Montjeu- the fillies sire?

Everyone knew that Montjeu’s fillies are considerably less desirable than his colts. His tally of one Group 1 winning filly (Montare) compared to 15 Group 1 winning colts in the Northern Hemisphere tells its own story. In addition the Racing Post reported that his top 31 performers by Racing Post Rating were all male!

However three races at today’s so called ‘Future Champion’s Day’  might have changed a few perceptions in that regard and given good cheer to any owners of a Montjeu filly or broodmare.

Parish Hall

First up came the victory of Parish Hall (Teofilo ex Halla Siamsa (by Montjeu) in the Dewhurst Stakes to give Montjeu his first Group 1 winner as a broodmare sire.  Halla Siamsa was no great shakes as a racehorse winning only a 10 furlong heavy ground Fairyhouse maiden and never being tried in Stakes company. Her mating with Teofilo resulted in a 3×3 cross of Sadler’s Wells and given that Teofilo is by Galileo out of a Danehill mare then all of the big stallion names at Coolmore are close up in the pedigree. Jim Bolger said the winner was comparable with his previous winners (Teofilo, New Approach, Intense Focus), however to me it wasn’t the strongest Dewhurst. I would currently rate the winner more like Intense Focus than the other two. We never got to find out how far Teofilo would have stayed but it seems a fair bet that Parish Hall will stay 12 furlongs next year.

Never Can Tell

In the following race Never Can Tell (Montjeu ex Shaanara by Darshaan) proved a determined winner of the Cesarewitch. Although not a stakes race it is one of the most fiercely contested handicaps of the year.  If kept in training she should be able to pick up some black type next year and people will comment on the supposed Montjeu-Darshaan nick which gave us Derby winner Pour Moi.

Wadingthe Urban Sea Legacy keeps on going

In the following race Wading proved an impressive winner of the Rockfel Stakes. She is now around 12-1 for both the Guineas and the Oaks, and I think the Oaks price might represent good value.  Wading is the first foal of Cherry Hinton who retired still a maiden after a five race career in the Summer of 2007. However that doesn’t quite tell the full story as she was fifth in the Oaks and runner up in the Group 3 Blue Wind Stakes. Cherry Hinton’s dam is of course the truly remarkable Urban Sea (who I previously wrote about at http://www.montjeu.com/archives/99 ). This year her final foal Born to Sea (by Invincible Spirit), began his career in the best possible fashion by winning the Listed Blenheim Stakes on his debut and he looks a real Guineas prospect for next year. It is not inconceivable that Urban Sea’s son and her granddaughter could both land classics next year. That would be a fitting tribute to the mare who has only Hasili as a rival to the title of greatest modern broodmare and it would be a nice feather in the cap for Montjeu who to date has been a relative disappointment with his fillies.

Postscript: It never rains but if pours. Exactly one week after I wrote this article, Montjeu trebled his tally of Grade 1 winning fillies.  In the space of just over an hour, Miss Keller (2006 Montjeu ex Ingozi by Warning) won the 10 furlong EP Taylor Stakes at Woodbine and later in the evening Sara Lynx (2007 Montjeu ex Steel Princess by Danehill) won the 12 furlong Canadian International. Miss Keller started her career in Ireland with John Oxx where she won twice before shipping across the Atlantic. She was already a Grade 2 winner prior to Sunday’s victory. Miss Keller has a very nice pedigree that has consistently thrown up stakes performers. Her dam Ingozi was a listed winner, her second dam Inchmurrin was top class winning the Group 2 Child Stakes as well as finishing runner up in Royal Ascots Coronation Stakes as well as finishing 4th in the EP Taylor Stakes that her granddaugher subsequently won. In addition Inchmurrin should survive in many pedigrees as she is the dam of Inchinor (by Ahonoora) who did well as a stallion having won at Group 3 level and finished runner up to Zafonic in the Dewhurst.

Sara Lynx also comes from a high class family and coincidentally also passed through the ring for 60000 guineas. Her dam Steel Princess won three times including the Group 3 Prix Cleopatra over 11 furlongs at Saint Cloud. The second dam Champaka (by Green Desert) was unraced but third dam Fleur Royale (by Mill Reef) won the Group 2 Pretty Polly Stakes and was runner up in the Irish Oaks. She is also the dam of Casey Tibbs (by Sadlers’ Wells) who found a berth at stud in South Africa.  Fourth dam Sweet Mimosa (by Le Levanstall ex Feemoss) won the French Oaks and is a sister to outstanding stayers Le Moss and Levmoss (who also won the Arc).

Conclusion: Harold Wilson famously said that ‘a week is a long time in politics’. Well it seems it is also long enough to help prompt a significant shift in our thinking about stallions. Montjeu’s lack of success with fillies seemed hard to rationalise but now perhaps it could be seen as a statistical aberration and the achievement gap between his offspring of different genders may continue to narrow over time.

WADING (IRE) 2009 f b

Montjeu
(IRE) 1996
Sadler’s
Wells (USA) 1981
Northern
Dancer (CAN) 1961
Nearctic
(USA) 1954
Natalma
(USA) 1957
Fairy
Bridge (USA) 1975
Bold
Reason (USA) 1968
Special
(USA) 1969
Floripedes
(FR) 1985
Top
Ville (IRE) 1976
High
Top (IRE) 1969
Sega
Ville (USA) 1968
Toute
Cy (FR) 1979
Tennyson
(FR) 1970
Adele
Toumignon (IRE) 1971
Cherry
Hinton (GB) 2004
Green
Desert (USA) 1983
Danzig
(USA) 1977
Northern
Dancer (CAN) 1961
Pas
De Nom (USA) 1968
Foreign
Courier (USA) 1979
Sir
Ivor (USA) 1965
Courtly
Dee (USA) 1968
Urban
Sea (USA) 1989
Miswaki
(USA) 1978
Mr
Prospector (USA) 1970
Hopespringseternal
(USA) 1971
Allegretta
(GB) 1978
Lombard
(GER) 1967
Anatevka
(GER) 1969

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

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

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.

Conclusions

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!

Predicting Sales Returns

The Keeneland sales are critical to the US bloodstock industry. When analysing the sales, industry experts often focus on the strength of the buying bench which depends on the presence or otherwise of European, Arab, Japanese and domestic buyers. The experts debate the impact of variables such as changes to exchange rates or tax charges, the size and perceived quality of the catalogue, or tinkering with the sales structure through select sessions. The presence of the offspring of star stallions or fashionable stallions may also be invoked as a way of explaining the likely sales outcome. These factors are real and do have an impact but the best indicator currently available is much more straightforward-The Dow Jones Index. I consider the issue in detail in the September edition of International Thoroughbred magazine. To read the article click here