Blind Optimism

I recently purchased a half share in a one eyed, two year old (who should make a nice three year old), for a four figure sum ūüôā

Unsurprisingly, this expenditure got me curious about horses with partial blindness. There is no central data point to uncover listings of horses with this affliction, but I was able to compile the following listing of partially blind horses who had an impact on racing or breeding:

1. Dante (1942 Nearco ex Rosy Legend by Dark Legend).

Dante was the first Northern trained Derby winner since Pretender in 1869. He started suffering a decline in vision before the 2000 Guineas in which he was a narrow loser and was probably blind in his left eye at the time of that race. He was an unbeaten two year old, successful in the Coventry and Middle Park and the Guineas was his only defeat in 9 starts. He was being prepared for the St Leger but never ran again after the Derby.Dante enjoyed a good stud career (despite a relatively early death) with the likes of 2000 Guineas winner Darius and the Oaks winner Carozza to his credit.

2. Arctic Tern (1973 Seabird ex Bubbling Beauty by Hasty Road).
Arctic Tern came from the last crop of Sea Bird but came from a quality female line having Almahmoud as his grandam, a position she also occupied in the pedigrees of Northern Dancer and Halo. He was blind in his right eye but this did not impact on his racing career which saw him consistently competitive at the highest level. His 22 race career over three seasons saw him amass 4 victories with the highlight being a Group 1 victory to his credit in the 1977 Prix Ganay. He was also placed in that year’s Eclipse Stakes behind Artaius.
He did even better at stud, siring consecutive French Oaks winners in his first two crops (Harbour and Escaline), a Derby runner-up in Glacial Storm and best of all the outstanding Bering who would have been an undisputed champion most years but had the misfortune to be a contemporary of Dancing Brave.

3. Pollard’s Vision (2001 Carson City ex Etats Unis by Dixieland Band)
Pollard’s Vision was named after Ron Pollard best known these days as Seabiscuit’s one eyed jockey. A decent career saw him win the Grade II Illinois Derby and later finish runner up in the Pimlico Special. He made a big start to his stud career with the outstanding filly (and wonderfully named) Blind Luck (Pollard’s Vision ex Lucky One by Best of Luck) , being a member of his first crop. However, to date he has failed to sire anything comparable to Blind Luck.

4. Among the vision impaired fillies, The Dancer (1977  Green Dancer ex Khazaeen by Charlottesville ) won the May Hill Stakes and finished third to Bireme in the 1980 Oaks. At stud she produced a high class performer in Mack the Knife (by Kris) who finished runner up in the Racing Post Trophy.

5. Mention of Kris leads us neatly to Moon Cactus (1987 Kris ex Lady Moon by Mill Reef ) who came even closer to classic success having finished runner up in the French Oaks to Rafha (also by Kris and even more famous as the dam of Invincible Spirit and Kodiac). Moon Cactus did achieve stakes success in the Prestige Stakes and Sweet Solera Stakes .She proved a top class broodmare producing the 1995 Oaks winner Moonshell (by Sadler’s Wells) and her full brother the impressive 2004 King George winner Doyen. She had restricted vision in her left eye.

6. Among National Hunt horses Winning Fair (1955 by Fun Fair ex Winning Hazard by Atout Maitre) was only partially sighted but it didn’t prevent him from winning the 1963 Champion Hurdle. As a gelding Winning Fair obviously had no breeding legacy but his trainer was George Spencer who is the father of top jockey Jamie Spencer. Many punters have also questioned Jamie’s eyesight over the years :)….

7. Among current runners, the Aidan O’Brien trained Eye of the Storm (2010 Galileo ex Mohican Princess by Shirley Heights) won last year’s Group 3 Ballyroan Stakes.

Infirmities of old age often mean horses lose their sight but they can continue to have breeding success. ¬†The outstanding stallion Monsun (Konigsstuhl ex Mosella by Surumu) was blind in the latter stages of his career as were a number of prominent broodmares. Among the celebrated broodmares who went blind in later life (which typically meant their foals wore a bell so that they knew of their presence) were Floripedes, the dam of Montjeu and Park Express the dam of New Approach. Lord Derby’s, Samanda who was blinded as foal became grandam of Ouija Board and Teleprompter.
Conclusion:

It’s easy to imagine that horses might have difficulties with tight right or left handed tracks depending on which eye was lost. Similarly, they might be at a disadvantage if challenged on their blindside. However each case is different and it is difficult to evaluate just how much of a handicap sight loss is to a horse. All we can say is that the above examples prove it is not an insurmountable obstacle. I suspect my horse is far more likely to fail from lack of speed than lack of sight in one eye, but I titled this piece blind optimism and I can only hope that I might soon be adding his name to the above list of notables.

 

 

Hurricane on a run

Hurricane Run (Montjeu ex Hold On by Surumu) was his father’s truest son. I have never seen a¬†better example of a horse whose career almost totally mirrored that of his sire. It is worth listing their respective careers from the time of the French Derby in the Summer of their three year old careers.¬†

Race  
Montjeu  
Hurricane Run  
Prix de Jockey Club 
1st 
2nd 
Irish Derby
1st 
1st 
Prix Niel 
1st 
1st 
Prix de l’Arc¬†
1st 
1st 
Japan Cup 
4th 
na 
Tattersalls Gold Cup 
1st 
1st 
Grand Prix de Saint Cloud 
1st 
2nd 
King George 
1st 
1st 
Prix Foy 
1st 
2nd 
Prix de l’Arc¬†
4th 
3rd 
Champion Stakes 
2nd 
3rd 
Breeders Cup Turf 
7th 
6th 

As you will see Hurricane Run ran in 11 of the 12 races that his sire contested- an incredible statistic. They differed in that Hurricane Run did not contest the Japan Cup at the end of his three year old season.  In addition their runs  in the French Derby are not entirely comparable as that classic was shortened in distance to 10 furlongs in 2005, a change that almost certainly cost Hurricane Run victory in that classic. However their careers are remarkably similar and at his peak Hurricane Run came within a few pounds of his sire. Timeform rated Hurricane Run at 134 as a three year old and 130 as a 4 year old compared to 137 for Montjeu at three and four. The hope at Coolmore is that he will achieve similar success as a sire. The good news for Coolmore is that his three year olds are stepping up considerably on their two year old form and he looks set for a good season.

First Crop 2 year old Results

Hurricane Run has 147 representatives in his current crop of three year olds. 18 of them managed to win as two year olds which was a creditable outcome. The best of last years runners was the filly Cochabamba (ex Bolivia by Distant View) who finished her campaign with a close second to Cape Dollar (Cape Cross ex Green Dollar by Kingmambo) in the Group 2 Rockfel Stakes. Both of those fillies have genuine classic aspirations and to me represent good ante-post bets for the Oaks for which they are available at around 80-1 on betfair.

First Crop Three Year Old results

The table below shows the results for all of the three year olds by Hurricane Run to have raced in the UK so far this year. The races involved are low class affairs, mostly run¬†on the all-weather but the results could hardly be much better.¬†From 11 runs, there have been¬†five wins, four seconds and one third¬†an outstanding strike rate. In addition his early season result in France include Stakes placings for Don’t¬† Hurry Me (ex Beringold by Bering) and Kreem (ex En Public by Rainbow Quest). It was always to be hoped that his progeny would improve significantly with age and they seem to be fulfilling that promise. This time last year Dubawi started the season with a lot of early low grade winners and it proved a harbinger of an outstanding season and it will be interesting to see whether Hurricane Run can match his success.

Date
Track
Horse
Dam & Damsire
Pos.
Dist.
03/01/2011
Wolverh.
Roi de Boeuf
Princess Killeen by Sinndar
5th
9 f
08/01/2011
Lingfield
Hurricane Higgins
Mare Aux Fees by Kenmare
1st
10 f
17/01/2011
Wolverh.
Sheila’s Star
Yaselda by Green Desert
2nd
9 f
17/01/2011
Wolverh.
Roi de Boeuf
Princess Killeen by Sinndar
1st
9 f
26/01/2011
Kempton
Sheila’s Star
Yaselda by Green Desert
2nd
10 f
26/01/2011
Kempton
Roi de Boeuf
Princess Killeen by Sinndar
3rd
10 f
25/02/2011
Wolverh.
Barbican
The Faraway Tree by Suave Dancer
1st
9 f
26/03/2011
Lingfield
Viking Storm
Danehill’s Dream by Danehill
2nd
10 f
03/04/2011
Doncaster
Barbican
The Faraway Tree by Suave Dancer
1st
10 f
06/04/2011
Beverley
Pretty Diamond
Cheal Rose by Doctor Devious
1st
12 f
07/04/2011
Kempton
Swindy
Red Passion by Seeking the Gold
2nd
10 f

¬†Hurricane Run’s Pedigree

Hurricane Run was part of the sensational first crop of Montjeu that also included classic winning colts Motivator and Scorpion. To date we have little evidence of Montjeu’s prowess as a sire of sires, apart from the slightly disappointing Motivator. In his defence we should probably withhold judgement on Motivator as his¬†stud career has been hampered by injuries. Hurricane Run’s dam Hold On was Listed placed and second dam Hone was dam of Group 2 winner Hondo Mondo (by Caerleon). However this is an unexciting female line, largely unfamiliar to¬†UK & Irish breeders. This meant that despite¬†his racecourse prowess¬†Hurricane Run’s¬†stud fee could not be set at more than ‚ā¨30,000 on his retirement.¬†It¬†remained at that level in his second season at stud but¬†is listed as ‚ā¨15,000 for 2011.¬† It is interesting that Hurricane Run’s¬†dam sire is the 1977 German Derby winner Surumu, who occupies the same place in the pedigree of outstanding German sire Monsun and¬†decent sire Lomitas.

Conclusion

This is a critical year for Hurricane Run. He wasn’t expected to make a big impact with his two year olds and they performed respectably but not exceptionally. However the very early signs are that his progeny are coming into their own as three year olds.¬† It is hoped that just as he was almost a replica of his sire as a racehorse he may come to replicate his success as a stallion. If that comes to pass, his current fee of ‚ā¨15,000 will look like value.

HURRICANE RUN (IRE) 2002 c b

Montjeu
(IRE) 1996
Sadler’s
Wells (USA) 1981
Northern
Dancer (CAN) 1961
Nearctic
(USA) 1954
Natalma
(USA) 1957
Fairy
Bridge (USA) 1975
Bold
Reason (USA) 1968
Special
(USA) 1969
Floripedes
(FR) 1985
Top
Ville (IRE) 1976
High
Top (IRE) 1969
Sega
Ville (USA) 1968
Toute
Cy (FR) 1979
Tennyson
(FR) 1970
Adele
Toumignon (IRE) 1971
Hold
On (GER) 1991
Surumu
(GER) 1974
Literat
(GER) 1965
Birkhahn
(GER) 1945
Lis
(GER) 1960
Surama
(GER) 1970
Reliance
(FR) 1962
Suncourt
(GB) 1952
Hone
(GB) 1974
Sharpen
Up (GB) 1969
Atan
(USA) 1961
Rocchetta
(GB) 1961
Lucy
(GB) 1966
Sheshoon
(GB) 1956
Laverock
(GB) 1961

M J Kinane-worth remembering

Mick Kinane announced his retirement at the start of December. His decision to retire after his annus mirabilis with Sea the Stars is indicative of a¬†jockey who had a perfect sense of timing. Many of the glowing tributes¬†described him as¬†the ‘best flat jockey that Ireland ever produced’. I’m not convinced he was demonstrably¬†better than Pat Eddery, Kieran Fallon or Johnny Murtagh but he¬†was certainly as good as any other Irish jockey.¬† In particular he was outstanding around Leopardstown and Ascot. I sometimes had reservations about his riding in France and the US, but it is a testament to his greatness that¬†he tended to be¬†judged against a benchmark of perfection.¬† Naturally over such a lengthy career he rode many future stallions (far too many to properly consider) but it is worth¬†recalling some of the more notable names from such a storied career.

 The Liam Browne years

Initially Kinane rode for Michael¬† Kauntze and Liam Browne. The only star from that time was the cheaply bred and purchased Dara Monarch (1979 Realm x Sardara by Alcide)who won an Irish 2000 Guineas and St James’s Palace Stakes for Liam Browne.¬† At stud his only offspring of significance was the Lockinge winner¬†Broken Hearted.

The Dermot Weld Years 1983-1997

From there he moved across the Curragh to Rosewell House and Dermot Weld where he stayed from late 1983-1997. Although it was a successful partnership¬†that led to a number of Irish championships,¬†in terms of influential stallions it was disappointing. The most important was Theatrical (1982 Nureyev x Tree of Knowledge by Sassafras). but he achieved his major successes after leaving Ireland. Ironically Kinane chose not to ride Theatrical’s son Zagreb (1993 Theatrical¬†x¬†Sophonosibe by Wollow)¬†for Weld in the 1996 Irish Derby¬†favouring Michael Stoute’s Dr Massini who trailed in 7th.¬† Indeed the Irish Derby was an unlucky race for Kinane who was also touched off on Weld’s Definite Article (1992 Indian Ridge x Summer Fashion by Moorestyle) by Winged Love in 1995. Thus far Definite Article’s main achievement has been to sire the outstanding stayer Vinnie Roe who won an incredible 4 Irish St Legers.

Flash of Steel (1983 Kris x Spark of Fire by Run the Gauntlet) won the 1986 Irish Guineas for Weld and Kinane¬†but like many sons of Kris was disappointing at¬†stud.¬† Big Shuffle (1984 Super Concorde x Raise Your Skirts by Elevation) won a Cork and Orrery in 1987 and he¬†is¬†still¬†a popular and successful¬†stallion in Germany where he¬†proved a reliable¬†source of speed. In 1992 Brief Truce (1989 Irish River x Falafel by Northern Dancer) got a superb ride from Kinane to win a St James Palace at 25-1 defeating Rodrigo de Triano and Arazi ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1hUplXewoDM )¬†but he was disappointing as a sire.¬†¬† 1990 saw Weld and Kinane secure an historic Belmont Victory with Go and Go (1987 Be my Guest x Irish Edition by Alleged) winning by 8 lengths. Again that son of Be My Guest made no impact as a sire. Twilight Agenda (1986 Devil’s Bag x Grenzen by Grenfall) was another Moyglare Stud horse who seemed to prosper once he was transferred to the US, but he also failed to make an impact at stud. Vintage Crop’s (1987 Rousillon x Overplay by Bustino) historic Melbourne Cup win is of no relevance as he was of course a gelding.¬† An interesting and unexpected successful stallion from that period was Unusual Heat (1990 Nureyev x Rossard by Glacial) who never won above listed class, finished last in the Irish 2000 Guineas but who has risen from obscurity to become an important sire in California.

Outside Rides

Mick acquired a reputation as the big race king or ‘super-sub’. He certainly compiled a very impressive record for outside stables. He rode Carroll House (1985 Lord Gayle x Tuna by Silver Shark) to win the 1989 Arc http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lpiwr6H7134&feature=related¬†and Phoenix Champion Stakes. Like so many horses at the time he was sold to Japan but was eventually returned to Ireland as a National Hunt stallion.¬† The next year he rode Tirol (1987 Thatching x Alpine Niece by Great Nephew) to win the 2000 Guineas for Richard Hannon. He retired to Coolmore alongside his sire where he did sire the occasional top horse such as Tarascon and Miss Tahiti, but he never threatened to be the saviour of the Forli line. Mick got to ride Commander in Chief (1990 Dancing Brave x Slightly Dangerous by Roberto) to Derby success when Pat Eddery wrongly chose Tenby. Commander in Chief was also sold¬† to Japan where he failed to make a significant impact.

Mick rode Belmez (1987 El Gran Senor x Grace Note by Top Ville) and King’s Theatre (1991 Sadler’s Wells x Regal Beauty by Princely Native) to win the King George for Henry Cecil. Belmez proved a very disappointing sire prior to his premature death. King’s Theatre is now marketed as a dual purpose sire and to be fair he is a very good jumps sire.

The Aidan O’Brien Years 1999-2003

The biggest and most pressurised job in Europe saw Kinane rise to the challenge admirably. The list of top class horses is very long and almost all of them got their chance at Coolmore. In terms of sires the outstanding name is Galileo the dual Derby winner from 2001¬†followed by¬†Giant’s Causway who was a star of the 2000 season.¬†

Rock of Gibraltar (1999¬†Danehill x by Offshore Boom by Be My Guest)¬†is proving an average sire given his opportunities, and Kinane wasn’t at his finest when riding him in the Breeders Cup Mile.¬†¬†2002 saw Ballydoyle house the Rock, along with High Chaparral (1999 Sadler’s Wells x Kasora by Darshaan) and Hawk Wing (1999 Woodman x La Lorgnette by Val De L’Orne). Mick made a rare error of judgement in choosing to ride¬†Hawk Wing over High Chapparal in the Derby that year. In terms of stud careers Hawk Wing has been a disaster and High Chapparal (who at one point looked destined for a career as a National Hunt sire), has staged a spirited revival and is compiling a creditable record here and in Australia.

Fasliyev (1997 Nureyev x Mr P’s Princess by Mr Prospector) was an¬†unbeaten¬†two year old in 1999 who had a sensational first crop but was unable to build on it.

Minardi (1998 Boundary x Yarn by Mr Prospector) was another good two year old but a disappointing sire.   Johannesburg (1999 Hennessy x Myth by Ogygian) was a remarkable two year old in 2001 and his success in the Breeders Cup Juvenile was a breakthrough dirt success for Ballydoyle. As a sire he made a lot of money for Ashford Stud before his recent move to Japan, but to my mind he was overpriced and the occasional top horse hid a lot of dross.

Mozart (1998 Danehill x Victoria Cross by Spectacular Bid) was an outstanding sprinter and on the evidence of his sole crop that featured Dandy Man and Amadeus Wolf his premature death was unfortunate for Coolmore.

Stravinsky (1996 Nureyev x Fire the Groom by Blushing Groom) was another oustanding sprinter and although eventually sold by Coolmore to Japan he left behind a creditable record here and in the Southern hemisphere.

The John Oxx years 2004-2009

Only two horses are likely to have an impact as stallions, obviously Sea The Stars has everything going for him and its easy to forget that¬†Azamour ( 2001 Night Shift x Asmara by Lear Fan) was also a Group 1 winner over a mile, 10 furlongs and 12 furlongs. There were some promising individuals amongst Azamour’s first crop of two year olds and his progeny are likely to progress.

Five best stallions ridden by Kinane

1. Montjeu (1996 Sadler’s Wells x Floripedes by Top Ville)

Already a dual Derby winner by the time Kinane took over the ride. Kinane rode him to 4 Group 1 wins. The most impressive was his imperious victory in the King George. He bacame Mick’s second Arc winner but in my opinion¬†it wasn’t Mick’s best ride as he was in¬†a pocket and on testing ground Montjeu did very well to make up the ground on the heroic El Condor Pasa. Happily Mick subsequently earned the distinction of being co-breeder of Montjeu’s Derby winning son Authorized.

2. Galileo (1998 Sadler’s Wells x Urban Sea by Miswaki).

Mick rode him in 7 of his 8 races comfortably winning the Derby, Irish Derby and King George on him. There was some criticism of his ride in the Irish Champion Stakes when Godolphin and Fantastic Light defeated him by a head. His career finished disappointingly in the Breeders Cup when Ballydoyle seemed to ignore¬†the¬†stats involving¬†the offspring of Sadler’s Wells running on the dirt.

3. Monsun (1990 Konigsstuhl x Mosella by Surumu)

Mick only rode him once but it was Group 1 win in the 1993 Aral Pokal. Ironically the second horse George Augustus was trained by his subsequent employer John Oxx and the third home shrewd idea was trained by one of his first bosses Michael Kauntze. I doubt if anyone present that day realised that they were viewing a horse destined to become the greatest sire Germany has produced.

4. Giant’s Causeway (1997 Storm Cat¬† x Mariah’s Storm by Rahy).

Mick rode him in 12 of his 13 starts winning 5 group 1’s on the ‘Iron Horse’ (George Duffield rode him in the Eclipse).¬† Many of these successes were hard fought and it is worth rewatching his ride in the Juddmonte¬†International ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pDPyQA-WWGo¬†) . Less pleasant viewing for Mick would be his ride in the Irish Guineas where Bachir stole a march on him and some would argue that dropping his whip near the finish of the Breeder’s Cup Classic affected the result (Tiznow won by a neck). Although Giant’s Causeway can sometimes divide opinions amongst breeders, he keeps churning out stakes horses and he is always capable of producing a top notcher particularly on turf or synthetics.

5. Theatrical (1982 Nureyev x Tree of Knowledge by Sassafras).

Mick was jocked off Theatrical to allow Lester Pigott the ride at Epsom. Back in Ireland Mick had won a  Derby Trial on Theatrical and rode a good race when second to Law Society in the 1985 Irish Derby. Theatrical subsequently improved slightly when transferred to Bill Mott.  Theatrical became a fine stallion who was somewhat underrated and at stud on the wrong continent.

Five most disappointing stallions ridden by Kinane (relative to opportunities).

1. Hawk Wing (1999 Woodman x La Lorgnette by Val De L’Orne)

The horse who seemed to have everything, brilliant speed and enough stamina to finish second in a good Derby.¬† Mick rode him to win Group 1’s at 2 (National Stakes), 3 (a soft Eclipse) and 4 (the Lockinge). His performance in the Lockinge had Timeform struggling to find a better performance in recent decades http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XiXbsSCdGLs¬†. Hawk Wing would have won a 2000 Guineas if Mick Kinane had ridden him but he was suspended at the time and regardless he might have chosen to ride Johannesburg in the Kentucky Derby that same day. In a prelude of things to come as far as Ballydoyle were concerned Jamie Spencer took over and got the horse beaten whilst in¬†a further portent Johnny Murtagh did a fine job on Rock of Gibraltar. A terrible stallion (like most sons of Woodman)¬†and now banished to Korea.

2. Entrepreneur (1994 Sadler’s Wells x Exclusive Order by Exclusive Native)

A Guineas winner who retired to Coolmore. He did sire Vintage Tipple who won an Irish Oaks but the fact that he is now in Russia says it all.

3. King of Kings (1995 Sadler’s Wells x Zummerudd by Habitat).¬† Another Guineas winner by Sadler’s Wells who retired to Coolmore. Did ok in his Southern Hemisphere stint but now in Switzerland.

4. One Cool Cat (2001 Storm Cat x Tacha by Mr Prospector).

Mick rode him to win the National Stakes and Phoenix Stakes at two during his last season at Ballydoyle. His oldest progeny are still not even four and he has had a lot of two year old winners in the last season so it might seem very unreasonable to make a decision on him as yet, but he has been very disappointing with nothing of note to date.

5. Fasliyev (1997 Nureyev x Mr P’s Princess by Mr Prospector).

Mick rode him to win the Phoenix Stakes and Prix Morny as part of an unbeaten juvenile campaign. He is on this list because he misled a lot of people (including me) into thinking that he was about to become a major force in Europe after a scintillating first crop of two year olds. His stud fee rocketed but everything since then was a disappointment and he is now in Japan.

Conclusion

In a career of such longevity and such success it is only possible for me to provide a very potted history. The story will still need to be updated as Mick rode plenty of¬†stallions about whom we will have to wait to make a full¬†assessment.¬†However at the end of his riding career we can safely state that Mick was a truly great jockey and¬†I suspect that Mick is one of those people that sometimes aren’t fully appreciated until they are gone (that was certainly the case in Ballydoyle when they replaced him with Jamie Spencer ūüôā