Chaucer to write a classic tale?

It has been a good few months for Montjeu. He started in July with an Irish Oaks winner in Chicquita (Montjeu ex Prudenzia by Dansili) who despite showing a lot of quirkiness, confirmed that Montjeu could sire the occasional top class filly. Chicquita’s prior run had seen her finish runner up to the brilliant Treve (Motivator ex Trevise by Anabaa) in the Prix de Diane. This was also a good result for Montjeu who is the sire of Motivator.
The classic run continued when the improving Leading Light (Montjeu ex Dance Parade by Gone West) landed his first Group 1 with his victory in the St Leger. Remarkably he thereby became the seventh different son of Montjeu to land an English colt’s classic since his first crop of three year old’s in 2005. Leading Light provides a link to Treve as Montjeu attracted his share of Gone West mares following the success of Motivator who was the first poster boy for that cross. The 2.8 million paid at Goffs for the Montjeu ex Finsceal Beo by Mr Greeley) is another example of this cross as Mr Greeley is a son of Gone West.  Two classics and the highest yearling sales price in Europe this year undoubtedly add lustre to Montjeu’s legacy but it was the success of the two year colt Geoffrey Chaucer in the Beresford Stakes on September 29th that might yet prove most significant as it raises the probability of Montjeu siring a fifth Epsom Derby winner. This would make him the most successful Derby sire in the history of the turf, a title he currently shares with Sir Peter Teazle, Waxy, Cyllene and Blandford.

Geoffrey Chaucer’s career to date

Geoffrey Chaucer made his debut over a mile at Leopardstown in July 18th. In a field of only three runners, his home reputation saw him start at 2/7, however odds on punters had to sweat as he only got home by a head from Tarfasha (Teofilo ex Grecian Bride by Groom Dancer), a Dermot Weld trained half brother to Saddler’s Rock and Galileo’s Rock. Tarfasha subsequently broke her maiden at Galway before finishing third in the Group 3 C L Weld Stakes to the promising My Titania (Sea The Stars ex Fairy of the Night by Danehill). In the Group 2 Beresford Stakes Geoffrey Chaucer was again sent off a very short price at 4/7. This time his performance was more impressive as he won comfortably from his stablemate Oklahoma City (Oasis Dream ex Galaxy Highflyer by Galileo). After the race Aidan O’ Brien was talking about the Racing Post Trophy as a suitable target.  Oklahoma City subsequently franked the form by winning the £500,000 Tattersalls sales race on October 5th.  On what we have seen so far this season only Geoffrey Chaucer’s stablemate (Galileo ex Ouija Board by Cape Cross) who looked top class in beating Free Eagle (High Chaparral ex Polished Gem by Danehill) in a one mile Group 3 at Leopardstown has impressed as a more likely Derby winner.

Geoffrey Chaucer’s pedigree

There is much to like in Geoffrey Chaucer’s Pedigree. His dam Helsinki was a winner in France who picked up some cheap black type when third in a Listed race. Although she has a slightly crooked front leg she was a daughter of an Irish Oaks winner in Helen Street, who became the dam of 10 winners. The pick of Helen Street’s offspring by some way was Helsinki’s brother Street Cry (Machiavellian ex Helen Street)who won the 2002 Dubai World Cup and the Stephen Foster Handicap in the US before becoming a major sire with a Kentucky Derby winner in Street Sense and the brilliant Zenyatta to his credit. Street Cry he has also done well in Europe with the likes of Carlton House and Majestic Roi. Third dam Waterway won the Group 3 Prix de Calvados and finished third in the French 1000 Guineas (Poules d’Essai des Pouliches).

However Helsinki has already produced a celebrity in the form of Shamardal (2002 Giant’s Causeway ex Helsinki). Shamardal was a Grade 3 wobbler a diagnosis that usual results in euthanasia. However in a remarkable story he wasn’t put down and given unconventional treatments including energy healers and massage therapists and whether due to these treatments or some other reason he recovered sufficiently to be sold at Tattersalls in October 2003 for  50000 guineas. He quickly proved himself to be a bargain with an unbeaten two year old campaign that featured victories in the Vintage Stakes and the Dewhurst Stakes. He was crowned European champion two year old but unfortunately for his trainer Mark Johnston it also saw his transfer to Godolphin. He thus wintered in Dubai but his three year old campaign began with a very poor run in the UAE Derby on dirt. It proved to be his only defeat as returning to turf he benefitted from a fine Frank Dettori ride to win the French Guineas from Indesatchel (who conversely suffered from a Jamie Spencer ride). Next time out Shamardal was upped in trip for the French Derby( run over the shortened distance of 10.5 furlongs  for the first time that year). Again Frankie Dettori was exemplary and Shamardal gained a second classic at the expense of Montjeu’s son Hurricane Run who would surely have won that classic at its traditional distance of 12 furlongs.  Nine days later Shamardal was back in action and put up a superb performance to win the St James Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot (run at York) from Ad Valorem and Oratorio. He was at the peak of his powers but alas injury intervened and he was not seen again on the racetrack. He retired as a four time Group 1 winner and proved popular at Kildangan Stud. He has performed very well with Lope De Vega in his first crop, emulating his two French Classic successes and  high class performers such as Casamento and Mukhadram helping him to a tally of 44 Group or Listed winners and 6 Group 1 winners.

Helsinki’s other offspring are modest, although 5  have won. The best of the rest was Diamond Necklace (by Unbridled’s Song) who although she never won was highly tried by Aidan O’ Brien and finished third in a Listed race and was beaten less than 7 lengths in the Irish 1000 Guineas. Diamond Necklace fetched 1.3million dollars as a broodmare prospect at the 2008 Keenland November Breeding stock sale, which gives an indication of the regard people have for this family. In 2009 Helsinki produced a sister to Geoffrey Chaucer called Shamarbelle.  She was trained in France where she won one race but showed none of the ability her brother has now demonstrated. Shamarbelle was offered for sale at the 2012 Tattersalls December sales where she was not sold at 240,000 guineas. In another example of how racing siblings are often very different in terms of ability, Helsinki produced two relatively moderate full brothers to Shamardal called Yorgunnabelucky and Velikiy Zeys.

Conclusion

Geoffrey Chaucer is an exciting stallion prospect with a female line that features a €50000 stallion in Shamardal and a $100,000 stallion in Street Cry. He looks a good bet to become another Group 1 winner for Montjeu and the 16-1 available about his becoming Montjeu’s fifth Epsom Derby winner seems a reasonable ante-post bet.

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
Helsinki
(GB) 1993
Machiavellian
(USA) 1987
Mr
Prospector (USA) 1970
Raise
A Native (USA) 1961
Gold
Digger (USA) 1962
Coup
De Folie (USA) 1982
Halo
(USA) 1969
Raise
The Standard (USA) 1978
Helen
Street (GB) 1982
Troy
(GB) 1976
Petingo
(GB) 1965
La
Milo (GB) 1963
Waterway
(FR) 1976
Riverman
(USA) 1969
Boulevard
(IRE) 1968

Watch the 2013 Beresford Stakes

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

A vintage crop?

When we think of races involving horses that became successful stallions, the standout event is the 1984 French Derby that famously saw Darshaan defeat Sadler’s Wells and Rainbow Quest.  The 1996 July Cup won by Anabaa, had Danehill Dancer and Pivotal back in fifth and sixth places.  It is early days yet, but we might soon be adding races from the 2005 season to the above list as the likes of Dubawi, Shamardal,  Oratorio, Motivator and Footstepsinthesand were all in their classic year, whilst Azamour was enjoying a very successful four year old season. Arakan never competed against the aforementioned horses but he is also enjoying a good start with his first three year olds.

The above thoughts are prompted by the results of the French 2000 Guineas which resulted in a 1-2-3 for second season sires with Lope de Vega (by Shamardal), defeating Dick Turpin (Arakan ex Merrily by Sharood) and Shamalgan (Footstepsinthesand ex Genevale by Unfuwain). Following on from the classic successes of Dubawi’s offspring Makfi and Worthadd and some promising results for Azamour and Oratorio, it looks as if we have an unusually large number of promising sires coming on stream at once. It is much too early to be dogmatic about any of these sires but we can make some reasonable assumptions.

1. Arakan is the least likely to succeed. In one sense he has already surpassed expectations and he has sired a horse (Dick Turpin) of superior racing merit to himself. Arakan never won above Group 3 level despite being kept in training until the age of five, and as a son of Nureyev (who many regard with suspicion as a sire of sires) he didn’t immediately appeal as a likely sire success. The challenge will be to remain above the radar for the next few years until he can hopefully capitalise on the success of Dick Turpin.

2. Motivator has been plagued by bad luck. Injury restricted his first crop size and he has now missed the 2010 breeding season.  He had some promising two year olds last year notably Pollenator and Prompter and he seems capable of getting a decent horse but in a fickle market place he needs a big horse to appear quickly.

3. Azamour seems the best source of quality stamina at this stage. Despite being a son of Night Shift who sired more than his fair share of sprinters the early signs are that Azamours progeny will stay as well as he did himself. To date he has sired two Derby trial winners in Azmeel and Puncher Clynch. Eleanora Duse also ran well when a close third in the Musidora Stakes.

4.  Darley are currently outscoring Coolmore amongst the younger brigade.  The achievements to date of Dubawi outrank those of any of the other sires listed. Shamardal has also achieved more than  Coolmore’s Oratorio or Footstepsinthesand.  Coolmore will be hoping that Steinbeck can be the big horse that Footstepsinthesand needs, whereas Oratorio looks as if he has a good spread of possible top horses with Lolly for Dolly being a contender for the Irish Guineas and Fencing Master and Beethoven could add to last years achievements.  I doubt if they are panicking in Tipperary but it does seem to be a few years since they have added a real star to their roster.