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.


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.

(IRE) 1996
Wells (USA) 1981
Dancer (CAN) 1961
(USA) 1954
(USA) 1957
Bridge (USA) 1975
Reason (USA) 1968
(USA) 1969
(FR) 1985
Ville (IRE) 1976
Top (IRE) 1969
Ville (USA) 1968
Cy (FR) 1979
(FR) 1970
Toumignon (IRE) 1971
(GB) 1993
(USA) 1987
Prospector (USA) 1970
A Native (USA) 1961
Digger (USA) 1962
De Folie (USA) 1982
(USA) 1969
The Standard (USA) 1978
Street (GB) 1982
(GB) 1976
(GB) 1965
Milo (GB) 1963
(FR) 1976
(USA) 1969
(IRE) 1968

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