*Article first published in International Racehorse Magazine, October 2017. Gypsy Queen had yet another grandson win at Kenilworth last week by Var for Glen Kotzen.
There is never an exact science when it comes to breeding Thoroughbreds and if it were that easy, it wouldnt be the exciting game that it is – horse breeders are the most positive people in the world, believing every foal born is going to be a future champion year in and year out.
Whilst breeders can pace the sales yards at Broodmare sales, studying catalogues, how much Black Type a mare has and conformation along with progeny produced, you can never be guaranteed what she will go on to do.
Whilst mares who have earned Black Type themselves at the track usually buy tickets to stud for their lesser performed siblings, its never a guarantee that a Black Type mare at stud will perform to the heights expected.
Gypsy Queen is the sort of mare that keeps all breeders hopes alive at sales – unplaced in one start at age 3, but a full sister to two Gr2 SA Oaks winners amongst their other Stakes wins – namely Royal Prophecy and Noble Destiny.
Gypsy Queen has no doubt trounced her Bold Black Type sisters at stud, whose progeny have won but not excelled to the the heights of Gypsy Queen.
There is also a saying that one man’s loss can be another man’s gain, and in the case of Gypsy Queen (who has a name sake racing currently by Gitano Hernando) it was Mike McHardy of Rathmor Stud who purchased the mare in 2003 at the Burwell Stud Dispersal Sale, for R55 000.
Mike McHardy of Rathmor Stud describes his thoughts of Gypsy Queen at the sale: ” As a individual she was not much to look at. She just had the breeding lines that appealed to me and I suppose I went with my gut feel and got very lucky with her.”
Gypsy Queen’s purchase price pales into comparison with the amount of coverage the placid bright bay mare would bring to Rathmor Stud, placing them firmly on the Thoroughbred breeding map and establishing a dynasty in her own right, both locally and internationally.
Mike describes her purchase as “a huge help to us – she took over from the great mare Grecian Gale [who produced Gr1 winner Wendywood] that passed away and probably saved us from falling into a hole.
At the time we only bred 8 to 15 mares a year, so you can imagine how difficult it is to be lucky enough to get a mare like this. It gave us international exposure which on a small farm like ours, its a once in a lifetime coup.”
Sadly the 23 year old outstanding broodmare with a big honest eye and a thick bushy forelock passed away at her home of 14 years in Nottingham Road, Rathmor Stud, during the month of August this year.
Voted KZN Breeders Broodmare Of The Year in 2011, Gypsy Queen has fast established herself in the studbook, with six daughters and a grand-daughter acquired by leading Thoroughbred nurseries in both South Africa and overseas – going on to produce six winning progeny between them, including in Ireland and a Listed winning juvenile grand-daughter at Fairview – Queen Forever. Her grandson So Var is Gr3 placed and a 3-time winner at Turffontein.
Her last foal produced (now a yearling filly) is a slightly sentimental one and a combination of the best to the best – Rathmor Stud stand one of the most exciting stallion prospects to come to South Africa in Noble Tune, the half-brother to dual Gr1 winner Honor Code and the family of Serena’s Song and Made You Look, to name but a few of the greats from the internationally sought after pedigree.
Asked if the filly would be sent to yearling sales, Mike confirmed that they would sell her. “We have two daughters already in Golden earings, the Fort Wood, and then 50% of Judy Silvano (by SA Champion sire Silvano) with Klawervlei Stud in partnership.
She will be visiting Coup De Grace this season which is an exceptional mating, he is the first son of Tapit to retire to stud in South Africa.”
Gypsy Queen’s first daughter to go to stud was Among Royalty, who produced three winners for breeders Collingwood Stud.
Leading breeding establishment Varsfontein, who amassed the most individual stakes winners which is unmatched by any other stud over the past South African racing season and saw them voted Equus Outstanding Breeder, have two of Gypsy Queen’s daughters at stud (both bred by Rathmor) – the unraced Jallad mare Queen Of All and Gypsy Madonna.
Golden Earings full sister, Gypsy Madonna, has foaled to Judpot (2015) and Gimmethegreenlight (2016). Sold for R1,2million as a yearling, Gypsy Madonna won twice and placed fourth in a Listed race.
Queen Of All gave Gypsy Queen her first Black Type as a grand dam, with the Scribante-owned juvenile filly by Gimmethegreenlight winning the Lady’s Slipper Stakes (Listed) at Fairview. Queen Forever has gone to be crowned the Eastern Cape’s Champion Juvenile filly of last season.
Another Rathmor-bred daughter Surabi (by Wolfhound) won the Gr2 Camellia Stakes and the Listed Gardenia, and placed in several Graded Stakes races.
A resident of Maine Chance Farms who stand Silvano, she has produced 4-time winner Sundari (including the Non-Black Type RA Flamingo Mile) and So Var – the latter trained by Gavin Van Zyl for owner Michael Leaf.
It is the third win for So Var, who has in addition placed from all of seven of his starts, including a second to the talented Al Mariachi in the Gr3 Umkhomazi Stakes at Greyville.
“You cannot keep a family hot without other big studs helping you, and with the major studs having her daughters, it helps to spread your chances,” Mike goes on to say. “They go to good sires and get every opportunity with the best. With regards to overseas, its fantastic as I feel that when South Africa open up to export our Thoroughbreds, our family will be well known internationally and it will give us a head start.”
Mike describes his reaction when he heard that Gypsy’s Warning had sold for over R10-million from Keeneland, he said it was absolute jubilation and pride.
“The fact that something from our small farm could sell for for that sort of money, and after that you realise that South Africa-breds are comparible to a degree in the international market, as she was taken to be a broodmare – which makes us realise that we do have the pedigrees here, to compete and sell internationally, which is all very exciting.”
Described as a temperamental filly from birth, quite the opposite of her mother, Gypsy’s Warning originally sold for R170 000 at 2007 National Yearling Sale to the Duncan Howells Racing Stable.
Gypsy’s Warning got off to an exceptional start with Duncan Howells, recently awarded Kwa-Zulu Natal’s leading trainer for the season and a man who has trained many Group Winners, including the likes of the brilliant Gr1 exported fillies Via Africa and Same Jurisdiction.
Duncan describes Gypsy’s Warning as one of the best fillies he has ever trained, going on to say that “she showed us very little in training at home, but was super star at the racecourse. Her win first time out was unexpected and she just got better and better with racing.”
Gypsy’s Warning won five races including three Gr1’s in South Africa with Howells, and two wins in America with trainer Graham Motion including the Gr1 Matriarch Stakes and the Gr3 Eatontown Handicap, earning R1,267,505 and $378,333 respectively.
From the age of 2 to 5 she won over distances of 1200 – 1800 metres, including the Gr1 Golden Slipper, the Gr1 Woolavington 2000, Gr1 Empress Club Stakes, Gr2 Ipi Tombe Challenge and the Gr3 Strelitzia.
In America she went on to prove herself by placing in the Gr1 Beverly D Stakes, Gr1 Yellow Ribbon and third in the Miss Liberty Listed Stakes.
Her first foal, a filly by Street Cry named Know, won and placed in Ireland from seven starts and sold at Goff’s 2015 breeding stock sale to Japanese interests for €50,000. Gypsy’s Warning has since foaled to the great chestnut galloping machine owned by Team Valor, Animal Kingdom.
Gypsy Queen’s Black Type achievements at stud havent stopped there, and her Gr3 winning son of Kahal is a five-time winner. Aptly named Romany Prince and in training with Ormond Ferraris, he is a winner the Gr3 London News Stakes and the Drum Star Listed. The R400 000 National Yearling Sales graduate has in addition, placed in several Graded Stakes races including the Gr3 Jubilee Handicap.
Romany Prince is bred on similar lines to Gypsy’s Warning – her sire Mogok is a half-brother to Machiavellian, whilst Romany Prince by Kahal is a son of Machiavellian – the common denominator being the broodmare Coup de Folie. Interestingly, Know’s sire Street Cry is also a son of Machiavellian.
All her descendants to sell at sales since 2003 have sold for a combined total of over R5 million between them at yearling sales, with 38 wins accumulated and five Black Type.
Gypsy Queen is by Gr1 Durban July winner Royal Chalice and a daughter of Sara’s Warning by Caveat – her dam a half-sister to Smart Nuff (USA) and Shy Groom (USA).
This family includes the closely related Gr2 Drill Hall Stakes winner Tales Of Bravery, and amongst a plethora of Black Type entries from an overseas damline is nine-time and Gr1 winner Pierre Jourdan, and his siblings Gr2 winner Champagne Haze and Belle Rose.
Stallions to come out of the female line include British Gr1 Prince Of Wales Stakes winner Morcon, Lord Lister (USA), Clever Allemont (USA), French-bred Noalcoholic and Alluvia.
It is an active female line that has helped not only Rathmor Stud in future pedigree histories to come – her daughters are young at stud and from the promising start of her grandchildren, more to look forward to in the future from this damline of a special broodmare that has clearly begun her own dynasty.
Rest In Peace Gypsy Queen.