By John Berry

We all like the idea of ‘stallion-making races’, even if such a concept is clearly nonsense. We rarely, if ever, hear of ‘broodmare-making races.’ If we did, it seems safe to assume that the 1990 G1 Prix de Diane would often be mentioned. With Rafha (GB) beating Moon Cactus (GB), that race produced not merely a quinella for their sire Kris (GB) (Sharpen Up) and their trainer Henry Cecil, but also for two fillies who would go on to become hugely influential broodmares (it should be noted that Moon Cactus actually finished third, but was promoted to second when Colour Chart was taken down two places for having caused interference).

From Moon Cactus we had four stakes winners in the first generation headed by the Sadler’s Wells full-siblings Moonshell (Ire) and Doyen (Ire), with the likes of Miss Finland (Aus) (Redoute’s Choice {Aus}), Stay With Me (Aus) (Street Cry {Ire}) and Miss World (Bernstein) coming along afterwards. Rafha has been an even greater gem, and 2018 has seen further chapters written in her story.

Born in 1987, Rafha was a first-generation Prince Faisal homebred. Operating as Nawara Stud, Prince Faisal started to build up his stud through the 1980s. Both the stud and Rafha’s influence on it are still going strong, with its credits in 2018 including the homebred Prix de Saint-Patrick winner Orbaan (GB) (Invincible Spirit {Ire}), who is inbred 2×3 to the great mare. Prince Faisal bought Rafha’s dam Eljazzi (Ire) (Artaius) for 92,000gns as a yearling in 1982, presumably aiming to have a smart filly who could become one of his foundation mares. He could hardly have chosen more wisely.

Eljazzi would have made a lovely broodmare even if she had not been a good racehorse. She was a half-sister to two high-class sons of Petingo: Pitcairn (Ire) and Valley Forge (Ire). The former was particularly topical as he had been champion sire of Great Britain and Ireland two years previously (albeit that he was already standing in Japan by that time) largely thanks to the exploits of his outstanding 4-year-old son Ela-Mana-Mou (Ire). Border Bounty (GB) (Bounteous {GB}), dam of Pitcairn, Valley Forge and Eljazzi, had been a terrific filly, runner-up in both the Yorkshire Oaks and Park Hill S. in 1968, while Border Bounty’s half-sister Brief Chorus (Counsel) was also placed in the Yorkshire Oaks (in 1966). As it was, Eljazzi, trained by Henry Cecil, retired to stud with a racing record which was decent, if not quite as smart as her pedigree. She was an impressive winner on debut as a juvenile at Leicester and, while she did not win at three, she ran extremely well in defeat at Newmarket when beaten in a photo-finish by Scottish Derby winner and GI Breeders’ Cup Turf and GI Hollywood Turf Cup Invitational S. place-getter Raami (Ire) (Be My Guest).

Conceived in 1986, the year after her sire Kris had been champion sire of Great Britain and Ireland thanks to his fillies’ Triple Crown-winning daughter Oh So Sharp (GB), Rafha proved to be the best of Eljazzi’s 10 winners. She was a very good 2-year-old, winning a six-furlong maiden at Goodwood on debut and ending her campaign by beating subsequent G1 Irish Oaks victrix Knight’s Baroness (GB) (Rainbow Quest) in the G3 May Hill S. over a mile at Doncaster. At three she was at least as good, winning the Princess Elizabeth S. at Epsom by 10 lengths, beating Spurned (Robellino) who subsequently became dam of seven black-type performers headed by Passing Glance (GB) (Polar Falcon); the Lingfield Oaks Trial S., again beating Knight’s Baroness; and the G1 Prix de Diane at Chantilly. Nearly as good was Rafha’s half-sister Chiang Mai (Ire) (Sadler’s Wells), who landed the G3 Blandford S. over 10 furlongs at The Curragh, while another black-type performer among Eljazzi’s 10 winners was Al Anood (Aus) (Danehill), who was born in Australia when her dam was aged 22.

All three of these fillies became excellent broodmares. Chiang Mai’s several winners are headed by Chinese White (Ire) (Dalakhani {Ire}), winner of five black-type contests including the G1 Pretty Polly S. and the G2 Blandford S. Al Anood has bred one even better: Pride Of Dubai (Aus) (Street Cry {Ire}), who completed the G1 Blue Diamond S. and G1 AJC Sires’ Produce S. double in 2015 and now spends his time shuttling between Coolmore in Australia and Ireland. Rafha is the true star, though, with 11 winners to her credit. Four of them are stakes winners headed by G1 Haydock Park Sprint Cup and G3 Duke Of York S. winner Invincible Spirit (Ire) (Green Desert) and G3 John Porter S. and G3 Ormonde S. winner Sadian (GB) (Shirley Heights {GB}). Even more to her credit is that she has bred two top-class stallions: Invincible Spirit and his three-parts brother Kodiac (Ire) (Danehill). The extent of their achievements is illustrated by the fact that in 2019 they will be standing at the Irish National Stud for €120,000 and at Tally Ho Stud for €65,000, having started out at those properties for €10,000 and €5,000, respectively.

Invincible Spirit and Kodiac have both had yet another extremely good year with their runners. The former (whose progeny tally of Group 1 victories currently stands at 32) was represented by three top-level winners in 2018: G1 Commonwealth Cup winner Eqtidaar (Ire), G1 Vertem Futurity Trophy winner Magna Grecia (Ire) and G1 Criterium International winner Royal Meeting (Ire). He came very close to making it four as Inns Of Court (Ire) failed by only a short head in the G1 Prix de la Foret. Kodiac has had two Group 1 winners this year: the remarkable Best Solution, winner in 2018 of the G1 Grosser Preis von Berlin, the G1 Grosser Preis von Baden and the G1 Caulfield Cup, and Fairyland, who showed herself to be more typical of her sire’s stock by taking the G1 Cheveley Park S. over six furlongs at Newmarket. Fairyland thus became Kodiac’s second Cheveley Park S. heroine following the brilliant Tiggy Wiggy (Ire), who won the race in 2014. Jash (Ire) came close to making it three individual Group 1 winners in 2018 for Kodiac by finishing second, beaten only half a length, in the G1 Middle Park S. at Newmarket.

Another aspect of the excellent year enjoyed by Invincible Spirit is how well some of his sons are doing at stud. The real star is the remarkable I Am Invincible (Aus), who finished second to Snitzel (Aus) (Redoute’s Choice {Aus}) in Australia’s general sires’ premiership last season and who is currently lying second behind the same horse this term. Particularly creditable is the fact that I Am Invincible has had at least one stakes winner this season (which is particularly good as the season is not yet five months old) from each of his crops of racing age, ie., of ages seven to two inclusive. Two of these winners have scored in Group 1 company this season: G1 Winterbottom S. hero Voodoo Lad (Aus) and G1 NZ 1,000 Guineas victrix Media Sensation (Aus).

Lawman (Ire) ranks as the senior Invincible Spirit stallion in Europe thus far, particularly now that he is getting established as a broodmare sire too, largely thanks to the brilliantly fast Battaash (Ire) (Dark Angel {Ire}). However, Kingman (GB) is looking particularly promising. His first batch of 2-year-old runners through the season has marked him down as potentially a leading sire of the future; while one could also make bullish noises about Charm Spirit (Ire). Mayson (GB) continues to churn out winners, and high hopes are held for the likes of Shalaa (Ire), Territories (Ire), Profitable (Ire), National Defense (GB) and Cable Bay (Ire).

The ongoing success of both Invincible Spirit and Kodiac will be very encouraging for Coolmore, who not only have Pride Of Dubai on the roster, but also Gustav Klimt as a new recruit for 2019. Kodiac’s full-sister Massarra (GB) has proved to be the most notable of several distinguished fillies produced by Rafha, a group which also includes G3 Princess Royal S. winner Acts Of Grace (Bahri). On the track Massarra’s finest hour came when, trained (like Invincible Spirit, Kodiac and Acts Of Grace) for Sheikh Faisal by John Dunlop, she landed the Empress S. at Newmarket in 2001. Later that season she was placed in the G2 Prix Robert Papin at Maisons-Laffitte, while the following spring she finished second in the G3 Nell Gwyn S. at Newmarket. At stud she has, like her dam, been a great producer. Her 10 winners are headed by G1 Gran Criterium heroine Nayarra (Ire) (Cape Cross {Ire}) who was trained for Prince Faisal by Mick Channon. She has also bred four black-type performers by Galileo: Wonderfully (Ire), Cuff (Ire), Mars (Ire) and Gustav Klimt (Ire). The latter showed himself to be one of the best colts in Europe in both 2017 (when he won the G2 Superlative S. at Newmarket) and 2018, when he took the 2000 Guineas Trial S. at Leopardstown as well as finishing second in the G1 St James’s Palace S. at Royal Ascot and third in the G1 Irish 2000 Guineas at The Curragh, the G1 Haydock Park Sprint Cup and the G1 Prix Jean Prat at Chantilly.

One presumes that Prince Faisal was hoping that Eljazzi would be a useful asset to his stud when he bought her as a yearling back in 1982. Not even in his wildest dreams, though, could he have foreseen just what a pearl she would prove to be. Her Classic-winning daughter Rafha can take the lioness’s share of the credit for her influence, and recent evidence is that that influence is still very, very strong.

Not a subscriber? Click here to sign up for the daily PDF or alerts.


Article Source


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here