Maine Chance stallion Vercingetorix’ first top-level winner Vernichey is a nominee in the Cape Breeders Champion 2yo filly category, in the awards honours list announced this week.
She was bred in a partnership between John Koster and the Birch family of Vogel Vlei Stud and has been a flagbearer for her sire who steps into the vacuum left by his own sire, Silvano.
Notwithstanding the fact that Silvano was in the twilight of his career at age 24, the champion stallion’s sudden retirement due to infertility came as somewhat of a surprise.
The Maine Chance linchpin’s departure leaves a huge void, which the stud hopes will be filled in time by his champion son Vercingetorix.
A classy individual who impresses in appearance and is blessed with an outstanding depth of girth and forequarter, the 16.1 hh bay joined his sire at the Robertson stud in 2015 following a glittering track career.
An undefeated Gr1 classic winner in South Africa and subsequently a Gr1 winner in Dubai, this imposing individual is out of National Assembly’s Gr3-placed daughter National Vixen, from the speed-infused female line of exceptional sprinters Extra Cover, Phantom Earl and Scarlet Lady, a factor which no doubt contributed to his excellent start as a stallion.
The leading freshman sire by number of wins, percentage of winners to runners and average earnings per runner, his first-crop juvenile winners included no less than three stakes winners in African Warrior, who claimed both the Gr2 Umkhomazi Stakes and Gr3 Godolphin Barb Stakes, the Listed East Cape Nursery winner Viking Moon and Hooves Of Troy, winner of the Listed Dahlia Plate.
Vercingetorix built on that early success when Ikigai won last season’s Gr3 Tony Ruffel before cruising home in the Gr2 Gauteng Guineas and he narrowly missed out on a second Classic winner when Padre Pio went down by the shortest of shortheads in a fierce heads up, heads down finish to the Gr2 Guineas at Hollywoodbets Greyville, prior to his fine second in the Gr1 Daily News 2000.
To date, that initial crop has yielded a fourth stakes winner in Listed Umngeni Handicap winner Celtic Voyager, Gr2 Ipi Tombe third Wisteria Walk, Gr3 Cape Nursery second Fearless Warrior and the stakes-placed quartet of Battle Of Alesia, Vaseem, Nebraas and Glory Days.
The young stallion’s first top level winner emerged from his second crop, courtesy of Vernichey claiming the Gr1 Allan Robertson Championship at the expense of Gr2 Debutante victress Ecstatic Green and the ultra-talented War Of Athena.
Rascallion, who finished an eye-catching third in the Gr3 Cape Nursery on debut prior to the start of the Covid-19 lockdown, has now reeled off two wins from as many starts and looks well above average, whilst another colt One Way Or Another recently made an auspicious start to his career when he hacked up by almost six lengths on debut.
Since the start of the new racing season on August 1, Vercingetorix has already sired 22 individual winners, amongst which an unprecedented four-timer at Kenilworth.
Currently in sixth position on the General Sires log, he leads the way on percentage of winners to runners, his impressive 34.4% being far in excess of any of the other top 20 stallions.
Immensely popular since his retirement, Vercingetorix has enjoyed full support from breeders, to the extent that he has covered full books of mares these past three years, with demand for his services far outstripping the number available.
His early success on the track has also spilled over into the sales ring, with a number of his progeny having reached the seven-figure mark.
For now, Vercingetorix appears to be the sole heir apparent to his illustrious sire, as Bold Silvano’s stud career was brought to an end by fertility problems in 2018, whilst champion Hawwaam has been exported.
With three crops yet to represent their sire on the track, we can but hope that there will be at least another stallion prospect lurking amongst them!