Title race hots up as New Approach gains Royal Ascot stakes hat-trick
Galileo’s reputation as a sire is hardly in need of a boost but it nevertheless continues to soar, with his credentials as a sire of sires strengthening as the season progresses.
His sons New Approach and Sixties Icon currently fill the top two places in the first-season sires’ table and what is particularly encouraging about this fact is that they are, among other achievements, a Derby winner and a St Leger winner. Each horse won eight races, with New Approach having been retired after his stellar Classic season and Sixties Icon, who was unraced at two, continuing to prove himself over three seasons and winning three consecutive Group races as a five-year-old.
New Approach’s success at stud to date is no surprise. He was a top-class undefeated two-year-old himself and was sent no fewer than 76 Group winners or Group producers among his first book of 136 mares covered at Dalham Hall Stud in 2009. Even with such a head start, being represented by three Royal Ascot stakes winners from his first crop – a feat which has not been achieved by another stallion since the start of the Pattern – is truly remarkable.
Sixties Icon was set a stiffer task, with only 52 mares in his first book, but he has risen to the challenge and is the current leader numerically with a whopping 60% strike rate. His six individual winners include Woodcote Stakes winner Chilworth Icon, who was among four first-crop runners by the sire to line up for the Chesham Stakes. Sixties Icon’s fledgling career is discussed in our feature on Norman Court Stud.
New Approach’s family was further enhanced when his close relation Was won the Oaks. Like the 2008 Derby winner, she was bred by Seamus Burns’s Lodge Park Stud. Burns was at Epsom to witness her victory and showed a decent turn of foot himself when sprinting from the stands as she crossed the line. To have produced winners of both Epsom Classics is enough to put the spring into the step of any breeder but it wasn’t long before another Lodge Park Stud graduate was gracing the winner’s enclosure as Burns is also the breeder of Tha’Ir, who brought up New Approach’s Royal Ascot hat-trick in the Chesham, leading home the offspring of two other freshman sires, the places being filled by Cruck Realta (Sixties Icon) and the filly Lovely Pass, a green but highly talented first winner for Raven’s Pass.
Flying the flag
With the Diamond Jubilee celebrations starting officially at Epsom on Derby Day and the fervent flag-waving having continued right through one of the most superb Royal Ascot meetings in living memory, there were plenty of reasons to feel proud that Her Majesty the Queen has such an enduring love of the turf, with that association acting as a spotlight trained on the biggest days of our sport.
A royal victory was duly delivered by Estimate, bred not by the Queen but by another of racing’s longest-serving and most successful owner/breeders, the Aga Khan. The Queen, as patron of the TBA, could take pleasure in a long list of British-bred winners at her home meeting, including Frankel, Joviality, Hototo, Reckless Abandon, Fast Or Free, Fennell Bay, Fallen For You, Gatewood, Ceiling Kitty, Sea Moon and Camborne.
The most touching image of the meeting, however, was the sight of the Queen standing at the entrance to the winner’s circle after the Diamond Jubilee Stakes as Black Caviar was warmed down following her 22nd consecutive victory. Sensing her presence, Peter Moody caught hold of the mare’s rein and guided her to be presented to the Queen. Whether this gesture was in breach of royal protocol or not was immaterial to the monarch, who looked just as delighted as every other fan of Black Caviar on the racecourse as she was allowed to stroke the winner’s nose.
Best of British
Immediately after we went to press on this issue, the TBA celebrated its biggest night of the year with the Shadwell-sponsored awards dinner at Tattersalls in recognition of achievements on the track in 2011 (Flat) and 2011/12 (National Hunt).
Unsurprisingly, Frankel’s breeder Juddmonte Farms led the way, being named breeder of the year and also picking up a prize for stallion Oasis Dream, who was the leading British-based sire by earnings.
Another remarkable homebred, Pivotal, gave Cheveley Park Stud its eighth Barleythorpe Stud Silver Cup for the sire with the highest number of individual winners, while the farm’s youngster Dutch Art was officially recognised as Britain’s leading first-season sire for 2011.
At Ascot Sheikh Mohammed celebrated not only tremendous success for his stallion New Approach but also his seventh victory in the Gold Cup courtesy of Colour Vision. The sheikh’s reluctance to sell his dual Ascot Gold Cup hero Kayf Tara despite offers from the jumping ranks has resulted in the Overbury Stud resident becoming the leading British National Hunt sire of 2011/12, winning two categories at the TBA awards.
Success for domestic breeders has been plentiful this season, and with the 2,000 Guineas and Derby winner Camelot carrying a GB suffix and Frankel’s domination showing no signs of abating, there will be plenty to celebrate at next year’s awards, especially as two exciting young first-crop British-based stallions have already given us a taste of bigger and better things to come.