It wasn’t long ago that #kznbred Takingthepeace took two legs of the Triple Tiara in 2018, only to finish two lengths off the winner over the staying leg of 2450m, but Act Of War’s star Gr1 winning daughter – War Of Athena – carries enough staying power in her pedigree which should see her through – in particular being out of a Requiem mare from the family of Gr1 Gold Cup winner, Desert Links and of course having Dynasty as her paternal grandsire.
Paul Matchett’s star filly who was famed to sell for just R30 000 at the 2019 Ready To Run Sale, owned by Mr R S Wentzel & Dr R E Waterman-Wentzel who have had a lot of luck recently – owning not only War Of Athena but Only The Brave (Act Of War) and Battle Force (Act Of War – 3 wins in a row!) will have her regular rider Muzi Yeni in the irons for the big day.
Summerhill Stud owner Mick Goss admitted he put no reserve on War Of Athena at the Bloodstock South Africa Ready To Run Sale of 2019 and was happy to see her purchased.
Later in the Sale Goss had another Act Of War filly called Only The Brave, who is out of the Grade 2 Gerald Rosenberg winner Spring Garland, who is in turn a half-sister to Summerhill-bred stalwart Imbongi, and he recalled going over to congratulate the successful bidders Roy Wentzel and Rose Waterman-Wentzel, who landed her for what looked to be a bargain R150,000. The couple informed Goss they had also been the purchasers of the small Act Of War filly, War Of Athena, who had earlier fetched R30,000, and Mick replied he would like to have both fillies back at the farm one day for breeding purposes.
Ironically, the five-times more expensive Only The Brave now lives in the shadow of War Of Athena and plays a valuable role as her pacemaker.
Goss recalls War Of Athena being a “perfect little specimen, she was like a china doll”, and she had a “beautiful, fluent action” but she “was very small and nondescript (lacking distinctive features)” so “we knew she would not fetch a lot.”
He was glad to see her go to Paul Matchett, who has picked up a few bargain Summerhill buys before, including three-times Graded winner and twice Grade 1 runner-up Running Brave, also for R30,000, and the Listed-winning twelve times winner Mannequin for R80,000.
Goss also spoke about War Of Athena’s deep pedigree and said it suggested she would appreciate the step up in trip to 1800m and would get the Wilgerbosdrift SA Oaks trip of 2450m.
He revealed, “I bought her French-bred third dam Godille from Alec Head, a leading French jockey who became a multiple champion trainer and a champion breeder. His daughter Criquette became a leading trainer and his son Freddy became a six-times French champion jockey.
Godille came from a family that has been owned by all of the leading breeders in France, including the Niarchos’s and The Aga Khan. She was a half-sister to Dunette (Hard To Beat), who won the Group 1 Prix de Saint-Cloud over 2500m and the Group 1 Prix de Diane (French Oaks run over 2100m). At stud Dunette produced French Glory, who was owned by Juddmonte and who won the Grade 1 Canadian International Stakes over a mile-and-half. Godille’s best progeny was Selborne Park, who was a Listed-winner and she later became the dam of Gold Cup winner Desert Links.”
Goss continued, “War Of Athena’s damsire Requiem won a Group 2 over 2500m in Australia before running unplaced in the Melbourne Cup. Her sire Act Of War, who is by Dynasty, is a tall leggy athletic horse who was precocious as he won three times as a juvenile but two of those wins were over 1500m (Grade 3 Langerman) and 1600m (Listed Winter Juvenile Stakes). He went on to win the Grade 1 Cape Guineas and was only once tried beyond a mile, finishing second in the Grade 1 Cape Derby, but I thought in his running style he looked like a July horse.
War Of Athena’s dam Qaphela was bulky and Act Of War needed bulky mares. At the time we were trying to see where Act Of War would be as a sire so we bred him both to speed to see if he would produce precocious types and to mares like Qaphela to see if they would get ground.”
Goss concluded, “Requiem was by Danehill but War Of Athena looks more like a Dynasty type, she is like a Beach Beauty. Her pedigree is packed with stamina but I did misread Pierre Jourdan. You would have thought being out of a Parade Leader mare Pierre Jourdan would have gone around two turns but he didn’t get the Derby trip, although we do know he later finished second in the July. So I could be wrong about War Of Athena too. However, she does have a great temperament and a relaxed style of running and a tremendous turn of foot.”
War Of Athena could be the second Summerhill-vendored Ready To Run graduate to land the Wilgerbosdrift Triple Tiara after the great Australian-bred Galileo filly Igugu.
Act Of War stands at Summerhill Equestrian and has had four Black Type wins this season and carries a winners to runners percentage of 34.2%.
His fellow stable mate Willow Magic is following hot on his heels – with two runners in the Gr2 SA Oaks – Gr1 placed Magical Flight and Astral Plane, while the sensational MK’s Pride will race in the Gr3 Man O’ War Sprint.