The Grey Panel


ARCHIPENKO & SOAR WITH EAGLES: Two brothers set to soar

The general way that the stallion market used to work was that the principal established racing nations - which initially meant the major European countries, but eventually included America - retained their best racehorses for stud duties, while the countries in the 'new world' imported either racehorses from the second tier or horses of limited ability but with superb pedigrees, writes John Berry. In the same way that many very well-bred fillies over the years have become superb broodmares despite having shown very little aptitude for racing, so it was that many high-class sires emerged around the world from the ranks of the well-bred non-achievers. In many of the southern hemisphere countries, the situation has changed over the past couple of decades as the advent of allowing stallions to cover in both hemispheres has meant that there is much less demand for untalented blue-bloods - why, for instance, would an Australian stud import an unraced brother to a European Classic winner if that Classic winner himself was going to show up every August?

In Africa the situation is different because there is very little scope for using shuttle-sires: quarantine restrictions make it impractical to fly stallions in and out of the country, while the economic and political situations in most African countries mean that top-class stallions would not be shuttled there irrespective of the quarantine rules. Zimbabwe's political and economic problems are well known, sadly making that once-great country now an isolated backwater. Racing and breeding, though, still survive there, so the country's isolation and poverty mean that the (occasional) demand is still there for the well-bred but inexpensive sire. One such is the young Kingmambo stallion , who has made a very good start to his stud career in Zimbabwe at the same time that his better-known brother is getting himself established in England at one of the world's premier studs (Lanwades).

Archipenko and Soar With Eagles both hail from one of the best families in the book. This family came to America when (a daughter of the top-class English sprinting stallion and of the 1934 Yorkshire Oaks winner , who was a half-sister to , the dam of the 1940 1,000 Guineas and Oaks winner ), was exported to the States in 1951, in foal to the 1948 2,000 Guineas winner . Rough Shod, who had won a maiden race at Bogside in Scotland as a three-year-old in 1947, was clearly a very appealing broodmare prospect, but time showed that she was able to exceed all expectations.

Rough Shod bred two top-class colts by the Nasrullah stallion Nantallah ( and , both of whom became good stallions) but even more influential was their full-sister . Rough Shod's other daughters included the My Babu foal (dam of and ancestress of , , and ) and (dam of the top-class and his Group-winning siblings , and ) but Thong was the true star.

Mated with the Argentinian-bred Hyperion-line sire , Thong bred the top-class racehorse and stallion as well as producing the high-class colts (by Round Table) and (by Northern Dancer); but it was her daughters who ultimately established her true greatness. Through descended , and through the 1974 Coronation Stakes victrix (a full-sister to Thatch) came the likes of , , , and (the first Yeats to have been trained at Ballydoyle, ie the sire of , rather than his quadruple Ascot Gold Cup-winning namesake); however, pride of place went to Special.

A full-sister to Thatch and Lisadell, Special first established herself as a special mare by breeding , the son of Northern Dancer who was first past the post in 1980 2,000 Guineas (only to be disqualified in favour of ) before beginning a stellar stud career. To Nijinsky, Special bred the Grade Two winner , dam of the Group One winner and of the graded stakes-winning full-brothers and . To Hawaii she bred , grand-dam of the triple Grade One winner . But her greatest achievement was breeding , a daughter of Bold Reason who proved herself a high-class two-year-old before producing , , , and . Special's other high-achieving daughter was Number's full-sister , dam of both Archipenko and Soar With Eagles.

Bound was a very good racehorse herself, winning four races and showing excellent stakes form, including when winning the Listed Churchill Downs Breeders' Cup Handicap and when recording several graded stakes placings, including finishing third in the Grade One Acorn Stakes in 1987. She bred nine winners of whom Archipenko was the best, but her other stakes performers included not only Soar With Eagles, but the Listed winner . She also bred , a daughter of Seeking The Gold who became the dam of , conqueror of in the 2010 Breeders' Cup Classic.

Mares from this family have clearly visited top-class stallions ever since Rough Shod first arrived in America in foal to one top-class stallion (My Babu) and clearly worthy of visits to more. Forli and Northern Dancer were very successfully-recurring themes for the family; but, with Bound being by a son of Northern Dancer (Nijinsky) from a daughter of Forli (Special), the Mr Prospector line was an obvious one to try. She visited Seeking The Gold to produce Liable, but perhaps the most interesting son of Mr Prospector for her to try was . Not only had he been a top-class racehorse and had become a top-class sire, but he was a son of the champion filly and broodmare - who, of course, was the best of the many great horses sired by Special's best son Nureyev.

Bound, therefore, visited Kingmambo in both 2002 and 2003. Soar With Eagles was the result of the first visit and Archipenko was the result of the second. Both, like so many of their distinguished relatives had done over the years, went into training at Ballydoyle. Archipenko was clearly the better of the pair, which is why he is now standing at one of Newmarket's premier studs; while Soar With Eagles did not do enough to make him appealing to a stud in one of the major nations, which is why he is now in Zimbabwe.

Neither Soar With Eagles nor Archipenko were particularly precocious, although Archipenko did both run and win as a two-year-old. After running poorly on debut in a 7-furlong two-year-old maiden at the Curragh in August 2006, Archipenko showed much improved form when he reappeared a couple of months later: he raced twice in the second half of October, finishing second at the Curragh before winning a seven-furlong maiden at Leopardstown by six lengths. Soar With Eagles, on the other hand, did not make his debut until he was three. Interestingly, Aidan O'Brien sent him to England for his first run (something which he occasionally does with his nice horses, such as ) but the trip was not successful: he could only finish eighth over a mile at Newbury in April 2006 in a maiden race which was won by eight lengths by subsequent Melbourne Cup, Hong Kong Vase, Dubai Sheema Classic and Ascot Gold Cup place-getter , but which contained no other notable horses. Having benefitted from that experience, Soar With Eagles established himself as a very promising young middle-distance horse by winning on his second start, beating 18 rivals to take a 10-furlong maiden race at the Curragh at the Irish Oaks meeting in the middle of July. He finished a decent third of four behind in a Group Two race over course and distance the following month, but that sadly proved to be the end of his season.

The following year, 2007, saw Archipenko and Soar With Eagles go in very different directions. Soar With Eagles raced in California as a four-year-old (trained by Julio Canani) but established little worthwhile form. Archipenko, on the other hand, proved himself to be one of Europe's best colts, even if the form book does not totally confirm this. Ridden by Mick Kinane, he won Ireland's premier Derby Trial, the Group Two Derrinstown Derby Trial over 10 furlongs at Leopardstown, on his reappearance (beating his stablemate by three quarters of a length in a strange race in which four of the five runners were trained by O'Brien). This ensured that Archipenko was ridden by Kinane again in a Derby in which eight of the 17 runners were trained by O'Brien. He went off the 13/2 third favourite in a race won easily by the Peter Chapple-Hyam-trained 5/4 favourite with the O'Brien-trained second favourite second. Disappointingly, though, Archipenko finished not only last of the O'Brien octet, but last of the whole 17. That, though, was not his true form, as he showed in his three subsequent runs that season. Unfortunately, these three runs were unproductive as he was poorly placed and poorly ridden on each occasion: in all three he was used as a pacemaker in a Group One weight-for-age race, his chance sacrificed on behalf of a better-fancied Ballydoyle inmate (George Washington twice and once). On each occasion he was ridden too aggressively in the first half of the race. He actually ran well each time despite the tactics employed, and one was left to wonder how productive a season he would have enjoyed if allowed to race on his own merits.

Those pondering the exact merit of Archipenko were given their answer the following season after the colt had been bought by Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa al Maktoum and transferred to Mike De Kock's stable. He was kept busy as a four-year-old in 2008, when he won three races: the Group One Audemars Piguet QEII Cup over 2000m at Sha Tin in Hong Kong, the Group Two Summer Mile at Ascot in England and the Group Two Al Fahidi Fort over 1600m at Nad Al Sheba in Dubai. He also finished second (to ) in the Grade One Arlington Million over 10 furlongs in America and third (to and , while beating the likes of , , , , , , and ) in a dazzlingly cosmopolitan line-up for the Group One Dubai Duty Free over 1888m at Nad Al Sheba. Understandably, he showed up again at the Dubai International Carnival the following year (2009), when victory in the Group Three Zabeel Mile was his best result.

Archipenko thus retired to Lanwades Stud near Newmarket in 2010 having proved himself an ideal stallion prospect. A very well-bred horse and a very handsome one, too, he had also proved that he was both top-class and very tough. Sadly, his full-brother Soar With Eagles had not been able to demonstrate the same qualities: while he clearly had been blessed with a fair degree of talent, during his racing career he was not able to progress sufficiently to establish a decent record. He, therefore, found himself heading to Zimbabwe to take up stallion duties in September 2008.

Zimbabwe, as we know, is a country which has fallen on very hard times indeed. The days when a successful British jockey such as Shaun Salmon, or successful British apprentices such as Sean Payne or Dewi Williams, would relocate there have gone forever. However, its racing and breeding industries are still miraculously winning the uphill struggle for survival, thanks in no small part to Chris Peech of Ruvambu Park Stud near Harare. Soar With Eagles is one of two stallions there - the other being a similar horse, the well-bred ex-O'Brien trained Andronicusofrhodes, an unraced horse by Danehill from Zabeel's full-sister , the dam of . These two stallions bear a similar profile to the sire of the finest product of the Zimbabwean breeding industry in recent years (in fact, in living memory): the internationally-performed champion filly is a daughter of , an unraced son of Mr. Prospector and the great . Manshood stood in Zimbabwe between 1994 and 2002, after which Ipi Tombe's Durban July Handicap victory prompted his relocation to Gary Player's stud in South Africa (and her own relocation to Dubai, where she won the Dubai Duty Free in 2003). Similarly well bred is Zimbabwe's current champion sire , a son of Mr. Prospector and the mighty (and thus a full-brother to Kingmambo) who stood for four seasons at Ruvamba Park Stud but who is now back in his homeland at War Horse Stud in Kentucky.

Archipenko's oldest offspring are currently only yearlings, but Soar With Eagles already has two-year-olds racing. He recently sired his first winner: Queen Katya won a maiden race at one of Borrowdale Park's two meetings in January and then followed up at one of its two fixtures in February. The early signs are that Soar With Eagles might be set to prove himself a very good stallion - just as his brother Archipenko looks sure to do in the future.

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