The Grey Panel

TOP VILLE: A 'Top' broodmare sire - just like his father

The battling Pretty Polly Stakes victory of at the Curragh on the Saturday of Irish Derby weekend continued the excellent run of success being enjoyed by the progeny of daughters of the Aga Khan's 1979 Prix du Jockey-Club winner , writes John Berry. While this victory, Top Ville's second Group One success of the month as a broodmare sire, was good, the first one was even better: the historic fourth Gold Cup success of his grandson pictured, a son of the Top Ville mare Lyndonville.

While the Aga Khan is rightly revered as an owner-breeder, he does make occasional forays into the market-place; and, when he does, these are usually very fruitful. His very rare weanling or yearling purchases usually turn out to be good buys - and confirm this - while he has made some inspired strikes when major studs have faced dispersal. During the current decade he acquired some excellent bloodstock following the death of Jean-Luc Lagadere, while three decades or so ago he made two notable acquisitions, buying the stock of the then recently-deceased owner/breeders Francois Dupre (of Haras d'Ouilly) and Marcel Boussac (of Haras de Fresnay-le-Buffard). Each purchase produced a fairly instant dividend for the Aga in the form of a Prix du Jockey-Club winner: one of the first horses he bred from the Boussac broodmare band was the 1984 winner , while Top Ville was a yearling when Monsieur Dupre's horses changed hands.

The Prix du Jockey-Club was, of course, then still run at its traditional distance of 2400m, hence the description which anglophones have traditionally used for it: the 'French Derby'. Whether the Aga Khan realized at the time of Top Ville's purchase that he was buying a future middle-distance star, though, is debatable.

There is no doubt that races around 2400m would have seemed suitable for offspring of Top Ville's dam . Her sire and paternal grandsire - and - had both won the Prix du Jockey-Club and sired a Derby winner ( and respectively), while she had won the Prix de Flore over 2100m and her dam (a daughter of Dupre's Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe winner ) had won the Prix de Diane ('French Oaks', as many anglophones say) over the same distance. However, at the time it would have been far from certain that Top Ville's sire, the 1972 2,000 Guineas winner , represented an influence for stamina.

In the post-war years, High Top's great-grandsire was a major factor in British breeding. The champion three-year-old in the wartime Britain of 1945, Dante achieved all his feature-race wins on Newmarket's July Course because of the temporary closure of the other principal tracks brought about by wartime restrictions (although, trained in Middleham in Yorkshire by Matt Peacock, he also won five races at Stockton, which was used during the war to allow racing to take place in northern England). A fast and precocious two-year-old, Dante won the Coventry Stakes over five furlongs and the Middle Park Stakes over six, before training on to finish second to in the 2,000 Guineas and first in the wartime-substitute Derby. In essence, he was a fast and precocious Classic horse, although one with stamina in his pedigree and who could indeed stay middle-distances: he was one of five English or Irish Classic winners at twelve furlongs or beyond sired by , a total which also included Dante's St Leger-winning full-brother .

, the best of Dante's many good offspring, was very much his father's son as regards his racing qualities. Winner of the July Stakes and the Champagne Stakes at two, he won the 2,000 Guineas and St. James's Palace Stakes at three, as well as running third in the Derby. As a four-year-old he won the Eclipse and was placed in the Coronation Cup. Darius in turn also became a top-class stallion and, mated with a daughter of the champion sprinter Abernant, he produced , a high-class sprinter/miler whose best win came in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot.

Derring-Do, too, duly became a top-class stallion. , a member of his third crop, was one of several to fashion the stallion's reputation as a source of speed. Others to do so included July Cup and Nunthorpe Stakes winner , 2,000 Guineas winner , Queen Elizabeth II Stakes winner , top sprinter and subsequent champion broodmare (whose sons included the Dewhurst winner , the Middle Park winner and the Irish Derby winner - and whose best current descendant is the Luca Cumani-trained Greek sprinter ), High Top's Jersey Stakes-winning full-brother and 2,000 Guineas place-getter (who himself became a leading sire of sprinter/milers). High Top's best win came in the 2,000 Guineas, but he also won the Observer Gold Cup (now Racing Post Trophy) as a two-year-old. He too became an excellent sire, but not without taking this sire-line off in a different direction.

While he can be regarded as a sire of shorter-distance horses, Derring-Do did also sire a St. Leger winner (); and High Top (whose dam recorded her only victory at 14 furlongs and who subsequently became the grand-dam of the Prix du Jockey-Club and Irish Derby winner , even though she came from the immediate family of the top-class sprinter ) became better known as an influence for high-class stamina than for pure speed. High Top's first crop included the high-class fillies and , who proved best suited by 10 and 12 furlongs respectively. When emerged from his second crop to land the Prix Lupin (over 2100m) and the Prix du Jockey-Club (after having recorded Group wins at two over 1800m and 2000m), High Top's reputation as a source of stamina as well as speed was secure. The likes of St. Leger winner , Oaks winner , Irish Oaks winner , Derby Italiano victor , Premio Roma winner and King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes place-getter did nothing to alter this impression.

Top Ville, who had been trained for the Aga Khan at Chantilly by Francois Mathet, duly followed in the footsteps of his forebears by becoming a very good stallion - and in particular he followed in his father's footsteps by becoming a sire of horses who excelled at middle distances or longer. Standing at the Aga Khan's Haras de Bonneval in Normandy, he produced the Irish Oaks victrix in his first crop, along with the Aga Khan's , winner of the Jockey Club Stakes at Newmarket over the same distance. He produced an even better racehorse for the Aga in his second crop: , who won the Cumberland Lodge Stakes and St. Simon Stakes over 12 furlongs as a three-year-old before proving himself even better at four, winning the Princess Of Wales's Stakes at the same distance and the Group One International Stakes at York over 300 yards shorter. The same crop also included another Group One winner, the Coronation Cup hero . A steady supply of high-class stayers continued to flow, his third crop containing Darshaan's Prix Vermeille-winning half-sister and his fourth another good racemare: , winner of several good staying prizes in France from George Bridgland's stable. Subsequent crops included the St. Leger winner and the King Edward VII Stakes winner . Top Ville did have one son who stood out as effective over considerably shorter distances - - but he too eventually proved more synonymous with stamina, joining Beneficial in becoming a leading National Hunt sire in Ireland.

Top Ville was retired from stud duties as an 18-year-old in 1994, back in France after a mid-career stint at Dalham Hall Stud as a costly part (alongside and ) of the first phase of Sheikh Mohammed's plan to make his Newmarket headquarters a leading stallion-station. It now transpires that High Top and Top Ville have not been able to do much to take the Dante sire-line into the 21st century. Like so many lines which formerly seemed set to thrive forever, this line is currently waning - and Top Ville's best sire-sons (the aforementioned Irish-based pair of Beneficial and Norwich, plus the deceased , sire of triple Cheltenham Gold Cup winner ) are unlikely to be able to extend it as most of their male offspring are geldings. High Top's paternal half-brother Dominion, primarily via his very fast son , appeared at one time the other hope for the Dante sire-line, but it can no longer be guaranteed that his branch of the line will survive indefinitely either.

Where High Top and Top Ville are going to leave a long-term mark, though, is as broodmare sires. High Top began this trend, most obviously via his Classic-winning daughter Colorspin. She became the dam of two champions - the middle-distance star who became a very good sire in Japan, and the dual Ascot Gold Cup winner , who is now England's best dual-purpose stallion - as well as a third Group One winner, Prix de l'Opera heroine . Kayf Tara is actually one of four outstanding stayers bred by daughters of High Top, the others being the Gold Cup winner , the disqualified Gold Cup winner and the Prix du Cadran winner . Other top-class racehorses produced by daughters of High Top include Classic Cliche's Prix Vermeille-winning half-sister , Coronation Cup victrix , Breeders' Cup Classic runner-up and his Yorkshire Oaks-winning half-sister , Hollywood Gold Cup winner , Irish 2,000 Guineas winner and the top-class sprinters and .

With top-class successes for his daughter's offspring still coming in thick and fast, it is too early to write the definitive review of Top Ville's record as a broodmare sire, but the evidence to date is that he will be as influential in this role as was his distinguished father. As in High Top's case, the charge has been led by some of his most talented daughters, as Darara and Floripedes have both proved outstanding broodmares. The reputation of the latter rests largely on her son (although Montjeu's French Listed-winning half-brother was Grade One-placed in America) but Darara's record is truly prolific. Dar Re Mi's latest victory means that Darara has now bred Group One winners in three continents ( having scored at that level in Hong Kong and in Australia) while she has had and both Group One-placed in France; and another son, the subsequent successful NZ-based sire , was Group Two-placed at Royal Ascot. Leaving aside these high-class horses, Top Ville mares have also bred (in addition to the peerless ) the likes of King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes winner , Irish Derby winner , 1,000 Guineas heroine , Prix de Diane winners and , Prix Lupin winner , Prix Jean Prat winner , Park Hill Stakes winner , four-time Irish Group winner and Yorkshire Cup runners-up and .

Many of Top Ville's best grand-children - most notably Montjeu and Yeats - have been produced with the help of Sadler's Wells, but it might be more accurate to describe this as an understandable occurrence, rather than a 'nick', because he has done very well too with (lesser) stallions from other lines. In short, there is no doubt that Top Ville is a very good broodmare sire who, like his father before him, is proving that being a sire of sires is not the only way to have a lasting influence on the breed.

Archived General News Stories

Catcher In The Rye Dead at 19 Bloodhorse all news
Bodemeister Shuttling for the First Time to Argentina Bloodhorse
Jump Start Garners 50th Stakes Winner Bloodhorse

Leading Stud Farms Take Stand Against Hendra Virus Bloodhorse all news
Spendthrift Australia Releases 2019 Stud Fees Bloodhorse
Bolt d'Oro to Shuttle to Spendthrift Australia Bloodhorse
Harry Angel to Shuttle to Darley Australia Bloodhorse
Winx bids farewell in historic end to career New Zealand Herald
Snitzel Colt Sets Ring Alight at Inglis Easter Bloodhorse all news
The Autumn Sun Joins Arrowfield Stud Roster Bloodhorse
Justify to Shuttle from Ashford Stud to Australia Bloodhorse

Camelot Kitten Sold to Brazilian Horsemen Bloodhorse

Ontario Racing Announces New Ontario-Bred Bonus Program Bloodhorse
Wonder Gadot Named Canada's Horse of the Year Bloodhorse
Da Silva, McKnight Earn Woodbine Titles Bloodhorse

Sixties Song Seeks Second Latinoamericano Victory Bloodhorse
Verrazano Gets First Winner in Chile Bloodhorse

HKJC Staging First Races at Mainland China Track Bloodhorse all news

Coronet to Retire After Group 1 Success Bloodhorse
An excellent clearance rate for the first day of the Summer Sale 2019 T'internet
Channel Breaks Through in Prix de Diane at Chantilly Bloodhorse all news
Timeform Prix du Jockey Club Preview: Fifth French Derby for Fabre? Betfair
Zabeel Prince Gives Lope de Vega Weekend Group 1 Double Bloodhorse all news
Persian King Impresses in French Two Thousand Guineas Bloodhorse all news
€1,100,000 American Pharoah colt tops strong Breeze Up Sale T'internet
Cracksman Half Brother Fantastic Moon to Stud in France Bloodhorse all news
Equine Flu Outbreak Revealed at Lamorlaye in France Bloodhorse all news
Solid day 2 rounds off outstanding renewal of February Mixed Sale T'internet

German Stallion Ranks Strengthened by Helmet Bloodhorse all news

Two HK$7 Million Lots Top Hong Kong International Sale Bloodhorse all news
Furore wins Hong Kong Derby as Waikuku finishes second DRF
Sons of Elite Sires on Offer at HK International Sale Bloodhorse all news

The Four Most Expensive Auction Horses of 2018 Bloodhorse all news
The Mega Nicks true nicks
Cracksman Ties Winx Atop Longines World's Best Rankings Bloodhorse

Blue Point to Kildangan Stud Next Year Bloodhorse
Siskin Advertises Classic Potential with Railway Win Bloodhorse all news
Aidan O'Brien claims Irish Derby 1-2-3 as 33/1 Sovereign scores shock win at the Curragh Irish Independent
Heartbreak of a tragic loss Irish Independent
Hermosa storms to Classic double for Ballydoyle Irish Independent
Phoenix of Spain lifts Hills to Guineas peak Irish Independent
Phoenix of Spain Springs Irish Guineas Upset Bloodhorse all news
13 lots added to the Tattersalls Ireland Goresbridge Breeze Up Sale
A loss of money and loss of interest - why Michael O'Leary is stepping away from racing Irish Independent
Huge strides made at Tattersalls Ireland May Store Sale T'internet
'It is a blow' - Gordon Elliott reacts as Michael O'Leary decides to wind down Gigginstown operation Irish Independent
Willie Mullins' 13th Champion Trainer title takes him past Tom Dreaper on all-time list Irish Independent
Gleneagles Gets First Winner From First Starter Bloodhorse
'We're devastated, there was no indication of lameness or of injuries' - Joesph O'Brien mourns loss of Sir Erec Irish Independent
Second all-weather track is in pipeline as Curragh faces delay Irish Independent
Playa Del Puente, Jahbath Win Derby Points Races Bloodhorse
Ban on British-trained horses running in Ireland lifted with immediate effect Irish Independent

Multiple Champion Italian Sire Mujahid Pensioned Bloodhorse all news

Almond Eye Returns to Action in Yasuda Kinen Bloodhorse all news
Roger Barows Scores Upset Win in Japanese Derby Bloodhorse all news
Gran Alegria Beats Almond Eye's Record in Oka Sho Bloodhorse
Japan's Master Fencer to Run in Kentucky Derby Bloodhorse
Danon Fantasy tops Japanese 1000 Guineas DRF
King's Best Pensioned by Darley Bloodhorse all news

Menifee Dies of Heart Attack at 23 in Korea Bloodhorse

Nicoletta gets her Group 1 win New Zealand Herald
Probabeel takes Karaka Million New Zealand Herald
Racing: Nervous wait for Kiwi horses in Cup New Zealand Herald

The Lieutenant to Shuttle to Peru's Haras Barlovento Bloodhorse

Phoenix Ladies Syndicate to Expand Into Saudi Arabia Bloodhorse all news

Middle Park Winner Crusade Dies in South Africa Bloodhorse all news
Trading Places Sporting Post
Vercingetorix Builds His Reputation Sporting Post
Lancaster Bomber to Stand at Drakenstein Stud Bloodhorse

Japanese Star Nanako Fujita Triumphs in Sweden Bloodhorse

Bluegrass Cat, Air Force Marshal to Stud Duty in Turkey Bloodhorse

Thunder Snow Makes Dubai World Cup History Bloodhorse
Almond Eye Brilliant in Dubai Turf Bloodhorse
X Y Jet, Navarro get their victory in Dubai Golden Shaheen DRF
Plus Que Parfait wins UAE, could run in KY derby ESPN
Likely Fields Announced for Dubai World Cup Card Bloodhorse

450,000 Guineas New King Tops Strong Tattersalls July Sale Tattersalls
Ten Sovereigns Too Rich for July Cup Rivals Bloodhorse all news
Strong Trade Continues at Tattersalls July Sale T'internet
Strong Opening to Tattersalls July Sale T'internet
Golden Horn Gets First Winner as West End Girl Dazzles Bloodhorse all news
Frankie Dettori hails unbelievable Enable after Coral-Eclipse victory Guardian
Blue Point Retired to Stud After Royal Ascot Double Bloodhorse
Shamardal Leads Royal Ascot Standings With Final Treble Bloodhorse all news
Defoe Delights Connections in Hardwicke Stakes Bloodhorse
Blue Point wins Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot Guardian
Royal Ascot 2019: Frankie Dettori ends 15-year wait for top rider title the Independent
Japan Gives Aidan O'Brien a 70th Royal Winner Bloodhorse all news
Watch Me Delivers Coronation Stakes Upset Bloodhorse all news
Advertise gives trainer Meade a boost by winning Commonwealth Cup DRF
Southern Hills First Stakes Winner for Gleneagles Bloodhorse
Stradivarius calls tune in Gold Cup to crown brilliant Dettori four-timer Irish Independent
Royal Ascot Day One Pedigrees: Scat Daddy's Legacy Felt Bloodhorse all news
Blue Point Holds Off Battaash to Win King's Stand Bloodhorse
Aidan O'Brien 'delighted' after Arizona gives trainer ninth victory in Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot Irish Independent
Lord Glitters opens Royal Ascot with upset in Queen Anne Stakes DRF
Circus Maximus rewards late entry in St James´s Palace at Royal Ascot Guardian
Stradivarius fit as a fiddle for Gold Cup DRF
904 Lots Catalogued for Tattersalls July Sale T'internet
Anthony Van Dyck wins the 2019 Derby Guardian
Defoe Earns Hard-Fought Group 1 in Coronation Cup Bloodhorse all news
Anapurna and Dettori team up to take English Oaks DRF
Kew Gardens Expected to Improve for Coronation Cup Bloodhorse all news
Leicester City chairman´s racing legacy lives on in Bangkok´s Derby run Guardian
Ryan Moore on the Epsom Derby: Sir Dragonet has a serious chance in an open race Betfair
The Derby 2019: horse-by-horse guide to the 240th Epsom Classic Guardian
Telecaster must get Derby nod from Hughie Morrison in Epsom classic Guardian
Sir Michael Stoute is all smiles as Mustashry lifts Newbury´s Lockinge Guardian
Stradivarius gets out of 'the nightclub' to secure Yorkshire Cup triumph Guardian
Telecaster throws down Epsom gauntlet Irish Independent
Telecaster Takes Morrison to a New Level in Dante Bloodhorse all news
Musidora success creates Nausha dilemma Irish Independent
Lack of Numbers No Problem for Subfertile Farhh Bloodhorse
Hermosa scores upset win for O'Brien in English 1000 Guineas DRF
2,000 Guineas: Aidan O´Brien lands his 10th victory in race with Magna Grecia Guardian
Kodiac Filly Tops Tattersalls Guineas Breeze Up and Horses in Training Sale T'internet
Ruby Walsh announces retirement after win in Punchestown Gold Cup Guardian
Altior sets jumping world record at Sandown with 19th win from 19 starts Guardian
Solid Trade At Tattersalls Craven Breeze Up T'internet

Oldest Living Derby Winner Sea Hero Dies at 29 Bloodhorse
$3.65 million Curlin colt tops completed 2-year-old sales season DRF
Hard Legacy Gives Norm Casse First Stakes Win in Regret Bloodhorse
Maximum Security loses in 1st start since Derby ESPN
Bejarano rides 4,000th winner at Santa Anita ESPN
Tenaciousness and Tapit Bloodhorse
Sir Winston wins the 2019 Belmont Stakes G1 Bloodhorse all news
Speedy Tapiture Colt to Phoenix at Santa Anita Sale Bloodhorse
Come Dancing High Steps Into Ogden Phipps Bloodhorse
Manga Man goes from last to first in Green Carpet Stakes DRF
S Y Sky wins Monrovia Stakes at Santa Anita over favored Belvoir Bay Los Angeles Times
My Majestic Rose wins Summertime Oaks in stakes debut DRF
$1.8M Into Mischief Filly Sets F-T Midlantic Record Bloodhorse
Catholic Boy to Stud at Claiborne Upon Retirement Bloodhorse
Triumphant Return For Catholic Boy in Dixie Stakes Bloodhorse
Point of Honor Blossoms in Black-Eyed Susan Bloodhorse
'The horse deserved it': War of Will's Preakness win is Derby redemption ESPN
DQ'd owner offers $5M challenge to Derby foes ESPN
Improbable Favored in Wide-Open Preakness Bloodhorse
Maximum Security owners sue for $1.86m winner's share from Kentucky Derby Guardian
Country House, Maximum Security unlikely to get rematch in Preakness DRF
Digital Age Remains Undefeated with American Turf Win Bloodhorse
65-1 shot Country House wins the Kentucky Derby after Maximum Security is disqualified Los Angeles Times
Into Mischief Colt Steals Spotlight at Record OBS Sale Bloodhorse
Spendthrift Acquires Omaha Beach Breeding Rights Bloodhorse
Serengeti Empress cruises to Kentucky Oaks win ESPN
Derby favorite Omaha Beach scratched from race ESPN
Street Boss Filly Tops Texas 2-Year-Old Sale Bloodhorse all news
$1.3M Tapit Filly Star of Show at Keeneland April Sale Bloodhorse
hhh Bloodhorse

Spies Rules In Zimbabwe Sporting Post