Here And Elsewhere – 16 Dec

Sarah Whitelaw's take on the thoroughbred world

J J makes history
South Africa’s champion sprinter, J J The Jet Plane, made history when he won Sunday’s Gr1 Hong Kong Sprint. Not only was “J J” the first South African bred horse to win the Sprint – he was the first horse bred outside of Australia to land Hong Kong’s biggest sprint race! All 11 of the previous winners of the Hong Kong Sprint were bred down under – a true reflection of how deeply the Australian breeding and racing industry are committed to producing quick  stock.

In winning the Hong Kong Sprint, J J The Jet Plane defeated no fewer than seven individual Gr1 winners, who captured races at the highest level in Britain, Japan, Singapore and Hong Kong. (Fifth placed Ortensia was a Gr1 winner in Australia – but lost her victory on a disqualification). Runner up in the Sprint, Rocket Man –second in four of the world’s greatest sprint races – has won 12 of his 16 starts, whilst third place finisher Sacred Kingdom (a dual winner of this race) is a 16 time winner of over 3 million pounds in prize money.

Prior to this race, J J was rated 120, by the international classifications, as two pounds inferior to Sacred Kingdom (122), whom he defeated on Sunday. It will be interesting to see how J J’s rating is adjusted after this run.

On that rating, J J The Jet Plane was previously the fourth highest rated sprinter in the world, and Sunday’s win should put him close to being the number one rated speedster in the world. This is a remarkable achievement for a horse who cost just R70 000 at the 2006 Emperors Palace National 2yo Sale. J J has now earned over $1.3 million – or R8.9 million in prize money. He is without question one of the greatest sprinters ever bred in South Africa.

The only sour note regarding J J’s victory was the lack of coverage it received in the mainstream press. When a South African athlete triumphs on the world stage, he or she deserves full press coverage, and it was sad that J J The Jet Plane failed to receive his due in the local media.

First season sensation latest star from tap root mare
Congrats (A P Indy), sire of Saturday’s Gr1 Starlet Stakes winner Turbulent Descent and the leading first crop sire in the US in 2010, is the latest top-class sire descended from the great mare La Troienne. La Troienne is also the ancestress of Bluegrass Cat, second leading first crop sire in the US of 2010. In fact, both Congrats and Bluegrass are inbred to the mighty mare, whose descendants include such star sires as Buckpasser, Caerleon, Woodman, Private Account and The Axe II. She is also the ancestress of successful sire Belong To Me. La Troienne made her presence felt in the 2010 US Triple Crown results, with her descendant Super Saver winning the Kentucky Derby, and Belong To Mare featuring as the broodmare sire of Preakness winner Lookin At Lucky. More than 20 US champions are descendants of La Troienne – as are four Broodmares of the year.

Congrats, who began his stud career at a fee of just $4,500, has made a staggering beginning to his stud career – with his first crop (produced from relatively ordinary mares) producing two individual Gr1 winners (Wickedly Perfect, winner of the Alciabiades being his other Gr1 winner). Congrats is bred on the same A P Indy/Mr Prospector cross responsible for leading sires Pulpit, Mineshaft and Malibu Moon. (This is also the same cross responsible for young SA sire A P Arrow).

He is a full brother to Flatter – sire of the one of the US’s best 3yos in 2010, Apart – winner of the Super Derby. Whilst Congrats was a winner at two, he improved with age, and rather unusually, in this day and age, raced until he was six. He won graded stakes at four and five, form which suggests his progeny should improve with age.

2yo’s interesting pedigree
The 2yo Soweto Slew, who made an eye catching debut at Kenilworth on Saturday, has an interesting pedigree. He is by the Danehill horse Oratorio out of Rose A Slew is by the US millionaire Slew City Slew (Seattle Slew). Oratorio’s fourth dam is Minnetonka – granddam of Rose A Slew.  Rose A Slew and the triple Gp1 winner Oratorio are both descendants of the wonderful Calumet tap root mare Real Delight (Bull Lea) – a champion filly who was inducted into the US Hall of Fame.  Real Delight, who won 12 of 15 starts including the Kentucky Oaks, is the granddam of former SA champion sire Plum Bold.

Oratorio’s granddam, Montage, is intensely inbred to Real Delight, through her daughters Heliolight and Plum Cake. The latter is also the third dam of champion US sire Alydar.

A half-brother to Soweto Slew, by the successful US sire Lion Heart, has been consigned to the Inglis Classic Sale.

Hong Kong winners’ ties to Guineas winner
Mastery, a fluent winner of Sunday’s Gp1 Hong Kong Vase, is closely related to the recently retired dual Guineas winner Noordhoek Flyer.

Mastery (Sulamani) shares a third dam, Celtic Assembly, with Noordhoek Flyer (Pivotal). The latter was retired after a career in which he won both the Gr1 Bloodstock SA Cape Guineas and Gr2 KRA Guineas. Stud plans are yet to be finalized for the Pivotal colt.

Mastery, who won the 2009 Gp2 Derby Italiano and Gp1 St Leger, has now won over $2.5 million in prize money, and is by far and away, the best horse sired by French Derby winner Sulamani . Mastery is also a half-brother to Gp1 winning juvenile Kirklees (Jade Robbery).

Celtic Assembly also features in the pedigree of Hong Kong Mile winner Beauty Flash. The son of Golan (by SA sire Spectrum) is out of a mare by Celtic Assembly’s champion sire son, Volksraad (Green Desert). The latter has topped the New Zealand’s sires list on six occasions. Beauty Flash is the second Gr1 winner sired by 2000 Guineas winner Golan- the other being former Victoria Derby winner Kibbutz.

The global nature of horse racing was underlined by the fact that the four winners of Sunday’s big races were all bred in different countries, and whilst many of the world’s top horses were not at the Hong Kong meeting, it cannot be denied that the International meeting provides a great spectacle of top-class racing with great finishes.

SAF mare’s first foal sells at Keeneland
The South African bred and raced mare Woodland City (Al Mufti) has her first foal on offer at Keeneland’s January Horses of All Ages sale. Lot 1699 is a bay daughter of successful sire Grand Slam and Woodland City. The latter was a smart racefilly, who won five of her seven starts in South Africa including the Swallow Stakes. Woodland City was later stakes placed in the US, before being retired to stud. Grand Slam (Gone West), a former Breeders Cup Sprint runner up, is proven sire of 56 stakes winners. His best runners include the Breeders Cup Sprint winner Cajun Beat and other Graded winners Visionaire, Limehouse, Strong Hope and Ball Four.

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