Moutonshoek’s Star-Spangled Banners

Racing is very much a numbers game

Racing is very much a numbers game. Hence any interruption to a stallion’s career is not to be taken lightly and when it strikes early, can be catastrophic.  It was therefore particularly satisfying that Moutonshoek resident The United States celebrated not one, but two, individual stakes winners this past weekend.

To refresh everyone’s memory, the Gr1 winning son of Galileo had covered no more than a dozen mares in his maiden season when a foot injury sent him to the sidelines, resulting in a small first crop which numbered just 11 foals.

The United States - Pic supplied by Moutonshoek - reference Bennie vd Merwe om 11/11/2021

The United States (Galileo – Beauty Is Truth by Pivotal)

Be that as it may, history will show that despite this lack of early representation, The United States made a dream start to his stallion career with his very first runner.

Who will forget the spectacular winning debut by his daughter Sheela in the Listed Storm Bird Stakes, where she ran her male rivals off their feet to score by the best part of four lengths? Trained by the Azzies, the Drakenstein homebred showed that effort was no flash in the pan when she followed up with another splendid win in the Gr2 SA Nursery over subsequent Senor Santa winner Smorgasbord.

By the way, her sire’s small first crop has also yielded the three-time winners Alabama Anna and Mel’s Princess, as well as the dual winner Texas Red.

Thankfully, The United States is now starting to make waves with his sizeable second crop. On Friday, Khaya’s Hope became his second stakes winner when claiming Fairview’s Listed ROA Stakes.

Khaya’s Hope wins the Listed ROA Stakes on Friday (Pic – Pauline Herman)

One of a staggering seven winners on the day for the rampant Gavin Smith stable, the three-year-old races as a homebred for Lady Laidlaw’s Khaya Stables and was a deserving winner, considering he had scored twice as a juvenile and reached the frame in three Listed events, notably when beaten a shorthead in the Champion Juvenile Cup.

For the pedigree pundits out there, Khaya’s Hope is bred on the hugely successful Galileo x Danehill cross, being out of the Danehill Dancer mare Miss Khaya.

Another second-crop colt worthy of mention is the talented Sun Blushed, who failed by a whisker in last season’s Gr2 Umkhomazi Stakes.

The colt is trained by former champion jockey Michael Roberts, and he gave some insights as to the future: “We are still up in the air. He’s a very light horse, tall and lanky, but very balanced and a beautiful mover. At this stage, I will probably give him a couple of runs in KZN and I’m leaning more towards taking him to Joburg. This is a proper horse and I’m just taking my time with him.”

Mike de Kock also has a talented colt on his hands in East Coast, who made a fine start to his sophomore season when handing Gr1-placed Platinum Sky and Zimbabwean stakes winner Diesel And Dust a three-length drubbing over 1700m at the Vaal. He surely has bigger fish to fry as the season progresses.

Twenty four hours after the success of Khaya’s Hope, The United States again had his name up in lights, following the running of the Listed Golden Loom Handicap at Turffontein.

Sheela beats the boys to win the Golden Loom (Pic – JC Photos)

There was no doubt a sense of déjà vu, as it was Sheela who again blitzed male rivals, whilst making amends for her second place twelve months ago. The four-year-old has matured into a formidable sprinter and barring her unplaced effort in last season’s Gr3 Magnolia Stakes, has yet to finish out of the first three.

Maestro Aidan O’Brien, who trained both Galileo and the majority of his finest offspring, has never been shy to extol the fighting spirit of the grand stallion’s descendants, remarking: “They try so hard … they will give their absolute 150% every day. It’s very strange. It’s a mental trait, not a physical trait. Of all the horses we’ve ever trained, we’ve never seen it in another horse before. It’s a gene that will carry on. It’s a pure remind of him.”

That’s Sheela in a nutshell.

Not even top weight and sticky underfoot conditions could deny the chestnut in the Golden Loom, and she showed great determination to repel Constable, who it must be pointed out, was in receipt of 8.5 kgs. Third in the Allan Robertson as a juvenile, she already has Gr1 small black type to her name, so a proper Gr1 success would be just reward.

It’s no coincidence that The United States can sire a sprinter of her calibre. Albeit that he is by classic influence Galileo, his dam Halfway To Heaven was a brilliantly fast daughter of Pivotal, whilst his female line is that of champion sprinter/miler Last Tycoon.

Anfields Rocket wins the Gr3 Graham Beck Stakes (Pic – JC Photos)

By the way, Galileo also featured as the broodmare sire of Anfields Rocket, somewhat of a surprise winner of the Gr3 Graham Beck Stakes. It was always a given that Galileo would go on to become a potent broodmare sire and it is clear that he will continue to exert his influence through his daughters for a long time to come.

That Galileo filled the role of kingmaker goes without saying, as Anfields Rocket is the sole graded stakes winner sired by the average stallion Coup De Grace. It would be fair to say that the former Klawervlei resident enjoyed a day in the limelight thanks to the late Coolmore supremo!

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