The best bunch of broodmares you will ever see?

I recently rewatched the 1985 Oaks and I was struck by both the quality of the field and the remarkable success they subsequently enjoyed as broodmares.  I am curious if anyone can recall a better collection of broodmares who all competed in the same race? For the record there were only 12 runners in the 1985 Oaks but 3 of them became the dams of Group 1 winners, another the dam of a Group 2 winner and all this success was achieved despite the tragic demise of the great Triptych before she had any offspring.

The race was won by the great Oh So Sharp (Kris- Oh So Fair by Graustark). She is the last filly to win the triple crown and probably the best filly trained by the late Henry Cecil.  Her record at stud is very good (although understandably she never produced anything comparable to herself) with a Group 1 winner of the Prix Saint Alary in Rosefinch (by Blushing Groom) to her credit. She is also dam of Grade 2 winner Shaima (by Shareef Dancer) who went on to be the dam of Shantou by Alleged who won the St Leger in 1996 and subsequently added two Italian Group 1’s to his cv. Two of her sons by Sadler’s Wells in  Sacho and Savoir Vivre were Group placed and Savoir Vivre found a place at stud in Tasmania.

Second home was Triptych (Riverman-Trillion by Hail to Reason). She was a remarkable racemare in many ways, running 41 times and being a standing fixture in the top European races of the mid 80’s.  She was a Group 1 winner every year aged 2-6. She had three different trainers (David Smaga, David O Brien and Patrick Biancone), she was the first filly to win the Irish 2000 Guineas and her dam Trillion was also an outstandingly tough and talented racemare who ran 31 times and her dam Margarethen ran 64 times! Her background was such that she cost over 2 million dollars and she must have been the only European trained mare to earn back such a purchase price on the racetrack. She died in bizzare circumstances when she collided with a truck that was driving without lights whilst carrying to Mr Prospector.  It is intriguing to think what she would have produced had she lived to visit Sadler’s Wells.

Third was Dubian (High Line-Melodina by Tudor Melody). She went on to become an outstanding broodmare. Her most successful offspring was Sayeddati (by Shadeed), who won five Group 1 races -the 1000 Guineas, Sussex Stakes, Jacques Le Marois, Cheveley Park and Moyglare Stud Stakes.  Sayeddati is in turn dam of Almushahar (by Silver Hawk) who looked destined for great things after winning the Royal Lodge, but unfortunately never ran again.
Dubian is also dam of Golden Snake (by Danzig) who retired to the National Stud in the UK having landed four Group 1 events including the Prix Ganay and Prix Jean Prat.
Dubian almost had a third Group 1 winner in Race Leader (by Gone West) who was runner up to Giant’s Causeway in the Prix de la Salamandre.

In fourth was Kiliniski (Niniski-Kilavea by Hawaii) but she made no impact as a broodmare.

In fifth came  Bella Colora (Bellypha- Reprocolor by Jimmy Reppin) who had only been just touched off in a three way finish with Oh So Sharp and Al Bahatri in the 1000 Guineas.  Reprocolor was herself fourth in the Oaks before becoming an incredible broodmare whose legacy keeps expanding.  Bella Colora did her bit for the family as dam of Stagecraft (by Sadler’s Wells) who won the Prince of Wales Stakes (then a Group 2) before being narrowly beaten in the Eclipse.  Another of her sons was Group 3 winner Mullins Bay (by Machiavellian) who is now at stud in South Africa. Her daughters have continued the legacy and a host of good winners including Poet, France, Caspar Netscher and Shirocco Star trace to Bella Colora.

In seventh was Morning Devotion (Affirmed-Morning has Broken by Prince John). She compiled a superb record as a broodmare highlighted by the brilliant Balanchine (by Storm Bird) who followed up her win in the 1994 Oaks with victory over the colts in the Irish Derby.  Morning Devotion is also dam of Romanov by Nureyev who was a Group 2 winner of the Jockey Club Stakes and finished third in the 1997 Derby. Red Slippers (also by Nureyev) was also a Group 2 winner, her success coming in the Sun Chariot Stakes and she became the dam of West Wind (by Machiavellian) who gained classic success in the French Oaks.

Last in the Oaks but not to be overlooked was Dance Machine (Green Dancer-Never A Lady by Pontifex. She achieved fame as the dam of Halling who won five Group 1’s for Godolphin in the mid nineties including consecutive runnings of both the Eclipse Stakes and Juddmonte International. He has compliled a decent record at stud see ( .


The Epsom Oaks is meant to be the premier European fillies classic, so in one sense we should expect its participants to pass on their superior racing merit. However racing is rarely so predictable and it is unusual to have such a high percentage of fillies make the grade as broodmares. 1985 may just have been an above average crop of fillies, it could be just one of those statistical quirks or perhaps the explanation lies in the changing nature of European bloodstock in the 1980’s with the old European lines ready to be crossed with potent Northern Dancer blood to subsequent great effect.  Whatever the explanation, it is interesting to look back on some very talented fillies whose offspring subsequently made a significant impact on the racing world and to pose the question- when was there a better bunch of broodmares in a single race?


Cavalryman Charges to Glory

Since the change in distance of the Prix de Jockey Club, the Grand Prix de Paris has assumed the mantle of the ‘real’ French Derby. Run on Bastille Day, this years Grand Prix de Paris was a weak affair and the winning performance of Cavalryman would have to be rated well below the Derby winning performances of Sea the Stars and Fame and Glory. The field comprised only 8 runners, half of them were trained by Aidan O’Brien and there were no previous Group 1 winners in the field.

 In the end it was a triumph for Sheikh Mohammed who owned the winner and third and their respective sires.  It also served as a reminder of the glory days of Godolphin.

The winner Cavalryman is by Halling (the name of a Nordic folk dance according to wikipedia) who was an early star for Godolphin. Cavalryman is a belated first Group one winer for Halling who incredibly had 12 Group 2 winners before finally breaking through at the top level. Interestingly in his previous run in the Prix Greffulhe he was defeated by the unbeaten Cutlass Bay who is another son of Halling and may also prove Group one class.

Hallings pedigree and race record:

Halling was a sound, top class individual. His sire Diesis was a champion two year old who won the Middle Park and Dewhurst. Diesis was a full brother to an ever better horse in Kris. At stud Diesis’ earned a reputation as fillies sire and sired three Oaks winners in Diminuendo, Ramruma and Love Divine. Apart from Halling his best colt was Elmaamul who although a generally disappointing sire is responsible for Muhtathir who has started very promisingly in his stud career.

Halling’s dam Dance Machine was a winner of the Sweet Solera Stakes at two. Despite his parents precocity, Halling was unraced at two and made his debut in July 1994 for John Gosden. However it wasn’t until his fourth race, a lowly Ripon handicap that he got off the mark. He never looked back and by October 1994 he was an impressive winner of the Cambridgeshire. This victory saw him leave John Gosden for Godolphin. He wintered in Dubai notching 3 modest victories at Nad Al Sheba before he was next seen in July’s Eclipse Stakes. He caused a modest surprise by making all and leaving the likes of Singspiel, Red Bishop, Muhtarram and Eltish in his wake.  He followed up a month later in the Juddmonte International where he was impressive in defeating Bahri.  That victory represented his eight consecutive victory.

He was then targeted at the Breeders Cup Classic where he met another horse in the midst of a long winning streak- Cigar. However he totally failed to run to form and was eased up in the straight.

He wintered in Dubai and was Goldolphins primary hope in the Dubai World Cup. However he once more failed to handle dirt or mighty Cigar.

Back in Europe and on turf, he won a very weak renewal of the Prix D’Ispahan run on very soft ground. He went on to record a second win in the Eclipse defeating Bijou D’Inde and Pentire under another front running ride. He then won his second Juddmonte International again making all. His swansong was the Champion Stakes, where in a vintage renewal he was defeated by Bosra Sham with Timarida in third. He finished his career as the winner of 12 of his 18 starts including 5 Group ones. He had proven himself a top class, courageous performer, who could make all or come from behind. Surprisingly he was never asked to race beyond ten furlongs but there were grounds for suggesting that it would have been within his compass.

Halling’s stud record:

Halling’s stud career has been marked by misfortune and mismanagement but he has still compiled a very respectable record. From 480 foals of racing age he has had 361 starters (75%), 240 winners (50%) and 38 (8%) black type winners. His offspring average winning distance is 10.4 furlongs which clearly indicates the stamina that he transmits. Unsurpisingly precococity is not his forte but he has consistently delivered top runners without ever managing a superstar. His first crop included a pair of Group 2 winners in Dandoun and Chancellor as well Foodbroker Fancy who won the Lupe and finished second in the Sun Chariot.

He has sired classic horses including The Geezer who was second in the St Leger to Scorpion and Something Exciting who was second to Eswarah in the Oaks. Norse Dancer finished third in the 2000 Guineas and fourth in the Derby along with a host of other Group 1 placings. Along with Coastal Path he is probably the best son of Halling to date and he is now at Wood Farm Stud in the UK for £2500.

There are a number of top stayers to his credit primarily Coastal Path, Franklins Gardens, Mkuzi and Bauer who came within a nose of winning last years Melbourne Cup.

Halling was sent to stand in the United Arab Emirates in 2004 and spent three seasons there as part of an experiment by Sheikh Mohammed. He is now back in the UK standing at £8000 but such a move cannot have helped his prospects. Halling seems to work with horses from all backgrounds and he is no doubt is opened up to a huge number of mares by only having a single strain of Northern Dancer and that in his fourth generation (fifth generation of any foal). For those who believe in nicks it is worth noting his success with Danzig mares as this has produced the Group 2 winning brothers Boscobel and Cutlass Bay as well as Group one placed Age of Reason.


Cavalryman’s dam Silversword was also trained by Andre Fabre for Sheikh Mohammed. She was talented and was placed second in the 12 furlong Group 3 Prix de Royaumont.  She was a daughter of recently deceased Highest Honor who like Halling won the Prix D’Ispahan. Silversword is already the dam of Finity (by Diesis) a three parts sister to Cavalryman who finished third in C L Weld stakes. Cavalryman’s granddam Silver Cobra is also the dam of Double Honour (a sister to Silversword) who finished second in a Goodwood Cup before embarking on a jumping career that saw him run in a Grand National. Silver Cobra is by the Roberto horse Silver Hawk who finished third in the Derby. Interestingly Halling has previously combined with Roberto to produce Mkuzi a multiple stakes winner for John Oxx. Cavalryman’s pedigree is an outcross for the first five generations. 


The Grand Prix de Paris was Cavalrymans’s first effort at 12 furlongs and he clearly improved for the step up in trip. He is still lightly raced and Andre Fabre has indicated that he may target him for the Prix de l’Arc. At the moment that may seem fanciful, but if he takes after Halling it would be unwise to rule out significant further improvement as he matures. Furthermore Fabre has an exceptional record in the Arc and on that basis he is a horse worth considering come Paris in October.


CAVALRYMAN (GB) 2006 c b

(USA) 1991
(GB) 1980
Up (GB) 1969
(USA) 1961
(GB) 1961
Sure (GB) 1971
(FR) 1962
Angels (GB) 1963
Machine (GB) 1982
Dancer (USA) 1972
(CAN) 1967
Valley (USA) 1967
A Lady (IRE) 1974
(USA) 1967
(IRE) 1969
(FR) 1993
Honor (FR) 1983
(FR) 1975
(GB) 1970
Of Ireland (GB) 1964
River (FR) 1978
(USA) 1969
(USA) 1970
Cobra (USA) 1986
Hawk (USA) 1979
(USA) 1969
Vitesse (USA) 1966
(USA) 1979
(SAF) 1964
(USA) 1972