After a few years hiatus, I’ve found time to start writing again. My first topic is Night of Thunder who looks destined for the very top. His 2020 fee has been raised to €25,000, having covered at Dalham Hall for £15,000 for the past two years. He is likely to be heavily oversubscribed so you should call in whatever favours you can, to access him at that fee. He retired at a fee of €30,000 and if that was justified as an unproven stallion prospect, then €25,000 after a sensational first crop has to be the best value out there. If Coolmore stood him, he would be at least €50,000. I would be surprised, if he not covering at a six figure fee within a few years.
Night of Thunder’s Racing Career:
Night of Thunder made his debut in October 2013 , winning a 6 furlong Goodwood Auction Maiden by 6 lengths. He ran again two weeks later in a Listed race at Doncaster, this time by 3 lengths. Both races were on soft ground. It was a very satisfactory first season for a horse that Richard Hannon Snr was quoted as being all about his three year old season. He was best priced at 20-1 for the Guineas after his Doncaster victory.
However that price didn’t look very attractive following the first run of his three year old campaign in the Greenham Stakes. He was beaten over four lengths by Kingman with no apparent excuses. He was 40-1 when he reopposed Kingman in the Guineas. Richard Hannon Jnr, had taken over the licence from his father and stable jockey Richard Hughes chose Toormore, leaving Kieran Fallon to get the ride. It was a very strong Guineas field but despite hanging near the finish, Night of Thunder won by half a length from Kingman. Subsequent Derby winner Australia was in third and the also-rans included Group One winners Charm Spirit, Toormore, Kingston Hill, The Grey Gatsby and War Command.
Kingman won his classic in the Irish Guineas and got his revenge over Night of Thunder in the St James Palace, winning by a comfortable 2.5 lengths. Kingman added two more Group 1’s that season whereas Night of Thunder suffered three defeats. He didn’t stay in the Eclipse behind Mukhadram. He ran better back at a mile finishing a close third behind Charm Spirit in the Moulin and finishing his season with a close second again behind Charm Spirit in the QEII at Ascot. At the end of the season he was rated 5 pounds inferior to Kingman and a pound inferior to Charm Spirit.
Night of Thunder was kept in training at four. The decision seemed a wise one when he won the Lockinge on his seasonal debut defeating his stable companion Toormore . The rest of the season was slightly underwhelming. He was fifth behind Solow in the Queen Anne at Royal Ascot and sixth behind Solow in the Sussex Stakes. His final career stats were 11 runs, 4 wins , 3 seconds and a third. He was a stakes winner at two, a classic winner at three and a Group 1 winner at 4. His Guineas win may have been slightly surprising and Kingman was a better horse than him but he still defeated him on the day that mattered.
Combining a daughter of the best stallion in Europe with the second best stallion in Europe seems like an obvious recipe for success. The feud between Coolmore and Sheikh Mohammed meant that it wasn’t tried as often as you would have expected and even now there are only 42 foals of racing age bred on this cross. Night of Thunder, a March foal was bred by Frank Dunne and fetched only 32,000 guineas as a yearling in Book 1 of the 2012 Tattersalls October sales. He must have been an underwhelming physical specimen as his dam, Forest Storm was a winner for Jim Bolger and runner up in the Listed Flame of Tara Stakes (where she started odds on) . Indeed, she earned quotes of only 20-1 for the 1000 Guineas after winning on debut by 5 lengths at the Curragh. Forest Storm had herself cost €240,000 as a foal. Her form seemed to regress after her run in the Flame of Tara Stakes and she missed most of her three year old season, before putting in three modest performances in September 2009. Night of Thunder was her first foal.
The granddam Quiet Storm was by a disappointing sire in Desert Prince but she was also a winner and Stakes placed over 10 furlongs and a mile. She eventually found herself in India where she produced a domestic classic winner to the former Charles O’Brien/Aidan O’Brien stalwart Burden of Proof. The third dam Hertford Castle was by another hugely disappointing sire in Reference Point. The fourth dam Forest Flower earned the title of European Champion Two Year Old Filly in 1987, after edging out her great rival Minstrella in the Cheveley Park Stakes (a race from which she was controversially disqualified). She trained on the win the Irish 1000 Guineas to add to her Cherry Hinton, Queen Mary and Mill Reef victories.
Overall its a solid rather than spectacular female line.
Sons of Dubawi
Until the emergence of Night of Thunder, Dubawi had yet to get an outstanding sire son. His other Guineas winner Makfi had his moments (and his son Make Believe had a good freshman crop) but he wasn’t missed on his sale to Japan), Poets Voice also had some success (notably Poets Word) but no one greatly lamented his death in 2018. Al Kazeem had fertility issues, Worthadd was disappointing at the Irish National Stud and Universal was always going to struggle to get better class mares. There are a host of his sons at the early stage in their careers so plenty of sire sons could yet emerge.
Night of Thunder’s First Crop
Night of Thunder’s stats to date are very impressive for a crop conceived at €30,000. There were 163 foals in that first crop. To date, he has had 51 runners with 28 winners, a winners/runners rate of 55%. There is no lack of quality either, with 7 Stakes winners including Group 2 winner Night Colours (f. ex Many Colours by Green Desert), Group 3 winners, Under The Stars (f. ex Jumeirah Palm Star by Invincible Spirit) and Pocket Square (f. ex Shared Account by Dansili). He has four Listed winners to his credit including Molatham (c. ex Cantal by Pivotal, Keep Busy (f. ex Look Busy by Danetime), Thunderous (c. ex Souviens Toi by Dalakhani) and Cacciante (c. ex Suggest by Raven’s Pass). Believers in nicks might see the above as a recommendation for Green Desert or Danehill crosses (and Night of Thunder also has two Listed placed sons with Cape Cross as broodmare sire) but I think it is just a reflection of the opportunities to date and the sample size is much too small to rely upon.
His winners have come from 5 furlongs to over a mile plus and seem versatile regarding ground. The strike rate is particularly high on good to soft ground and falls back on the all-weather but there may be other variables at play here including the lower quality of racing on the all-weather.
Conclusion and the future:
Night of Thunder has delivered lots of winners and plenty of high quality runners to date. He lacks a Group One superstar and that is possibly the reason that Darley didn’t go for a huge hike in his fee. However, his overall stats indicate that we are witnessing the emergence of an important new sire who is transmitting a lot of quality to his progeny. He improved from two to three and it would be surprising if his progeny don’t improve with age. The markets have been quick to notice his success and he had 43 yearlings sell this year for an average of 81000 guineas and a median of 48,000 guineas. I suspect we will look back on these prices as bargains in a few years time. My advice is simple- Breeders should do everything they can to use him while he is still affordable and owners/trainers should do all they can to get their hands on his progeny….