• Punjabi Girl wins The Fillies Championship Stakes (Gr.1)
  • Sir Cecil wins The Colts Championship Stakes (Gr.1)
By Major Srinivas Nargolkar (Retd.)
Monday 12 Aug 2013
Major Srinivas Nargolkar (Retd.)

If you are a racing fan interested in pedigrees and breeding, November is the month which provides the greatest thrill of anticipation for that is when the progeny of new stallions starts to race. It begins much before that, actually. From the moment a new stallion lands on our shores, the build-up commences and expectations begin to arise. As a stallion's first runners take to the track, the time for hype is over. Now comes the real test. The nature of breeding the world over is such that most stallions fail to live up to the expectations. Obviously, every year ends with a new Champion Freshman Sire. However, not every Champion Freshman Sire goes on make a lasting, long term impact.

There are many questions a new stallion is expected to provide answers to. Will his progeny be precocious or late maturing? What 'class' will it posses? How far will it stay? Will it train on? These are probably the most important ones. It is said that an apple never falls far from the tree. What it means is that usually a stallion's progeny will generally inherit attributes which his own pedigree and racing presage. A sprinting sire is unlikely beget stayers though some of his progeny may stay a bit further than he himself did. Yes, there are minor but significant differences from expectations built on a stallion's pedigree and performance. In some cases, the high expectations are rudely shattered. One of the most heralded of horses to have retired to stud in recent years has been Sea The Stars. So far, his progeny has set neither the Thames nor the Liffey on fire. Galileo's half-brother, a winner of the Derby-Arc double, had 118 foals in his first crop, only a handful of runners so far while the number of winners to his credit can be counted on fingers of one hand. Sea The Stars and Galileo were both 2YO winners themselves. However, their dam and most of her other progeny failed to either race or win at 2. Hence, it is too early to comment on Sea The Stars.

During its first year, the progeny of a stallion gives a good idea of the precocity aspect. As to class and stamina, it merely hints. Whether it trains or not will only be known after another year. 'Precocity' -- and conversely 'late maturing' -- are perceptions. They are not defined. A stallion whose progeny has a higher ratio of starters to wins in its second year of racing could be termed 'late maturing' though this not laid down anywhere. Precocity has different aspects. Is a stallion who has plenty of early runners but just a few winners precocious? What about a stallion who does not have many early runners but a high percentage of winners? Of course, a stallion is only partially responsible for how his progeny fares. The kind of mares he has covered, the upbringing at the farm he is standing at and most importantly the type of trainers it goes to all play their part.

There is one other aspect which needs to be heeded concerning Freshman Stallions. Some stallions never replicate their first season performance. Royal Gleam springs to mind immediately. His first crop included Royal Tern (Indian 2000 Guineas and Indian Derby) -- a horse whose feat of winning 22 black-type races is unsurpassed in India -- and Tulipa (Indian Oaks). Royal Gleam never produced another horse as good as these two though he remained at the same stud and covered practically the same mares for some years. Rebuttal burst onto the scene spectacularly and became the Champion Freshman Sire in 2010-11. His first crop contained four Classic winners. He continues to be successful and popular. However, note that his second crop had only one Classic winner. These are early days for his third crop in which a Dandified or a Super Storm has yet to be identified. The Hazara Stud stalwart has plenty of time -- and king-sized crops coming up in 2012 and 1013 -- to demonstrate that he is not afflicted with the Royal Gleam syndrome.  

The statistics for the Third Quarter have been released by the Stud Book Authority of India and those interested can peruse all the tables on this site itself by going to 'STUD FARMS' and then clicking on 'STATISTICS'. There are still almost three months of racing left in the current year but some champions have already been unveiled. Always A Rainbow will surely lift the Champion Sire title, Razeen will end up as the Champion Maternal Grandsire and it is very unlikely that Multidimensional's Champion Freshman Sire crown can usurped.

Fifteen stallions entered stud in 2009 and thirteen of them have had runners from their first crops born a year later in 2010. (Hesperus and Sylvanite had foals in 2010 but so far no runners). Multidimensional (Danehill - Sacred Song), with stakes earnings of almost 4.3 crores, is  so far ahead of Chettinad Stud's Decado (1.47 crores) and Manjri Stud's Phoenix Tower (1.03 crores), that he looks to have slipped the field and gone away. His earnings are already a new Indian record for a Freshman Sire which stood in the name of Rebuttal (2.53 crore). He needs two more winners to overhaul Placerville's record of 23 and ten more wins to eclipse Razeen's 42. Sire of winners of all three of Bangalore's summer Classics, he has already achieved what no Freshman Sire had managed earlier. It is a splendid start for Usha Stud's seventh (Grey Gaston, Common Land, Treasure Leaf, Razeen, Steinbeck and China Visit were the earlier ones) imported sire. By a proven sire of sires in Danehill and having a half-sister to Mr. Prospector as his fourth dam, Multidimensional has a formidable pedigree. A little over twenty Danzig line stallions have come to India and Multidimensional is the seventh son of Danehill. None of them made an impact as Multidimensional has.

Multidimensional had 50 foals in his first crop. 37 (74 %) of them have already started and 22 (44 %) have won. Nine of his 22 winners scored on their debut while another five required just one educational outing before hoisting the winning flag. From these statistics you make your own judgement of whether his progeny is precocious or late maturing. His four black-type winners include two Classic winners so the class he bequeaths is obvious. Next year will decide how well his progeny trains on and how far it stays. Based on his own pedigree and performance it would appear that Multidimensional's progeny should not find a mile and a half too daunting especially as a very high percentage of it is out of daughters of Razeen.

Second in the table is Danehill Dancer's son Decado. The progeny of this stallion, based at Chettinad Stud, will race almost exclusively -- bar an odd runner or two at Mysore -- in the state of Tamil Nadu. He, therefore, is not significant in the larger context and is being passed over. The rung below Decado is occupied by Phoenix Tower (Chester House - Bionic) of Manjri Stud. Like Multidimensional, the year younger Phoenix Tower was an inmate of late Sir Henry Cecil's Warren Place stables in Newmarket. In fact, the two of them once travelled down together to Sandown to run in Coral Eclipse Stakes, Gr.1. While Phoenix Tower was beaten just a short-head by Mount Nelson, Multidimensional, after leading for most of the way, faded out and finished off-the-board but only three lengths behind. They then went their separate ways but their final official rating -- Phoenix Tower 123 and Multidimensional 118 -- corresponds almost exactly to the Sandown result.

While Phoenix Tower was a higher rated race horse, Multidimensional seems to have stolen a march as a stallion. Phoenix Tower has the distinction of being the first Freshman Sire to get a winner. In fact, his son Decathlon won the very first two year-old race for the 2010 crop, as early as 28 October in Pune. From 31 foals, he has so far had 20 runners and 11 winners. Like Rebuttal,  Phoenix Tower is inbred 3x4 to Mr. Prospector and the curious fact is that great progenitor occupies exactly the same places in the pedigree chart. Decathlon reeled off a hat-trick of 'Million' wins, Dancing Phoenix has shown himself to be extremely twinkle-toed and Trance has hinted at Classic ability. These three are perhaps the best 'gets' of Phoenix Tower thus far.

Phoenix Tower was bred and raced by Prince Khalid Abdulla's Juddmonte operation. His sire Chester House also ran in the same colours and was shaping as a promising sire when he had to be euthanised -- after being diagnosed with cancer -- just after he had finished his third year's duties at stud. Phoenix Tower is thus a posthumous son. In the mid-1980s, Manjri Stud was taken over by the Mistrys from Gwalior and it has stood stallions like Bolder Than Bold, Classic Tale, Trojan Fen, Portroe, Don't Forget Me, Major Impact and Senure. Each one of them has produced a Classic winner in India. At the same time, none of them ever threatened to become a Champion Sire. It is said that in India a stallion is only as good as the farm it is resident at and a farm is as good as the stallion it stands. That is so because Indian breeding is insular and a stallion is confined, in most cases, to covering only the mares at the farm. Phoenix Tower has begun promisingly and will need to build on his start.

Sedgefield (Smart Strike - Belva), a full-brother to English Channel, a winner of Breeders' Cup, Gr.1, stands at Jai-Govind Stud in Jaipur where stallions like Thaumaturge, Reasonable, White Crown, Blue Grass Prince, Case Law and Hymn have held court. From 44 foals, he has had 28 runners and 8 winners and he occupies the slot just below Phoenix Tower.  English Channel stands at Lane's End Stud in Kentucky and commands a fee $ 25,000. He has a Gr.1 winner in Puerto Rico, a Gr.2 winner in U.S.A. and several other stakes horses. who have excelled at around a mile and mile plus.  Most of Sedgefield's progeny will be trained by M.P. Jodha and his son Adhiraj Singh. M.P. Jodha started training from the Pune season of 1989. Towards the end of that season, he sent out Pennywise to win the Indian St. Leger, Gr.1. He hasn't saddled a Classic winner since then though he has winners aplenty. With Rajasthan Royals and Ranthambhore, Adhiraj Singh has hinted at a different focus and should he continue on the same lines, the beneficiary will be Sedgefield. More than half of Sedgefield's stakes earnings so far have come from Turf Striker who is trained by Mahmood Khan in Bangalore.

No stallion should be judged till his first crop has had an opportunity to run in a St. Leger. However, it is not unfair to comment on those that have shown an early spark. Other Freshman Sires will have to await their turn. till they have had a longer exposure. For instance, two Freshman Sires -- Carnival Dancer and Arabian Gulf -- are sons of Sadler's Wells and 2000 m. was the distance over which they excelled. In their case, their progeny has not had the chance to race over a trip. Unfortunately, it is also true that the number of races over 2000 m. or more, other than black-type races, are so limited in number that unless they have runners good enough to race in black-type events, the opportunity will not present itself.


Grey Gaston is the only stallion in India to have sired five Indian Derby winners. Grey Gaston was not a Champion Freshman Sire of his year, the honour going to another legend called Everyday II. It is interesting to note that Everyday II had just three runners in his first crop and Grey Gaston five. Even by the standards of those times, both had small crops. Numbers certainly help but talent shines through even without them.