Bobby Zen

On the 15th anniversary of the passing of Vincent O’Brien, his successor at Ballydoyle, Aidan O’Brien, extended his record at Epsom to 10 wins in the Derby. Vincent O’Brien’s daughter and son-in-law Sue and John Magnier were not at Epsom on Saturday but several of the late, great trainer’s grandchildren were in the winner’s circle to greet City Of Troy. Their own family is now so strongly enmeshed with the man who shares their grandfather’s surname but is no relation to the creator of Ballydoyle.

Just like City Of Troy, five of Vincent O’Brien’s six Derby winners emanated from North America, with Nijinsky and The Minstrel both being sons of Northern Dancer, and his final winner, Golden Fleece in 1982, a son of Nijinsky. From a European perspective, it is impossible to think of Northern Dancer without considering the great faith placed in him by O’Brien on his forays to the Keeneland yearling sales with Robert Sangster, John Magnier and co. 

These annual pilgrimages changed the face of the bloodstock world. Half a century later Northern Dancer’s influence has firmly taken root here chiefly through Sadler’s Wells and more recently the latter’s son Galileo, as well as through grandsons Danehill and Green Desert, both by Danzig. So it is nothing new to consider what influence American bloodlines have in Europe. They have long dominated and been adapted. The difference now is the shifting of power between sirelines – or branches thereof.

At Epsom on Friday, the Aga Khan’s Ezeliya (Fr) became a first Oaks winner for Dubawi (Ire), giving a rattle for the Mr. Prospector line. Then, through Justify, City Of Troy increased the posthumous reputation of Scat Daddy (Storm Cat), himself a fifth-generation descendant of Northern Dancer. 

At Chantilly, the Prix du Jockey Club was won by Look De Vega (Fr), a second French Classic winner for Lope De Vega (Ire) this year following Rouhiya (Fr) in the Poule d’Essai des Pouliches. Emulating both his sire and grandsire Shamardal by winning the Prix du Jockey Club, Look De Vega’s male-line ancestry traces to a different son of Storm Cat in Giant’s Causeway, who of course made his name known in no uncertain terms on these shores at the turn of this century. 

Go back far enough up the line, however, and behind all of these American influences we find the name Phalaris (GB), the 17th Earl of Derby’s supremely dominant stallion whose success took root between the wars, predominantly through his sons Pharos (GB) and Sickle (GB), ancestors respectively of City Of Troy, Look De Vega, Rouhiya (Fr), Rosallion (Ire) and Elmalka (GB); and Notable Speech (GB), Ezeliya, Metropolitan (Fr), and Fallen Angel (GB). What goes around comes around. 

A Trojan Effort

Within the Coolmore operation, the phasing out of Galileo’s close-up influence needs to coincide with the phasing in of a different blend, and that looks to be happening most firmly through Scat Daddy, who died in 2015 at the age of only 11. His sons and grandsons are now spread across North and South America as well as Europe, with at least one in Japan. 

Scat Daddy’s son No Nay Never, winner of the G1 Prix Morny and G2 Norfolk S., has come to the fore in Ireland, with his sons on the Coolmore roster now including Blackbeard (Ire), Little Big Bear (Ire), Ten Sovereigns (Ire) and Arizona (Ire). In America, Justify, born in the year that Scat Daddy died, holds sway. How much his having sired a Derby winner on turf increases his appeal to American breeders is hard to quantify but City Of Troy is now the top-rated three-year-old colt in Europe, where he was also champion two-year-old, and Justify‘s ability to produce top-class runners on turf and dirt makes him a stallion that top breeders from around the world simply cannot ignore. 

Shamardal vs Dubawi

While Coolmore has two forks of the Scat Daddy line reinforcing its operations on either side of the Atlantic, Darley has the increasingly prolific influences of the late Shamardal and the veteran Dubawi to fall back on. Those two stallions, both Classic winners of 2005, have already played a major role in this year’s Classics. Shamardal’s son Lope De Vega has two winners to his name in the aforementioned Rouhiya and Look De Vega, while another, the younger Blue Point (Ire), has produced Rosallion from his first crop.

In the Dubawi corner, step forward Notable Speech and Ezeliya, while his sons Zarak (Fr) and Too Darn Hot (GB) are responsible for Metropolitan and Fallen Angel. Too Darn Hot is also the sire of the G2 German 1,000 Guineas winner Darnation (Ire).

Honours Spread

There has been a reasonably egalitarian feel to the winners of this year’s Classics in Britain, Ireland and France, certainly by the spread of stables represented. So far, nine have been run and they have been won by nine different trainers or training partnerships: Charlie Appleby, Roger Varian, Mario Barrati, Francis-Henri Graffard, Richard Hannon, Karl Burke, Dermot Weld, Aidan O’Brien, and Carlos and Yann Lerner.

We may sometimes rue the demise of the owner-breeder, and it is true that there are fewer individuals operating in that manner these days, but the major breeding operations remain dominant. Only one of the Classics, the Poule d’Essai des Poulains, has been won by a horse sold outright at the sales: Metropolitan at Arqana October for €78,000. 

Look De Vega was the subject of a private sale at Arqana’s August Sale of two years ago but he still races for his co-breeders Joelle Mestrallet of Haras de la Morsangliere and Lucien Urano’s Ecurie des Charmes, along with partners Patrick Madar and her trainers, the Lerners. The father-and-son training team had a day to remember at Chantilly, landing their first Group 1 winner since their partnership began, and 23 years after the Spanish-born Carlos Lerner won the same Classic with Anabaa Blue (GB). Later in the day they also won the Listed Prix Marchand d’Or with Jasna’s Secret (Fr) (Galiway {GB}) for Wathnan Racing, whose colours are becoming increasingly conspicuous on racecourses around the world. 

David Menuisier won the G2 German 2,000 Guineas with Devil’s Point (Ire) (New Bay {GB}) and continues to put a number of much larger stables to shame by his runners’ participation in the Classics. On Friday, the Menuisier-trained War Chimes (Fr) (Summer Front) was a running-on third in the Oaks at 50/1, while Tamfana (Ger) (Soldier Hollow {GB}) was beaten only a length when fourth in the 1,000 Guineas at 33/1. Both fillies hold an entry for the Prix de Diane. 

Aventure Seeker

Whether or not the Prix de Diane in a fortnight’s time comes too soon for Aventure (Fr) (Sea The Stars {Ire}) remains to be seen, but the Wertheimer homebred laid down an emphatic marker as to her potential on Sunday in the G3 Prix de Royaumont, which she won by seven lengths. A half-sister to Prix Vermeille winner and Prix de Diane runner-up Left Hand (GB) (Dubawi {Ire}), Aventure was awarded a TDN Rising Star when winning on debut at Chantilly last September, and she boasts a pedigree of international reach.

The filly was one of three winners on the Prix du Jockey Club card for Alain and Gerard Wertheimer. The leading breeders in France this season, the brothers were in attendance at the races and also enjoyed seeing the dependable Junko (GB) (Intello {Ger}) land the G2 Grand Prix de Chantilly, while Sosie (Fr) (Sea The Stars {Ire}) was third in the big race.


The post Seven Days: Looking Back to Look Forward  appeared first on TDN | Thoroughbred Daily News | Horse Racing News, Results and Video | Thoroughbred Breeding and Auctions.

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