With America’s best horses of the past year soon to be elected, thebreedingshed looks back to the Eclipse Awards of 1973 and finds a champion filly from that year whose descendants’ remarkable success in 2014 put her name back in the spotlight, this time in Europe. And there’s even a chance that 2015 could be better still for the family of Talking Picture.
Talking Picture earned her title of champion two-year-old filly with wins in the Spinaway Stakes over six furlongs at Saratoga and the Matron Stakes at Belmont over seven. Both times she was ridden by Ron Turcotte who earlier that year had guided Horse of the Year Secretariat through his brilliant completion of the Triple Crown. Besides her jockey, it wasn’t a bad year, either, for Talking Picture’s breeders Elmendorf Farm, which could also boast the champion two-year-old colt Protagonist.
It wasn’t Secretariat but another Triple Crown winner, Affirmed, who was to play a large part in Talking Picture’s success as a broodmare for Moyglare Stud who purchased her when her racing days were over. Talking Picture produced no fewer than six daughters by the 1978 Triple Crown winner, with the five who ran all earning black type. The pick of those were the 1988 Irish 1000 Guineas winner Trusted Partner and Easy To Copy whose biggest win came in Italy in the Group 2 Premio Legnano.
It was Easy To Copy’s great grandson Gallante who kicked off the family’s sudden resurgence at the top level when gaining a shock win for Andre Fabre and the Coolmore partners in the Grand Prix de Paris at Longchamp in July. His dam Crazy Volume had failed to win for Moyglare in Ireland but broke her maiden on her US debut at Suffolk Downs and was soon on her way back to Europe after selling for $340,000 at Keeneland months later.
But most of the success of Talking Picture’s descendants in 2014 was down to the exploits of offspring emanating from Trusted Partner. The family’s other Group 1 win of the year also came in France when Vert de Grece won the Criterium International at Saint-Cloud on his first start for Roger Varian.
Formerly trained in Ireland, Vert de Grece is a grandson of Trusted Partner’s daughter Trust In Luck, also the grandam of the Aidan O’Brien-trained Table Rock who was winning his fourth race of the season when successful in a listed event at Newmarket’s July meeting.
Remarkably, Table Rock’s score was beaten later in the year by his near-relative Custom Cut who is out of Trust In Luck’s half-sister Polished Gem. Listed races were just the start for Custom Cut, who, after winning two such races at Windsor and Pontefract, went on to Group 3 success at Leopardstown in the Desmond Stakes and at York in the Strensall Stakes and then added a Group 2 win in the Joel Stakes at Newmarket.
Polished Gem’s only win came in a Leopardstown maiden at two but she is a full sister to Trusted Partner’s best daughter on the track, Dress To Thrill whose career highlight came when winning the Matriarch Stakes at Hollywood in 2002. Until last year, that was the last Group or Grade 1 success for any of Talking Picture’s descendants.
Like Custom Cut, Dress To Thrill’s wins included the Desmond Stakes, and she was also successful in two races which have since gained Group 1 status, the Matron Stakes and the Sun Chariot, while she also finished second in the Moyglare Stud Stakes at two, thus winning back some of her owner’s sponsor money.
Polished Gem’s daughter Sapphire beat a field that included Oaks winners Was and Dancing Rain in the Fillies’ And Mares’ Stakes at Ascot in 2012 on the final start of her career. British Champions’ Day 2014 had the potential to be bigger still for Polished Gem’s broodmare career with two of her sons bidding for Group 1 success on the Ascot card, though success eluded them both.
Custom Cut’s winning run came to an end in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes but there was considerable promise in the third place taken by his younger half-brother Free Eagle (by the now deceased High Chaparral) in the Champion Stakes.
Free Eagle had started at odds of 2/5 to beat Australia when runner-up to the subsequent Derby winner in a Group 3 contest at Leopardstown in September of his two-year-old season and had then successfully returned from a year’s absence when a seven-length winner of another Group 3 at Leopardstown, the Enterprise Stakes.
Free Eagle was therefore making just the fourth start of his career when finishing behind the established older horses Noble Mission and Al Kazeem at Ascot, and it will be a surprise if he hasn’t become another Group 1 winner for Talking Picture’s resurgent family by the time he retires to the Irish National Stud at the end of this year. Racing in the Moyglare Stud colours and trained by Dermot Weld who has handled many of Talking Picture’s descendants, Free Eagle already looks the best of them yet.
Remarkably, though, British Champions’ Day had begun with yet another big-race win for a descendant of Talking Picture when great grandson Forgotten Rules won the Group 2 Long Distance Cup for the Weld-Moyglare Stud combination. The unbeaten four-year-old was making just his third racecourse appearance and could now be challenging for Gold Cup honours at Royal Ascot in June. He descends from Talking Picture’s Group 3-placed daughter Epicure’s Garden (another of her Affirmed sextet) via Utterly Heaven who finished a close fourth in the 2005 Irish 1000 Guineas. Utterly Heaven had already contributed to the family’s explosion of black-type performers in 2014 when her three-year-old daughter Vintage Nouveau won a listed race at Listowel in September.
[Moyglare Stud silks courtesy of JockeyColours]