Bloodstock Similarities – Turf Talk: 15 July 2019

Cross border bloodstock similarities evident in a maelstrom of wonderful sport.

Fans in Trafalgar Square after England won the Cricket World Cup . (Peter Manning/Alamy Live News).
Fans in Trafalgar Square after England won the Cricket World Cup. (Peter Manning/Alamy Live News).

IT’s hard to concentrate. I’ll try. But a lot has happened in the past week or so.

While DO IT AGAIN (SAF) was doing it again, the great mare ENABLE (GB) was beating a girl and lots of boys up the Sandown hill in the Group 1 Eclipse (stiff 2,000m) which happens to be a favourite race of this correspondent. The history of the Eclipse would be an article all by itself – duly pencilled in.

ENABLE is being aimed at an unprecedented third Arc. Before that she will contest the King George and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes (2,400m) at Ascot later this month when the Classic Generation takes on the older horses for the first time.

ENABLE’s chief opponent is likely to be CRYSTAL OCEAN (GB), now “World Top Rated” in those Longines rankings (newly issued for races up to 7th July) that are beginning to make a bit more sense now that the European season is happening and June performances have been rated.

DO IT AGAIN sits 16th with their (Longines) rating of 120 – HAWWAAM has the same rank and rating. ENABLE was well below her best in the Eclipse season opener, needing the run while powerfully winning a Group 1 over a stiff 2,000 metres instead of the full classic distance. She is 7th at 123. WINX is still joint 2nd on 125.

CRYSTAL OCEAN (BY Sea the Stars out of a Mark of Esteem mare – hands up all whom I have bored to death about Mark of Esteem being a brilliant broodmare sire) is clear top on 127 based on the Group 1 Prince of Wales Stakes at Royal Ascot last month.

For around 9 hours yesterday, the Cricket World Cup Final at Lord’s held the attention of a vast audience including a packed full Trafalgar Square and a large chunk of Hyde Park.

That England won the Cricket World cup it is cause for celebration and great emotion, whilst recognising that it was won on count-back after a tied match and a tied “super over”. It could have gone either way at any time but will rank as one of the great sporting contests, played in the best possible manner at a fabulous venue.

During that 9 hour period, Djokovic beat Federer at Wimbledon in an extended 5 setter – comparably as colossal as the cricket match in adjusted context and to be watched in the wee small hours after writing this – and Lewis Hamilton beat Jim Clark’s record by winning his 6th British Grand Prix at Silverstone in front of 141,000 people (350,000 across the race, practice and qualifying days) – ditto, although I had that on a screen and earpiece during the cricket.

At the busy July Sales in Newmarket last week, all of these events were anticipated, along with the Falmouth Stakes (Gr1) and the July Cup (Gr1) for which we were on course.

The pleasure resulting from having such a menu of events in the British Season was not, however, the reason for fairly buoyant prices at the sales.

The racing (= horses in training) majority of the 900 strong catalogue spread over three days was support-ed mostly by overseas buying. Various Middle East, Australia and a long list although not South Africa, sadly.

The breeding day started off weak as usual – and pre-sented opportunities of which we took exciting ad-vantage – but soon hotted up with the better in-foal mares making (IMHO) 20/30% more than they should.

The apparent health of the market masks a reality of weakness at middle and lower level – a reality that in UK is similar to that reality in South Africa, albeit on a different scale.

In South Africa the progeny of very good sires are often shunned. “They don’t want them” is the standard phrase about sons and daughters of this, that or the other perfectly respectable stallion. That phrase actually means “You can’t get a fair price for a good individual by…”.

The fundamental reason for this is that there are insufficient buyers to go round and the real ones can pick and choose the fashionable ones – or buy yearlings by the less fashionable sires for a third or a quarter of their production cost. Obviously that is unsustainable; therefore logically the progeny of those sires will cease to exist other than as produced by a few breeders not working to a bottom line.

We have already seen an announced decline in foal registrations for 2018 from 3200 to 2500 – but actually less – and can predict a further drop in 2019 which we have discussed in this column before.

Instead of the smaller crops of foals being populated by progeny of a spread of stallions, the result will be a very damaging polarisation. Sales companies already contribute to that polarisation by deciding that this or that stallion is insufficiently successful to accept at a level.

The argument goes that even though a yearling might have a very good family and be a good individual, and be the product of a careful mating by a knowledgeable breeder, the market will not want him/her because of the fashion quotient of the sire and therefore the turnover (and commission earnings) will not be as high as wished.

The net effect is that sales companies (not only in South Africa) are effectively telling breeders which stallions (not) to use and presenting a narrowed set of options to buyers.

MOUILLE Point, a gorgeous young mare who won for Markus Jooste before changing colours made 100,000 guineas in foal to Kodiac carrying a colt.

This polarisation is occurring in UK and Ireland on a larger scale. When stallions covered 60/70 mares per season, decent mares were spread around more. The concept of a “Trainer’s Horse” at the yearling sales was widespread.

Now, with books for cheap sprinting types exceeding 200 – aiming for 2 year olds – and the same number for very expensive top commercial sires like Dark Angel (€85,000) and Kodiac (€65,000), Trainers Horses are squeezed out of sales.

With a foal crop the size of South Africa’s, we are in danger of minimising breeders’ and buyers’ choices and of failing to emphasise the importance of broadening the gene pool by:

(a) studying the overseas pedigrees that are already in the country instead of rejecting them as unfamiliar and

(b) more widely discussing these issues in bloodstock media for the benefit of trainers-as-bloodstock-agents and owners who do not independently research.

DO IT AGAIN is out of a mare by Casey Tibbs. Bet she wasn’t commercial. – tt.

*Apologies for quality, please enlarge page to view.