• Punjabi Girl wins The Fillies Championship Stakes (Gr.1)
  • Sir Cecil wins The Colts Championship Stakes (Gr.1)
By Major Srinivas Nargolkar (Retd.)
Saturday 02 Aug 2014
Major Srinivas Nargolkar (Retd.)

Over the last three years, we have seen progeny of 36 new stallions on Indian tracks. Rebuttal captured all the headlines in 2010-11 and he had four individual Classic winners in his first crop. Since then, his achievements have nosedived and the stallion himself died last year. As expected, Ace and Noverre were involved in a keen battle for honours in 2011-12 and the first named prevailed by a narrow margin. Ace won the battle but lost the war as he has not lived up to high expectations held while Noverre died after only a short stint in the covering yard. Multidimensional ruled the roost in 2012-13 and his first crop swept everything before it in its second year. However, his second crop has been somewhat indifferent and the jury is still out on what his long term significance is going to be. 

The void left by the deaths or the aging of stallions like Razeen, Placerville, Glory of Dancer, Alnasr Alwasheek and Diffident still remains unfilled and all eyes will be on the progeny of 11 stallions which will start racing before the 2014 calendars are consigned to waste paper baskets. 

One thing that can be safely predicted even today is that the Poonawalla stallion Arazan will emerge as the Champion Freshman Sire when the final statistics are published in November 2015. The son of Anabaa has 83 foals to represent him in his first crop. That is the highest number of foals that any Freshman Sire has had in India, 39 more than Varenar who is second on the list. The resounding numerical advantage will ensure that Arazan becomes the Champion Freshman Sire. 

From a broader point of view, the Champion Freshman Sire is of just statistical relevence. Some recent Freshman Champion Sires, it was obvious even then, were run-of-the-mill stallions who would not have an impact on the future of the Indian-bred and their winning the title was just a statistical fact, nothing more. It is also important from the point of view of the stud he stands at. Two lukewarm years of Ace and the Poonawalla Farms have ceded their Champion Stud Farm honour. In India, a stud farm is only as good as the stallions it stands because of the basically "island" nature of our breeding.  A good farm can ride over the disappointment of one stallion failing to make the mark but two in succession can spell disaster. Which is why the quality of Arazan's produce is much more important than his becoming the Champion Freshman Sire.  

Pen-sketches of five of the new stallions are given in the article while the remaining six will be discussed next week.  

ABBEYSIDE[GB] (b 2006 Danehill Dancer -  Trois Graces by Alysheba)
Standing at Dashmesh Stud, Sarai Nanga, District Faridkot, Punjab
1 win at 2 (1000 m.) and placed once in France from 3 starts.
Best Official Rating: 109

Other stallion sons of Danehill Dancer in India: Decado[IRE] and Express Wish[GB] Recent stallions at Dashmesh Stud: Elusive Pimpernel, Local Talent, Inner City, Valid Concept, Hurricane State, Forest

Gazelle, Sunday Doubt, Princely Heir, Carnival Dancer and Win Legend. 

Trainer Paul Cole took Mrs. Carmina Burrell's Abbeyside all the way across the Channel for his debut from his base at Whatcombe and was rewarded for his enterprise when the colt picked up the Prix Yacowlef, L at Deaville in July. The following month he repeated the exercise, this time for Prix de Cabourg - Jockey Club de Turquie, Gr.3 during that Normandy seaside resort's showpiece meeting. Abbeyside was leading coming into the final stages but was worn down by a determined run from Silver Frost who was to win the Poule d'Essai des Poulains, Gr.1 in 2009 and is now a stallion at Haras de la Hetraie. Abbeside, in the meantime, went under a cloud and did not race again till he was 4 when he was unplaced in his only start over a mile. He clearly had no future on the track and came to Dashmesh Stud.  

The truncated racing career meant that Abbeside's best distance could not be authenticated with track performance but his pedigree suggests that he would have been a sprinter-miler. With the likes of Mastercraftsman, Choisir, Jeremy, Indesatchel, Alfred Noble and others, Danehill Dancer is taking sure steps to be classified as a 'Sire of Sires' even if he is not quite there yet. The damline of Abbeyside is essentially a speedy one though in India it has come up with Smashing, a winner of the Zoom Indian Oaks, Gr.1. Win Legend began very promisingly but has gone a bit off the boil. So Dashmesh Stud must be fervently hoping for the son of Sunday Silence to pick up the wind once again and for Abbeside to transmit speed and precocity to his progeny. Abbeyside's first crop comprises of just 24 foals. That is too small a number in today's context for a stallion to make a significant mark unless he is exceptionally prepotent.

ADMIRALOFTHEFLEET[USA] (dk b 2004 Danehill - Rafina by Mr. Prospector). Died in October 2013.
Stood at Kunigal Stud, Kunigal, Karnataka
3 wins at 2 and 3 (1400 m. to 2000 m. on good to firm to good to soft) in Ireland and England and placed twice from 11 starts.
Best Official Rating: 115

Other stallion sons of Danehill in India: General Dane, Sussex, Danehill Star, Ace, Marcus Andronicus, Midtown,

Multidimensional and Chevalier.

Recent stallions at Kunigal Stud: Bold Russian, Adler, Tejano, Burden of Proof and Brave Act.  

By a Champion Sire out of a mare by a Champion Sire and carrying four strains of the great matriarch Almahmoud, Admiralofthefleet had a pedigree to drool over. Given an easy outing on debut at the end of May, Mr. Michael Tabor's colt trained by A.P. O'Brien at Ballydoyle, won thrice in his next five starts without winning two races consecutively. His wins included victories in Juddmonte Royal Lodge Stakes, Gr.2 and Aktiv Kapital Dee Stakes, Gr.3. He was one of the eight O'Brien runners in Authorized's Epsom Derby in which he finished 10th of 17 runners. He ran in two more Gr.1 contests but evidently all was not well with him for his name was doing the rounds as a part of the Ballydoyle cull list. He was acquired by Kunigal Stud with, it is said, Usha Stud being an under-bidder. 

Dr. Vijay Mallya handed the colt over to the South African trainer Mike de Kock who raced him twice in Dubai. His physical problems meant that he was sent back to England to sort them out. It took about a year and a half for Admiralofthefleet's condition to stabilise and he covered some mares in 2010 as a test case. Grevillea, a filly born in 2011, is his only foal to have raced so far and she has recorded victories at Epsom and Windsor, getting a best official rating of 85. 

Admiralofthefleet arrived in India and covered 41 mares in 2011. In 2012 he covered 45 mares. However, there was panic at Kunigal no sooner the covering season of 2013 had started and the veteran Serious Spender had to be moved from Yeravada Stud to stand in his stead and Burden of Proof had to put in an extra shift. He was taken off the duty after covering just 13 mares and he died a little after the covering season was over. A first crop of 29 foals and a second of 22 is the legacy that he leaves behind. 

Admiralofthefleet had the pedigree and the performance to be a significant stallion. He also had more than a fair share of physical problems. Stallions under physical stress have rarely been able to do justice to their intrinsic talents and Kunigal Stud must hope that Admiralofthefleet proves an exception to the rule. 

ARAZAN[IRE] (b 2006 Anabaa - Asmara by Lear Fan)
Standing at Villoo's Greenfield Farms, Theur, Pune, Maharashtra
2 wins at 2 in Ireland (both 1400 m.; one on good to firm, other in heavy going) and placed third once from 4 starts.
Best Official Rating 110

First stallion son Anabaa in India: 

Recent stallions at Poonawalla Group: Placerville, Alnasr Alwasheek, Diffident, Serious Spender, Greensmith and Ace. 

Bred and raced by H.H. The Aga Khan, Arazan won his first two races at 2 when saddled by John Oxx. The second of those races was Galileo EBF Futurity Stakes, Gr.2 which he won quite comfortably by four lengths. That made him an odds-on favourite for the Bank of Scotland (Ireland) National Stakes, Gr.1 but he was unable to pace with Mastercraftsman and Shaweel who drew away from him with the Ballydoyle grey prevailing in the very last stride. Something had clearly gone wrong for Arazan did not see a racecourse for almost a full year till he came out for the O'Brien's Wines Jack & Jill Solonaway Stakes, Gr.3 at Curragh over a mile. He finished a tame fourth and his trainer reckoned that his racing days were over. 

Arazan's sire Anabaa, a son of Danzig, was a Champion Sprinter and a successful sire. Some of his progeny stayed much better than he himself did though most of it was at its best around 1400 m. to a mile. He has had sons who have made it to the stallion ranks without one of them being outstandingly successful. Arazan belongs to the Our Liz family (best known in India for Aurelie and her descendants like Rocklie, Bakhtawar, Classic Touch, Classic Story, Classic Style, Bonzer and others) which has been an excellent source of quality staying horses over the years. There have been a number of stallions from this family but barring Ile de Bourbon and Quest For Fame -- both successful but not outstanding -- others have not left a lasting mark. Arazan is hence by a speedy stallion from a staying line and it will be interesting to see what attributes he passes on to his progeny. The numbers are clearly on his side. 

BRAHMAPUTRA (b 2004, Conquering Hero[USA] - Hounds of Love[USA] by Foxhound)
Standing at Sahgal Stud, Garhi Harsaru, Gurgaon, Haryana 

Brahmaputra was retired to stud in 2010 but the only mare he covered remained barren. Both the mares he covered in 2011 have produced fillies so technically this is his first crop. An Indian-bred stallion, more of a 'pet' of his owner, he is unlikely to be a major player. His details were given last year. 

GENTLEMANS DEAL (b 2003 Conquering Hero[USA] - Moonspell[GB] by Batshoof)
Standing at Hyderabad Race Club Stud
9 wins at 3 to 5 (1400 m.to 2400 m.) and placed earning Rs. 30,37,080.
Best Official Rating: 104

Other son of Conquering Hero [USA] in India: Brahmaputra

Previous stallions at H.R.C. Stud: Galileo, Chaitanya Chakram, Reach The Gold[CAN], Donegal  

It is rare for a stallion standing in India to have his sons standing as stallions and even stalwarts like Razeen and Placerville did not have many of them. So, for the moderate Conquering Hero to have two is something of a feat. 

Gentlemans Deal, trained by Laxman Singh and running in the colours of the trainer's better half, won nine races all of which were at Malakpet. A staying horse, he did not win a black-type race in his 31 starts spread over four years of racing and his best efforts were  in placing second in Olympia Technology Park Stayers' Cup, Gr.1 at Calcutta to Aperitivo and Bangalore St. Leger, Gr.2 to Southern Empire. He was also third behind Southern Empire and Southern Regent in President of India Gold Cup, Gr.1 on his home turf. 

The stallion traces to Aloe, ancestress of several good stallions over the years with likes of Nashwan, Unfuwain, Gone West, Tale of the Cat, Deep Impact, etc. in recent times. Gentlemans Deal has three foals in his first crop and as he will always have very few mares visiting him, he will find it hard to make an appreciable impact.  


From Fitz Call to Ace, quite a few stallions have held court at Poonawalla Farms. Strictly from memory, only one of them was an Aga Khan bred and raced horse. That was Red God's son Riyahi who had a splendid innings. Arazan, like Riyahi, is an Aga Khan bred horse who raced in the famous colours. That, undoubtedly, would be looked upon as a happy portent at Theur.