All change in just a few months

Coolmore duo Camelot and Declaration Of War enjoyed contrasting fortunes in 2013 more »

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Harold Wilson famously declared that a week is a long time in politics. While things don’t usually change quite so quickly in horseracing, it’s fair to say that reputations can be built or shattered in a matter of months.

For example, what price would have been placed on the services of Coolmore’s new stallions, Camelot and Declaration of War, had they been retired at the end of 2012? One had become only the third colt since 1970 to complete the 2,000 Guineas and Derby double and had failed by only three-quarters of a length in his bid to become only the second Triple Crown winner since 1935. The other numbered nothing more prestigious than a Group 3 at Dundalk among his four wins from five starts.

Unfortunately, neither of these top-class colts was immune to illness or injury. Camelot ended 2012 under a cloud, having had to undergo surgery for colic soon after his disappointing effort on bottomless ground in the Arc. The career of Declaration Of War, on the other hand, was on a sharp upwards trajectory, as he tried to make up for time lost earlier in the year. After winning his two juvenile starts in France, he had been transferred to the care of Todd Pletcher, only to suffer a leg injury in his first breeze at the Palm Meadows training facility. The injury necessitated a three-month period of box rest at Ashford Stud.

There can be no complaints about Camelot’s sire Montjeu, who proved one of the most effective Classic sires of the modern era

The two colts were to follow their different trajectories. Although Camelot added the Mooresbridge Stakes to his tally and finished a respectable second to Al Kazeem in the Tattersalls Gold Cup, it is fair to say that this triple Classic winner never recaptured the exuberant flair which saw him sweep through from the rear to a five-length victory in the Derby.

Declaration Of War, though, proved very progressive. With wins in the Queen Anne Stakes and Juddmonte International in the bag, he travelled to Santa Anita for the Breeders’ Cup Classic, where his failure to change legs in the straight could have made the difference between finishing a close third and defeating the specialist dirt horses Mucho Macho Man and Will Take Charge.

The end result is that Declaration Of War commences his stallion career at a fee of €40,000, whereas Camelot starts out at €25,000, a figure which places him joint-sixth in the Coolmore pecking order.

Perhaps their prices also reflect the fashionableness of their sires. Declaration Of War is by War Front, whose fee has soared from 2013’s $80,000 to $150,000 – a figure which makes him America’s highest-priced stallion, alongside Tapit.

There can be no complaints about Camelot’s sire Montjeu, who proved one of the most effective Classic sires of the modern era, with his collection of four winners of the Derby, three of the St Leger, three of the Irish Derby, two of the Grand Prix de Paris and two of the AJC Australian Derby, plus one in the Irish Oaks with his €6 million daughter Chicquita. I guess this astounding list of Classic victories is steeped with too much stamina for many of today’s breeders, but being a true mile-and-a-half horse clearly proved no handicap at all for Montjeu.

Camelot, with his victory over 17 others in the 2,000 Guineas, has the distinction of being Montjeu’s only Group 1 winner over a mile after the age of two in the northern hemisphere – a distinction he no doubt owes to having daughters of Kingmambo and Danehill as his first two dams.

Perhaps the main concern about Camelot’s potential as a stallion lay in the records of Montjeu’s first two Derby winners. It has to be said, though, that Motivator’s soundness issues as a stallion have greatly restricted his opportunities, to the extent that his fee was down to €7,000 in 2013. The bottom line is that he has at least 38 black-type performers, headed by 16 stakes winners, among his 351 foals of racing age – and among them are the brilliant Treve, five-length winner of the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, who will stay in training as a four-year-old.

Authorized, the second of Montjeu’s Derby winners, soon found it hard going in a world where commercial breeders clamour for speedy two-year-olds. He covered only around 30 mares at Dalham Hall in 2013 and has now followed Motivator to France, where breeders will hopefully be more appreciative of his bloodlines.

Yet Authorized has answered his doubters with a team of 2013 Group winners which features the Group 1-winning fillies Seal Of Approval and Ambivalent, and the Classic-placed Rehn’s Nest. He has also hit the Group 1 target with a colt from the first of his four Australian crops.

This crop numbers only 50, but it includes Complacent, who followed up his win in the Spring Champion Stakes over a mile and a quarter with second place in the Victoria Derby. Complacent is interesting in that he is inbred 4 x 3 to Rainbow Quest, via his Arc winner Saumarez and his Derby winner Quest For Fame.

As a great admirer of Montjeu, I am hoping that his next two Derby winners – Pour Moi and Camelot – enjoy immediate success. Pour Moi certainly made his mark at the foal sales, achieving such prices as 140,000gns, 87,000gns, 85,000gns, 75,000gns and €90,000.

Incidentally, Montjeu’s broodmare daughters also made their mark at Tattersalls’ foal sale, with colts by Oasis Dream, Dutch Art and Zoffany selling respectively for 195,000gns, 155,000gns and 130,000gns.

The colt from Zoffany’s first crop is interesting, as he was sired at a fee of only €7,500. However the colt’s pedigree contains two of the same elements – Dansili and Montjeu – as Chicquita.

Cape Blanco helps to boost Galileo’s reputation stateside
It was unfortunate that the Americans saw Galileo at nothing like his best on his only appearance outside Europe. Asked to tackle traditional dirt in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, he finished a modest seventh behind Tiznow.

Needless to say, the Americans know a lot more about Galileo now – especially after Magician’s stunning victory in the Breeders’ Cup Turf. The Frankel factor undoubtedly helped a great deal, continuing the good work initiated by the likes of Red Rocks (2006 Breeders’ Cup Turf and 2008 Man o’War Stakes), Treasure Beach (2011 Secretariat Stakes), Together (2011 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup) and Cape Blanco.

Cape Blanco can take a lot of credit for advertising Galileo’s merits to a new audience, as he ended 2011 as America’s champion turf male, following victories in the Man o’War Stakes, the Arlington Million and the Turf Classic. The 2010 Irish Derby winner did so well that he became the busiest stallion in the US in 2012, when he covered 220 mares.

The champion sire’s higher US profile also led to several of his offspring being offered at the 2012 American yearling sales. Seven sold for an average of $407,143, the highest-priced colt being a $500,000 youngster out of Storm Cat’s daughter Egyptian Queen.

This colt, Global View, is now promising to become another fine American advertisement for Galileo. Predictably he found five and a half furlongs too sharp on his debut but an extra furlong saw him reach the winner’s enclosure at Santa Anita in October. Stepped up to a mile for the Grade 3 Generous Stakes at Hollywood Park on the last day of November, he won by more than a length, with his rider Joe Talamo describing him as “very classy and pretty push-button”.

It could be a while before Global View becomes yet another top-level winner for his sire, though, as America stages only a few Grade 1 turf races for three-year-olds – and none before the Secretariat Stakes in August.

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