• Ruffina wins The Sprinters Cup (Gr.1)
  • Azzurro wins The Dr M A M Ramaswamy Stayers Cup (Gr.1)
  • Whomakestherules wins The Maj P K Mehra Memorial Super Mile Cup (Gr.1)
  • Kangra wins The Indian Turf Invitation Cup (Gr.1) in record timing
In Search Of Glory
By Major Srinivas Nargolkar (Retd.)
Tuesday 30 Oct 2012
Major Srinivas Nargolkar (Retd.)

One of the fascinations of the sport of racing lies in anticipation. As the winter season approaches, there is always the muted expectancy surrounding the progeny of new stallions. Which of them will make their mark and to what extent is always an intriguing question. In the last 15 years, there have been four 'got-abroad' winners of the Indian Derby and of the remaining 11, Razeen, Alnasr Alwasheek, Glory of Dancer and Placerville sired as many as 10. Alnasr Alwasheek is 23 years-old while the other three died last year. Their places will not remain vacant. Somebody will fill them. The question is which of the new stallions will step up to the plate and inherit the mantle.

The roster of stallions in India was boosted by 15 newcomers in 2009; 12 imported from abroad and three local stars. Their first crops were born in 2010 and that crop will start racing shortly. 

ARABIAN GULF [GB] (b 2004 Sadler's Wells - Wince by Selkirk)
Manjri Stud
Best Official Rating - 110
3 starts at 2 and 3 from 1400 m. to 2400 m. Earned GBP 19,170.
1 win over 2000 m. on Good to Firm going. 

With Major Impact, sire of the 2007 Indian Derby winner Diabolical, now 23 and his barn-mate Senure also getting on in years, Manjri Stud needed to replenish its arsenal. In 2009, it introduced a new pair of stallions including Arabian Gulf. This son of Sadler's Wells raced in Prince Khalid Abdullah's colours. Based at Newmarket in Sir Michael Stoute's Freemason Lodge stables, he had a very brief racing career of just three starts, one of which was as a two year-old at the back end the year. He then won his maiden over 2000 m. at Newmarket in April and looked like landing the MBNA Chester Vase, Gr.3 the following month over extended mile and a half only to be beaten on the post by Mick Kinane on the Ballydoyle runner Soldier of Fortune. That earned him an official rating of 110. Unfortunately, he never ran again.

He has a Classic pedigree being, like Alnasr Alwasheek, by Sadler's Wells out of Wince, a winner of the One Thousand Guineas, Gr.1. Alnasr Alwasheek's grandam One In A Million was also a winner of the One Thousand Guineas, Gr.1. Arabian Gulf's year-older full-sister Quiff won the Ashton Upthorpe Yorkshire Oaks, Gr.1 and placed 2nd in the Betfair.com St. Leger, Gr.1, Kieren Fallon getting clear a bit late and failing to catch Rule of Law by a head. Finishing third in that race was Tycoon, a three-parts brother to Quiff and Arabian Gulf. Earlier, Tycoon had been a close third in the Budweiser Irish Derby, Gr.1 to Grey Swallow, and the favourite North Light, the winner of the Vodafone Epsom Derby, Gr.1. So there is plenty of class in Arabian Gulf's pedigree as there is Classic stamina.  

Arabian Gulf had 19 live foals in his first crop from the 37 mares that he covered. His maternal grandsire Selkirk has a rare distinction for a stallion standing abroad of being the sire (Starsky) as well as the damsire (Velvet Rope) of an Indian Derby winner.

CARNIVAL DANCER [GB] (b 1998 Sadler's Wells - Red Carnival by Mr. Prospector)
Dashmesh Stud
Best Official Rating - 117
17 starts at 2 to 5 from 1600 m. to 2400 m. Earned GBP 229,475.
5 wins at 1600 m. and 2000 m. on Good and Good to Soft going.

The untimely death of Sunday Doubt [USA] early in 2008 meant that Dashmesh Stud had to replenish its stallion ranks and duly did so in 2009. Like the Manjri Stud, Dashmesh bought a brace of stallions one of which was Carnival Dancer, a son Sadler's Wells, a Champion Sire on numerous occasions and proven Sire of Sires.

Carnival Dancer, like Arabian Gulf, began his racing career under Sir Michael Stoute at Newmarket. And, like Arabian Gulf, he had just one start late in October when, as a favourite, he was fourth under Frankie Dettori from a field of ten runners. He won on his first start at 3 over a mile  Unlike Arabian Gulf, though, Carnival Dancer had a long racing career. He raced till he was five, started 17 times (13 of them in stakes races) and won five races. His last four wins were over 2000 m., a distance beyond which he was raced only once, and included three Gr.3 races namely Sodexho Prestige Scottish Classic, La Coupe and Prix Gontaunt-Biron.  As a five year-old, Carnival Dancer had moved south to Amanada Perrett's Coombelands Racing Stables at Pulborough in West Sussex. He won three races from his eight starts that year and signed off with a two-length second to Rakti in Dubai Champion Stakes, Gr.1. That entitled him to an official rating of 117. He earned GBP 229,475 for Cheveley Park Stud which had bred him and then retained him for racing.

Cheveley Park Stud has always given a chance at stud to its own-breds -- Pivotal and Medicean being prime examples -- and Carnival Dancer joined those two horses in the Cheveley stallion barn. However, he did not get many opportunities, being the sire of just 57 foals in his four years. His winners abroad include the Listed race winner Carnival Run in Germany and the listed-placed Carnival Queen in U.S.A. His advertised covering fee for all the four years that he stood at Cheveley Park was GBP 4,000. He covered 66 mares in his first year at Dashmesh and had 42 live foals.

There is plenty of speed in Carnival Dancer's bottom half of the pedigree. He himself is a half-brother to Desert Lord, a winner of the Arc Weekend's sprint showpiece, the 'Abbaye', over Longchamp's straight 1000 m. Cape Town, Cape Canaveral, Swain, Northern Afleet, Mercer Mill and Key To the Moon are some of the stallions from the immediate family of Carnival Dancer which goes back to Pretty Polly.

DECADO[IRE] (dk b/br 2003 Danehill Dancer - Pirie by Green Dancer)
Best Official Rating - 111
17 starts at 2 to 5 from 1400 m. to 2000 m. Earned GBP 153,531.
4 wins at 1400 m. and 1800 m. on Good to Yielding and Soft to Heavy going.

There are several sons of Danehill at stud in India but only one of his celebrated son Danehill Dancer, one of the current stalwarts at Coolmore. That son of Danehill Dancer is Decado who entered the Chettinad stallion barn in time for duties in 2009.

Decado cost 110,000 Euros as a yearling and he started racing for Mrs. Catherine O'Flynn as a two year-old under the care of Kevin Prendergast at Friarstown, Co. Kildare. He had 17 starts from 2 to 5 from 1400 m. to 2000 m. being saddled by Patrick Gallagher in U.S.A. in the last four of them. His four wins were all gained in Ireland and his three black-type victories, Rock of Gibraltar EBF Tetrarch Stakes, Gr.3 (1400 m.),  Keeneland International Stakes, Gr.3 (1800 m.) and Oak Lodge Loughbrown Stakes, L (1400 m.) all came at Curragh. His best performance, though, came in placing third behind Araafa and George Washington in Boylesports Irish 2000 Guineas, Gr.1. He was ridden by Declan McDonogh in all 14 of his European starts. He had an official rating of 111 prior to his departure to California where he failed to place in his four starts. He showed a distinct preference for soft going.

Decado's unraced dam is a half-sister to Fracas (Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial Stakes, Gr.2) who is standing in Ireland as a stallion. Of even more importance are the highly successful Juddmonte sire Oasis Dream and the useful Beat Hollow who are from his immediate family. He traces to the Cellini mare Credenda and there have been fairly useful stallions from this family over the last 100 years.

Standing at Chettinad Stud, his produce will almost certainly race only in the state of Tamil Nadu so his impact at all-India level will be minimal. Besides, he had only 14 foals from the 43 mares that he covered in his first year and his percentage has not improved significantly in the second year.

DECLARATION OF WAR [IRE] (b 2005 Okawango - Date Mate by Thorn Dance)
Lingwood Stud
Best Official Rating - 115
8 starts at 2 and 3 from 1200 m. to 2000 m. Earned GBP 94,041
2 wins at 1200 m., both on Good going.

Over the last few years, one of the best value-for-money stallions in India has been Lingwood's Shadeed horse Gaswar. With Gaswar getting on in age - he is 21 years-old now, a replacement was necessary and Declaration of War found favour with Mrs. Anne Wright, the doyenne of Lingwood. 

Declaration of War was purchased for 25,000 Guineas as a yearling by Blandford Bloodstock on behalf of Mrs. Violet Mercer and he entered the St. Gatien stables of trainer Peter Chapple-Hyam at Newmarket. He was a precocious and speedy individual who came to hand early and won his debut start over 1200 m. on his home course in mid-May. Within a fortnight, he was off to Epsom and duly won the Listed Woodcote Stakes. His trainer would surely have greeted his victory as a lucky omen for later in the day he saddled Authorized to win the Derby. Declaration of War's next race was at Royal Ascot and he put up a fair display in the Coventry Stakes, Gr.2, running mid-field, within six lengths of the winner Henrythenavigator. Mick Channon's Hatta Fort held him by a neck in Weatherbys Superlative Stakes, Gr.2 at Newmarket after which Declaration of War was given a short rest. A race had been planned for him but the likely hard going meant that he stayed at home. Duly refreshed, he ventured to Longchamp at the Arc Weekend and ran second to Godolphin's Rio De La Plata in the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere, Gr.1, reversing the verdict with Hatta Fort who was only fourth. His final run of his first year was in Ibn Khaldun's Racing Post Trophy, Gr.1 at Doncaster over a mile. He raced just twice at 3, over a mile at Newmarket in spring and he essayed 2000 m. for the only time at Goodwood in autumn. His Longchamp effort had earned him an official rating of 115.

Declaration of War's sire Okawango was a Champion two year-old in France. Trained Christine Head-Maarek, he was unbeaten in his three starts that year. He never won a race afterwards though he placed fourth in Dubai Poule d'Essai des Poulains, Gr.1 and Prix du Jockey Club, Gr.1. Retired to stud in France, he has had a chequered career, shuttling to Australia and now resident at Karacabey Stud in Turkey.  Declaration of War's Elnadim half-sister won Princess Margaret Abu Dhabi Stakes, Gr.3 at Royal Ascot. Date Mate's half-sister, the Gr.1 placed Timely, is the grandam of Italian Gr.1 winner and sire Le Vie Dei Colori. The dam line goes back to Man o' War's daughter Judy O'Grady and this family is responsible for successful stallions Green Dancer, Grey Dawn, Takawalk, Ercolano, Alhaarth as well as young stallions like Makfi, Authorized and Dream Well and this year’s Arc heroine Solesa. Incidentally, Okawango also belongs to this family.

The first job of any stallion is to get enough foals on ground. Declaration of War is way ahead of his contemporaries in that aspect having produced 15 foals from the 16 mares that he covered in his first season.

HESPERUS (b 2002 Brave Hunter - Forlified[USA] by Forli)
31 starts from 2 to 6. Earned Rs. 50,00,640
9 wins from 1000 m. to 1400 m.

Indian-bred horses usually get looked over when it comes to choosing stallions. So it is nice to see Hesperus, a son of the Indian-bred Brave Hunter, getting a chance in the covering shed.

In Greek mythology, Hesperus is the evening star. That was an appropriate name for a horse owned in the twilight of his long racing career by Mr. S. Rangarajan of The Hindu, a man who loved horses and dogs. Hesperus was the last notable horse owned by 'Rangappa' as he was affectionately called. Bred at Pratap Stud, Hesperus was initially trained by Darius Byramji. After the death of Mr. Rangarajan, he was taken over by Lumbini Stud and moved to Jaggy Dhariwal's yard.

Hesperus raced 31 times over four years of racing and won 9 races from 1000 m. to 1400 m. A precocious and speedy sort, he won on his debut at Bangalore after which his trainer took him to Mumbai to win the Pratap Stud Million, Gr.3. His other black-type win was the Daisy Appoo B.T.C. Anniversary Cup, Gr.3. He also placed in the 2000 Guineas at Mysore and Hyderabad as well in the Mysore Derby.

A three-parts brother to the speedy and useful Angara, his 'got-abroad' half-sister Ravij produced the Nanoli Stud Pune Derby, Gr.1 winner Aquilo. This is a good international family going back to the Man o' War mare Valkyr. There are several stallions in the family including Gregorian, Gold and Ivory, Heart of Darkness, South Atlantic, Mukaddamah, Anees, Ezzoud and Contempt; however, the moderately performed Gone West horse Elusive Quality - only a Gr.3 winner but in a world record time for a mile, has outshone them all.  

Hesperus is represented by just two foals in his first crop.

HOLDING COURT (dk b 2002 Royal Kingdom[IRE] - Confiture[USA] by Empery)
Broadacres Stud
23 starts from 2 to 6. Earned Rs. 1,25,18,954.
11 wins from 1200 m. to 2400 m.

The 2006 McDowell Indian Derby was at the mercy of Mystical. The perennial racing uncertainty manifested itself and it was won by Velvet Rope. Mystical was only third, with Holding Court splitting the pair. Mystical and Holding Court met each other four times later in their careers and the son of Alnasr Alwasheek had the upper hand every time. Mystical is undoubtedly the best Indian-bred of this millennium and Holding Court loses nothing in being second best to him.

From the first crop Equus Stud's Royal Lodge Stakes,Gr.2 winning Fairy King horse Royal Kingdom, Holding Court was bred by Nanoli Stud and sold to Mr. Haresh Mehta and was among the first horses given by that owner to trainer S. Padmanabhan. Holding Court made his debut as a two year-old in December. It was an educational run and he finished third. As a three year-old, he won his next five races culminating with the Gr.1 double of Bangalore Colts' Trial Stakes and the Kingfisher Derby Bangalore. He won the first named race in a photo verdict from Flashing Star but extended the margin to nine lengths in the latter race over the same rival.

Holding Court never won a winter Classic and his only black-type victory in the second year of his career was the Maharaja's Cup, Gr.2. In the third year, he won the Heritage Estates Eclipse Stakes of India, Gr.2 and C.N. Wadia Gold Million, Gr.2 at Mumbai and Chief Justice's Cup, Gr.3 at Bangalore. A hurriedly planned American adventure brought no joy and after his return home he raced just once, failing to get his number on the board. In all, Holding Court won 11 races -- at every 200 m. from 1200 m. to 2400 m. and placed 10 times from 23 starts. That's a record of a very genuine and consistent performer.

Though the immediate family of Holding Court is rather moderate, he traces to a good tap-root in Sanfara. There are plenty of stallions from this family -  Boldnesian, Lords, Duke of Marmalade, Galetto, Cryptoclearance, Jackal, Home Guard and Boone's Cabin, to name a few, with Fordham doing exceptionally well in Argentina and Burden of Proof excelling at Kunigal which is not very far from Holding Court's present home.

Holding Court had four live foals from the nine mares he covered in 2009.

HOTSTEPPER (dk b 2004 Glory of Dancer[GB] - Flying Home by Topanoora)
Amrit Kaur Stud
14 starts from 2 to 5. Earned Rs. 1,08,17,122.
3 wins from 1200 m. to 2400 m.

10/1 chance Hotstepper was a gallant winner of the 2008 McDowell Indian Derby, Gr.1, winning by a neck from Sweeping Success with another neck to the third placed Noble Prince; the favourite Bourbon King was only fourth. Bred by the Rattonseys at Kehelan Stud, Hotstepper ran in the colours of his breeders - with minor changes and was saddled by the veteran trainer S.S. Shah. His short racing career of 14 starts, of which only one was in his third year of racing, included three wins and seven places. He scored on his debut as a two year-old over 1200 m. and followed it up with a victory in the Breeders' Produce Stakes, Gr.3 over 1400 m. A fourth in the Poonawalla Breeders' Multi-Million, Gr.1 ended his Mumbai campaign. He had two starts during Bangalore's Summer Season and raced twice in Pune, failing to place only in the Bangalore Colts' Trial Stakes, Gr.1.

Hotstepper had three starts before the Derby and placed in all of them. Fourth in the Johnnie Walker Gold Label Indian 2000 Guineas, Gr.1, he finished a close second to Bourbon King in the R.R. Ruia Gold Cup, Gr.2, the lead-up to the Derby. Taken to Hyderabad for the Invitation Cup, he hated the asphalt-like going and finished in the ruck. His sole run at Pune was in the Southern Command Trophy, Gr.3 where he finished mid-field.

Like his sire Glory of Dancer, Hotstepper has an unorthodox pedigree. He obviously relished a bit of a trip. Staying horses are always at a disadvantage in India as stallions because most of our racing is oriented to shorter distances. At Amrit Kaur Stud, he is also likely to cover only moderate mares and just three foals from 18 mares that he covered in first season underlines the lack of support a young stallion needs.

LUCIFER SAM[USA] (b 2005 Storm Cat - Rafina by Mr.Prospector)
Sans Craintes Stud
Best Official Rating - 100
9 starts at 2 and 3 at 1400 m. and 1600 m. Earned GBP 23,283.
1 win over 1400 m. on Soft to Heavy going.

Sans Craintes Stud's 2009 addition to its stallion ranks was the beautifully bred Lucifer Sam whose year older Danehill half-brother, the better performed Admiralofthefleet had already been acquired by Kunigal Stud but had yet not arrived in India. Lucifer Sam, who ran in the silks of Mrs. Sue Magnier, showed his best form in the first four of his starts at 2 which came within less than two months.

He made his debut towards the end of June and was given an easy outing. In mid-July, he finished second to New Approach. Both these outings were at Curragh. For his third start, his trainer Aidan O'Brien sent him to Galway and under a strong ride from Fallon, he got up to head Dermot Weld-trained favourite Domestic Fund on the post. He then ran second in the Tattersalls Millions Acomb Stakes, Gr.3 at York, three and a half lengths behind Fast Company. With Fast Company running just half a length behind New Approach in the Darley Dewhurst Stakes, Gr.1, Lucifer Sam's earlier second to Princess Haya's future Vodafone Epsom Derby, Gr.1 winner was franked. 

Lucifer Sam's next visit across the Irish Sea was to Doncaster for the Urban-I Champagne Stakes, Gr.2 where he failed to show up. All his starts up to now were over 1400 m. For his final start of the year he was upped to a mile and again ran an undistinguished race. So were his three starts at 3, two of them in France. His best official rating was 100. He won in heavy going but his black-type effort was on good ground. 

On pedigree, there is nothing that belittles him. His sire, Storm Cat, had an outstanding career at Overbrook Farm in Kentucky and was perhaps the most sought after stallion in the post-Mr. Prospector era in U.S.A. His dam is a full-sister to Machiavellian. He has three lines of Almahmoud, the ancestress of Northern Dancer, Danehill, Machiavellian, Arctic Tern, Halo and a host of other successful sires. 

Lucifer Sam has 25 foals in 2010 crop and Sans Craintes Stud would be hoping that among them is a Polar Falcon or a Lyrical Bid.

Part-2 Coming Soon.....