South Africa is home to some exceptionally exciting young stallions. From the likes of local stars Jackson (Dynasty), Soft Falling Rain (National Assembly), Variety Club (Var) and Vercingetorix (Silvano) to proven international success stories in Flower Alley (Distorted Humor) and Philanthropist (Kris S), it seems safe to say that potential champion sires are lurking in the wings.
However, the ranks of exciting young stallions are by no means restricted to the Western Cape. Kwa-Zulu Natal, whose sire ranks have looked a bit thin in recent times, has a number of well-bred and performed young stallions who promise to make the grade. Below are just a few of the potential top liners of the future.
Like seven times champion sire Jet Master, Capetown Noir won both the Gr1 Cape Guineas and Gr1 Queen’s Plate. One of the finest milers of his era, the magnificent looking Capetown Noir was a R1 000 000 yearling, who more than lived up to his price tag. A dual classic winner (like Dynasty, Capetown Noir also won the Gr1 Investec Cape Derby), Capetown Noir is a son of triple champion sire Western Winter and former Broodmare Of The Year, Akinfeet. The latter is herself a blue blooded daughter of champion sire and broodmare sire Fort Wood and Cape Fillies Guineas winner Dance Every Dance (by Northern Guest). Not only is Capetown Noir a grandson of the great sire and sire of sires Gone West, but he hails from the same family as one of history’s greatest producers – Canterbury Pilgrim.
Another grandson of Gone West (like sensational young sires Quality Road and Visionaire), Crusade was an impressive winner of the 2011 Gr1 Middle Park Stakes, a race won previously by such influential sires as Diesis, Oasis Dream, Petingo, and Sharpen Up. Bred on the same Gone West/Storm Cat cross as world leading sire, and highly promising sire of sires, Speightstown, Crusade is certainly making his presence felt if his first foals are anything to go by – and the Crusade foals easy to pick out of most herds.
The only son of champion sire Fastnet Rock (one of Danehill’s very best sire sons) in South Africa, Curved Ball has a lot going for him as a sire prospect. A top class racehorse who won the Gr2 Dingaans, Curved Ball shares his sire with promising young stallion Hinchinbrook (who, at the time of writing, ranks third on the Australian First Crop Sires Log by stakes). Bred on the potent Fastnet Rock/Zabeel nick (which also produced the Gr1 winners Atlantic Jewel and Planet Rock), Curved Ball hails from a strong family which includes Golden Slipper winner and champion sire Marscay, as well as the charismatic former Melbourne Cup winner, Subzero.
Few sires have ever come to South Africa with stronger pedigree credentials than has Eightfold Path. His sire, Giant’s Causeway, was Horse of The Year and has been Champion Sire in North America on three occasions. Giant’s Causeway is already making his mark as a sire of sires, through his successful stallion sons First Samurai, Footstepsinthesand and Shamardal (himself sire of leading young stallion Lope De Vega). The Gr3 winning Eightfold Path (who is said to be leaving impressive sized first foals), is also out of an exceptional racemare in the once defeated Divine Proportions (Kingmambo). A winner of nine of her ten outings, including both the French 1000 Guineas and Oaks, Divine Proportions herself hails from the same family as Epsom Derby winner and leading sire Shirley Heights (Mill Reef) as well as the top class King George winner and successful New Zealand based stallion Pentire (Be My Guest). Giant’s Causeway has certainly enjoyed fine success with Kingmambo mares –the cross having previously produced Gr1 winners Maids Causeway and Red Giant, as well as the $600 000 plus earner Winning Cause.
Sons of Dynasty are understandably proving all the rage in the sales ring this year, and the athletic looking Irish Flame looks more than capable of adding further to his illustrious sire’s already formidable record. A Horse Of The Year (by a Horse Of The Year), Irish Flame was a tremendous racehorse, whose victories included both the Gr1 SA Derby and Gr1 Daily News 2000 (where he accounted for subsequent champion and promising young sire Bold Silvano). Out of a stakes winning mare, Irish Flame hails from the outstanding Corn family, whose descendants have done so well in South Africa.
A top class two-year-old, who was unlucky not to win the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf, Noble Tune has let down into a magnificent specimen, who really fills the eye. One of more than 100 stakes winners for former Breeders Cup Juvenile winner Unbridled’s Song (from the same Unbridled male line as this year’s US sensation American Pharoah), Noble Tune is a half brother to the brilliant North American performer Honor Code (a former Kentucky Derby favourite) – winner of the Gr2 Remsen Stakes at two, and also an unlucky second in the Gr1 Champagne Stakes of the same year. Out of a stakes winning daughter of the breed shaping champion Storm Cat (and thus bred on the same Unbridled/Storm Cat cross as American Pharoah himself), Noble Tune’s first two dams are stakes winners, while his third dam is US champion Serena’s Song – who won no fewer than 13 individual Gr1 races. He is by the same sire as such Gr1 sires as Dunkirk, First Defence, Old Fashioned and Rockport Harbor, and Unbridled’s Song is also the sire of Silver City (whose magnificent daughter Promise Me Silver has won her first eight starts).
At the time of writing, the handsome Visionaire topped South Africa’s First Crop Sires Log. A strapping son of Gone West son Grand Slam, Visionaire has been represented by a number of smart looking first crop winners including Gr3 Strelitzia Stakes heroine Royal Pleasure. A top class racehorse who won the Gr1 King’s Bishop Stakes, Visionaire appears to have all the tools to prove successful, both on the track and in the sales ring, in the years ahead.
The above stallions are just a small sample of a very promising group of Natal based stallions- and it is hard to believe that at least one won’t make it big at stud.
Two former KZN sires whose first foals have caught the eye are the sadly deceased Await The Dawn (another by Giant’s Causeway) and former Gr1 Prince Of Wales Stakes winner Byword. The latter has really stamped his first crop of foals, which surely bodes well for Byword’s future.