National Assembly, who was put to sleep on 22 January 2014, aged 30, saved the best for last. Or almost – from his second last crop in 2009, conceived when he was 25 years old, came the colt Soft Falling Rain. Voted Champion 2yo Colt in 2012, Soft Falling Rain subsequently won Graded races in Dubai and England, earning a rating of 125+, on which he might still improve during his 2014 campaign. Soft Falling Rain joins National Assembly’s sons National Emblem and National Currency, and daughters Historic Lady, Forward Filly, Enchantress and National Colour – all recipients of championship honours.
Born in Canada in 1984, National Assembly never raced. Bought as yearling for $2.5 million by Vincent O’Brien he was held up with a virus as a 2yo, then chipped a bone in his knee on the gallops early at three, which ended his hopes of a racing career.
National Assembly is a son of sire-of-sires Danzig out of non-winning mare Renounce from the female line of Native Dancer and a slew of other topclass stallions, so a stud career in a minor country was always on the cards. He arrived as a 4yo to stand at Graham Beck’s Maine Chance in South Africa in 1988, and was quickly syndicated amongst breeders far and wide. Getting properly supported was a different matter, though. The Beck farms at the time already stood Golden Thatch, Argosy, Steady Beat, Elevation, Capture Him, Bush Telegraph, Enchantment. They got the cream of the broodmares. Low-flying newcomer National Assembly, all of 15.3 hands high, had to do with whatever crumbs he could get. The hard way. How he showed them!
The main feature of National Assembly’s early stud career was his remarkable percentage of winners to runners. Eighty percent was the norm, and his achievement of 95% for the colts born in 1995 must stand as an unassailable record.
Stakes performers made for another notable number – most years the percentages were in double figures, and the 29% achieved with stakes performing colts from his crop of 2000 is unheard of. To make things more unbelievable still, that crop of colts was the biggest one he ever had, numbering 37 (with 28 fillies making a total crop of 65).
In aptitude, National Assembly proved to be a sire of speed, pure and simple. Some 60% of his offspring won up to 1400m. Another 30% stayed a mile. Which leaves 10% for winners over a mile and more – where the big-race money is. As result, National Assembly never made it to Champion Sire. He got the classy Gr1 winners alright, but sire championships are decided on earnings and in South Africa prize money reaches dizzy heights only in races from a mile upwards. Life’s tough when you’re a sire of speed.
Pedigree-wise, National Assembly seemed to show an affinity for lines of Bold Ruler, the sire of his grandam Bold Princess, a stakes placed full sister to American champion sire What A Pleasure. Bold Ruler is the sire of another former Maine Chance stallion, Jungle Cove, who crops up with regularity in the pedigree background of National Assembly’s major runners.
Bold Ruler together with lines of Buckpasser (National Assembly’s own dam sire) can be found in Soft Falling Rain through Seattle Slew, sire of the grandam.
National Assembly’s final resting place is at Highlands, where perhaps, one day, his son Soft Falling Rain may continue the legacy.
National Assembly’s Gr1 winners
1991 c National Emblem – champion
1991 c Bold Thatch
1991 c Secretary General
1994 f Historic Lady – champion
1995 c Big Brass
1996 c Grand Format
1997 f Forward Filly – champion
1998 f Enchantress – champion
1998 c Flight Alert
1999 c National Currency – champion
1999 f Duchess Daba
2000 c Grand Emporium
2002 f National Colour – champion
2002 c Ndabeni
2003 f Trust Antonia
2009 c Soft Falling Rain – champion