Classic sirelines

It is no secret that the modern thoroughbred is dominated by Nearco and Native Dancer sire lines. But what has happened to the powerful Hyperion sire line? Where is the Fairway male line which proved such a potent influence in Europe earlier in the 20th century? Another male line hanging on by a thread in the modern day thoroughbred is that of Tourbillon, one of France’s most influential stallions. Another great sire, whose male line influence is shaky today, is Ribot.

Hyperion was one of the all time sire greats. While he failed to sire a son as great as he was, Hyperion did sire such leading sires as Alibhai, Heliopolis, Aristophanes (sire of Forli), Stardust (sire of Star Kingdom) and Aureole . A grandson of Hyperion, Vienna sired the champion racehorse and sire, Vaguely Noble.

He also left his mark in South Africa, through his champion sire sons High Veldt and Deimos, whilst the great sire New South Wales was a great grandson of the diminutive Hyperion.

Yet today the male line descendants of this remarkable stallion have all but vanished. Vaguely Noble failed completely as a sire of sires. His one truly top class son was Noble Bijou (champion in New Zealand on four occasions). However, Noble Bijou himself failed to leave behind a sire son of equal merit.

In Britain, the useful sire Bahamian Bounty is one of the few remaining male line descendants of the once dominant Hyperion still competing at a remotely commercial level. Bahamian Bounty, a dual G1 winner at two, was represented by two group winners in 2012 (Cay Verde, Sendmylovetorose), while his G1 winning son, Pastoral Pursuits, is the sire of the 2012 smart, pattern performers Pastoral Player and Sagramor.

His sire, Cadeaux Genereux (now deceased) is the highest Hyperion line horse on the British sire list – and is 46th on the top 50 sires (by prize money). A top-class sprinter, Cadeaux Genereux was a good sire, but, like so many of Hyperion’s male line descendants, failed to leave a really outstanding sire son behind. He has, however, done well as a broodmare sire – with his daughters to date having bred over 30 stakes winners, including the multiple G1 winners and sires, Dream Ahead and Notnowcato.

Recently Deputed Testamony, one of the last links to the great horse, died at the age of 32! Winner of the Preakness Stakes in 1983, Deputed Testamony, a great grandson of Alibhai, sired over 20 stakes winners, but was another who failed to leave a male heir.

Show A Heart and Sequalo are the only Hyperion line sires to feature in the top 50 on the Australian general sires list – and they are currently 44th and  46th respectively. This is a slight representation of their respective merits – Sequalo is one of Australia’s more consistent winning producing stallions without quite reaching the upper echelons, while Show A Heart, a descendant of the once dominant Star Kingdom is a proven G1 sire, who has produced the winners of over $26 million in stakes.

Efisio was one of the last descendants of the great Hyperion to prove successful in Britain, but unfortunately failed to leave a top sire son behind him. His ill-fated G1 winner, Le Vei Dei Colori, did reasonably well in a short stud career, but died young, while another son of Efisio, Pips Pride, sired the top-class sprinter, Pipalong. Efisio is also the broodmare sire of the top-class, unbeaten G1 winning juvenile, Reckless Abandon.

The Fairway male line is another case in point. It was once one of the strongest in the world, with descendants of Fairway dominating world racing (especially in the Southern Hemisphere) during the 19402-1970s, through the likes of champion sires Full Sail, Wilkes, Fair Copy, Sayani, Court Martial and Petition, to name but a few. In South Africa, Fairway’s descendants included champion sire, and broodmare sire, Drum Beat as well as multiple champion sire, Fairthorn – sire of arguably South Africa’s greatest racehorse, Sea Cottage.

Today, however, it is a different story. The last descendant of Fairway to win a major sires premiership was Three Legs (Petingo), champion sire in New Zealand in 1989/1990, and it is nowadays hard to name a major stallion descending from Fairway who is a leading force on the world stage.

Tourbillon was one of France’s greatest sires, and he foundered a world wide dynasty. Tourbillon himself headed the general sires list three times, and was responsible for such champions as Djebel and Ambiorix – both of whom become leading sires. Ambiorix was champion sire in the US in 1951, and sired champion High Voltage (herself second dam of important sire Majestic Light).

Djebel was an even better sire. Champion sire in France, Djebel’s offspring included the likes of Hugh Lupus and My Babu – two classic winners who became successful sires.  Another son of Djebel, champion 2yo Clairon – sired Klairon, a top miler and high class sire (grandsire of Ahonoora). His descendants included leading Australian sire, Twig Moss, as well as such notables as Sagace, Saint Cyrien and No Lute.

Today, the Tourbillon male line is mainly still active through the feats of Ahonoora and his sons, in particular Indian Ridge. The latter is responsible for useful British speed sire Compton Place, and Definite Article and Nicobar  – sire of top performers Vinnie Roe and Dunaden respectively.

Ahonoora is also the sire of the top-class British sire Inchinor – who also failed to leave a serious sire son behind, after outperforming expectations himself.

Ribot was a great racehorse, and sire, and also did well as a sire of sires. However his sons have proved less successful at producing top-class sires. While Hoist The Flag sired the great sire Alleged, and His Majesty the wonderful stallion Pleasant Colony, neither Alleged or Pleasant Colony proved an outstanding sire of sires.

Today Ribot’s most high profile descendant at stud, is Breeders Cup Classic/ Dubai World Cup winner, Pleasantly Perfect. While he has not reached the heights hoped for when retiring to stud, Pleasantly Perfectly has enjoyed some success – notably with his Breeders Cup winning daughter, Shared Account. However, he needs to produce an outstanding son to ensure the Ribot male line does not get lost altogether.

The above examples underline how quickly breeding trends can change. It will be interesting to see if today’s dominant sire lines remain so potent 50 years from now.

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