The Grey Panel


Lateral thinking and winning

Leading German nursery Gestut Fahrhof, headquarters of the Jacobs family’s great international racing and breeding empire, has been a big friend of the South African bloodstock industry via its sister stud Maine Chance Farm near Cape Town, which the Jacobs family bought from Graham Beck early this century. Fahrhof’s biggest gift so far to South African breeding and racing has been the 2001 Arlington Million winner , who has come up with such stars as , , and last year’s German Derby winner in Europe and who has so far been represented by 12 individual South African Grade One winners including , , and . The next high achiever from this source now seems likely to be another Fahrhof émigré. looks as if he might be the natural successor to Silvano, with his small first South African crop containing top two-year-old filly , shock winner at Greyville on Durban July Handicap Day of the Grade One Golden Slipper, writes John Berry.

The current century has seen international respect for German bloodstock rise to an all-time high, thanks in part (but by no means exclusively) to the influence of the great German stallion . No doubt this year’s ultra-impressive German Derby winner , a grandson of Monsun, will add further laurels to the international reputation of German horses in general, and Monsun’s descendants in particular, in the fullness of time. Top-class German horses such as Monsun, whose backgrounds are mostly German on both sides of their pedigrees, are rare. More common are those such as Silvano, whose lineage contains a mixture of German and international families. Lateral too comes into this category: he hails from a very German family, with the roots of the top half of his pedigree lying elsewhere.

To this day, the most notable member of Lateral’s family remains , who was born in 1965, the year his great sire (arguably the greatest horse to come out of East Germany during the years of the DDR) died at the age of 20. Literat enjoyed an excellent racing career, proving himself Germany’s best juvenile in 1967 and its best three-year-old the following year. Effective though he was on the racecourse, he was even more excellent at stud, siring the 1977 German Derby winner , as well as being damsire of , winner of that race in 1984, as well as of , who posted a landmark overseas triumph for Germany when taking the Prix Jacques le Marois at Deauville in 1986. Surumu now ranks as maternal grandsire both of Monsun and of Silvano’s distinguished sire ; and, indeed, he is the sire of Literat’s relative , who is Lateral’s grand-dam. Lima’s third dam is the second dam of Literat.

Rivalling Literat for the distinction of being Lateral’s most notable relative is , winner of the German Derby in 1993, of Germany’s biggest weight-for-age race the Grosser Preis von Baden in both 1993 and ’94 (when he was chased home by Monsun) and of three Group One races in 1995 including, most memorably, the Japan Cup. A third star for the family proved to be Lando’s year-younger half-brother , who provided a German Derby running double for their dam by taking Germany’s premier Classic on the first Sunday of July in 1994. Remarkably, Laurea subsequently produced a third 2400m Classic star when her Shirley Heights daughter finished third in the German Oaks in 1998.

None of these horses come from the same branch of the family which yielded Lateral, but that didn’t stop the latter from emulating Literat’s achievement of becoming Germany’s champion juvenile. Literat achieved this feat in 2005, when he won all three of his races. Owned and bred by Gestut Fahrhof, he made a winning debut at Hannover over 1400m before tackling stakes company on his second start over 1500m at the Baden-Baden Summer Carnival. This race, the Kronimus Rennen, saw him an easy 3.5-length winner. It was his third win, though, which established his champion’s status: sent by his trainer Peter Schiergen to Italy to contest the Group One Gran Criterium over 1600m in Milan in the autumn, he retained his unbeaten record by beating a competitive international field, winning by a length.

Lateral’s three-year-old season confirmed the colt as a very good and consistent performer, even if slightly below the highest class. His six runs in 2006 saw him register three victories (all in Group Three company, all at 1600m and all ridden by the German-based French jockey William Mongil) and three minor placings. His defeats were as creditable as his wins, most notably his third place in the Group Two Oettingen-Rennen at Baden-Baden behind the English raiders and , and his third place behind and first-up in the Group Three Prix de Guiche over 1850m at Chantilly. Sadly, Lateral’s third season was less productive: he only raced once as a four-year-old in 2007, finishing unplaced.

Lateral retired to Gestut Fahrhof in 2008 and the star of his first crop, born in 2009, has proved to be , Group-placed in France as a two-year-old in 2011 in the Group Three Prix Thomas Bryon at Saint-Cloud behind and . However, a Fahrhof re-shuffle saw him tread the path formerly taken so successfully by Silvano by heading south to Maine Chance Farm near Cape Town. Now his career as a member of South Africa’s stallion ranks has got off to the best possible start with his first crop of two-year-olds there, born in 2011, containing the recent Grade One Golden Slipper winner Bilateral. The filly is bred and raced by Maine Chance Farm, and is one of merely 24 members of Lateral’s first South African crop. He currently stands at the farm at a fee of 15,000 rand, and this victory really should have put him on the map in his adopted homeland.

It is easy to see why Lateral should have come up with such a good two-year-old, because he himself was a very good two-year-old who comes from a family containing other good two-year-olds. However, his family certainly is not one which revolves around two-year-old racing, and one would expect his stock to improve from two to three (as he did himself) and then subsequently. An extra dash of speed is added to his pedigree by the fact that his dam was a daughter of the very fast and very speedily bred Mummy’s Pet horse , who was very closely related to the top-class sprinter and sprinting sire ; but overall his pedigree certainly suggests that his stock should thrive at least up to middle distances.

Lateral’s sire certainly encourages one to think that Lateral’s stock should progress well. Singspiel was a son of Sadler’s Wells’ first winner , whose best victories came over a mile and a half in 1990 in the Coronation Cup and the Breeders’ Cup Turf when he was aged four. In an excellent four-year racing career, Singspiel proved to be very much his father’s son, continuing to improve as he matured and ending up as a world-class middle-distance champion. As a five-year-old in 1997, Singspiel was majestic. He had landed the Rothman’s International in Canada and the Japan Cup the previous autumn, but in 1997 he was totally dominant from 10 to 12 furlongs, posting imperious victories in the Dubai World Cup, Coronation Cup and Juddmonte International. As a stallion he made his name by siring progressive middle-distance stars such as , , , and . There is, thus, every reason to hope that the results of Lateral will continue on an upward curve, and that he will find himself better patronised in the future than he has been in the past.

Sea The Moon has just provided European pundits with their latest reminder of the merit of German bloodstock. It looks likely that Lateral is going to make a habit of providing similar hints in South Africa.

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