SA Influence In Australia

Drohsky continues to exert her influence beyond our borders

That South Africa’s most successful taproot mare Drohsky continues to exert her influence beyond our borders was underlined last weekend.

As far away as Australia, juvenile filly Steel City became the latest stakes winner to descend from the remarkable little mare when she morphed from a maiden to a Graded stakes winner with her facile victory in the Gr3 Magic Night Stakes at Sydney’s Rosehill racetrack.

Drohsky never raced, yet her record at stud is unsurpassed, her legacy massive. By Eclipse winner Polyphontes, she was bred by mining magnate S B ‘Solly’ Joel, and was one three fillies sent to race in South Africa in 1932.

Considered the weakest of the trio, she never reached the track and instead, was sold to EV Birch, founder of the famed Birch Bros, a shrewd purchase, considering she went on to establish her own dynasty at the Birch’s Vogel Vlei Stud, one which endures to this day.

Birch Bros

Birch Bros

From her descend two Titans of the turf, the mighty Lenin, considered the best horse of the pre-war era, while close relative Sea Cottage, the first horse inducted into the South African Hall of Fame, is still regarded by many as one of the finest, if not the most famous horse to grace the post-war turf.

Lenin and Sea Cottage aside, Drohsky achieved immortality through the achievements of her daughters and her descendants include the winners of all of the country’s elite races.

As Syd Birch, great-grandson of E V Birch once remarked: “She set up her own dynasty and I wonder if any other line has produced as many feature winners. It’s no surprise that the homestead we live in is named after her!”

But back to Steel City.

Steel City wins the Magic Night Stakes (Pic – Coolmore)

She traces to Drohsky’s daughter Commune, a four-time winner sired by Durban July winner Bird Of Prey. From her descend Gr1 Cape Guineas hero Ocean City (a son of Sea Cottage, thus inbred 4 x 4 to Drohsky), champion stayer Aquanaut, champion juvenile Bold Speed, Gr1 winners Agitator (SA Derby), Record Edge (Premier’s Cup) and Golden Peak (Gold Bowl), as does champion juvenile filly Warning Zone, who just happens to be the grandam of Steel City.

Out of the Ginistrelli mare War Women, this daughter of Elliodor was bred by Ascot Stud, with breeder Rose Parker remembering her as a ‘a tall, lightish filly.”

Mike de Kock trained the aforementioned Gr1 winner Record Edge, hence it came as no surprise when Warning Zone also joined the maestro’s stable. She added further lustre to the family, to the extent that she was named the country’s champion juvenile filly of 2002/3 following her wins in the Gr2 Golden Slipper and Gr3 Debutante.

She became yet another shrewd purchase by Team Valor principal Barry Irwin, who sent her to the States, and she rewarded him with a further stakes success in the Listed Marie G Krantz Memorial at Fair Grounds. Australia eventually became her next home where in due course, she produced the filly Pittsburgh Flyer to Street Cry, the sire of wonder mare Winx and of course Drakenstein-bred Horse of the Year Oh Susanna.

Although she was not in their exalted league, Pittsburgh Flyer nevertheless counted a Gr3 success amongst her three wins and as good as her race record was, she has already surpassed that as a broodmare.

Quick off the mark, she became not just a stakes, but also a Gr1 producer with her very first foal, the Exceed And Excel filly September Run, winner of the Coolmore Stud Stakes at Flemington.

Steel City is her third foal and was followed by a yearling full brother to September Run. Pittsburgh Flyer visited powerhouse stallion I Am Invincible last spring.

Watch the replay here:

Remarkably, Steel City entered the Magic Night as a maiden, on the back of an unplaced effort in the Gr1 Blue Diamond Stakes, prior to which she had run second in the Gr3 Widden Stakes over 1100m.

An A$700,000 yearling purchase, the filly provided a watershed moment in the fledgling career of freshman sire Merchant Navy. She has the honour of being the first stakes winner for the Gr1 winning sprint son of Fastnet Rock.

Finally, it would be remiss to not mention that Drohsky’s influence also stretches to Hong Kong.

Silvano’s son Chefano, winner of the Gr3 Queen Mother Memorial Cup at Sha Tin, descends from her daughter Lindro.

Chefano wins in Hong Kong (Pic – HKJC)

A mare’s fortunes ebb and flow over the decades, some disappear altogether from prominence, yet Drohsky’s name continues to run like a golden thread through the cream of South African bloodstock. Long may it continue.

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