Arc day 2011- A new French fashion?
The French have a reputation for being fashionable. Sunday was Prix de l’Arc day- Europe’s finest single days racing with seven Group 1 races. The results were a breath of fresh air and a delight to those people who love to see diversity amongst the stallion ranks. We have come to expect top class European racing to be dominated by the Danzig and Sadler’s Wells branches of the Northern Dancer line. On Sunday, these lines were eclipsed by a less fashionable branch of the Northern Dancer line and even more pleasingly, five of the other winners were not from the Northern Dancer line.
Nijinsky- a better Arc day than in 1970
The Nijinsky sireline had a big day on Sunday. Nijinsky famously lost his unbeaten record in the 1970 Arc to Sassafras. He subsequently sired one winner of the race in Lammtarra and two of his sons Green Dancer (sire of Suave Dancer) and Caerleon (sire of Marienbard) sired winners of Europe’s premier all-aged race. The impressive victory of Danedream (f. by Lomitas ex Danedrop by Danehill) saw another victory for his sireline as Lomitas is a son of Nijinsky’s Irish and French St Leger winning son Niniski. Alas Lomitas died last year so he will not benefit from this victory.
Another grandson of Nijinsky sired a big winner when Kasbah Bliss (g. by Kahyasi ex Marital Bliss by Double Bed) won the marathon Prix du Cadran . In addition Nijinksy’s son Royal Academy is the broodmare sire of Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere winner Dabirsim (c by Hat Trick ex Rumoured by Royal Academy). The cap off the day, Nijinsky’s grandson Generous was broodmare sire of Prix de L’Opera winner Nahrain (. by Selkirk eg Bahr by Generous). All in all it was a welcome reminder of the positive influence of the last triple crown winner.
Super Sunday Silence
Dabirsim’s win in the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere was another reminder of the possibilities of the Sunday Silence line. It is mystifying to me that the major European studs have not acted to secure a truly top class son of Japan’s greatest ever sire to make available an alternative sireline. The possibilities were already shown by Divine Light who sired Natagora winner of the Cheveley Park and 1000 Guineas. Lanwades (in the UK) stand Vita Rosa and Darley France stand Layman, but neither could be considered amongst the best of the Sunday Silence’s as racehorses.
Dream Ahead (c. by Diktat ex Land of Dreams by Cadeaux Genereux) won his fifth Group 1 when edging out Goldikova in the Prix de la Foret. It was subsequently announced that he will be retiring to Ballylinch Stud in County Kilkenny Ireland at the end of the season. His sire Diktat is now in Spain but if properly priced Dream Ahead should prove popular. For people who care about these things it is significant that if you go back 22 generations you will find that Dream Ahead’s sire line traces to the Godolphin Arabian, so he represents a good chance to continue that line in Europe.
Tangerine Trees (g. by Mind Games ex Easy to Imagine by Cozzene) was a somewhat fortuitous winner of the Prix de l’Abbaye as the fast finishing Sole Power looked to be the best horse on the day. Tangerine Trees represents another sireline that has fallen out of fashion namely the Forli line which was once so popular down around Ballydoyle. However the reason why Mind Games is unfashionable is that he was a truly dreadful stallion with terrible percentages. Thankfully he is now retired from active service.
Elusive Kate- Can’t escape Mr P.
Elusive Kate (f. by Elusive Quality ex Gout de Terroir by Lemon Drop Kid), could hardly be considered unfashionable being a daughter of Elusive Quality who stands at 50,000 USD and who is a stallion who is popular on both sides of the Atlantic. Elusive Kate has Mr Prospector on both sides of the pedigree as Elusive Quality traces to Mr Pr via Gone West and Lemon Drop Kid is a son Kingmambo by Mr P. The prominence of Mr Prospector is not nearly as pronounced in Europe as it is in the States.
Nahrain for Varian
Nahrain (f. by Selkirk ex Bahr by Generous) just defeated her half sister Announce (f. by Selkirk ex Hachita by Gone West) in the Prix de L’Opera. In winning she gave her trainer Roger Varian the first of what are likely to be many Group 1 wins. The veteran Selkirk is from the Sharpen Up line and has now sired 14 Group 1 winners, 10 of which are fillies and again although he could never be called unfashionable he perhaps never got the credit he deserved.
Sunday’s results do not mark the end of the domination of Europe by the Sadler’s Wells and Danzig lines. However it is a useful reminder to European breeders and buyers that there are a lot more ways of breeding a top class racehorse than through the ultra fashionable sire lines. As the French might say vive la difference!