SA Mares On The World Stage – More Great Achievements

The genius move awaits

Last week we looked at the progeny of South African mares and their comprehensive success in other countries.

This week Robin Bruss provides updates, corrects an omission, and provides more food for thought.

Celestial Legend (AUS), grandson of National Colour (SAF), wins the A$4m (R48m) Doncaster S. (Gr.1) 1600m at Royal Randwick in Sydney last Saturday (Pic – Avenue Bloodstock)

The 3 year old Australian colt CELESTIAL LEGEND, who bears the same grey coat as his famous grandam, the 2004 South African Champion Sprinter and Horse of the Year NATIONAL COLOUR (SAF), took a giant step towards becoming best three year old in Australia this year, when he won last Saturdays 162nd running the of the famous Doncaster H. (Gr.1) A$4 million (R48,9 million) over 1600m at Royal Randwick.

This was his second Gr.1 success having also won the $1 million Randwick Guineas (Gr.1) in his previous start, but it was his first attempt in taking on the best older horses – and he won it in spectacular fashion, having to weave his way through from far back, courageously squeeze through the narrowest of gaps and bursting into the lead almost within the shadow of the post.

“This is some horse” said his 86 year old trainer Les Bridge said. `’ He’s unbelievable. I didn’t think he could win – I thought he wouldn’t get out from the pocket. Horses just don’t do what he did. He’s a terrific, a superstar.”

Celestial Legend was bred by Arrowfield Stud and sold as a yearling for A$220,000. He has so far earned just over A$3,5 million (R42 million).

His main target this year will be Australia’s most important WFA race, the A$5 million WS Cox Plate Gr.1 in October.

Celestial Legend as a yearling when he sold in the Arrowfield Stud draft for A$220,000 (Pic – Inglis)

His sire, Dundeel (by High Chapparal, by Sadlers Wells) won 10 of his 19 starts, including four Gr.1s, amongst them, the Randwick Guineas Gr.1, AJC Derby Gr.1 and the Queen Elizabeth II S. Gr.1.

His dam Sarraqa was bred by Arrowfield Stud in partnership with Chris Van Niekirk, who raced National Colour, and also co-bred Sarraqa’s Champion brothers RAFEEF and MUSTAQUEEM.

On the same day that Celestial Legend  recorded his Gr.1 in Australia, back on this side of the Indian Ocean, another rare distinction unfolded at Champions Day at Turffontein, when RAFEEF sired winners of two championship events in two extremely different aptitudes.

He had THUNDERSTRUCK  who won the 1000m the Computaform Sprint championship (Gr.1) by outsprinting the competition and he also sired the Classic winner FRANCES ETHEL who won the 110th running of the South African Oaks (Gr.2) over 2450m by outstaying the competition.

This is not the first time Rafeef has achieved this rare distinction because in his first crop he sired Master Archie to win the Computaform Sprint (Gr.1) and on the same day, Aragosta to win the SA Derby (Gr.1).

Such versatility at the highest level is rare and indicates a stallion with a bright future, especially as he stood for a fee as low as R20,000 just a couple of seasons ago, and bigger and better books of mares will be lining up.

Across the Atlantic, reports are good on the first yearling crop of MUSTAQUEEM, the only South African horse in Chile. He belongs now to Nelson Sepulveda of South American Bloodstock.

Mustaqueem (Aus) by Redoutes Choice from National Colour (SAF), full brother to Rafeef, when sold for A$1,75 million as a yearling to Sheik Hamdan al Maktoum. Champion 2 Year Old in South Africa, he now stands at stud in Chile, the only South African horse (Pic – Supplied)

The ROCK OPERA dynasty unfolds

Like National Colour, the influence of SA bred ROCK OPERA  (b.m. 2002 by Lecture USA – Drummer Girl by Al Mufti USA) has also unfolded on four continents and is a great story to tell, omitted from last week’s missive.

Rock Opera was bred by Ashley and Rose Parker at Ascot Stud in Port Elizabeth, home of both the Seeking the Gold stallion Lecture (USA) and of champion sire Al Mufti (USA), son of Roberto.

At the NYS 2003, Rock Opera was spotted by the keen eyes of Corne and Toby Spies and purchased for R80,000 for their lucky patrons, Mr & Mrs Basil Linington.

Rock Opera was brilliantly fast as a 2 year old, winning all of her four starts, culminating in victory in the Allan Robertson Fillies Championship (Gr.1) and she was crowned Equus Champion 2 Year Old 2004/05.

The Allan Robertson has become such a breed shaping race that signals excellence that at least five of the winners have been exported, four of them to Australia.

The story of Rock Opera then takes a slightly bizarre turn, for I received a call from a Dubai trainer to advise that a certain important Sheik was going to call me in order to make an offer to buy Rock Opera and that this was a serious enquiry.

The call came in and this Sheik instructed a R5 million offer, which was 10 times the value of the Allan Robertson purse.  I felt it too high and in his best interests as my anticipated new client, I suggested an offer of half that figure. However, he insisted on the R5m offer.

“Do as I say, but do not mention my name.” he ordered.

I called the owner Mr Linington and before I could even make the offer he excitedly told me that a certain South African bookmaker had just called 10 minutes earlier to make an offer of R5m for Rock Opera and gave me the name of the buyer – the same Sheik!

I was stunned and called the Sheik back and asked how this bookmaker was involved.

He said “well I know of him, but the offer was unauthorized !”

“But”, I stammered, “ he has your name and the exact figure and the same timing. And as I understand it, the offer has been accepted! ”

And so it came to be that Rock Opera was sold for what seemed a fabulous price at the time and she arrived in Dubai where there were no sprint races on turf for fillies.  She raced 6 times in Dubai for a 3rd in the UAE 1000 Guineas at 1600m and 8th of 9 in the Oaks and was retired to stud in England and became the property of Sheik Mohammed’s Darley Stud.

Rock Opera at stud

Breeding being a roller coaster business, her first foal went by the inglorious name of Frankenfurter, and he must have been as slow as a sausage, winning only one race.

But then fortune smiled for Rock Opera.  She was covered by Exceed & Excel (champion son of Danehill) and she produced HEAVY METAL (GB), who was to race in the personal silks of Sheik Hamdan bin Mohammed, the son of Sheik Mohammed and now the Crown Prince of Dubai.

HEAVY METAL was a tremendous racehorse who earned a reputation as one of the toughest, soundest and most genuine horses to have raced in England and Dubai.

He raced 9 seasons, from aged 2 to aged 10 years, making 66 starts and winning 15 races and £1,516,989. He won 3 races as a 2 year old in UK inc the Richmond S. (Gr.2) at Goodwood from a 10 start campaign as a 2 year old. In all he won 7 times in UK including the £150,000 International S. at Ascot, before transferring to Dubai where he was to win another 8 races.

At Meydan he won five major races: the 2018 Godolphin Mile, Gr.2 on World Cup night, the Al Maktoum Challenge Round 1 S., Gr.2, the Burj Nahaar S., Gr.3, the Firebreak S., Gr.3, and the Dubai Creek Mile, L. and placed in countless others year after year. His best Timeform rating was 123.

Heavy Metal (GB), son of Rock Opera (SAF), wins the US$1 million Godolphin Mile at the 2018 Dubai World Cup meet (Pic – Twin Spires)

Rock Opera’s Gr.1 winning son ROYAL MEETING

From 7 foals born in England, Rock Opera produced 5 winners and they included a colt with greater brilliance than Heavy Metal when she foaled ROYAL MEETING (by Invincible Spirit) in 2016.

Racing in the famous Godolphin Silks, ROYAL MEETING won the 2018 Criterium de St Cloud (Gr.1) over one mile as a 2 year old in Paris, to become the first Gr.1 winner for a South African mare in France.

Royal Meeting, son of Rock Opera (SAF) wins the 2018 Criterium International (Gr.1) at Chantilly (Pic – Supplied)

Royal Meeting was then sold for $750,000 for stud in Australia, and went to stand at Aquis Victoria and now stands at Leneva Park. His first crop became two year olds in the current season.

Royal Meeting (GB) by Invincible Spirit from Rock Opera (SAF), Gr.1W product of two Gr.1 Winners (Pic – Supplied)

Hayasugi (Aus), star granddaughter of Rock Opera

From the first crop of Royal Meeting comes a filly that was to be named HAYASUGI and was acquired by South African born James Bester, who has made his name as one of Australia’s best judges of bloodstock.  James purchased her for a ladies syndicate for a bargain A$47,500.

Hayasugi achieved the rare distinction of picking up all three of the major two year old contests in Melbourne – the Blue Diamond Preview (Gr.3) in January, the Blue Diamond Prelude (Gr.2) in February and then the big one, the Blue Diamond S. (Gr.1) worth $2 million on February 24, 2024 –  a filly defeating the colts.

Hayasugi (Aus), granddaughter to Rock Opera (SAF) wins the 2024 A$2 million Blue Diamond S. (Gr.1) in Melbourne (Pic – Supplied)

Hayasugi was in line for the famous championship 2024 $5 million Golden Slipper (Gr.1), but the roller coaster of bad luck was to strike.  She drew 15 gate of 16 runners in a race run around the turn over 1200m.

As the gate opened, she jumped slow and unbalanced, and her rider slips from saddled and almost falls off. In trying to regain balance, the filly swerves to the right and runs across the track and hits the running rail and almost goes over.

What is over is any chance in the race and she trails in last.

The race unfolds without her and the winner is Lady of Camelot, who had run second to Hayasugi in the Gr.1 Blue Diamond Stakes!  Racing’s luck !

It’s inescapable to argue that Hayasugi might yet be judged to be the best 2 year old in Australia.

The William Inglis Easter Sales 2024

We finish by drawing some conclusions about the breathtaking Sydney Easter Yearling Sales that concluded earlier this week.

  • The Snitzel daughter of champion South African bred 5x Gr.1 winner CARRY ON KATIE (SAF), the only South African dam in the catalogue, was sold for A$ 775,000 (R9,5 million)
  • The record breaking Winx filly that sold for A$10 million (R125 million) was by Pierro (Aus), the $4,4m earner and Golden Slipper winner and successful sire. Pierro is by Lonrho out of an Irish bred mare by DAYLAMI who stood at stud in South Africa.
  • The Easter sale average of A$429,786 converts to an average price per yearling of R5,2 million, which is 11,7 times the average price of our National Yearling Sales 2023.
  • Unless, the quality is 11x that of South Africa, its logically arguable that South African bred yearlings represent the greatest VALUE in global markets and that the current exchange rate of R18,50 to US$1,00 could be our greatest friend rather than our enemy.

When I started out in the horse business, the Rand was par to the US$. It would seem the roller coaster of currency values mirrors the roller coaster of horseracing.

You just have to be smart enough or lucky enough to catch the wave at the right time and in the right direction.

The genius move awaits.

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