There have been many potentially outstanding sires, who have suffered from poor fertility. Certain male lines are known for producing stallions with fertility problems, and South Africa has had its share of such sires.
One such example is Goldkeeper – a stallion who has done exceptionally well, despite sub-fertility issues. He has been in the news of late thanks to his top-class, Hong Kong domiciled son Cerise Cherry and the promising Francois Bernardus (winner of the G3 Graham Beck Stakes). Goldkeeper is also the broodmare sire of last season’s Equus Champion 2yo filly, All Is Secret – winner of the G2 Choice Carriers Championship.
Goldkeeper had plenty going for him when he first retired to stud in Zimbabwe. A useful performer who won or was placed in seven of his 13 outings, he is a son of the great stallion Mr Prospector, sire of numerous leading sires including Gulch, Seeking The Gold, Gone West, Machiavellian, Fappiano and Smart Strike.
Goldkeeper’s dam is a three parts sister to champion sire Storm Cat, whose descendants dominated the 2012 Breeders Cup meeting. His granddam, Terlingua, is a mare whose descendants have really done well in South Africa, through the likes of Royal Academy, Var, Mogok, Tiger Ridge, and Goldkeeper himself.
His first crop, born in 1995, included just 29 foals – but 20 of these won, and eight were black type performers. Stars from Goldkeeper’s first crop included the champion Zimbabwean galloper, Gold Flame – who won both the Castle Tankard and OK Grand Challenge. This crop also included the top-class South African based Gold Tax – winner of the G1 Premier’s Champion Stakes at two, and the G1 Sharp Cup at three. Gold Tax was the ARCSA Champion 2yo year old colt of 1997.
While Goldkeeper’s second crop did not include any champions, the 25 foals did include the multiple stakes winner Gold Merchant who defeated a top-class field to win the G2 Post Merchants Stakes back in 2001.
The sire bounced back with a vengeance with his third crop. Again small in numbers, there were just 27 foals from Goldkeeper’s 1997 crop, but they included 16 winners (60%), and nine stakes horses (33%). This crop included champion Hide Out – who emulated Gold Flame by winning both the Castle Tankard and OK Grand Challenge. Kuskha also proved himself a very smart performer in South Africa, winning three feature races including the G2 Protea Stakes.
The small crop of 1998 included just one stakes winner, but things were very different the following year. The 1999 crop included five stakes horses including champion Battle Maiden – who won the G1 Garden Province Stakes, and was named Equus Champion Older Mare.
His 2001 crop also proved particularly successful – producing no fewer than nine stakes horses. This crop included the brilliant filly Disco Queen, who beat colts in the G2 Merchants, and the smart overseas performers Orange Alert and Ned Kelly. The former was a winner in Hong Kong, while Ned Kelly ran fourth in the UAE Derby. This crop also included the G3 winner Marine Sands, who won or placed five feature races.
His most famous son, Tiza, was born in 2002, and was one of two stars that crop (top filly Secret of Victoria being the other). Tiza is a world-class sprinter, who is as tough as he is classy, and won in France this year at the age of 10! In South Africa, Tiza lifted both the G2 Nursery and G2 Merchants, before being exported. In France, the gelding has won five stakes races, four at G3 level, and been placed in a further 12 European stakes races.
Subsequent crops have yielded the likes of Golden Ivory (G2 Merchants S), Geepee S (G1 Allan Robertson Championship) and Give Me Five (G1 Allan Robertson Championship).
Goldkeeper, who headed the sires list four times in Zimbabwe, has also had several offspring exported to Hong Kong, where they have raced with conspicuous success.
Racing SA’s Peter Gibson has witnessed how popular the progeny of Goldkeeper have proven in Hong Kong, and had this to say about Goldkeeper and his offspring,” “From only four exports to Hong Kong, Goldkeeper (Mr Prospector), has been nothing short of a revelation with his progeny earning just under HK$20 million in prize money, winning 24 races from 236 starts between them! Clearly suited to the firm ground and mentally tough conditions in Hong Kong, Goldkeeper’s sons were also effective up to a mile, thus suiting the local race programme perfectly. Tiger Prawn (Fox Of Gold) still holds the course record at Happy Valley over the tight 1200m course (1.08.70) and King Of Spades ran the joint fourth fastest 1400m at Sha Tin in a blistering 1.21.60, not a bad feat for a Class 5 horse! The current big hope is Cerise Cherry (Cherry Girls), who runs in this weekend’s Gr.1 Longines Hong Kong Sprint trial, the “Jockey Club Sprint” where he is one of the likely favourites. Recently gelded, Cerise Cherry, appears to be in the form of his life and might just emulate JJ The Jet Plane’s glorious victory in 2010.”
Goldkeeper’s son, Tiger Prawn, is currently at stud in New Zealand. His first of yearlings go through the ring later this year. Tiger Prawn himself won six times in Hong Kong, where he is a course record holder.
The now 22-year-old son of Mr Prospector is still active and in good shape, according to Sandown Stud’s James Armitage, who says of the horse, “He loves his work, but sadly he has a very low sperm count. I try him on a few mares, he still gets the odd one in foal.”
Much like his sire Mr Prospector, Goldkeeper is an easy horse to handle. He describes the bay as having “a wonderful temperament, and a pleasure to work with.”
Goldkeeper is still active in the breeding shed – having also inherited his legendary sire’s libido. Mr Prospector was covering mares up til his death at the age of 29!
His statistics make for impressive reading. Goldkeeper has sired 293 winners from just 371 runners – which means he is siring nearly 80% winners to foals. This is an almost unheard of achievement and one which deserves greater attention.
Goldkeeper’s stakes winners to foals percentage is 9% – which also reads well. This puts him up with the elite sires in the country.
One also has to think, that had his fertility been better, Goldkeeper would have done even more at stud, and been a formidable contender for top honours.