|Summerhill Stud New Sire Addition: “Sunday’s Surprise – Ato”|
Ask anyone who’s attended an Emperors Palace National Yearling Sale at the TBA’s Germiston complex, where his ideal watering hole is, and he’ll tell you it’s the Maine Chance coffee bar, where Liz Slade cooks up a storm and serves up thousands of cups of the proprietor’s famous brand.
Those who attended the 2009 version will remember the hubbub around that farm’s Lot 147, whenever that spectacular son of Royal Academy was on parade. At R850 000, he was right in there with the most appealing youngsters of his generation, and as you might’ve expected of a horse with his looks and bloodlines, Ato subsequently lived up to his lofty billing.
Any racing fan worth his salt knows the Australian superstar, Black Caviar.
Grandstands and bars bear her name, some as far afield as England. Like Saturday’s hero of Argentina’s biggest horserace, Taifas, her granddad was the regal racehorse Royal Academy, whose glittering stud career left close to 170 Stakes winners, twenty seven of them at the highest level. In the local context, we need only cast our minds back a few seasons, and we’ll remember Dean Kannemeyer’s annus mirabilis with his July ace, Eyeofthetiger, and Mary Slack’s Guineas hero, Expressway, both of them sons of Royal Academy.
The search among stallion men for that elusive beast with speed, substance and superior genes is never-ending, and as a top-of-the-sale dual Group One-winning son of Royal Academy at six furlongs and a mile, Ato is the complete package. His six length annihilation in the Krisflyer International Sprint of globe-trotting Krypton Factor, hot off his own crowning moment in the world’s richest sprint, was the final act for a tribe celebrated in South Africa by the champion stallions, Silvano and Dancing Champ.
It’s no secret that Patrick Shaw has always felt short-changed at not being at Royal Ascot in 2012, when Black Caviar just got home in the Golden Jubilee Sprint. While any statement suggesting Black Caviar might one day be relegated to the Number Two box is bound to be taken with disbelief, particularly “Down-Under”, Pat points to several lines of international form that make a case for an “arguable” Ato victory. Either way, first or second, they both carry the blood of Royal Academy.
For those who attend Ato’s unveiling at Summerhill’s Investec Stallion Day on Sunday, you might well be comforted that the search stops right here.
Sunday is the golden clasp that binds together the volume of the week.”
― Henry Wadsworth Longfellow