The Northern Guest mare First Arrival has been very special to owners Bruce and Anne Nicholas, providing them with much joy, both on the track and in the paddocks.
A champion in Zimbabwe where she won that country’s Oaks, her accomplishments as a broodmare have far outstripped those on the track.
Just this past weekend, four-year-old daughter Keep On Dancing gilded her dam’s already outstanding record with a first stakes success in the Listed East Coast Handicap at Hollywoodbets Greyville.
The Silvano filly is First Arrival’s sixth stakes winner amongst eight black type performers and ten winners from as many runners.
First Arrival took to stud an exemplary pedigree to back up her racetrack record. A daughter of nine-time leading broodmare sire Northern Guest, her siblings included the Tibouchina winner Clifton Queen, Gr2 Merchants third Opening Night and Gr2 Golden Slipper third Hyperdrive. Their dam First Debutante was sired by another standout in Elliodor and she was a granddaughter of the blue hen Party Time.
A grand racemare, who won all of the Cape Fillies Guineas, Paddock and Majorca Stakes, her accomplishments as a broodmare need no elaboration, suffice to say, her descendants continue to grace the South African turf to this day.
Party Time’s daughter First Party features as the grandam of First Arrival. By Gimcrack winner Double Jump, her racing career was restricted to just one start, however, she made good in the paddocks as the dam of six winners from seven foals, the best of which SA Oaks winner Lambarina.
All in all, First Arrival’s credentials promised a recipe for success and she has not disappointed. Two of her eight black type performers earned champion status.
Muhtafal gelding Let’s Rock ‘N Roll won the Gr1 Golden Horse Sprint and was voted the Equus Champion Sprinter while Jet Master daughter In The Fast Lane became the champion three-year-old filly of her year following victories in the Gr1 Cape Fillies Guineas and Woolavington 2000.
To Western Winter, First Arrival bred the stakes winning brothers Rock The Country and Light The Lights. The latter, a winner of the Gr2 Peninsula Handicap, subsequently scored at Gr3 level in the UAE.
Philanthropist son Pack Leader ran third in the Gr1 Cape Derby and won three Listed races for Glen Kotzen before his move the Highveld stable of Alec Laird. Let’s Rock ‘N Roll’s full brother Beat Patrol was runner-up in the Gr3 Tommy Hotspur Handicap, while Pack Leader’s year-older full sister Party Crasher ran third in the Gr3 Final Fling Stakes. After foaling Keep On Dancing, First Arrival twice visited Silvano’s champion son Vercingetorix and produced her final foals, the three-year-old colt and a juvenile filly.
Mindful of the fact that First Arrival was getting on, the Nicholases retained Keep On Dancing, who was born when her dam was twenty.
First Arrival was a boarder at Cathy and Jonathan Martin’s Hadlow Farm until her death last year. She is buried on the farm with trees strategically planted around her to provide shade for other horses.
Cathy takes up the story of Keep On Dancing and her illustrious dam.
“First Arrival was a big, dark bay mare who produced the most beautiful looking foals, which were easy to sell on looks alone. Compared to her other foals, Keep On Dancing was a late developer and due to her claustrophobic issues as a result from being box-rested following a leg injury, Jane Thomas (who pre-trained her) and I recommended Wendy Whitehead as the best person to train this special needs girl.”
Wendy is to be commended on her sympathetic handling of her newly-minted stakes winner.
“She was quite slight when she arrived in training,” she mused. “Over time, she has strengthened up considerably. For the first year, she would stress when stabled and I trained her from an outside lean-to shelter! Thankfully, she appears to have overcome her claustrophobia since I put her next to a companion. She’s a typical Silvano in that she is is improving all the time and is sure to reach the height of her powers as she matures further. The Oaks at Scottsville is next, that has been her main target for the season.”
Wendy’s fervent wish would be to get some Gr1 black type into the filly, no easy feat, considering she would have to take on the boys for the simple reason that there are no Gr1 races for older fillies over 2000m and beyond.
Notwithstanding the filly’s amazing ability to quicken, Wendy feels the mile Gr1 Garden Province will probably be too sharp. Time will tell.
Given her achievements, First Arrival must rate as one of the country’s famous matrons and as the dam of two Gr1 winning champions, it remains a mystery why she has not been honoured with a Broodmare of the Year award.
Be that as it may, her legacy is bound to mushroom through her daughters. In The Fast Lane is already off to a promising start as a broodmare with her first foal, the three-year-old Real Gone Kid.
The progressive Australian-bred Snitzel colt has scored three times for Ridgemont and Brett Crawford, who will also train his juvenile full sister.
Party Crasher is now a member of Varsfontein’s powerful broodmare band. Her first foal is a filly by Gimmethegreenlight and she is currently in foal to Master Of My Fate.
While those two are enjoying the tranquil life of a broodmare, Keep On Dancing will hopefully build on her first stakes success. As a late bloomer with comparatively few miles on the clock, she may just stay in training for another season and continue to provide her adoring owners with more thrills and success.
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