Gold Allure fades as progeny start to shine
Gold Dream becomes the fourth top-level winner for sire Gold Allure PICTURE: Masakazu Takahashi Gold Allure fades as progeny start to shine By Nancy Sexton 11:52AM 23 FEB 2017
AS FATE would have it, an excellent weekend for Gold Allure coincided with the news of the stallion's death from heart disease at the age of 18.
Gold Allure won't be remembered as the best son of Sunday Silence to head to stud – that's an accolade long wrapped up by Deep Impact – but for anyone looking to breed a dirt runner in Japan, there were surely few more reliable sources.
The Shadai Farm stallion, who was due to stand this season for 3 million yen (£21,000/€25,000), was Japan's champion dirt sire in 2014 and 2016 and has not finished out of the top two on the leading dirt sires' list since 2009. Following the weekend and all that is promised for the future, he is now in pole position to land a third title.
The crowning point of the weekend came courtesy of Gold Dream's victory over Best Warrior in the February Stakes at Tokyo. A fourth Grade 1 winner for Gold Allure, Gold Dream also provided a fourth February Stakes success for his sire following Espoir City's win in 2010 and Copano Rickey's back-to-back successes in 2014 and 2015.
The February Stakes is Japan's first Grade 1 of the season and one of only three Japanese Grade 1 races held on dirt throughout the year. Naturally it attracted its share of attention but international eyes were also drawn to the result of the Hyacinth Stakes on the same card as a race that provided 50 points towards a run in the Kentucky Derby. For the second year running, the mile event also fell to a son of Gold Allure in Epicharis, who made it four out of four for trainer Kiyoshi Hagiwara in good fashion.
That the first Japanese Grade 1 of the year should fall to a son of Sunday Silence is nothing out of the norm; take last year as an example when 15 Japanese Grade 1 races fell to members of the all-conquering line. But it has to be said that while Sunday Silence has become a respected influence within dirt racing in Japan, as you would expect from a colt who swept the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Breeders' Cup Classic during his racing days with Charlie Whittingham, his blood has not been so completely dominant in that sphere as elsewhere.
Of the top ten leading Japanese dirt sires in 2016, four – Gold Allure, Daiwa Major, Neo Universe and Kane Hekili – were sons or grandsons of Sunday Silence. That's still a healthy number even if it was only Gold Allure who made the top five. But by comparison, seven members of the line sat among the top ten Japanese turf sires.
Such domination, whether it be through Deep Impact, Daiwa Major, Heart's Cry or Stay Gold or others, is what we have come to expect from Sunday Silence in Japan.
But various other successful American imports into the Japanese thoroughbred population, such as Afleet, Forty Niner, French Deputy and End Sweep, have also had a strong contribution to Japanese dirt racing over the years, and today, the leading dirt sires' list is also consistently the domain of Kurofune and South Vigorous, sons of French Deputy and End Sweep. Indeed, when Gold Allure filled the runner-up spot on the leading dirt sires' list in 2009, 2010, 2012 and 2013, he was the only member of his sire line to hit the top five.
Gold Allure was bred by Oiwake Farm out of Nikiya, a Nureyev daughter of Grade 1 winner Reluctant Guest who won three races in France for Sheikh Mohammed.
He was initially tried by trainer Yasuo Ikee on the turf, on which he won a Kyoto maiden as a two-year-old. However, he didn't win again until six starts later when a switch to dirt prompted swift improvement. He went on to win six of his following eight starts on the surface led by the Japan Dirt Derby (a local Grade 1), Derby Grand Prix (a local Grade 1) and February Stakes, and retired to the Shadai Stallion Station for the 2004 season. He covered three-figure books throughout his career, the ‘low point' coming in 2007 when he covered ‘only' 132 mares.
His first crop were a strong group that included several major runners in Espoir City, who emulated his sire by taking the Japan Dirt Derby and February Stakes, Smart Falcon, whose 19 wins included the Grade 1 Tokyo Daishoten, and the Japanese 2,000 Guineas runner-up Take Mikazuchi.
While not all of his subsequent crops have lived up to that high bar, his fifth crop contained a real star in Copano Rickey, a dual winner of the February Stakes and successful in five local Grade 1 races, as well as Chrysolite, who struck a blow for Japan in last year's inaugural Keeneland Korea Cup at Seoul.
Gold Allure's death on Thursday would have left a void at Shadai regardless of how the early part of 2017 had panned out. But the timing was cruel. For Gold Dream, Sunday's win in the February Stakes may well have marked the first of several strikes at the top level this season. In the case of Epicharis, he could be on the cusp of an international jaunt that will promote Gold Allure to outside eyes.
Incidentally, both colts are inbred to the great matriarch Special as well as Nijinsky. The latter pattern is found in the backgrounds of five other stakes winners by Gold Allure, among them Take Mikazuchi. Espoir City and Smart Falcon are now at stud and no doubt they will be joined in due course by Gold Dream.
The colt, bred by Northern Farm, is out of the Group 2-placed French Deputy mare Mon Vert but is the first Group or Graded stakes winner within two generations of his family. However, delve further back and Gold Dream certainly has the foundation to excel in his second career as a direct descendant of Special, who left an indelible mark on the thoroughbred as the dam of Nureyev and granddam of Sadler's Wells.
WINNERS OF THE GRADE 1 FEBRUARY STAKES BY GOLD ALLURE
GOLD DREAM (2013 c ex Mon Vert by French Deputy). Bred by Northern Racing
2015 and 2014
COPANO RICKEY (2010 c ex Copano Nikita by Timber Country). Bred by Yanagawa Bokujo
ESPOIR CITY (2005 c ex Eminent City by Brian's Time). Bred by Ikuchise Bokujo
ch 1999 – 2007 Sunday Silence – Nikiya (Nureyev)
Won 8 races inc. February Stakes – Gr.1, Japan Dirt Derby – Gr.1, Derby Grand Prix – Gr.1 etc
Stood at Shadai Stallion Station. 2017 fee: ¥3 million
Snitzel on course to break own record
Speculation that Snitzel could break his own record of 30 two-year-old winners in an Australian season, which he holds jointly with Without Fear, continues to gain momentum. The Arrowfield stallion, who currently heads the leading Australian sires' list, is responsible for five of the top 20 acceptors for the Golden Slipper Stakes on March 18 yet the best could be one further down the list in the Shadwell homebred Muraaqeb, who became Snitzel's 22nd juvenile winner of the season when the impressive winner of his debut at Moonee Valley. The colt's Golden Slipper aspirations could be tested next in the Group 3 Black Opal Stakes at Canberra on March 5.
Fraam still burns bright for Channon
Fraam was one of the success stories of around 15 years ago, a horse who became a reliable ally of the smaller breeder off the back of small crops and low fees. However, the son of Lead On Time also owed much to the support of Mick Channon, who trained Majestic Desert, Lady Lahar and Dayglow Dancer among others, so it's fitting that Channon's latest flagbearer, last Thursday's Balanchine Stakes winner Opal Tiara, is out of one of Fraam's daughters, Zarafa. Channon bred Opal Tiara, by former Rathasker Stud stallion Thousand Words, in partnership with Gill Hedley.
Network doubles up at Navan
Two of the most impressive performances on Sunday's card at Navan belonged to Acapella Bourgeois and Ball D'Arc, the dominant winners of the Ten Up Novice Chase and Flyingbolt Novice Chase. Both paid yet further credit to their sire Network, the flagship stallion of Haras D'Enki who stands for €10,000.
Sulamani will be missed
Sulamani, whose death at the age of 18 was announced by Yorton Farm on Saturday, was one of those horses who could be relied upon to impart class and resilience to his offspring. Few stallions are able to come up with a Classic winner in their first crop but Sulamani did just that as the sire of Mastery, winner of the 2009 St Leger. Another four Group 1 winners followed in South America while a burgeoning record over jumps was enhanced considerably last year when Rule The World won the Grand National. Certainly, not many stallions out there would be capable of siring Classic winners on the Flat and the Grand National.
It took a bid of just €4,000 for Sean Wickham to secure a Mahler colt foal out of Glebe Beauty at the 2011 Tattersalls Ireland November National Hunt Sale. Later resold for €45,000 as a three-year-old to Kieran McManus, the horse in question, Sutton Place, notched up his fifth consecutive win for Gordon Elliott in Sunday's Boyne Hurdle at Navan.