Can Camelot aid the Montjeu sire-line?
Camelot: has his first two-year-olds run this year
PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos) Can Camelot come to the aid of Montjeu sire-line?
12:11PM 23 MAR 2017
Our mini-series looking forward to the start of the Flat turf season continues with Montjeu assessing the rookie stallion's prospects of salvaging Montjeu's legacy
ALTHOUGH Montjeu has around 20 sons standing at stud across Europe this year, only one – barring a remarkable resurrection in the popularity of a commercially exposed name – has a realistic chance of continuing his sire-line in the northern hemisphere.
The responsibility for ensuring the best source of middle-distance performers and stayers of the new millennium remains in the top line of pedigrees rests on the shoulders of Camelot, whose first two-year-olds run this year.
The fact that none of Montjeu's paternal grandsons are at stud, as far as I can see, otherwise makes the decline of his sire-line look likely. Perhaps last year's Joe Hirsch Turf Classic hero Ectot, a son of Hurricane Run, will rectify that at the end of his racing career. Hartnell, a son of Authorized who has excelled since being posted to Australia, certainly will not, as he has been gelded.
By way of comparison, Giant's Causeway, who retired to stud in the same year as Montjeu, has a double-digit tally of stallion grandsons, most of them by Shamardal. Galileo, who joined Montjeu at Coolmore a year later, has a handful through New Approach and Teofilo.
In an industry that grants better chances to colts of lower quality but with the promise of producing sharper stock, the late Montjeu's uncanny ability to sire later-maturing performers who shone over ten furlongs and further has been his downfall in founding a dynasty.
Taking three of his record-equalling four Derby winners first: Motivator has managed to get a true great in Treve but has otherwise been a rather inconsistent supplier of top-notchers, and it is difficult to see Flat breeders granting a talented son of his strong support now.
Similar comments apply to Authorized, whose five best male runners in Europe are all geldings and who does his credentials as an influential Flat sire no good by inadvertently proving to be such a fine source of jumpers. He was the leading sire at Cheltenham last week with two winners, including Nichols Canyon.
Pour Moi, meanwhile, has disappointed with his early Flat crops – freakishly, the sprint filly Only Mine remains his highest rated representative – and has had his sights switched to the jumps, where he has been represented by classy four-year-old hurdler Coeur De Lion.
Among Montjeu's other Classic winners, Hurricane Run, who recently passed away at Gestut Ammerland, enjoyed only sporadic success with his progeny but does have Ectot on his record, while Jukebox Jury is also at stud in Germany, where staying power is a cherished quality. He got off to a fair start with 13 first-crop two-year-old winners in Europe last year, and may very well sire sons worthy of their own stallion career. Even then, however, Jukebox Jury would most likely take root on the continent.
Then there was Fame And Glory, Frozen Fire, Leading Light, Masked Marvel and Scorpion: more Classic winners by Montjeu all sent straight into careers as jumps sires.
If Camelot is going to stem the decline of his sire-line he will not only have to provide his fair share of winners and classy customers, but he will also have to come up with colts that appeal to commercial breeders.
It is a tough task but Camelot has broken the mould before. Many of Montjeu's best offspring made their racecourse debut from late summer onwards at two but he was an easy winner in mid-July. He went on to become his sire's only winner over a Classic mile in Europe when victorious in the 2,000 Guineas, admittedly against a below-par crop of three-year-olds.
Camelot also has a slightly sharper pedigree than many other Montjeu sire sons. His dam Tarfah was a Dahlia Stakes winner by the top miler Kingmambo out of a daughter of the sprinter-miler Danehill.
He should have plenty of bullets to fire in the coming seasons, having covered 194 mares in his first year at Coolmore in 2014, 202 in 2015 and 207 last year. It is quality ammunition too, with 68 stakes performers sent to him in his debut season, 36 of those black-type winners.
At this early stage of the year, eight Camelot two-year-olds are registered by Weatherbys as in training with Aidan O'Brien, who saddled the sire to three Classic victories. They include a colt out of Iowa Falls, a half-sister to Prix du Jockey Club winner New Bay who at 400,000gns is Camelot's most expensive yearling.
O'Brien's son Joseph, who was in the saddle each time Camelot won, has at least three in his care that he bought at auction for 70,000gns, 65,000gns and €55,000.
Camelot also has multiple representation in the stables of Hugo Palmer and Ed Walker, who have four each according to Weatherbys, and Richard Hannon, who has three.
So Camelot has every chance to make it as a stallion and perhaps secure the future of the Montjeu sire-line by producing sons good enough to retire to stud themselves.
Coolmore will hope he does, not only for the obvious reason of revenue, but also because the operation could do with an outlet for its many top-class Galileo mares. A Camelot foal out of a daughter of the multiple champion sire would be bred 3×3 to Sadler's Wells, close inbreeding but not out of the ordinary in the thoroughbred realm.
Other breeders and pedigree enthusiasts will hope Camelot succeeds because a sire as brilliant as Montjeu deserves his legacy not to be confined to the jumps sphere or to New Zealand, where his son Tavistock looks a potential breed-shaper and has a first son of his own, Tarzino, joining the stallion ranks this year.