With the Cape Summer Season of 2017- 2018 all but a thing of the past, it is an appropriate time to look back at some of the stars of the hugely exciting summer season.
One name which regularly cropped up in race results, as a sire, sire of sires, and broodmare sire was former triple South African champion sire Western Winter.
The son of Gone West may well have been unlucky not to record a second Met win – Western Winter’s son Yard-Arm won the Met back in 2004 – when his son Last Winter, also an unlucky loser of the Gr2 Premier Trophy, filled the runner up berth in the Gr1 Sun Met of 2018. The classically bred Last Winter, destined for an overseas campaign, is from his sire’s penultimate crop. This crop also includes top sprinter Bishop’s Bounty.
The latter, whose full brother Brutal Force ran fourth in the Gr1 Betting World Cape Flying Championship earlier this year, added further glory to Western Winter’s Cape season when victorious in the Gr2 Khaya Stables Diadem Stakes.
Bishop’s Bounty may now be aimed at the Gr1 Tsogo Sun Sprint later in the year. Bishop’s Bounty’s Gr1 winning full brother Red Ray, now at stud, was second in the Tsogo Sun Sprint back in 2014.
Western Winter’s very last crop could well yet be represented by another big race winner, with the smart filly Fresnaye among its members. One of an exceptional bunch of 3yo fillies, Fresnaye, who is from the same family as another champion South African sire in Fort Wood, was third in both the Gr1 WSB Cape Fillies Guineas and Gr1 Cartier Paddock Stakes this season, both times behind subsequent Met winner Oh Susanna (Street Cry) and she could well pick up a decent race before she retires to the paddocks.
Western Winter, who died in 2013 after complications following colic surgery, also enjoyed major success as a sire of sires and broodmare sire this Summer Season.
His triple Equus Champion son What A Winter made a considerable impression, with the former Leading First Crop sire making a splash with both his three-year-olds and juveniles. What A Winter’s first crop, now three, include Dutch Philip and Magical Wonderland, who ran 1-3 in the CTS 1200, with Magical Wonderland having previously shown considerable class when sauntering home, against top class older rivals, in the Gr2 Cartier Sceptre Stakes. Her paternal half-brother Dutch Philip took his earnings to over R3.3 million when he won the CTS 1200 – in a field which included five graded stakes winners.
What A Winter, who is currently South Africa’s Leading Sire of 2yos, is also sire of Agent Of Fortune, with that 2yo capturing the Kuda Sprint on debut.
Western Winter’s influence as a broodmare sire was also well felt as his daughter Wintersweet made her mark, with her offspring lifting four features over the past few months. Wintersweet is dam of both Gr1 Forus Cape Guineas/Gr3 Cape Classic hero Tap O’ Noth (Captain Al) and Gr3 Cape Summer Stayers/Listed Woolavington Handicap victor Strathdon (Silvano).
Western Winter could well be represented by another major feature race winner as a broodmare sire, as he is damsire of leading Gr1HK Classic Cup contender Singapore Sling (Philanthropist). The Classic Cup is due to be run at Sha Tin, over 1800m, on Sunday 18 February.
The triple champion sire’s final stats make Western Winter one of the better stallions to have stood in South Africa in recent years. Of his approximately 825 registered foals, 749 reached the racecourse and 614 have won at least once. Different sources state he had 86 or 87 stakes winners, which represent more than 10% of his foals. Modern day statistics suggest any sire capable of throwing more than 5 or 6% stakes winners to foals is above average – which again underlines Western Winter’s considerable class as a stallion. His champions included a pair of sons named Horse Of The Year in Yard-Arm and Winter Solstice, as well as official Equus Champions Argonaut, Bad Girl Runs, Ice Cube and the above mentioned What A Winter.
He was also an extremely versatile sire, with Western Winter responsible for Gr1 winners over 1000m (What A Winter) to 3200m (Reveille Boy).
Naysayers may have knocked Western Winter’s female line when he first retired to stud, but it should be remembered that he traced back to influential Canadian broodmare Nandi – dam of, among others, the first stakes winner (Windfields) ever bred by the legendary E P Taylor.
Interestingly, Western Winter’s Gr3 King’s Cup winning son Bulleting Home is closely inbred to his sire’s female line, with Bulleting Home being produced by a half-sister to Western Winter. Bulleting Home is thus inbred to Chilly Hostess – dam of Western Winter.
Western Winter’s dam was a daughter of perhaps one of history’s more underappreciated stallions in Vice Regent. The latter, best known as sire of multiple champion US sire Deputy Minister, was champion sire in Canada 13 times and produced 60 stakes winners, amongst them a plethora of champions. Vice Regent is also damsire of US champions Boston Harbor (Capote) and Victory Gallop (Cryptoclearance), and Dubai World Cup hero Captain Steve (Fly So Free).