The annual Bush Hill Stallion Day took place on the Friday prior to the Gold Cup race day, and once again it was a magnificent day with over 200 guests present and it was fantastic to have so many visitors from the Cape especially – including Susan Rowett, Mike De Kock, Jehan Malherbe and Jessica Slack. Everyone tucked into what is becoming a tradition at Bush Hill – starting with sushi and prawns in the winter sunshine on a beautiful clear day at the picturesque farm of Bush Hill, only a week before it had snowed.
Warwick Render of Bush Hill Stud presented the stallions:
We believe that we are very fortunate at Bush Hill to have put together a band of stallions that offers an opportunity for all. We are proud that this has been vindicated in the market place this year by the fact that at the National Yearling Sales and the KZN yearling sales both of the top priced progeny of KZN stallions were sired here at Bush Hill. I highlighted last year that we offer the first and only son of champion sire Fastnet Rock to stand in South Africa, the first son of Champion sire Redoute’s Choice to stand in South Africa, the first Equus horse of the year son of Dynasty to stand in South Africa, to date the most successful son of the phenomenal Danehill to stand in South Africa, and the first triple Gr 1 winning New Zealand Horse Of the Year – and now we are thrilled to add an international graded stakes winning son of what is currently the most influential stallion in the world in Galileo.
The real reason we are here is to introduce to you our stallions for this season. In recent times it has not been easy in this industry that we are all so passionate about and it is indeed devastating to see the diminished number of breeders in South Africa and in particular this province, but as the Afrikaans saying goes “Aan houers wen”. But there has to be a little more to it than just hanging in there, we have to be bold, committed, positive and above all believe in the future. We also have to be smart and a healthy dollop of luck goes a long way. I want to take this opportunity to encourage you all to stick together, support each other and keep on at what we do because by all accounts there is a major turn around coming, its merely a matter of when. With breeding being the long term project it is we have to prepare ourselves now for the upswing, because if you wait for it to arrive the momentum will be too great to jump on board at that time. So please don’t miss the boat now because you will be sorry later!
A major part of that planning for the future lies in investing in breeding stock, both mares and stallions. We have done a phenomenal job of doing this in KZN in recent times for right now we have one of the most promising bands of young sires we have ever seen in this province. And today we are introducing the newest of these who in the words of his trainer Mike de Kock “has the credentials to stand up to anything else in this country.” And a little later in the day Mike will be telling you more about why he thinks so.
FLYING THE FLAG
We are most grateful to have Mike de Kock here to share with you his feelings on this horse which he will do a little later in the day when we show you a short video on him.
So where do I start when talking about a horse with the credentials of Flying the Flag. I guess the best way is to do it in a manner that I have mentioned in previous years and that is simply by using facts. Facts are a wonderful thing for a simple person like me because they don’t require any dressing up or flowery spiels, they talk for themselves.
But firstly on behalf of all breeders in KZN I have to express our extreme gratitude to Mary & Jessica Slack, Coolmore Stud, and Mr Javett for not only making a horse of this calibre available to us but also in allowing us the opportunity to invest in him. Without them we would undoubtedly never have managed to get a horse of this value here in these tough financial times. I am certain that as a province we will show our gratitude in the best way possible and that is by supporting him with the right mares.
So let’s look at some of these facts.
First and most obviously he is by the mighty Galileo who is certainly the best stallion in the Northern Hemisphere if not the world at the moment. It is no mistake Galileo is a champion for his sire Sadler’s Wells was a breed shaping champion whose sire in turn Northern Dancer was probably the most influential sire on the thoroughbred in recent times. Little wonder then that amongst all his other great horses Galileo has produced the greatest racehorse we have seen in Frankel and if the start he has made at stud is anything to go by he will add further proof that Galileo is just as good a sire of sires as his esteemed lineage predicted he would be. We can go on for ages extolling the virtues of Galileo, but I am sure it would just be a case of preaching to the converted. But suffice to say that in the current season – even without Frankel – he is again leading the European sires log with almost double the earnings of his nearest rival.
So let’s break down some of the less obvious facts. Flying The Flag is out of a mare who won no less than 3 Gr1 races in Ireland, we would be excited if she had won one Gr 1 race but to have a mare good enough to win three including the Irish 1000 Guineas is truly epic. Following on from her performance she has started her stud career in much the same manner with her first foal being a graded stakes winner in Flying The Flag and his younger full sister has just started what looks to be an equally promising career with her placing second first time, winning her second start and due to compete next week in a Gr 2 event in only her third start. This is a young and very active family.
Next fact, Halfway to Heaven is by Pivotal. Pivotal is a multiple Gr 1 winner himself, a sire of Gr 1 winners of both sexes and a damsire of Gr 1 winners. He is a multiple Champion sire in Europe, and a proven producer of speed and of two year old performers, little wonder there as he was a winner of the King’s Stand Stakes himself. But as importantly in this instance is his prowess as a damsire where he is in fact currently the only sire in Europe to rank in the top ten broodmare sires while still actively at stud.
Talking about that true mark of speed the King’s Stand stakes here is another incredible fact, both of the next names in Flying The Flag’s pedigree were winners of this great sprint race. Firstly his Grand dam the exceptional Cassandra Go and in turn her sire Indian Ridge also won this race, again he was a multiple Gr 1 winner himself, and sire and broodmare sire of Gr 1 winners of both sexes.
Cassandra Go was an exceptional race filly who was brilliantly fast with four of her six wins coming in stakes races and all of them at 1400m or shorter, highlighted by her win in the King’s Stand stakes and her second in the July Cup. This half sister to Verglas has gone on and proven herself a phenomenal broodmare, producing four stakes performers and second dam of a Gr1 winner in America and of a champion sprinter in France & Germany.
As mentioned Mike will tell you more about how he rated Flying The Flag, but before then let me go back to some of my facts. Fact he was fast enough and precocious enough to win his first start as a two year old, and to run second in a Gr 2 over 1400m in his second start, his final start as a two year old was in a Gr1 in dead going which he hated. Fact he was so highly regarded by his breeders and then owners Coolmore along with his trainer Aiden O’Brein that his first three starts of his three year old career in the space of three weeks were in three Gr 1 races in three different countries, namely the French 2000Guineas, The Irish 2000 Guineas and the Epsom Derby. Thank goodness for us he never won any of them otherwise we would most certainly not be looking at him here in lowly Mooi River! His next two starts as a three year old were a third in a stakes race followed by a four length victory in a Gr 3. He then joined Mike’s yard and he will tell you more about that. But suffice to say he was victorious in Dubai and Gr 1 placed there after a break of a year. The fact that this horse raced effectively over the time period he did in as many countries as he did is testament to his character and temperament.
The final fact that I find so exciting with Flying The Flag is just how compatible he is to our local broodmare pedigrees – he is one of the easiest stallions I have ever found to mate mares to, an extremely important factor in his potential success as a stallion.
Every year that we present this horse we say the same thing and invariably so do most of you when we chat afterwards. He is the epitome of class and quality and should not be underestimated. Yes we do not expect him to be a champion sire of two year olds – but neither is Dynasty. All good things come to those who wait and I am certain you will not have to wait too long if the quality of his progeny is anything to go by. After all at the end of the day we all want to win the big races and that’s exactly what Irish Flame did and it’s exactly what his sire did too.
If this horse’s credentials needed any vindication it surely lies in the fact that Drakenstein stud have just this year taken on not one but two stallions with the exact same credentials as him. All three very similar to their father, multiple Gr 1 winners and Equus three year old champions and Equus Horse Of The Year title holders. But just for a change we got the jump start and got the first of them from the first crop of Dynasty.
To quote one of Highlands biggest advertising points for Jackson and that is he is a son of Dynasty who has twice won the Equus outstanding sire award and is also the first 3yo Horse Of The Year in SA to sire a 3y.o Horse Of The Year from his first crop to race. And Irish Flame is that horse!
I think that one fact speaks volumes about just how good Dynasty has been as a sire and that is simply that never before have we seen any local stallion have so many sons retired to stud here. Looking at the quality of those sons and the regard they are held in it can only be a matter of time before he makes one hell of an impression as a sire of sires.
It is very interesting to draw a few parallels between Irish Flame and his father for they are most striking. Dynasty won The Daily News 2000 – Irish Flame won the Daily News 2000. Dynasty won The Cape Derby – Irish Flame won the KZN Derby and the South African Derby, and who can forget the sensational manner in which he downed the mighty Pierre Jourdan by a massive 9.5 lengths.
Dynasty won the Durban July at three – Irish Flame was touched off for second, thanks to bad luck in running, in the Durban July at three.
One can only wonder at what more he may have achieved here had he not gone overseas at this stage, as Mike de Kock conceded the conditions there never suited the horse.
They both had full siblings that though stakes winners never lived up to what they themselves achieved. Dynasty’s dam was a one time winner by an unfashionable sire while Irish Flame’s dam was a stakes winner by a July winner.
In short if you can get in you can pay the money to go to Dynasty or you can go to the younger version right here at home for a fraction.
From a South African Horse of the year we move on to a New Zealand Horse of the year, also as a three year old. A triple Gr 1 winner over 1200m, 1400m and 1600m he broke the respective course records on each occasion. A horse good enough to take on the best in the whole of Australasia he was beaten by a nose in a Gr 1 by Grand Armee which meant he was also touched off by this horse from the title of Australasian Champion.
But as with any sire there comes a point at which we must not measure him only by what he has achieved himself but by the achievements of his progeny and while we have not yet seen his name in lights yet as a sire locally King’s Chapel has made an impact there too. Throughout the season he has produced winners on a regular basis and has had progeny placed at Gr 2 and Gr 3 level, in fact in one ten week spell he had eleven winners locally and 5 internationally and a third in a Gr 2. Had he continued that form for the whole season who knows where he would be on the sire’s lists. In saying that he has maintained a respectable position on the second season sires log and as I alluded to he continues week in and week out to produce results on the international stage, with obviously diminishing representation in all of Australia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Macau and of course New Zealand.
With the great support he has had here to date we have little doubt you will still be hearing plenty more of him.
Redoute’s Promise boasts a pedigree that demands respect from any self-respecting Australian and so by all rights should do the same for us as South African breeders. Let’s use some of those fact things again to put this into perspective. I feel at this point I should digress very slightly and thank Susan Rowett for joining us today and I have no doubt she will view this horse with some special interest as both his mother and her sister were bred at the beautiful Varsfontein Stud. His mother, Perfect Promise, was the first and to date the only South African bred horse to win a Gr 1 in Australia, this subsequent to her showing her class locally by winning The Cape Fillies Guineas Gr 1, the Gr 2 Emancipation Stakes and the Diana Stakes, along with seconds in two further Gr1’s and a Gr 2.
But this is only part of the damline and the woes it caused the Australians because Perfect Promise’s full sister was a filly called Irridescence who in the Gr 1 QE II defeated the Australian’s beloved Ouija Board becoming the second South African to win this race after London News did so and reaffirmed all of our beliefs that we had a product in South Africa fit to take on the rest of the world. Irridescence further proved this by winning in all of Dubai, Hong Kong, UK and America. This after securing the title of Equus champion three year old classic filly courtesy of her victories in the SA Classic, The Woolavington and the Gerald Rosenberg.
With perfect Promise being by Caesour this young stallion is now a representative of the most successful cross in the world for Redoute’s Choice and that being with mares with lines of Nureyev.
Redoute’s Choice himself does not need much introduction and has been in the news very recently as a sire of sires with his son Snitzel breaking the forty year old world record of thirty individual two year old winners in a season. The likes of his local Gr 1 winners Majmu and Wylie Hall have proven the Redoute’s Choice’s potency is just as effective in South Africa as it is elsewhere in the world. Just how potent is that? Well we are talking 30 individual Gr 1 winners behind only, dare we say it Galileo and Giant’s Causeway in the world. He has 32 two year old stakes winners (7 of them Gr 1 winners) out of his 134 total.
He has been an equally dominant sire of sires with 17 of his sons having produced stakes winners and eight sons who are already sires of Gr 1 winners.
We have been thrilled with Redoute’s Promise’s first crop of foals and believe this horse has the potential to be just about anything, and we are obviously not alone in that for many of the prominent breeders in this province have seen fit to support him.
I believe it speaks volumes about Toreador that when I sat down to write about this special horse, I read what I had written last year and typically everything held true for today, except maybe just a little bit stronger and more proven. I guess the biggest attribute is that I don’t really need to say much for he has done all the talking for himself already.
He is the third of the stallions shown to you today to have enjoyed the privilege of being trained by Mike de Kock and I have no doubt that Mike would happily vouch for the tremendous heart this horse had, something that can never be measured but a vital aspect of every successful racehorse and something that a sire needs to pass on. This he does in no uncertain terms for his progeny have always fought with distinction well above their weight and there is never a week that goes by when he doesn’t provide someone with a good return.
Every crop he produces an exceptional horse and last year on champions day he had a two year old colt run second in the Gr 1 in Prospect Strike, coming from an impossible draw, and this year on July day we saw Misty Burnam run second in what is now a Gr 2 for the two year olds, and hopefully tomorrow he can go one better. I would just like to take a moment to congratulate Anton & Judy on their great achievement on July day of running second in both two year features – remarkable feat from a small band of mares. We must also acknowledge the major part Anton has played in making this horse available to us all here in KZN and in turn thank everyone for doing the horse justice by giving him a full book of mares each year. Gratifyingly the rewards have been forthcoming at the sales with his first KZN crop of yearlings having been on sale this year where he has once again proven himself to be tremendous value for money. Little wonder there as he looks likely to end the season eight of the active sires on the National Sires log, and most significantly his earnings have not been dominated by any one individual, his biggest earner having earned a mere 8% of his stakes by comparison to some of the horses above him, a few examples would be Trippi who leads the log, principal earner 37 %, Silvano 21% , Go Deputy 50%. Again if more proof was needed of just how consistent a producer he is.
Grant Knowles representing Klawervlei Stud introduced Curved Ball, the only son of Fastnet Rock in South Africa at stud to date. Curved Ball has produced three juvenile winners from only just over a handful of his first crop to race, and many of those from that year we haven’t seen step onto a track yet. Trainers who supported his first crop have returned to the sales grounds to purchase the progeny of this handsome stallion subsequently, having reported back how happy they are with the Curved Ball’s in their stables and consider them and their abilities highly.
Out a Zabeel mare, Curved Ball is said to be one of the most talented horses Charles Laird ever trained, and Joey Ramsden reiterated the sentiment whilst Curved Ball was in his care. Powerfully stamped by his famous Australian based sire Fastnet Rock, who is producing the goods the world over – with Group Winners produced in England and America. A leading 3rd crop sire in 2015, Fastnet Rock’s winners include Fascinating Rock (Champion Stakes-Gr.1, Tattersalls Gold Cup-Gr.1), Qualify (Oaks-Gr.1), Diamondsandrubies (Pretty Polly Stakes-Gr.1) and Turret Rocks (May Hill Stakes-Gr.2). In 2015 his European yearlings sold for €875,000, €600,000, €455,000, €380,000, €310,000, €305,000 etc.
Grant Knowles thanked Bush Hill Stud for their brilliant care and management of Curved Ball, as well as the breeders present for the support Curved Ball has been given.
Mike De Kock’s thoughts:
“I know breeders are obsessed with speed, don’t think this was a slow Galileo. We know there was speed in his family that he does have. We tried him over a mile and half, we know that Aiden (O’Brien) tried him over a mile and a half as well, he actually failed to stay – he was better shorter. He was held back in his career with a wind problem. We buy a lot of horses out of Ballydoyle – well Jehan Malherbe does – but often they have got problems we have got to deal with. If we had horses like this in SA, if they were Gr1 performed with this pedigree, you wouldn’t be able to afford them – we just wouldn’t get them, so often we do buy horses that do have their little problems. In terms of conformation, he is quite a correct horse – he is a very big horse and he is going to be very easy to mate. The fact that he is by Galileo too – if one looks at the last 10-15 years in Europe, the most prolific sires have been Galileo and Montjeu, I stand to be corrected but neither of those horses won over less then than 10 furlongs or a mile and a half. So that puts paid to the whole speed obsession – you have to look at the Classics. If you put Galileo in a 6 furlong race, he would have won it but there was no point in running him over that trip, as he was a Classic horse – so I wouldn’t be put off by that fact when one considers breeding and mating your mares. In short, Flying The Flag is a horse that if I was a breeder, I would be very confident in supporting. I think he is going to give you size and very correct legs and quite I honestly I would support him with confidence.”
Warwick ended the afternoon by thanking all who contributed towards a wonderful and informative day, and thanked all who attended and supported the stallions.
Flying The Flag stands for a fee of R20 000 this season, and an incentive bonus of R100 000 has been announced for the breeder who produces the Graded Stakes Winner from Flying The Flag.