Storm Cat’s eastern promise

The legendary stallion is having noted success as a broodmare sire in Japan more »

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Considering that Storm Cat’s broodmare daughters have been represented by only two Group 1 winners on European turf, namely that fine filly Misty For Me and the Dewhurst Stakes winner Mujahid, the former champion American stallion has a surprisingly good record as a broodmare sire in turf-oriented Japan.

Storm Cat’s prospects in this role were no doubt boosted when Phalaenopsis, a Brian’s Time filly out of his daughter Catequil, won the Oka Sho (Japanese 1,000 Guineas) in 1998. Since then Japanese breeders have regularly been acquiring broodmares by the stallion who gave American racing such fine fillies as the Breeders’ Cup winners Storm Flag Flying, Desert Stormer and Sweet Catomine.

Their investment has been consistently rewarded, with Storm Cat achieving seven top-20 finishes on the Japanese broodmare table in the eight years between 2005 and 2012. However, it has been during the current Japanese season that these Storm Cat mares have come into their own.

Storm Cat has achieved seven top-20 finishes on the Japanese broodmare table in the eight years between 2005 and 2012

To the end of September they had been represented by 145 starters – a figure which placed them at a considerable numerical disadvantage against the daughters of such as Sunday Silence (1,202 starters), Brian’s Time (531) and Tony Bin (411). However, they have done so well that Storm Cat ranked third behind Sunday Silence and Brian’s Time on September 30, thanks to several high-class representatives.

Pride of place must go to Kizuna, who displayed his talents so ably in defeating Ruler Of The World in the Prix Niel on his first start since his victory in the Japanese Derby (Tokyo Yushun). This half-brother to Phalaenopsis was foaled when Catequil was 20, so he represents a very good effort on the mare’s behalf, and also by his sire, the Japanese wunderkind Deep Impact.

The Deep Impact-Storm Cat alliance has also enjoyed 2013 Classic success thanks to Ayusan, winner of Japan’s 1,000 Guineas equivalent. Her dam Buy The Cat was sold to Japan for only $60,000 in 2006. Another Deep Impact three-year-old with a Storm Cat dam is Hiraboku Deep, a Grade 2 winner over a mile and a half in April. His dam Cat Ali was a $400,000 purchase in 2007.

Deep Impact isn’t the only son of Sunday Silence with a very smart son out of a Storm Cat mare, as Manhattan Café sired Shonan Mighty. This five-year-old was beaten only a neck by the high-class Lord Kanaloa in the Grade 1 Yasuda Kinen in June.

Lord Kanaloa is himself another with a dam by Storm Cat. This versatile five-year-old ended September with a repeat victory in Nakayama’s Grade 1 Sprinters Stakes and these two valuable wins bookended other very rewarding successes in the Hong Kong Sprint, Takamatsunomiya Kinen and Yasuda Kinen. His dam Lady Blossom was exported in utero after her dam Saratoga Dew was bought for $850,000. Her son has now earned a colossal amount, thanks to his impressive record of 12 wins and five seconds from 18 starts.

There is also a Grade 3 winner by Taiki Shuttle, a stallion who enjoyed Grade 1 success in 2005 with Meisho Bowler, another with a dam by Storm Cat.

Storm Cat’s 2013 success as a broodmare sire hasn’t been limited to Japan, as his daughters have produced Close Hatches, one of America’s finest three-year-old fillies, and Sahara Sky, winner of the prestigious Metropolitan Handicap.

Inbreeding to Danehill is here to stay
Like it or not, be prepared to see more and more examples of inbreeding to Danehill, following some encouraging examples over the last couple of months. One of the worries about close inbreeding is that it can entrench physical flaws. So the question has always been whether it is a good idea to inbreed closely to a horse whose offspring tended to be very flat through the knee, to the extent that some were back at the knee?

These fears are dissipating following displays of considerable toughness by some of the early instances of Danehill inbreeding. A prime example is Guelph, one of the leading Australian two-year-olds of the 2012/13 season. By Exceed And Excel and with a Danehill mare as her second dam, Guelph is inbred 2 x 3. She won two Group 1 races in three weeks at two and this year has won the Group 2 Tea Rose Stakes.

Also, horses don’t come much tougher than the dual Group 3 winner Leitir Mor, another with a son of Danehill as his sire and a Danehill mare as his second dam. Just four days after he had set the pace in a record-breaking edition of the Prix Jacques le Marois, Leitir Mor made the 21st start of his career when a close third to Gordon Lord Byron in the Group 3 Desmond Stakes.

Then there’s Ladies Are Forever, a dual Group 3 winner who has made 24 starts in four seasons in training. This mare, who is inbred 3 x 3, was beaten only three lengths in Jwala’s Nunthorpe Stakes.
A new twist was added when Astaire won the Gimcrack Stakes. In addition to being inbred 3 x 3 to Danehill, this son of Intense Focus is inbred 4 x 4 to Kahyasi, whose daughters did very well with Danehill.

This inbreeding comes about because Intense Focus is out of Daneleta, a Group-placed filly sired by Danehill from Kahyasi’s daughter Zavaleta. Astaire’s unraced dam Runway Dancer is by Dansili, a horse bred to a similar pattern. Of course Dansili wasn’t the only high-class performer sired by Danehill from Kahyasi’s daughter Hasili, his siblings being Banks Hill, Intercontinental, Cacique and Champs Elysees.

Danehill sired 14 foals from Kahyasi mares. Twelve of them raced and all of them won, with a magnificent seven of them becoming Group winners (five at Group 1 level).

Mango Diva is the first Group winner with a pedigree featuring three lines of Danzig within the first five generations

Next came the first Group victory by Mango Diva – a very significant win. Not only is this Holy Roman Emperor filly inbred 2 x 3 to Danehill, but she is the first Group winner with a pedigree featuring three lines of Danzig within the first five generations. Her dam Mango Mischief, a Desert King filly who ran in 31 races, 26 of them stakes events, was inbred 2 x 4 to Danzig. Mango Mischief’s inbreeding came via Danzig’s tough sons Danehill and Chief’s Crown.

With Leitir Mor and Mango Diva to Holy Roman Emperor’s credit, breeders are sure to experiment with further close inbreeding to Danehill with this Coolmore stallion. Holy Roman Emperor also has a handful of very useful performers inbred 3 x 4 to Danzig, including Hoku, placed in the Firth of Clyde Stakes, and Princess Noor, second in the Group 1 Cheveley Park Stakes after winning the Group 3 Princess Margaret Stakes.

Niarchos venture pays off
It hasn’t just been Storm Cat’s daughters who have ensured international success for the JPN suffix in 2013. His American son Bernstein, who died in 2011, is the sire of Karakontie, winner of the Group 1 Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere on Arc day at Longchamp. But for a short-head defeat at the hands of the British-trained Bunker at Deauville, this colt would have been unbeaten in his first four starts. Ectot, the colt he beat into second place on his debut at Compiegne, won his next three races, including the Group 3 Prix des Chenes.

Karakontie is owned by the Niarchos family and was bred by their Flaxman Holdings. He was born in Japan because his dam, the Sunday Silence mare Sun Is Up, was visiting Bago, winner of the 2004 Arc in the Niarchos colours. She produced a 2012 colt which has been sent to Ireland but unfortunately her 2013 foal by King Kamehameha died. The Bago-Sun Is Up mating combines two of the Niarchos’ finest female lines, as Bago is out of Moonlight’s Box (by Nureyev out of Coup de Genie), whereas Sun Is Up’s second dam is Nureyev’s brilliant daughter Miesque. One of Sun Is Up’s previous stakes winners, Sunday Sunrise, was inbred 3 x 3 to Miesque.

The Niarchos family’s involvement with Japanese breeding goes back quite a long way. Hector Protector, a first-rate performer bred by Flaxman Holdings, started his stallion career in Japan, where one of his visitors was the Niarchos mare Lingerie, whose first foal by him was dual French Group 2 winner Limnos, and second was Shiva, whose wins included the Group 1 Tattersalls Gold Cup. Lingerie also visited Sunday Silence and the Niarchos family has also used Deep Impact.

Karakontie’s family underlines how international breeding has become. His second dam, Miesque’s daughter Moon Is Up, started her broodmare career in Japan before being moved to Europe. Sold for 450,000gns in 2006, she was eventually sent to Australia in foal to Pivotal. Amanee, the filly she was carrying, moved on to South Africa, where she became a Group 1 winner in the Thekwini Stakes.

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