The Grey Panel


Mothers superior

This column generally focuses on a stallion who has done well. In the week after Royal Ascot we would naturally be spoilt for choice, with several sires having posted commendable achievements. However, it is also a suitable time to remember that, with only a handful of exceptions, a stallion is only as good as the mares he is allowed to cover. This message was reinforced by the Ascot results, with a startlingly large proportion of the winners coming from mares who were either former high-class fillies or daughters of former high-class fillies (or, commonly, both). The Gold Cup has always been and always will be the feature race of the meeting, and it was only fitting this year that its winner should be a daughter of a truly special mare, writes John Berry.

A place-getter over a mile and a half in the Group Two Blandford Stakes at the Curragh in 1992, , a daughter of Darshaan, has now bred four individual Group One winners. To Sadler’s Wells she bred the 1997 Irish Oaks and Prix Royal-Oak victrix ; to Rainbow Quest she bred the 1998 Moyglare Stud Stakes winner ; to Kahyasi she bred the 1999 Ascot Gold Cup winner ; and now her four-year-old Monsun filly has echoed Enzeli’s finest hour by taking this year’s Gold Cup. Four Group One winners sired by four different stallions from three different sire-lines – and the only connection is their dam, herself formerly a high-class middle-distance galloper.

Most impressive weight-for-age victor at Royal Ascot was , who continued his seemingly relentless progress towards the summit by taking the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes. His dam (another daughter of ) was not a good racehorse (she only ran three times and was unplaced on every occasion) but Kazeem’s dam was very good: was trained for Sheikh Mohammed by the Guy Harwood to land an Oaks trial (the now-discontinued Princess Elizabeth Stakes at Epsom) in 1984 before finishing unplaced behind in the Oaks and second to the same filly in the Yorkshire Oaks.

When Al Kazeem notched his first Group One victory (in the Tattersalls Gold Cup at the Curragh in May) he became the eighth European Group One winner to descend from Kanz’s dam , the winner of stakes races in America at distances up to a mile and a full-sister to , champion two-year-old in America in 1959 and dam of . When sold to Sheikh Mohammed for $2,100,000 in 1982, Kanz became the most expensive yearling filly the world had ever seen. She duly became Treasure Chest’s best child. She was not the only good one, though: Treasure Chest’s previous foals had included the 9-furlong Grade Three winner (the dam of ) as well as the stakes winners Gold Treasure and . The latter bred the European Group One-winning Mill Reef full-brothers and , each raced (as was their sire) by their breeder Paul Mellon.

Another daughter of Crown Treasure to breed a European Group One winner was , a daughter of Caro who bred Sheikh Mohammed’s 1989 Irish 1,000 Guineas victrix , a daughter of Lyphard. Glint Of Gold’s and Diamond Shoal’s Kris half-sister visited the 1991 Derby winner Generous in 1995 to breed , a Group One winner over 2400m in Germany as a four-year-old in 2000.

From Gold Treasure descended the 2001 Italian Oaks winner , a daughter of In The Wings. And from Treasure Chest’s Buckpasser filly (dam of the John Dunlop-trained Group One-placed Group Two-winning stayer ) descended two European Group One two-year-old winners: and , sons of Rainbow Quest and Lawman respectively.

With Al Kazeem being a son of Dubawi, the conclusion has to be that the common link between the eight Group One-winning descendants of Treasure Chest is Treasure Chest herself, rather than any pattern shared by the various stallions who sired them.

The principal weight-for-age winner on the first day of Ascot was , one of two winners on the day for his hugely promising young sire . Both these horses (the other one being , who complemented Declaration Of War’s Queen Anne Stakes victory with an imperious triumph in the Coventry Stakes) are clearly great advertisements for War Front and his/their breeder Joe Allen, but they are also great advertisements for the families from which they hail.

War Command’s third dam was one of the best fillies in France of her generation, as she demonstrated in 1969 by taking the Prix Jacques le Marois (which, of course, was granted Group One shortly afterwards when the Pattern was brought into being) over 1600m at Deauville as a three-year-old. Her greatest achievement at stud was breeding the Roberto colt , who won the Craven Stakes over a mile at Newmarket in the spring of 1982 before being placed in both the Derby and Irish Derby. He subsequently became an even better stallion than he had been a racehorse.

Gris Vitesse’s other children included , a daughter of His Majesty who bred the Grade Two-winning Red Ransom filly – whose winning offspring now include (a son of Tale Of The Cat won the Group Three Prix de Conde in France as a two-year-old in 2008) and War Command.

Declaration Of War also descends from an top-class miler: his fourth dam , a daughter of the Hyperion stallion High Hat won the 1,000 Guineas in 1966. Glad Rags’ most talented child was undoubtedly the Nijinsky colt , a two-year-old for whom the sky appeared to be the limit until it came crashing down around him on Dewhurst Stakes Day in 1982: hot favourite, he performed as if he had been doped, finishing completed tailed off behind . He was never the same horse again.

In addition to Gorytus, Glad Rags also bred his full-sister Terpsichorist, a Grade Two winner over 10 furlongs in New York as a four-year-old in 1979. Terpsichorist’s best child was the Grade Two-placed Devil’s Bag filly , but she also bred , a daughter of Gone West who now ranks as the dam of the top-class (winner of the Champagne Stakes as a two-year-old in 2011 and of the following year’s Belmont Stakes) and of the winning Rahy filly Tempo West, dam of Declaration Of War.

Royal Ascot’s star three-year-old filly also descends from a filly who showed top-class form on Newmarket’s Rowley Mile: her grand-dam won the Rockfel Stakes in 1989 before finishing third to in the following year’s 1,000 Guineas. Negligent’s best foal proved to be the Singspiel colt , a Group Three-winning two-year-old over 1600m in France in 2002, but she also bred another very good two-year-old: the Shareef Dancer filly , a winner at York in 2005 before finishing fifth to in the Group One Fillies Mile at Ascot.

Shawanni has proved to be an excellent matron, having now bred 10 winners. These have included the Group winners and (a sprinter by Shamardal and a stayer by Hector Protector respectively) as well as the Listed-winning Spectrum colt – but the outstanding Sky Lantern, a daughter of Red Clubs, clearly ranks as the best of the lot. She will, in turn, surely follow her terrific racing career with a great second career at stud.

The lesson of Royal Ascot, then, is surely that we are right to take the selection of the stallions which we use carefully – but that we should be even more careful about chosing the mares from which we breed.

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