The bloodstock industry has, by now, learned that when a stallion passes on before his time, Murphy’s law will prevail and he will be represented by a host of winners.
The case of Lancaster Bomber, who died at the tender age of seven, has proved particularly galling, as he finished the 2022/23 season as our leading freshman sire.
On cumulative earnings, this son of War Front finished well clear of fellow freshman sires Danon Platina and Fire Away, and even more impressively, was the fifth leading juvenile sire overall.
Whilst the battle was won with consummate ease by champion Gimmethegreenlight, Lancaster Bomber finished on the heels of What A Winter, Vercingetorix and Querari, a fine achievement considering the quartet was separated by no more than R250 000.
Lancaster Bomber made an impact as early as January when juvenile daughter Rascova provided him with black type success in the first juvenile stakes race of the season, the Listed Cape Town Summer Juvenile Stakes.
An initial trickle of winners became a steady stream, so much so that by the time the season was in its death throes, Captain Al’s record of 22 individual winners looked under threat. Alas, it was not. In a nail-biting finish, Lancaster Bomber came oh so close with 19 first crop juveniles finding the winner’s circle.
Barely a week before the end of the racing season, he notched up a second stakes winner when champion Beach Beauty’s daughter Beach Bomb sauntered to victory in the Listed Irridescence Stakes.
By that stage, Guy Gibson, a half-brother to Cape Guineas winner Kilindini, had finished third in the Gr1 Gold Medallion and the Gr2 Durban Golden Horseshoe, Rascova picked up Gr2 black type when second in the Golden Slipper, whilst the filly Siddeley, out of a Trippi mare, had placed in Listed company.
For the pedigree pundits, it is interesting to note that former Lammerskraal champion Western Winter looms large as the broodmare sire of no less than four of Lancaster Bomber’s winners headed by Rascova. Captain Al and Trippi feature as the damsires of a trio each, whilst Dynasty, Jet Master and Var all weigh in with a double each.
Lancaster Bomber reached his full powers at age three when he captured the Gr1 Tattersalls Gold Cup, hence it will come as no surprise to see his newly turned sophomores continue to bolster their late sire’s standings.
Lest we forget, waiting in the wings are the slow burners, those too immature to race as juveniles.
A case in point is the impeccably bred Landseer, a half-brother to champion Kasimir and Gr1 winner Afrikaburn who was purchased by Sabine Plattner at the National Yearling Sale. In contrast to his siblings, one a champion sprinter and the other a juvenile Gr1 winner, he has been slow to mature and according to trainer Andre Nel, it will be a while yet before he steps onto the racetrack.
Fortunately, Lancaster Bomber covered over a hundred mares in what turned out to be his valedictory book in 2020, which means his second and final crop is a sizeable one.
There’s plenty to look forward to as it includes a full-brother to Rascova and youngsters out of Gr1 winning mares such as Inara, Gabor, Siren’s Call and Chestnuts N Pearls.
Meanwhile, Lancaster Bomber continues where he left off, with two new winners in quick succession. Just five days into the new racing season, the Wernars homebred Chocolate Bomb shed his maiden at Turffontein and was followed last week by the filly Dakota Cat, who romped to an eye-catching 6.50 length maiden win at the Vaal.
Lancaster Bomber’s tenure at Drakenstein Stud was all too brief and lasted just two seasons. His achievements so far underline his premature demise as a cruel blow to our racing and breeding industry.
From the Lancaster Bomber Poem by Paul Warren
They say now when the sun rises in the east
You can hear the rumbling of the Lancaster in the peace
And maybe if the rising sun catches the light
You may see the plane flying along in an endless flight.