin by half a length.  The equine Lope is unlikely to achieve evarlasting fame but on a line through Dick Turpin there is currently little between him and Makfi at the top of the European rankings for milers.

Lope de Vega- performance to date

Lope de Vega was a very useful two year old winning his first two starts before winding up his season with a close fourth behind Siyouni in the Grand Criterium. He was third, beaten only half a length on his seasonal reappearance in the Prix de Fontainbleu before his half length success in the Poule D’Essai des Poulains.  In the aftermath of his victory it was stated that he would be aimed at the 10 furlongs of the French Derby. On pedigree, he should have a reasonable chance of getting the additional two furlongs.

Lope de Vega- bred for the French Guineas

In some respects Lope de Vega was bred for the French Guineas. His sire Shamardal won the race in 2005 and his broodmare sire Vettori won the 1995 edition of the race. In addition his grandam Lady Golconda is a daughter of Kendor who won the 1989 renewal.  Furthermore Rahy is the broodmare sire of Giants Causway and Rahy is a son of Blushing Groom the winner of the 1977 renewal.

Shamardal’s racing career

Shamardal was unbeaten on turf, winning the Dewhurst at two for Mark Johnston, before winning the French Guineas (from the luckless Indesatchel ridden by Jamie (Frank) Spencer) at three. He followed up in the first 10 furlong French Derby defeating the fast finishing Hurricane Run.  In the case of both French classics he benefitted from canny rides from Frankie Dettori.  Just 9 days after the French Derby he contested the St James Palace Stakes and he put up an extremely impressive performance that marked him out as an outstanding performer. Unfortunatley it proved to be his last race.

Shamardal’s life story was certainly interesting as he was diagnosed as a wobbler, his first owner Abdulla Buhaleeba sold him at the end of his two year old career after reputedly incurring significant casino losses. He was by Coolmores Giant’s Causeway out of a sister to Godolphins Street Cry, but Coolmore passed him over at the Houghton Sales after failing an endoscopic test. He was the star of Giant’s Causeway’s first crop that also featured Footstepsinthesand and Karen’s Caper.

Shamardal’s stud career

Shamardal’s first crop 143 was conceived off a fee of €40,000. From that crop Arctic was a group 3 winner in Ireland before disappointing somewhat in the Middle Park stakes. Shakespearean won the Solario Stakes and followed up in the Goffs million.  As three year olds Siyaadah won the UAE 1000 Guineas and Zazou won a German Group 3 before coming a close sixth behind Lope de Vega in the Franch Guineas.  From his time in Australia he is represented by Faint Perfume who is a dual Group 1 winner including the Crown Oaks over 12 and half furlongs. He is currently listed as €20000 and should be popular at that price as he is delivering plenty of stakes horses.

Lady Vettori

Lady Vettori, the dam of Lope de Vega won  her first five races as a two year old including the Group 3 Prix du Calvados. She finished her season with a highly creditable third in the Prix Marcel Boussac. She ran just once at three when just touched off in the Prix Imprudence. At stud she had four foals prior to Lope de Vega, the best of whom was Bal de la Rose (by Cadeuax Genereux) who was a 10 furlong Group 3 winner. Lady Vettori is herself a half sister to a stakes performer in Rosey de Megeve (by Efisio) and there are some decent connections further back in the pedigree. However, overall it is not a particularly high class family and it was her racing merit not her pedigree that saw Lady Vettori sold for €500,000 in December 2005.

Conclusion.

His run in the French Guineas represented a career best performance for Lope de Vega. His manner of victory was not overly impressive and he will probably need to show further improvement if he is to succeed in his stated target of the French Derby.  He is a nice advert for his sire Shamardal who is one of the leading lights of a bunch of highly promising new sires to burst on the scene. His dam Lady Vettori owned a modest enough pedigree but she was a superior racehorse and she can certainly take her share of the credit for her sons success.  Machiavellian appears 3*3 in the pedigree as broodmare sire of Shamardal and sire of Vettori but rather than reading too much into that I think we can just credit the combination of a much better than average sire and dam.

LOPE DE VEGA (IRE) 2007 c ch

Shamardal
(USA) 2002
Giant’s
Causeway (USA) 1997
Storm
Cat (USA) 1983
Storm
Bird (USA) 1978
Terlingua
(USA) 1976
Mariah’s
Storm (USA) 1991
Rahy
(USA) 1985
Immense
(USA) 1979
Helsinki
(GB) 1993
Machiavellian
(USA) 1987
Mr
Prospector (USA) 1970
Coup
De Folie (USA) 1982
Helen
Street (GB) 1982
Troy
(GB) 1976
Waterway
(FR) 1976
Lady
Vettori (GB) 1997
Vettori
(IRE) 1992
Machiavellian
(USA) 1987
Mr
Prospector (USA) 1970
Coup
De Folie (USA) 1982
Air
Distingue (USA) 1980
Sir
Ivor (USA) 1965
Euryanthe
(USA) 1975
Lady
Golconda (FR) 1992
Kendor(FR) 1986 Kenmare
(FR) 1975
Belle
Mecene (FR) 1982
Lady
Sharp (FR) 1981
Sharpman
(IRE) 1976
Golondrina
(FR) 1970