The unpredictable nature of breeding is illustrated by Potala Palace, a Gr1 winner who, as a stallion, was in danger of fading into obscurity, but has had his fortunes rekindled by unbeaten son Katak.
The colt recently recorded his fifth win on the bounce while becoming just the third winner of what used to be the Winter Series.
Potala Palace first hit the limelight when knocked down to trainer Mike Azzie for R3,6-million at the 2010 National Yearling Sale, a price only surpassed by the then record R4-million given for Divine Jet.
Conceived in the UK, he is by champion racehorse Singspiel, a half-brother to Rahy and Rakeen.
After proving himself a racehorse of the very highest order – he won the Dubai World Cup, Coronation Cup and Juddmonte International – this grandson of Sadler’s Wells subsequently became an eminent stallion, siring high-class horses of the ilk of Confidential Lady (French Oaks) and Yorkshire Oaks winner Dar Re Mi (who became the dam of champion English juvenile Too Darn Hot).
Considering that Singspiel’s progeny generally showed a tendency to thrive over ground and took some time to come to hand, Potala Palace proved an exception, excelling as a juvenile, rare for a horse inbred 4 x 3 to English Derby winner Shirley Heights.
As a juvenile, Potala Palace stamped himself a potential superstar with a sublime front-running performance in the Gr1 Premier’s Champion Stakes at Hollywoodbets Greyville, scoring by a length, with favoured Gimmethegreenlight back in third. Remarkably, this was just his third start and came on the back of a six-length maiden romp at Turffontein. A subsequent winner of the Gr3 Joburg Spring Challenge, he returned to birthplace Highlands to embark on the next chapter of his career.
A half-brother to Italian Stakes-performer Allegoria, Potala Palace is out of the Gr3-placed Irish import Alignment. Purchased at the Tattersalls December sale, she visited Singspiel after foaling down and was sent to South Africa.
The foal, a filly by French Gr1 winner Whipper, was named Right And Ready and is now the dam of Dynasty’s talented daughter Fortune Flies, who was recently beaten a long head in the Gr3 Final Fling Stakes. Dynasty is also sire of Alignment’s second Gr1 winner Front And Centre.
She capped an unbeaten four-win streak when defeating subsequent Gr1 winners Silvano’s Pride and Clouds Unfold in the Gr1 Cape Fillies Guineas. This is the high-class family of English Derby hero North Light and the Gr1 winners Golan and Gamut.
Despite his good looks and fine pedigree, Potala Palace failed to grab the imagination of Western Cape breeders and to say that he received scant support, would be an understatement. NHRA statistics show that his first crop of 35 foals was his biggest, while his most recent crop of runners, newly-turned three-year-olds, number only 21.
Nevertheless, his first crop yielded Palace Chapel, a close-up third behind champions Kasimir and Celtic Sea in the Gr1 Mercury Sprint at three, Russian Prince, who ran Gr1 winner Van Halen to a neck in the Gr3 Man O’War Sprint, while Senatla chased home Twist Of Fate in the Gr3 Politician Stakes.
Potala Palace struck with his second crop, his then juvenile daughters Palace Of Dreams and Singforafa, respective winners of the Gr3 Pretty Polly Stakes and Gr3 Strelitzia Stakes.
The latter also finished third in a tight, three-way finish to the Gr1 Allan Robertson Championship, while Snow Palace earned Gr1 black type with a third in the Thekwini Stakes won by champion Gabor.
The season just ended saw Singforafa claim the Listed Bauhinia Handicap and miss out on a third stakes success when demoted to second in the Listed Gardenia Stakes.
In one of the best comeback stories of the year, it has been Katak who has firmly put the spotlight on his young sire. Successful from 1200 to 2400m, the sky looks the limit for this triple Gr3 winner, who, just like his sire, was bred at Highlands. Out of the Windrush mare Sapphire Silk, he is the sole black type winner in the first two generations. Singforafa too, has clearly risen above her humble pedigree, considering one has to go back four generations to find black type.
It would therefore be safe to state that Potala Palace has the ability to upgrade his mares. Breeders take note.
- Potala Palace stands for a fee of R5000
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