Last week saw the death of not only the great North American champion Cigar, but also one of the last major sons of the outstanding stallion Nureyev. One of the sire’s more underrated sons, Soviet Star, passed away at the age of 30, following a superb racing career and a successful life at stud.
The only colt ever to beat Nureyev’s greatest daughter, Miesque, Soviet Star won five Group 1 races including the French 2000 Guineas. He won the French classic in the same year (1987), Miesque landing the fillies’ equivalent, giving their sire an all but unheard of French Guineas double. (Nureyev’s 1984 foal crop must be one of the finest of all time – from just 39 foals, this crop included 9 stakes winners,four of which are Group/Grade 1 winners).
Soviet Star was one of Nureyev’s better sire sons at stud, and his 36 stakes winners included the Gr1 winners Ashkalani (French 2000 Guineas), Eva’s Request, Limpid (Grand Prix de Paris), Pressing, Starborough (St James Palace Stakes) and Starcraft (QE II Stakes).
Starcraft, while overall a disappointing sire to date, has sired the Gr1 winners We Can Say It Now and Star Witness (Blue Diamond Stakes), while Ashkalani is the sire of the Gr1 winner Ashkal Way and broodmare sire of top flight winners French Fifteen and Gabby’s Golden Gal.
Starborough was not a good sire, but he did produce an iconic son in the “Budapest Bullet” Overdose – who reeled off wins in his first 15 outings (one race being subsequently declared a non race) and won 16 of 19 outings in total. Now at stud in Hungary, Overdose (nicknamed the Hungarian Seabiscuit and much like the late, great Cigar) became a firm fan favourite, and a national hero in Hungary.
Soviet Star’s sire, Nureyev, must be regarded as one of the truly great stallions of all time, and, one can only wonder what his influence may have been like had he been more fertile. The son of Northern Dancer, who was never physically beaten in a race, not only sported impressive statistics, but was a fantastically versatile stallion, who sired champion colts and fillies alike. From 786 foals, Nureyev left behind a stunning 136 stakes winners, (17% of his foals were black type winners). In contrast, arguably the hottest sires in the world at the moment, Galileo (Sadler’s Wells) and Dubawi (Dubai Millennium), are siring 11% and 10% stakes winners to foals respectively.
While many derided Nureyev for having a spotty record as a sire of sires, this may not be a true reflection. Successful stallions sired by Nureyev include Theatrical, whose 80 plus stakes winners included no fewer than 18 Grade 1 winners, including European classic winners Madeline’s Dream (French 1000 Guineas) and Zagreb (Irish Derby), as well as Melbourne Cup hero Media Puzzle. Theatrical, admittedly a poor sire of sires, is also an exceptional broodmare sire, whose daughters have produced Arc de Triomphe winner Rail Link (Dansili) and US champion, and now successful stallion, English Channel (Smart Strike).
Another successful sire son of Nureyev was Polar Falcon, who sadly died prematurely at the age of 14. Despite enjoying a brief stud career, Polar Falcon left behind five Group 1 winners, including top filly Exclusive (second dam of recent Gr1 Sun Chariot Stakes winner, Integral).
Polar Falcon’s outstanding sire son, Pivotal, appears the most likely representative to continue the Nureyev male line. A consistent success at the highest level, Pivotal already has one more than useful sire son to his credit in Kyllachy and is also sire of exciting French sire, Siyouni. The latter currently leads the French first crop sires log, and has already produced a Group 1 performer in his first crop – in the form of Ervedya.
Pivotal is also an exceptional broodmare sire, with his daughters having produced outstanding US turf performer, Main Sequence, Gr1 Nassau Stakes heroine, Winsili and Gr1 July Cup winner, Mayson.
Champion Sprinter Stravinsky has enjoyed a successful, if somewhat varied stud career. The former July Cup winner has stood in all of North America, New Zealand and Japan, and has been represented by 73 stakes winners, of which nine are Gr1 winners. Stravinsky is also a successful broodmare sire, and is broodmare sire of one of Europe’s most exciting young stallions – Rip Van Winkle (Galileo).
Arguably, Nureyev’s greatest son, Peintre Celebre was another to enjoy a successful stud career, with his over 60 stakes winners including the top flight winners Castledale, Pride, Dai Jin, Vallee Enchantee, Pearl Of Love and Belle Et Celebre. He is also an exceptional broodmare sire, his daughters having bred Gr1 winners, Nechita, Red Cadeaux, and Talent.
The notorious Spinning World, while an inconsistent sire, did leave behind a potential outstanding son sire in New Zealand champion Thorn Park, although sadly he died young at just 13.
The Nureyev influence has also carried to South Africa, through successful sire Caesour, and Nureyev is also broodmare sire of leading young stallion, Judpot. Nureyev’s grandson, Kingmambo, has been represented by Grade 1 sire Parade Leader locally, as well as the very promising stallions Ideal World and Mambo In Seattle, to name a few. One of South Africa’s top sires, Var, is out of a mare by Nureyev’s star miler Zilzal, while successful sire and broodmare sire, Sportsworld, is another out of a Nureyev mare. Nureyev is also broodmare sire of KZN’s exciting young sire Just As Well, and sire of St Petersburg, also a resident of KZN.
The beautifully bred and well performed Byword is another local representative of this male line and he represents a good prospect for the continuing influence of the Nureyev line in South Africa.
An exceptional broodmare sire, Nureyev is the damsire of top sires Kingmambo and Zabeel, both of whom have sired successful sire sons.
While Nureyev’s male line may be faltering, there is no danger of the great stallion disappearing from pedigrees anytime soon – in fact, there are an increasing number of top horses inbred to Nureyev. This number includes KZN Fillies Guineas winner Amanee, Australian classic winners Gondokoro and Zabeelionaire, Coronation Stakes heroine Maids Causeway, and champion sprinter Lankan Rupee.