Camelot- a new legend?

Camelot has delivered Montjeu, his first Guineas winner. His success didn’t look likely until inside the final furlong, but in the end he was probably worth a little bit more than his official margin of a neck.  His success confirms the greatness of both Montjeu and Aidan O’Brien.

Aidan O’Brien

Camelot was Aidan O’Brien’s sixth 2000 Guineas winner, following King of Kings, Rock of Gibraltar, Footstepsinthesand, George Washington and Henrythenavigator. All of them were making their seasonal debuts and to me the ability to get a horse fully fit on the gallops is one of the hallmarks of a top trainer. The ability to learn from past mistakes and the knowledge that comes from training a lot of the members of the same family or offspring of the same sire can give trainers that extra edge. Aidan has trained more Montjeu’s than anybody else and he was quick to acknowledge that he made mistakes in prepping a previous Racing Post Trophy winner St Nicholas Abbey for the Guineas and he clearly didn’t repeat those mistakes with Camelot.

Camelot’s pedigree

Camelot cost 525,000 guineas at the 2010 Tattersalls October sales which made him the highest priced yearling by Montjeu sold that year.  For that sort of money you would expect him to be both handsome and especially well bred. His pedigree is undoubtedly high class although in truth it has lacked a superstar until Camelot, so we can assume he was a very taking physical specimen.


Camelot’s dam Tarfah was unraced at two, won three of her 4 starts including a listed handicap at Ascot as a three year old and then continued the good work by winning the listed Snowdrop stakes and the Group 3 Dahlia stakes in her first two runs at four. She failed to trouble the judge in the Windsor Forest run at York that year when Ascot was being redeveloped and was last seen disappointing in the Princess Elizabeth Stakes at Epsom in June 2006. She was reported as having burst a blood vessel that day and was not seen again on the track but retired with a very creditable record of 5 wins from 8 starts. Tarfah’s first foal was a filly by Galileo who cost 240,000 Guineas and named Ideal.  Trained by David Wachman, from her seven starts to date she won a 10 furlong maiden at Clonmel but is clearly a long way short of top class.


Tarfah’s dam Fickle was trained by Michael Bell and ran five times as a three year old. She won her maiden at Brighton on her third start and won a listed race on her final start at Newcastle when she got the run of the race and sprung a surprise when winning at 20-1. With the black type secured it was presumably decided to retire her to the paddocks.  At stud Tarfah was by a long way her best offspring with her only other winner being the very modest Sistine who is closely related to Tarfah being by Dubai Destination (a son of Kingmambo).


Camelot’s third dam Fade was unraced but she proved a useful producer, leaving 8 winners from 8 runners including 3 other stakes performers besides Fickle in Faru (by Mtoto) , Birdie (by Alhaarth) and Fading Light (by King’s Best).

One over Parr

Camelot’s fourth dam One Over Parr (by Reform out of Seventh Bride) was very useful .  She won the Cheshire Oaks and the Lancashire Oaks, both Group 3’s and was a full sister to an Epsom Oaks winner in the 1974 winner Polygamy who gave Pat Eddery his first English Classic on the day that I was born ! As for the name One Over Parr history buffs might recall that Henry VIII’s sixth wife was called Catherine Parr hence with a dam of Seventh Bride, the name One Over Parr was very clever.


For those who really, really like to delve into a pedigree (and my thanks to the poster who notified me), Camelots 17th dam is no less than the Hungarian supermare Kincsem! Kincsem retired with a record of 54 wins from 54 starts and was dominant on the continent before crossing the Channel and claiming the Goodwood Cup in 1878. For a detailed account of her racing and broodmare career click here


Tarfah is a daughter of Kingmambo and he has combined very well with daughters of  Montjeu’s sire Sadler’s Wells.  Kingmambo has sired Henrythenavigator, El Condor Pasa and Divine Proportions on this cross and his son King’s Best has produced Workforce out of a Sadler’s Wells mare.


Camelot is an unbeaten Group 1 winner at two and now a Guineas winner at three. The next logical target is the Derby and he is already an odds on shot in most books for the Epsom showpiece.  The assumption is that being by Montjeu he should have no difficulty in staying 12 furlongs and the triple crown is also now being talked about.  However before getting carried away with the hype, it is worth remembering that neither Tarfah nor Fickle were ever asked to race beyond 10 furlongs and as racehorses themselves the sires in the lower half of the pedigree were all sprinters or milers with the exception of Persepolis who won the Prix Lupin over 10 furlongs. The slight concern is that winning a Guineas shows Camelot to be an atypical Montjeu and perhaps he will also not stay as well as the other high class Montjeu colts.  I certainly wouldn’t be rushing to back him at odds on  for the Derby, however for the sake of racing I fervently hope that he goes on to claim the holy grail that is the triple crown, and for which we have been waiting 42 years to find a successor to Nijinsky.

CAMELOT (GB) 2009 c b

(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
(USA) 2001
(USA) 1990
Prospector (USA) 1970
A Native (USA) 1961
Digger (USA) 1962
(USA) 1984
(USA) 1977
(USA) 1979
(GB) 1996
(USA) 1986
(USA) 1977
(USA) 1981
(GB) 1988
(FR) 1979
Over Parr (GB) 1972

Pour Moi

Pour Moi’s win in the Derby was further proof that Montjeu is the pre-eminent sire of Derby colts in Europe. Galileo is enjoying a stellar year but Montjeu is still to my mind a better bet to throw a top middle distance colt.  Pour Moi’s performance at Epsom was all the more meritorious as he sweated up quite a lot lot beforehand and Mickael Barzalona stood up in the irons having perhaps misjudged the finishing line.  The sustained run of  Pour Moi was impressive as he made up a lot of ground in the last two furlongs and it reinforced the visual impression he gave in the Prix Greffulhe of a horse with a serious turn of foot.

Pedigree Assessment

Montjeu’s major Derby record is seriously impressive. Below is a full list of his Derby and Irish Derby runners to date. Six individual Derby winners since his first crop of three year olds in 2005 (3 Epsom and 3 Irish) is an exceptional record. Breeders have their reservations about Montjeu based on concerns over temperament and the relative failure of his fillies, but the regularity of his production of top class colts should outweigh these concerns.

Dam- Gwynn

Pour Moi’s dam Gwynn was unraced but she comes from an outstanding family and it is easy to see why she was sent to Montjeu.  The Sadler’s Wells Darshaan cross has produced countless top class individuals and Gwynn herself produced Gagnoa (by Sadler’s Wells) who was a dual Group 3 winner and twice a runner up in Group 1 company (the Prix Saint Alary over 12 furlongs and the 10 furlong Prix de Diane aka the French Oaks). Pour Moi’s second dam Victoress was a winner in France but an unremarkable broodmare, producing just 2 winners from 10 foals.  However once we hit the third dam, the winning Northern Dancer filly Royal Statute , the family starts to produce some top class individuals.   Royal Statute is the dam of Awaasif (by the 1974 Derby winner Snow Knight) a winner of the Yorkshire Oaks and close third in the Prix de l’Arc.  At stud she was the dam of a classic winner in Snow Bride (by Blushing Groom) who was awarded the 1989 Oaks on the demotion of Aliysa (ironically by Darshan) for a failed drugs test.  At stud Snow Bride become dam of the 1995 Derby, King George and Arc winner Lammtarra (by Nijinksy) so this is a family with plenty of classic connections.

Konafa (by Damascus)  another daughter of Queens Statute was placed in the 1000 Guineas and started her own dynasty. She is dam of Korveya (by Riverman) a Group 3 winner who achieved renown as dam of champion two year old and French Guineas winner Hector Protector (by Woodman), 1000 Guineas and Champion Stakes winner Bosra Sham (also by Woodman) and French Guineas winner (Shanghai by Procida).

Pour Moi’s 4th dam Queens Statute was unraced but was the dam of Canadian Oaks winner Menedict by (Menetrier) and a Candadian champion in Dance Act (also by Northern Dancer). Unsurprisingly given the names involved Queens Statute and Royal Statute were part of E P Taylors broodmare band at Windfields farm.


Pour Moi’s family has plenty of top class connections. Her dam Gwynn has already shown herself to be capable of producing a Group 1 performer to Montjeu’s sire, Sadler’s Wells. Montjeu is an outstanding sire of Derby class colts and the stated intention for Pour Moi is now the Prix de l’Arc a race in which his trainer Andre Fabre has a superb record. There looks to be a very strong crop of four year olds on the scene this year but they will have a worthy adversary in Pour Moi.

 Epsom Derby
 Year  Horse  Dam (Broodmare sire)  Position
 2005  Motivator  Out West (Gone West)  1st
 2005  Walk in the Park  Classic Park (Robellino)  2nd
 2005  King’s Quay  Glen Rosie(Mujtahid)  10th
 2006  Mountain  Skidmore Girl (Vaguely Noble)  8th
 2006  Papal Bull  Mialuna (Zafonic)  10th
 2006  Snoqualmie Boy  Seattle Ribbon (Seattle Dancer)  16th
 2007  Authorized  Funsie (Saumarez)  1st
 2007  Anton Chekhov  By Charter (Shirley Heights)  12th
 2008  Washington Irving  Shouk (Shirley Heights)  5th
 2008  Alessandro Volta  Ventura Highway (Machiavellian)  6th
 2008  Frozen Fire  Flamingo Sea (Woodman)  11th
 2008  King of Rome  Amizette (Forty Niner)  12th
 2009  Fame and Glory  Gryada (Shirley Heights)  2nd
 2009  Montaff  Meshedd (Gulch)  12th
 2010  Jan Vermeer  Shadow Song (Pennekamp)  4th
 2010  Victor Delight  Apache Star (Arazi)  7th
 2011  Pour Moi  Gwynn (Darshaan)  1st
 2011  Recital  Dibenoise (Kendor)  6th
 Irish Derby
 Year  Horse  Dam (Broodmare sire)  Position
 2005  Hurricane Run  Hold On (Surumu)  1st
 2005  Scorpion  Ardmelody (Law Society)  2nd
 2005  Walk in the Park  Classic Park (Robellino)  8th
 2006  Mountain  Skidmore Girl (Vaguely Noble)  6th
 2006  Land Before Time  Last Spin (Unfuwain)  13th
 2008  Frozen Fire  Flamingo Sea (Woodman)  1st
 2008  Alessandro Volta  Ventura Highway (Machiavellian)  4th
 2008  Washington Irving  Shouk (Shirley Heights)  11th
 2009  Fame and Glory  Gryada (Shirley Heights)  1st
 2009  Drumbeat  Maskaya (Machiavellian)  11th
 2010  Jan Vermeer  Shadow Song (Pennekamp)  3rd
 2010  Victor Delight  Apache Star (Arazi)  7th


POUR MOI (IRE) 2008 c b

(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) 1997
(GB) 1981
Heights (GB) 1975
Reef (USA) 1968
(GB) 1969
(FR) 1972
(FR) 1959
(FR) 1965
(USA) 1984
Cielo (USA) 1979
Prospector (USA) 1970
D Princess (USA) 1971
Statute (USA) 1969
Dancer (CAN) 1961
Statute (USA) 1954

Sole Power- Not solely due to sire power

On Sunday Makfi joined his sire Dubawi and his grandsire Dubai Millenium, on the roll of honour of winners of the Jacques Le Marois. This had people looking through the record books to look for earlier such sequences in Group 1 races. The Derby wins of Mill Reef, Shirley Heights and Slip Anchor came to mind and earlier this year Midas Touch followed Galileo and Sadler’s Wells into the winners enclosure after a Derrinstown Stud Derby trial but that wasn’t a Group 1 contest. Historical sequences such as the incredible five generations of St Leger winners in Touchstone in 1834, Newminster in 1851, Lord Clifden in 1863, Petrarch in 1876 and Throstle in 1894 were obviously prior to the introduction the pattern in 1971.

 We did not have to wait long for another Group 1 sequence, as Sole Power’s victory in Friday’s Nunthorpe was keeping up the family tradition established by his sire Kyllachy and his grandsire Pivotal.

Sole Power-racing record

Sole Power was completely unfancied at 100-1 in the Nunthorpe. In truth it was almost impossible to give him a realistic chance, having only won 2 of his previous 10 races and never having won a Stakes race. Sole Power made his debut on Irish Derby weekend last year, finishing a promising third in a 6 furlong maiden on softish ground. Encouraged by this run he was then pitched into Listed company where he ran well to be second to Arctic over 5 furlongs on heavy ground in late July.  He then made his first trip to York for a valuable sales race over 6 furlongs and was only beaten two necks but picked up almost 30k for his trouble. He was again sent across the Channel when he contested the five furlong Cornwallis Stakes in October but he could finish no better than 8th. He was kept busy and picked up a weak maiden at Dundalk in November before finishing his two year old season on a disappointing note when well beaten at odds on, again at Dundalk.

He made his three year old debut in April when winning well over 5 furlongs at Dundalk from two useful older horses in Luisant and Six of Hearts (both by his grandsire Pivotal). He was then sent to Newmarket for the Palace House Stakes where he ran very well to be fourth behind Equiano and Borderlescott. At that stage it might have been possible to see him continue to progress and become a Group 1 sprinter. However he then seemed to lose his way running poorly at Naas, the Curragh and Tipperary before Friday’s surprise win.

Watching the race there was no apparent fluke about his one and a quarter length victory over Starspanglerbanner and three other Group 1 winners in Equiano, Kingsgate Native and Borderlescott. It will be interesting to see can he build on this performance. It is to be hoped that he doesn’t continue another family sequence in that neither Pivotal nor Kyllachy ever ran again after their Nunthorpe victories.

Pedigree Assessment- sire Kyllachy

Sole Power is from the fourth crop of Kyllachy who stands alongside his sire Pivotal at Cheveley Park. He is the first Group 1 winner in Europe for Kyllachy and his second overall following Dim Sum (Kyllachy ex Heckle by In the Wings) who won at the highest level in Hong Kong. In his 12 starts Kyllachy never once raced beyond 5 furlongs and he is passing on this preference to his progeny who have an average winning distance of just 6.5 furlongs.

 No doubt Cheveley Park hoped he might emulate his sire Pivotal and become more than just a source of cheap speed. In that regard he has failed. He gets lots and lots of winners (plenty of them as two year olds) and he has a respectable winners to runners percentages. However Timeform’s median rating for his runners is 71 (compared to 81 for Pivotal) and his overall tally of stakes winners (10) from 495 foals of racing age is disappointing. He retired to stud at a fee of £7500 and with the rise of Pivotal he was able to maintain that fee and hit a high of £12000 in 2008 (after Group 2 successes from Tariq (ex Tatora by Selkirk) and Arabian Gleam (ex Gleam of Light by Danehill) before settling back to £10000 in the past two years. In my opinion his fee needs to be reduced considerably and a look at the the median price for his yearlings in 2009 (just over 13000 guineas) also highlights this point. Kyllachy was conceived when Pivotal stood for £6000 and not surprisingly his female line isn’t particularly distinguished.  Other early sons of Pivotal such as Captain Rio and Needwood Blade have also failed to make much of an impact to date and it will be interesting to see how the better bred later arrivals such as Excellent Art, Falco and Virtual fare at stud. 

Pedigree Assessment- dam Demerger

Demerger the dam of Sole Power was an unraced daughter of Sussex Stakes winner Distant View. She has three foals and produced a very decent sort in Cornus (2002 by Inchinor) who was runner-up in the Cornwallis Stakes at two ( a race Sole Power also contested). He is an incredibly durable sort and he has now run 130 times and counting, with 15 wins so far to his credit. Her other offspring was Polish Precedent filly called Be My Charm who ran 17 times but failed to get her head in front. Sole Power’s second dam Merida won two races at three and four in France and the USA and was the dam of four minor winners including Como (by Cozzene who is incidentally Pivotal’s broodmare sire) and who went on to be dam of the decent two year old Pencil Hill (by Acclamation). Pencil Hill won a Listed race and was a close fourth to HenrytheNavigator in the Coventry Stakes.  Sole Power’s third dam Metair has some classy connections. She herself won seven races and became the dam of 9 winners including Grade 2 winner Tychonic (by Last Tycoon) and Fine Edge (by Sharpen Up) who gives another connection with the Nunthorpe (or William Hill Sprint Championship as it was then known) having finished runner-up in the race in the early 80’s. One of Metair’s unraced daughters Fast Flow (by Riverman) became the dam of Champagne Stakes winner and Dewhurst runner-up Auction House (by Exbourne).

Broodmare sire-Distant View

Distant View is starting to show considerable promise as a broodmare sire with many of them bred by Juddmonte. These include dual Guineas winner Special Duty (by Hennessy), Celebration mile winner Zacinto (by Dansili), promising 3 year old Emulous (also by Dansili). Those interested in nicks might note that is broodmare sire of  Australian Group 1 winner Speed Gifted (by Montjeu) and Listed placed two year old Cochabamba (by Montjeu’s son Hurricane Run). In addition he has shown a strong affinity with Selkirk. The four foals of racing age bred on this cross include  Group 3 winner Tranquil Tiger and Royal Lodge runner up Cityscape.


Sole Power comes from a reasonable female line and his price of £32000 at the 2008 August Doncaster sales almost exactly equals the average for all Kyllachy’s sold that year. Demerger has already produced a fast stakes horse and she can take equal credit for Sole Power’s talents. I don’t wish to seem dismissive of Kyllachy, and he is a useful option for breeders; siring lots of winners and capable of getting a top horse but his fee needs to be reduced to reflect the realities of the marketplace and his level of attainment to date. 

SOLE POWER (GB) 2007 c b

(GB) 1998
(GB) 1993
Falcon (USA) 1987
(USA) 1977
D’argonne (FR) 1981
Revival (GB) 1987
(USA) 1980
(GB) 1981
Poppy (GB) 1988
(GB) 1966
Sing (GB) 1957
(GB) 1952
Serenade (GB) 1978
(GB) 1966
Moonlight (GB) 1960
(USA) 1997
View (USA) 1991
Prospector (USA) 1970
A Native (USA) 1961
Digger (USA) 1962
Springs (USA) 1982
River (FR) 1976
Trinite (FR) 1976
(GB) 1991
(GB) 1985
Fact (USA) 1977
Dangerous (USA) 1979
(GB) 1974
Light (GB) 1966
(GB) 1965

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.


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

(USA) 2002
Causeway (USA) 1997
Cat (USA) 1983
Bird (USA) 1978
(USA) 1976
Storm (USA) 1991
(USA) 1985
(USA) 1979
(GB) 1993
(USA) 1987
Prospector (USA) 1970
De Folie (USA) 1982
Street (GB) 1982
(GB) 1976
(FR) 1976
Vettori (GB) 1997
(IRE) 1992
(USA) 1987
Prospector (USA) 1970
De Folie (USA) 1982
Distingue (USA) 1980
Ivor (USA) 1965
(USA) 1975
Golconda (FR) 1992
Kendor(FR) 1986 Kenmare
(FR) 1975
Mecene (FR) 1982
Sharp (FR) 1981
(IRE) 1976
(FR) 1970

Who said it’s difficult to breed a classic winner?

It used to be said that the fittest horse wins the Guineas, the luckiest horse wins the Derby and the best horse wins the St Leger. Whatever about being the fittest, Sea the Stars was the best bred horse in the Guineas field coming from a truly outstanding female line that produce top racehorses with remarkable regularity.  This was not rags to riches but untold riches to further riches.

Sea the Stars is the remarkable fourth Group 1 winner produced by surprise Prix de l’Arc winner Urban Sea. At the time of her conception she would have been described as having an unremarkable pedigree but all has changed utterly in the past two decades. Her dam Allegretta was a German bred who finished second in the Group 3 Lingfield Oaks Trial. Allegretta comes from an unfamiliar background being by Lombard who won a German 2000 Guineas and German St Leger among 20 races over five seasons.  Allegretta’s brother Anno ended up being rated champion three year old in Germany in 1982, winning the German St Leger but in recent years the success has moved to a different level.

Allegretta must be almost unique as being the dam and granddam of a 2000 Guineas winner for she was the dam of King’s Best who comprehensively defeated Giant’s Causeway in the 2000 Guineas of the year 2000.  Her Prix Flore winning Riverman daughter Allez Les Trois became the dam of Anabaa Blue who won the 2001 Prix de Jockey Club (back in the good old days when it was over 12 furlongs). Allez les Trois is also granddam of Tamayuz who was an outstanding miler last year winning the Prix Jean Prat and Jacque le Marois and is now at stud in Derrinstown. Allegretta is also grandam of Anzillero (by Law Society) who was a 12 furlong Group 1 winner at Dusseldorf in 2001.  Urban Sea was similar to Kings Best in producing one outstanding performance (in her case the Arc, in his the Guineas) but at stud she has been remarkably consistent.

Her first foal was the lazily named Urban Ocean who won the Gallinule Stakes for Aidan O’Brien. He subsequently lost his form but he is now operating as a National Hunt stallion.

Her next mate was the newly retired Lammtarra, who had just completed a scintillating career winning a Derby, King George and Prix de l’Arc. The filly called Melikah was unraced at two and her entire career encompassed only 4 races. She won the Pretty Polly stakes before finishing third in the Oaks to Love Divine and then second in the Irish Oaks. At stud she is the dam of 2 winners including Valedictory (by Dubai Destination) who was very impressive in winning his sole start last year at Saint Cloud and who could yet add further lustre to the family.

Urban Sea then made four consecutive visits to Sadler’s Wells. The results were outstanding, headlined by the outstanding Derby winner and now outstanding sire Galileo. His younger sibling Black Sam Bellamy was Group one placed at two, won the Group 1 Gran Premio del Jockey Club at three at looked a star in the making when winning the Tattersalls Rogers Gold Cup at 4. He then ran well in the Coronation Cup but failed to shine in his subsequent outings. He retired to stud in Germany and although there was some promise in initial results he was brought back to Shade Oak Stud in the UK where he will fulfill a dual purpose role. The third foal Atticus was unraced but the next foal All Too Beautiful won her first two races before finishing runner-up to Ouija Board in the 2004 Oaks.  In one of those neat twists of fate it was that winning performance of Ouija Board that was almost certainly the inspiration for the mating with Cape Cross. Ouija Board added an Irish Oaks and a Breeders Cup Fillies and Mare Turf to her haul that year and although there were other stakes winners from that first crop, it was Ouija Board who propelled Cape Cross to the top table.

Urban Sea was then sent to another hot freshman sire in Giant’s Causeway. Their filly foal My Typhoon was sold for a record 1.8 million guineas and although she was never going to earn that amount on the track she managed 4 stakes wins including a Grade 1 as a five year old.

Urban Sea paid two visits to Cape Cross’s sire Green Desert with slightly disappointing results.  Her 2004 filly Cherry Hinton retired a maiden but she did finish second in the Group 3 Blue Wind Stakes and ran a creditable fifth to Light Shift in the Oaks. Still at least she made the track unlike Sea’s Legacy who was unraced for John Oxx. Sea’s Legacy was sold for 10,000 Guineas at last years Tattersalls October Sales. It would be no surprise to see him appear as a stallion somewhere in the near future.

That leads us to Sea the Stars. As already mentioned he is a product of the better mares received by Cape Cross post Ouija Board. Cape Cross has lacked a follow up superstar in Europe but did enough with decent performers such as Rising Cross, Sabina Perdida, Halicarnassus and others to remind us that he was a more than capable sire. Many of his progeny stay better than he did and they generally prefer good or better ground. His record will improve as the offspring of the better mares he received over the last few years come on stream. Although Cape Cross was a miler the aformentioned Ouija Board (broodmare sire Welsh Pageant) won an Oaks and Rising Cross (broodmare sire Nomination) was placed in an Oaks. These give hope that Sea the Stars can follow his many siblings who all stayed middle distances well. He is around 4-1 for Epsom which is a fair price as he showed such class at Newmarket that if he stays he wins. The Guineas Derby double has not been done since Nashwan in 1989 but Galileo’s son New Approach came within a nostril of achieving it last year.


Normally we tend to focus on the stallion and assume that he is at least 50% responsible for the ability of the offspring.  However in the case of Sea the Stars and with no disrespect to Cape Cross (whom I like as a stallion) this success was all about the dam.  Looking at this female line it makes you question how much we really know about genetics and how many of our assumptions are incorrect. Urban Sea has produced top performers to a variety of stallions even as she aged. Her dam Allegretta has seem her influence on the stud book grow dramatically and even her grandson Anzillero (who is by Law Society out of a Plugged Nickel mare) has rightfully earned his place at stud.   We might have to wait a few years for science to unravel some of the mysteries of hereditary but it only took 24 hours for another reminder of the power of certain female families. The  1000 Guineas was won by Ghanaati a descendant of Highclere and as remarkable a producer as Allegretta, of which more anon.


Urban Sea’s Foals of Racing Age

Name Foaled sex Sire Best Result
Urban Ocean 1996 c Bering Gr3 winner (Gallinule Stakes)
Melikah 1997 f Lammtarra 2nd Irish Oaks, 3rd Oaks
Galileo 1998 c Sadler’s Wells Grp 1 winner Derby,Irish Derby, King George
Black Sam Bellamy 1999 c Sadler’s Wells grp 1 winner*2 incl Tattersalls Rogers Gold Cup
Atticus 2000 c Sadler’s Wells unraced
All too Beautiful 2001 f Sadler’s Wells 2nd Oaks
My Typhoon 2002 f Giants Causeway Grade 1 winner
Cherry Hinton 2004 f Green Desert 5th Oaks, 2nd Gr 3
Sea’s Legacy 2005 c Green Desert unraced
Sea the Stars 2006 c Cape Cross 2000 Guineas winner


SEA THE STARS (IRE) 2006 c b

Cross (IRE) 1994
Desert (USA) 1983
(USA) 1977
Dancer (CAN) 1961
De Nom (USA) 1968
Courier (USA) 1979
Ivor (USA) 1965
Dee (USA) 1968
Appeal (IRE) 1982
(GB) 1975
(IRE) 1965
Nichols (GB) 1966
(IRE) 1973
(IRE) 1966
(GB) 1968
Sea (USA) 1989
(USA) 1978
Prospector (USA) 1970
A Native (USA) 1961
Digger (USA) 1962
(USA) 1971
(USA) 1963
Bower (USA) 1958
(GB) 1978
(GER) 1967
(GER) 1955
Lady (GB) 1961
(GER) 1969
(USA) 1958
(GER) 1962

The other Santa Claus…

‘Tis the festive season and here at we are keen to enter into the spirit of things.  Not wishing to upset anyone with religious sensitivities I won’t speculate on the pedigree of Jesus 🙂 and I won’t mention King of Kings to avoid upsetting the hundreds of breeders who used that flop. I considered writing about the Blandford Stakes winner Kris Kringle, the great Generous and decent sire Cadeaux Genereux but at the end of the day it was an easy decision. These days Christmas has little to do with religion and everything to do with the man in red, so I dusted off my history books and did some research on Santa Claus.

The equine Santa Claus was one of the best horses trained in Ireland in the 20th Century. At two he won the National Stakes and entered the winter as ante-post Derby favourite. At three he was successful in the Irish 2000 Guineas, Epsom Derby and Irish Derby. He also finished second in the King George to the four year old Nasram and the Prix de l’Arc to Prince Royal (beaten 3/4 length).  He was trained on the Curragh by Mick Rogers who had won the 1958 Derby with Hard Ridden. His sire Chamossaire was a St Leger winner and he sired another Leger winner in Cambremer along with 2 other Irish Derby winners in Chamier and Your Highness. His grandsire Precipitation was a winner of the Ascot Gold Cup and his great grand sire Hurry On was one of the leading sires of the early 20th Century siring three Derby winners in the 1920’s in Captain Cuttle, Coronach and Call Boy. His broodmare sire Arctic Prince won the 1951 Derby for Joe McGrath. Interestingly Santa Claus was the last representive of the Godolphin Arabian line to win an Epsom Derby. At stud Santa Claus died early but from 121 foals he had 89 runners, 54 winners and 9 (7%) Black Type winners. These included a pair of Irish classic winners in Reindeer (winner of the 1969 Irish Leger for Vincent O’Brien) and Santa Tina winner of the 1970 Irish Oaks (and closely related to Reindeer).  Bonne Noel won an Ebor and became a National Hunt sire, Father Christmas won the Rose of York stakes and also got a shot at stud. None of his sons made much impact with Reindeer more of a National Hunt sire before he was moved to New Zealand. I noticed Reindeers name in the pedigree of Yachtie the sire of Happyanunoit, who was a Group/Grade 1 winner in Australia/New Zealand and the US. As a broodmare sire Santa Claus’ record is solid but not spectacular. Santa Tina became the dam of Young Mother who won a Prix Vermeille and she is granddam of Equalize a Grade 1 winner of the United Nations Hcp. Santa Claus also sired Sleat winner of the 1970 Sun Chariot stakes and ancestress of Reprimand, Wiorno and a host of other stakes horses. Canaan was an unraced filly who became the great granddam of Yeats and Solskjaer. His stats read 50 mares responsible for 371 foal, 147 winners and 13 (4%) black type winners.  He may not have been a major influence on the breed but Santa Claus is a reminder of a radically different bloodstock world, when stallion books were small but carefully managed and maybe that’s something we should all wish for a return to this Christmas.


(GB) 1942
(GB) 1933
On (GB) 1913
(GB) 1903
Suite (GB) 1904
Life (IRE) 1926
Double (GB) 1906
Joan (GB) 1918
(GB) 1937
(GB) 1928
(GB) 1920
Cameron (GB) 1922
(GB) 1930
(GB) 1917
(GB) 1911
Clara (GB) 1953
Prince (IRE) 1948
Chevalier (FR) 1943
Rose (GB) 1928
(FR) 1933
Sun (GB) 1941
(ITY) 1935
Flower (GB) 1935
Clara (GB) 1938
Tiger (GB) 1930
(GB) 1923
(GB) 1923
(GB) 1934
(GB) 1919
Veil (GB) 1930

Eurosavers- Best Bargain Basement sires in Ireland

With so many stallions in Ireland, I thought it would be easy to compile a list of five or six of the best value sires in Ireland standing for less than €7000. I was wrong and I’m not sure why. Maybe it is just my methodology that is suspect, as I define bargain basement sires as those standing for a published fee of less than €7000. I would imagine that with the right mare and cash in my hand I would gain access to a great many sires with a published fee much greater than 7k.

Maybe Irish breeders are more commercially astute than some of their European counterparts and there is very little discrepancy between price and value, with studs correctly pricing their stallions. Coolmore in particular are expert at stallion pricing and while you could argue that some of their stallions are slightly over-priced it is very hard to think of one that is underpriced. The best I could manage is as follows:

Proven Stallions under €7000

None, nada,nil, zip,zilch. I went through the full list of stallions in Ireland standing in Ireland and could not honestly recommend one of those stallions as being a proven and reliable source of quality offspring. If I’m missing one, please let me know.

Promising Start- 1. Redback at €6500 Tally-Ho stud

Redback was a decent racehorse winning the Solario Stakes at 2 and the Greenham at 3. He also finished 3rd to Rock of Gibraltar and Hawk Wing in a very good 2000 Guineas. He went to stud without great expectations. His own sire Mark of Esteem was seemingly in decline at the time but Sir Percy has since restored some credibility to his record. His dam Patsy Western is by Precocious, by Mummys Pet and would be associated with cheap speed. . His results to date are very promising. His first crop included Gilded who won a Queen Mary, backed up by Sonny Red who won a listed race. His second crop is headed by Redolent who has won at listed level and looks up to Group level. Redbacks pedigree has only one cross of Northern Dancer in the fourth generation so he should have no problem crossing with mares with Northern Dancer close-up. However Interestingly all 3 of his best runners are out of mares from other sire lines with Gilded being out of an Aragorn mare, Sonny Red being out of a Petong mare, and Redolent out of a Highest Honour mare. Whether this is a reflection of the opportunities afforded to him or evidence of bias is too early to say. We can however categorise Redback as a useful sire of tough, speedy types and he is capable of upgrading his mare. His results should also improve as he benefits from the better mares sent after his very promising first season. At €6500 he represents good value. Incidentally Tally-Ho stud obviously don’t believe in the internet as a means of promoting their stallions as their website is an embarrassment and badly needs an upgrade. (Note since this article was written tally-ho stud have notified me of their bright new shiny website at )

Promising Start 2:- er, nobody else springs to mind.

I was going to write about Modigliani who sired group winner Magritte and sales race winner Sudden Impact in his first crop but Greentree Stud have pushed his price up to €7500 which takes him out of the bargain basement and to be honest might be too much too soon.

Unproven but might prove cheap.

Trying to pick winners from amongst the ranks of new stallions is a foolish activity but it won’t stop me trying…. If I had to spend my own money on nominations to some unproven stallions in Ireland I would choose the following; Alamshar at €5000 and Indian Haven at €6000 both at the Irish National Stud.

Maybe this is a sign that the Irish National Stud is taking seriously its obligations to small Irish breeders. Alamshar and Indian Haven are both Irish classic winners and both seem competitively priced. I fondly remember watching Alamshar win his maiden at Listowel and he is certainly the best flat horse to ever win there. He followed up by winning the Beresford. At three he finished third in the Derby but subsequent event showed he was the best horse in the field. He became the only horse to ever beat Dalakhani when out-battling him in the Irish Derby. He followed up by routing the field in the King George where his Derby conqueror Kris Kin was over five lengths in arrears. His career fizzled out when he was unplaced in both the Irish and Newmarket Champion Stakes. However he had proved himself to be an outstanding middle distance horse. At the end of his career the Aga Khan accepted an offer from Japan and it was surprising that he found his way back to these shores before his Japanese offspring had a chance to fully prove themselves. His fee is probably a reflection of the fact that he is by far the best offspring from his sire Key of Luck. As is typcial with Aga Khan families you don’t have to go far to find some class and his granddam is Aliysa who won the Oaks only to be controversially disqualified later for drug infringements, a disqualification that prompted the Aga Khan to withdraw all his horses from Britain.  Aliysa was already the dam of Desert Story who earned a berth at stud with wins in the Horris Hill at two and the Craven at three. His stud career in these parts never really got off the ground and he is now exiled to Alamshars former home of Japan. It might not be what everyone looks for in a stallions pedigree but given his race record he is certainly not overpriced.

Indian Haven is the Irish National Studs hope to continue the successes they enjoyed with his sire Indian Ridge and his grandsire Ahonoora. Indian Ridge has yet to sire a stallion son as good as himself despite some promise from Compton Place and Namid. However Indian Haven seems to have a better chance than most. He was at as best in the Spring of his three year old season when he won the Free Handicap, got crucified in the Newmarket Guineas and then won well in the Irish Guineas. His form then tapered off and a decision to keep him in training at four failed to add to his record. His dam Madame Dubois won the Park Hill Stakes and she is also dam of Count Dubois (by Zafonic) who is doing well at stud in South Africa.  His first two year olds have now hit the track and at the moment he has one winner from 7 runners. However although this is hardly an exciting start it wouldn’t be a surprise if his progeny took after his example and improved markedly between two and three. At €6000 it might be worth taking a chance that he could be the one to continue the Ahonoora success story at the Irish National Stud.