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The boys for Black Caviar
Spring might not be in the air, but for the Australian thoroughbred breeding industry in the depth of winter, spring is very much on its mind.
The man-made modern thoroughbred stallion isn’t required to fight his rivals to build a harem of mares—the multi-million dollar advertising machine takes care of that, and this year the competition for a dwindling number of mares is running hot.
Most of the headline stallions are fully booked, but there is always room for one more … a special mare, too good to refuse.
So with the prospect that a battered and bruised Black Caviar (b m 2006, Bel Esprit-Helsinge, by Desert Sun (GB)) may have run her last race, there isn’t a stud farm that hasn’t dusted off the red carpet in the hope the great mare might float through the front gates.
Firstly, let’s forget about the “mating from heaven” with the unbeaten superstar Frankel, because the toffy English beau has racetrack commitments and it’s almost certain he won’t be taking a seat on the shuttle train in the near future given his owner Khalid Abdullah’s lack of interest in the concept since the accidental death of his stallion, Zafonic, at Arrowfield Stud in 2002.
Even if Frankel was available here, the temptation to use him may be overridden by the fact the progeny will have four sire lines to Northern Dancer—Sadler’s Wells, Danzig (Danehill), Nijinsky (Royal Academy) and Danzig (Desert Sun-Green Desert). Personally, I’d give it a fling.
So what’s on offer for the great mare in Australia?
The first reaction for most will be “it’s easy, go straight to the top of the class”—the two superstar Danehill-sons, Fastnet Rock and Redoute’s Choice.
However, neither is on my short list for the simple reason that there is more to mating a mare such as Black Caviar than to pick the best, and hope for the best.
Her immense size—580kgs—means that big, heavy stallions such as Fastnet Rock and Redoute’s Choice are a risk. Breeder Rick Jamieson sold Black Caviar as a yearling because he took the advice that her size could restrict her racing career—he may have been right but for the superb management of Peter Moody.
The other issue with a direct mating with Fastnet Rock is that he is out of a Royal Academy mare, which gives a 3fx3m cross to the stallion—bit too close for me.
I am setting aside Coolmore Stud’s veteran Encosta De Lago (by Fairy King (USA)) because of the doubts about his ability to produce stallions—the jury is out as we wait for the stock of his fast sons, Northern Meteor and Manhattan Rain, to get to the races—which surely will be a pre-requisite for Black Caviar’s senior owner, Neil Werrett, who is a breeder of significance and who also takes good advice from his Hunter Valley mate, Mick Malone, from Kitchwin Hills, near Scone, where Black Caviar is almost certain to live as a broodmare.
So where does that leave Werrett and his partners?
I believe the ideal horse, physically and on pedigree, is Arrowfield Stud’s rising star Snitzel.
The son of Redoute’s Choice and Snippets’ Lass (by Snippets) is a perfect fit. He’s an up-and-coming young stallion, who is producing brilliant young horses from a base of moderate mares.
Importantly, he’s the right size—a smallish, neat, athletic horse—for a big mare such as Black Caviar, and he gives the Black Caviar’s owners access to the great Danehill sire line through his best sire-son, Redoute’s Choice.
What I like is the mating produces a pedigree that compliments itself. Black Caviar is by a grandson of Nijinsky (by Northern Dancer (CAN)) from a mare by a grandson of Danzig (by Northern Dancer (CAN)), out of a daughter of a mare by Snippets (by Lunchtime (GB)).
The same combination is found in Snitzel, whose sire is a grandson of Danzig and also is from a Nijinsky-line mare. Snitzel’s dam is a daughter of Snippets. The pedigree also provides access to the underrated Lunchtime (by Silly Season (GB)) through his best son (Snippets) and his best-producing daughter, Jesmond Lass, the dam of Canny Lad, who is the sire of Redoute’s Choice’s dam, Shantha’s Choice.
Alan Porter, bloodstock expert for Pedigree Consultants, made the point in an article in Inside Breeding in 2011 that he believes that the doubling of Lunchtime’s sire-line (Silly Season, by Tom Fool (USA)) in Black Caviar’s pedigree is as much to do with her inherent speed as the much-talked-about double dose of the great Australian sprinter Vain (by Wilkes (FR)).
Apart from Snitzel as the standout mating, I have broken up my list of MY likely mates into two—proven and unproven, and added one from left field.
The proven horses worth considering are (in no particular order):
More Than Ready (br h 1997, Southern Halo (USA)-Woodman’s Girl (USA), by Woodman (USA)) Vinery, Scone, NSW.
Smallish and light-framed, the handsome More Than Ready is a perfect fit both physically and in pedigree. Importantly, he has the commercial profile to suit Black Caviar and he also stands at Vinery, one of Australia’s famous farms in Scone, which is part-owned by part-owner Neil Werrett.
Street Cry (b h 1998, Machiavellian (USA)-Helen Street (GB), by Troy (GB)) Darley Kelvinside, Aberdeen, NSW.
Street Cry is a wonderfully versatile sire, and with this mating we get Zenyatta’s sire over Black Caviar! The Street Cry pedigree is an outcross for stallions, although it offers link to Northern Dancer’s family through Machiavellian, who is a son of Mr Prospector from a mare in-bred to Northern Dancer’s granddam, Almahmoud. Also, Mr Prospector has a fine record over mares by Nijinsky.
Lonhro (blk h 1998, Octagonal (NZ)-Shadea, by Straight Strike (USA)) Darley Kelvinside, Aberdeen, NSW.
Lonhro provides an almost complete outcross, as he is almost free of Northern Dancer blood (his grandsire Zabeel has Northern Dancer as his maternal grandsire). Lonhro is Australia’s leading stallion from an initial mare base that is nowhere near the quality he has covered in the past two seasons. While Lonhro is a big horse, he’s not coarse and he generally produces medium-sized horses.
Casino Prince (b h 2003, Flying Spur-Lady Capel, by Last Tycoon (IRE)). Patinack Farm, Aberdeen, NSW.
I chose Casino Prince purely because he obviously has nicked with Black Caviar’s dam, Helsinge, to produce the brilliant All Too Hard. While he is a leggy stallion, he also is light-framed, which complements her size.
Smart Missile (b h 2008, Fastnet Rock-Comical Smile (USA), by Comic Strip (USA)) Arrowfield Stud, Scone, NSW.
Smart Missile is possibly the best link to Fastnet Rock, and it pushed the Royal Academy double cross out to 4×3. Importantly, Smart Missile’s dam line is a an outcross, so we reduce the saturation of Northern Dancer blood.
New Approach (ch h 2005, Galileo (IRE)-Park Express (IRE), by Ahonoora (GB)) Darley Northwood, Seymour, Vic.
We can’t get Frankel, so what about Galileo’s other great son, New Approach, who has really hit his straps with his first runners in Europe—three Stakes winners in Royal Ascot week has elevated him to star status. New Approach also is the result of an outcross, so again, there is a reduction of Northern Dancer’s influence that is so prevalent in Black Caviar’s pedigree.
So You Think (b or br h 2006, High Chaparral (IRE)-Triassic (NZ), by Tights (USA)) Coolmore Stud, Jerry’s Plains, NSW.
While I am a bit concerned about his immense size and the fact the foal will have four sire lines to Northern Dancer, he deserves to be considered for his adonis-like looks and wonderful turn of foot. He is Northern Dancer over Nijinsky, while Black Caviar is the reverse.
Sepoy (ch c 2008, Elusive Quality (USA)-Watchful, by Danehill (USA)) Darley Kelvinside, Aberdeen, NSW.
Sepoy’s sire Elusive Quality is an unknown sire of sires, but Sepoy comes from a wonderful Australian female line. With this mating comes a double of Lunchtime through his best son Snippets and best daughter Jesmond Lass. Sepoy, small, strong and very Australian in his type (he’s a Star Kingdom clone), also is the perfect size for the big mare.
Foxwedge (b h 2008, Fastnet Rock-Forest Native (USA), by Forest Wildcat (USA)) Newgate Farm, Scone, NSW.
Another link to Fastnet Rock, and certainly a smaller version and a more handsome one. Foxwedge may not have had the same raw talent as Sepoy and Smart Missile, but he was very competitive with them. Foxwedge has a double cross of the close relations Royal Academy and Storm Cat—Black Caviar’s grandsire is Royal Academy.
LEFT OF FIELD
Artie Schiller (b h 2001, El Prado (USA)-Hidden Light (USA), by Majestic Light (USA)) Independent Stallions, Stockwell Stud, Diggers Rest, Vic.
The Victorian-based Artie Schiller is shaping as one of the hidden gems in Australian breeding. He offers the type (very handsome and mid-sized) and he’s doing a great job off a base of below average mares. Artie Schiller also offers another link to the great speed influence Tom Fool (Lunchtime’s grandsire) through his sire El Prado’s dam.
Photo: Snitzel at Arrowfield Stud—the perfect mate for Black Caviar.
The pedigree of the perfect match: