Sometimes All It Takes Is An Expert Eye…

The Acclamation factor!

Given South Africa’s racing programme, which favours speed and precocity over stamina, it is somewhat of a mystery that no local breeders ever climbed on the Acclamation band wagon – that is, until newcomer Paardeberg had the foresight to snap up his Gr1 winning son Expert Eye.

Expert Eye is a top class racehorse who now stands at Paardeberg Stud

Expert Eye – top class racehorse now stands at Paardeberg Stud (Pic – Dan Abraham)

When Acclamation retired to stud all of 20 years ago, no one in their wildest dreams could have anticipated that he would become a bona fide breed-shaper and an influential sire.

Notwithstanding the fact that he was just a Gr2 winning sprinter of the Diadem Stakes and lacked a vitally important Gr1 success on his CV, history shows that he has left a huge footprint as arguably one of the finest sire-of-sires of modern times.

Acclamation is by the blisteringly-fast two-year-old Royal Applause, who won both the Coventry and Gimcrack Stakes before crowning an unbeaten juvenile campaign with a brilliant win the Gr1 Middle Park Stakes.

Having replaced the retiring Derby winner Shirley Heights at the Royal Studs, Royal Applause proved more successful as a stallion than both his sire Waajib and grandsire Try My Best, both of whom initially graced the star-studded Coolmore stallion roster before ending up in Japan.

A firm favourite of the late Queen Elizabeth II, Royal Applause sired just one Gr1 winner, the filly Ticker Tape, who twice scored at the highest level on export to the States and whilst he also features as the damsire of leading sprinter and successful sire Blue Point, his legacy continues mainly through Acclamation.

Granted, as the sire of just six Gr1 winners, Acclamation will never manage to equal the likes of the great Galileo and Dubawi, yet it is as a sire-of-sires that he has made his mark, to the extent that a number of his sons have risen to elite status as stallions, notably Dark Angel and Mehmas, who currently rank amongst the very best in Europe as sires of sprinters/milers.

Trained by Barry Hills and from his sire’s first crop, Dark Angel raced only as a two-year-old, emulating his grandsire by winning the Gr1 Middle Park Stakes.

Expert Eye is by Acclamation out of Exemplify by Dansili

Expert Eye – Acclamation ex Exemplify (Dansili) (Pic – Melanie Sauer Photography)

As a source of top juveniles and sprinters, he has sired the likes of Cartier Champion Sprinter Battaash and Gr1 winning speedsters Art Power, Khaadem, Harry’s Angel, Lethal Force and Mecca’s Angel, yet, he is also capable of producing a classic winner in Gr1 French 1000 Guineas victress Mangoustine and smart milers such as Angel Bleu, Raging Bull and Hunt.

It was always a given that a good number of his own sons would be given the opportunity to stand at stud and one of them, the Champion 3yo sprinter Harry Angel, already boasts a Gr1 winner in Tom Kitten.

When Mehmas retired to Tally-Ho stud in 2018, his race record somehow mirrored that of Acclamation in that he never won at the elite level. Successful in both the Gr2 Richmond and Gr2 July Stakes, he won four times as a juvenile and never finished out of the first three in all his starts.

To say that Mehmas made an electric start to his stallion career would be an understatement. He proved far too good for his peers when he emerged as Europe’s Champion Freshman sire of 2020 with a record 56 individual winners, topped by Gr1 Middle Park Stakes hero Supremacy. From that first crop have also emerged the Gr1 winners Minzaal, Chez Pierre and Going Global.

Mehmas too has a number of sons now standing at stud in Britain and Ireland and to give an indication of the esteem in which they are held by breeders, all of Minzaal, Persian Force and Caturra (both top-class two-year-olds), covered six-figure books in their first season.

As for Mehmas himself, he is likely to have over 160 two-year-old to go to war with this year, such was the support he received in 2021 when he covered almost 300 mares, 68 of which were stakes performers!

Acclamation is by Royal Applause out of Princess Athena by Ahonoora

Acclamation – Royal Applause ex Princess Athena (Ahonoora) (Pic – Supplied)

Whilst Dark Angel and Mehmas are now firmly established amongst the hottest sires around, they are not the only ones to have advertised Acclamation’s prowess as a sire-of-sires.

Equiano, a dual winner of the Gr1 King’s Stand Stakes, was rated higher than both his sire and grandsire and began his stallion career at Newsells Park Stud.

Just like his sire, he produces tough and hardy horses, a prime example being specialist sprinter and triple Gr1 winner The Tin Man, who raced with distinction over six seasons until suffering a career-ending injury at age nine.

His American-based daughter Belvoir Bay, raced by Team Valor International and Gary Barber, racked up a dozen wins from two to six and won the Gr1 Breeders Cup Turf Sprint on her final start.

Yet another Gr1 winning son of Acclamation to have added to his sire’s outstanding record as a sire-of-sires is the Gr1 Prix de la Foret winner Aclaim. He won up to a mile and has the distinction of siring a classic winner in his first crop when his daughter Cachet made all to win the Gr1 One Thousand Guineas in 2022.

Given South Africa’s racing programme, which favours speed and precocity over stamina, it is somewhat of a mystery that no local breeders ever climbed on the Acclamation band wagon, that is, until newcomer Paardeberg had the foresight to snap up his Gr1 winning son Expert Eye.

Image linked to weekly Sprint

Successful in the Gr1 Breeders Cup Mile, he is Acclamation’s only son to have won a Gr1 over that distance, in addition to which he won the Gr3 Jersey Stakes at Royal Scot by the biggest margin this century.

Interestingly, his Timeform rating of 124 also puts him in the company of Vercingetorix and above the likes of Foveros, Var and Trippi.

A product of the world-renowned Juddmonte Farms, Expert Eye stood five seasons at his birthplace Banford Manor Stud prior to his sale to South Africa. True to his sire-line, his progeny are precocious, considering that his stakes winning daughters Snellen and Juniper Berries earned their black type stripes at two, Snellen defeating colts in the Listed Chesham Stakes at Royal Ascot, whilst Juniper Berries claimed the Gr3 Dicke Poole Fillies’ Stakes.

Kudos to Paardeberg for taking cognizance of Acclamation’s ever growing stature and their purchase of Expert Eye, who will command a service fee of R25 000 (R5 000 nomination plus R20 000 at live foal).

Acclamation’s son Romantic Warrior wins the Longines Gr1 Hong Kong Cup

Acclamation’s son Romantic Warrior wins the Longines Gr1 Hong Kong Cup (Pic – Candiese Lenferna)

Whilst Acclamation’s stallion sons and grandsons are advertising his ability as a sire-of-sires, his own star shows no sign of waning.

His gelded Hong Kong-based son Romantic Warrior continues to rewrite the record books on the track and recently became the first horse ever to win the Gr1 Queen Elizabeth Cup (a race won by London News), on three occasions. He also proved he can cut it on the world stage when claiming the prestigious Gr1 W S Cox Plate in Melbourne last October.

As for Acclamation, this living legend is still going strong at Rathbarry Stud at the advanced age of 24, which comes as no surprise, considering his own sire Royal Applause died at 29.

He has been a wonderful servant in his two decades-long stallion innings and, who knows, may yet come up with another stallion son to keep the flame burning and further enhance his incredible record.

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