The recent passing of Mauritzfontein’s outstanding sire Fort Wood marked the end of an era.
Fort Wood, whose first foals were born in 1995, was 25 at the time of his death, and he built a reputation as an outstanding classic sire, top class sire of sires and champion broodmare sire.
By far the most successful son of 14 time GB/Ire Champion sire Sadler’s Wells ever to stand at stud in South Africa, Fort Wood was one of four G1 winners produced by the outstanding Pretense mare Fall Aspen. Winner of the Gr1 Matron Stakes, Fall Aspen was an outstanding broodmare, whose nine individual stakes winners included four Grade 1 winners.
Interestingly, Fort Wood’s half brother Martinelli and close relative Kabool later joined him at stud in South Africa – but both failed to make much of an impact in this country.
At the time of writing, Fort Wood’s tally of stakes winners lies at 76 (in other words 9% of his foals were black type winners). He also sired outstanding racehorses, with his son Horse Chestnut widely regarded as the greatest thoroughbred ever bred in South Africa. In fact, no fewer than three sons of Fort Wood were named Horse Of The Year – Horse Chestnut, Dynasty, and Celtic Grove.
Horse Chestnut, who was his sire’s first runner and first winner, was one of three Grade 1 winners produced in Fort Wood’s remarkable first crop – with the others being champion filly Dog Wood and Fort Defiance. A top class sire of both sexes, Fort Wood’s 15 individual Gr1 winners include six females. While males dominated his very elite runners, Fort Wood’s top class fillies included the Gr2 (but classic winning) fillies Bedloe’s Island, Carolina Cherry, Dog Rose, Ilha Bela, Monyela and Rememberance.
In fact, Fort Wood really left his mark on the SA Oaks with three daughters victorious in that Turffontein classic. He is also the broodmare sire of Equus Champion Cherry On The Top who was victorious in the Oaks in 2013.
While Fort Wood’s first crop was his best in terms of individual Gr1 winners, his second crop was truly exceptional in its own right. That crop included eight individual stakes winners (from 37 registered foals) – meaning that a stunning 21% of that crop were black type winners. His 1996 foal crop included some of his best fillies, including Equus Champion Kimberly Mine, Fillies Guineas winner Dog Rose and Gr2 (now Gr1) SA Fillies Classic winner Cover Look. The latter went onto produce Gr3 Sagaro Stakes hero Shipmaster to the cover of Epsom Derby winner Slip Anchor while at stud in Britain.
Fort Wood did well with Al Mufti mares, with the cross producing such stakes winners as Banker’s Gold, Heir Apparent, National Banker, and Quickwood (the reverse of Al Mufti on Fort Wood mares produced the likes of Royal Approval and Royal Fantasy). He also enjoyed plenty of success with Northern Guest mares – the cross producing the likes of multiple Gr1 winner Forest Path, and stakes winners Blue Heather, Reef Road and the ill-fated Hundred Acre Wood.
Not only an exceptional sire in his own right, Fort Wood has also made his mark as a sire of sires. His sons include South Africa’s current leading sire Dynasty, Drakenstein Stud’s successful sire Horse Chestnut, the promising Elusive Fort and ill-fated Fort Beluga. The latter was named KZN’s Stallion Prospect of last season despite leaving behind just one full foal crop. Between them, Dynasty and Horse Chestnut account for four of the ten runners in Saturday’s Gr1 Investec Cape Derby. The Fort Wood influence has certainly been well felt in that Cape classic – having sired a pair of Derby winners in Dog Wood and Dynasty, while Dynasty is the sire of past winners Jackson and Legislate as well as 2015’s warm favourite, Act Of War. Fort Wood is also broodmare sire of Capetown Noir – who was victorious in the 2013 Cape Derby.
Dynasty, sire of the R5.2 million record breaking yearling at the 2015 CTS Cape Premier Yearling Sale, has himself already been represented by two Horse Of The Year sons in Irish Flame and Legislate, while his other top performers include the brilliant Gr1 L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate winner Futura, well patronised young sire and triple Gr1 winner Jackson, popular champion Beach Beauty and this season’s outstanding 3yo colt Act Of War – a top hope for Saturday’s Gr1 Investec Cape Derby.
With a number of well bred youngsters to his credit, and having covered some exceptional broodmares in his last few seasons, Dynasty’s already impressive record should improve even further in the coming seasons and he also looks on track to record his first official sires title this season. The former champion is very strongly represented in Saturday’s J&B Met – with fancied runners Legislate, Futura and Dynamic all representing him.
Both Fort Wood and his son Horse Chestnut have left their mark on the international scene as broodmare sires.
Fort Wood’s ill fated daughter Secret Heart is the dam of a pair of US Graded winners, and was the first South African bred mare to throw a Breeders Cup winner. That winner, Pluck (victorious in the 2010 G2 Breeders Cup Juvenile Turf) has gone onto become a popular young stallion in Australia, where he covered 150 mares in his first season at stud. His first yearlings sell in 2015.
Horse Chestnut, whose overseas runners included the Gr1 Garden City Breeders Cup Handicap heroine Lucifer’s Stone, is the damsire of two top potentially top class US performers for 2015 – Ocho Ocho Ocho (G3 Delta Downs Jackpot) and Ol’ Fashion Gal (G3 Jimmy Durante Stakes).
A champion sire, leading sire of sires and champion broodmare sire, Fort Wood’s stud record had few, if any flaws, to it – and his influence should be felt in the South African stud book for generations to come.