While there were a number of outstanding performances this past Saturday in Dubai, two really stood out. Soft Falling Rain, who overcame a shocking trip, to maintain his unbeaten record, and Shea Shea – who became the latest South African bred to win the Gr1 Al Quoz Sprint. It is interesting to note that Soft Falling Rain and Shea Shea share a common link – the unraced National Assembly. The latter is the sire of Soft Falling Rain and grandsire of Shea Shea (by National Emblem).
Few, if any, South African stallions have enjoyed more success in Dubai than National Assembly. His other winners in Dubai include Grand Emporium (Godolphin Mile, Maktoum Challenge), National Colour and National Currency (Al Shindagha Sprint).
While never champion sire, National Assembly (who did head the juvenile sires list three times) has left a powerful impact on the South African thoroughbred. He is one of a few sires capable of getting both outstanding colts and fillies, is a proven sire of sires, and now has a promising grandson (Rebel King) at stud.
The son of Danzig, at the time of writing, has been represented by 70 stakes winners from 952 foals (7%). Another 73 of National Assembly’s offspring have been stakes placed – which means 15% of the sire’s foal crop have achieved black type to date. He has had 41 individuals win or place in a Gr1 race, which is a tremendous achievement. The unraced National Assembly took plenty with him in the way of pedigree when he retired to Highlands in 1988.
Produced from the third crop of his sire Danzig, National Assembly was one of his sire’s marvellous 1984 crop. From this crop, of just 45 foals, emerged six stakes winners, including G1 winners Polonia, Qualify and Polish Navy (sire of 1993 Kentucky Derby winner Sea Hero). This crop also included the successful sire Ascot Knight.
In total, Danzig sired 200 stakes winners, of which 21 were official champions. He has since become one of Northern Dancer’s more effective sire of sire sons, with his sons including Danehill, Green Desert, Chief’s Crown, Langfuhr, Belong To Me, Hard Spun and War Front (sire of Saturday’s Gr2 UAE Derby winner Lines of Battle).
National Assembly’s female line was no less impressive. His dam, Renounce, was by the mighty Buckpasser – a great racehorse and broodmare sire Buckpasser’s daughters produced over 140 stakes winners, including leading sires El Gran Senor, Private Account, Seeking The Gold and Woodman.
He is also broodmare sire of leading South African sire, and dominant broodmare sire, Northern Guest. Buckpasser is also sire of Lassie Dear (dam of Al Mufti and second dam of A P Indy, Summer Squall and Tiger Ridge).
While Renounce herself was unplaced in two starts, she made up for these failings at stud. Her 15 foals included Waitlist, an 18 time stakes winner, Dowager Empress (dam of smart SA filly Queen Isolt), and Arraign (dam of Canadian Champion Cozzene’s Prince). Another of Renounce’s daughters, Baltic Sea, produced 3 stakes winners at stud, including the gr1 Dubai Golden Sheehan winner, Caller One.
Renounce’s dam, Bold Princess, was an own sister to champion sire What A Pleasure, sire of champions Foolish Pleasure and Honest Pleasure. Winner of the Schuylerville Stakes, Bold Princess produced five stakes horses including Gr1 Hollywood Derby winner Intrepid Hero and leading sire Sovereign Dancer.
National Assembly’s third dam was the immortal Grey Flight, dam of no fewer than nine stakes winners. Well supported in his first crop, without receiving the very best of mares, National Assembly made a bright start to his stud career. His initial crop, of 31 foals, included four stakes winners, and two other stakes placed horses.
His best runner from the 1989 crop included the smart Stamford Bridge, winner of the Gr2 Challenge Cup. From then on, stakes winners flowed for the consistent National Assembly. His 1991 crop included no fewer than three individual Gr1 winners Bold Thatch, Secretary General and National Emblem.
The latter has strong claims to being considered his sire’s best son. A tremendously versatile horse, National Emblem’s 15 wins included three at Gr1 level. Named Equus Champion Older Male at four, National Emblem would retire to a successful stud career which has seen him sire 10 individual Gr1 winners, including champion and promising young sire Rebel King.
The latter’s first crop, now two, include the smart filly Letas Bonnet and a pair of impressive debut winners. If National Emblem was his sire’s first male champion, then Historic Lady was his first female to earn championship honours. A tremendous juvenile, Historic Lady looked a star when beating males in the Gr1 Gold Medallion. Subsequently named champion 2yo filly, Historic Lady died before being able to retire.
Other champions by National Assembly include Horse of the Year National Colour, ill-fated National Currency and Soft Falling Rain. His most successful crop, by number of stakes winners, was the 2002 vintage. This yielded eight black type winners, including champion and Horse of the Year National Colour, Gr1 winner Ndabeni and the top-class School Assembly.
Of National Assembly’s 16 Gr1 winners, 10 are colts and 6 fillies. However, this is a tad misleading, as National Assembly is also sire of a number of very high class fillies who never won at the highest level, such as champion National Bay, State Blue and Eternal Dancer.
His stock’s average winning distance is just over 1200m, and not one of his G1 winners ever won at the highest level beyond 2000m. National Assembly mated well with Golden Thatch mares – with the combination producing G1 winner Bold Thatch and Historic Lady (while Golden Thatch is also found in the sire’s Gr2 winner Mentor’s pedigree).
In his heyday, National Assembly was a very popular commercial sire. His stock fetched up to R2 000 000 (Sweet Allegra at the 2006 Emperors Palace National Yearling Sale).
Broodmare sire of recent debut winner Viva La Var, National Assembly’s daughters have bred 22 black type winners to date, including champion Laverna and sprinting sensation Franny.
Whatever is yet to come for his offspring, it looks to safe to say that National Assembly’s legacy in the South African stud book is a significant one.