Rafha’s Sons Enjoying A Hot Summer

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The table of top sires of two-year-olds in Britain and Ireland published in the Racing Post on August 3rd shows Kodiac and Invincible Spirit separated by less than £15,000 in third and fourth place respectively. The pair are both by sons of Danzig – Danehill and Green Desert respectively – but more importantly share the same dam, Rafha. It’s some achievement for a broodmare to have two sons enjoying such success at stud simultaneously and all the more remarkable that Rafha’s sons are doing so well with fast two-year-olds when you consider that Rafha herself was a middle-distance classic winner.

Trained by Henry Cecil for Prince Faisal, Rafha’s wins at two included the May Hill Stakes at Doncaster but her trainer apparently feared that her lack of size – ‘knee high to a bumble bee’ was how he described her – would make life difficult for her at three. Although still on the small side, Rafha actually trained on very well and won all three of the races she contested in 1990. The second of those was the Oaks Trial at Lingfield (where she again beat the subsequent Irish Oaks winner Knight’s Baroness who was also behind her at Doncaster), but rather than Epsom, Rafha was sent instead to Chantilly for the French Oaks, the Prix de Diane. There, on what proved to be her final outing, she won by half a length from Colour Chart who was subsequently demoted for causing interference but won the Prix de l’Opera later in the year.

Not every classic-winning filly goes on to have a stud career to match but Rafha compiled an excellent record as a broodmare. She produced eleven winners in total to ten different stallions who ranged from sprinters to Derby winners. Accordingly, her offspring covered the whole distance spectrum, from the speedy pair Invincible Spirit and Kodiac to stayers. One constant, though, was quality. No fewer than seven of Rafha’s eleven winners earned Timeform ratings in excess of 100 and another three were rated in the 90s.

More of Invincible Spirit and Kodiac (who both shared their dam’s small stature, incidentally) later, but best of the rest of Rafha’s progeny was Sadian (by Shirley Heights). He enjoyed a classic campaign at three, finishing seventh in the Derby and fourth in the St Leger but gained his biggest wins at four when successful in the John Porter Stakes at Newbury and the Ormonde Stakes at Chester. Other good winners to result from coverings by Derby winners were the listed-placed Al Widyan (by Shirley Heights’ son Slip Anchor) and Fnan (by Generous) who later became a decent jumper. Stamina was also the strong suit of Aquarius, who was third in the Queen’s Vase, though his sire was the less stoutly-bred Royal Academy.

Rafha also had a couple of daughters who earned black type. Acts of Grace (by Bahri) won the Princess Royal Stakes at Ascot, while the altogether speedier Massarra shared her sire Danehill with Kodiac. She was a listed winner at Newmarket at two and finished second in the Prix Robert Papin and Nell Gwyn Stakes. Massarra has herself gone on to be a successful broodmare, producing Nayarra who won the Group 1 Gran Criterium at Milan for Prince Faisal. At the age of ten, Massarra was then bought by Coolmore for 600,000 guineas and winners for her new owners include Mars who ran in some top races in 2013, finishing third in the St James’s Palace Stakes and fourth in the Eclipse. The same year, his year-younger sister Wonderfully won the Group 3 Silver Flash Stakes at Leopardstown. Massarra’s grandson Kilimanjaro won the Derby Trial at Lingfield in May before finishing sixth in the Derby and fourth in the Irish Derby.

But it was Invincible Spirit who proved Rafha’s best winner and has since become the most influential of her offspring, developing into one of Europe’s top sires of sprinters and milers. Invincible Spirit started favourite for the Middle Park Stakes as a two-year-old after showing early promise, but it was not until the final start of his career as a five-year-old that he finally gained a Group 1 success when springing a 25/1 surprise in the Sprint Cup at Haydock. In the meantime his career had been interrupted by a broken pelvis in the spring of his three-year-old season but he ended his four-year-old campaign by winning his first group race at the Curragh and proved better than ever at five when winning the Duke of York Stakes as well as the Sprint Cup.

As Invincible Spirit’s racing career ended, Kodiac’s began the following season though he was never to hit quite the same heights as his elder sibling. Like Invincible Spirit, Kodiac had little racing in his younger days and only really fulfilled his potential aged five. Having won a handicap at the Dubai carnival early that season, Kodiac belatedly earned his first (and only) black type when second in the Group 3 Hackwood Stakes at Newbury, a race which Invincible Spirit had won when it was a listed contest (Massarra also finished third in it). However, Group 1 sprints proved beyond Kodiac, including the Sprint Cup, though he did finish fourth beforehand in the Prix Maurice de Gheest at Deauville.

Invincible Spirit began his stallion career at the Irish National Stud at a fee of €10,000 but his success has been such that his fee has increased tenfold. Kodiac’s racing record alone probably wouldn’t have been sufficient to guarantee him a place at stud, but the exploits of Invincible Spirit, along with having Danehill as his sire, must have helped. Kodiac started out with at a modest €5,000 but he too has never been valued more highly and now commands a fee of €25,000.

Those fees were boosted by some excellent results for both stallions in 2014, when Invincible Spirit was represented by three-year-olds Kingman and Charm Spirit, who between them won seven of Europe’s Group 1 mile contests, while Kodiac had champion two-year-old filly Tiggy Wiggy. As for the current season, Invincible Spirit’s success has not been confined to the two-year-old age group – he’s currently fourth by total prize money in Britain and Ireland – while Kodiac’s total earnings for the year have now passed the million pound mark.

So which are the offspring of Invincible Spirit and Kodiac to take note of in the coming weeks and months?

Invincible Spirit has another leading miler among his current crop of three-year-olds, with Territories winning the Prix Jean Prat (as Charm Spirit did) after finishing second in the 2000 Guineas. Territories could now bid to become his sire’s second consecutive winner of the Prix Jacques le Marois after Kingman. Meanwhile in Britain, Muthmir was a recent winner of the King George Stakes at Goodwood and has a good chance of becoming another Group 1 winner for his sire when he lines up for the Nunthorpe Stakes at York. Also at Goodwood, top two-year-old Shalaa followed up his Newmarket win in the July Stakes with victory in the Richmond Stakes, and he too has a Group 1 target later in August in the Prix Morny at Deauville.

After Tiggy Wiggy last year, Kodiac has another speedy two-year-old filly this season in the form of Besharah who gained compensation for being touched off in the Duchess of Cambridge Stakes at Newmarket when winning the Princess Margaret Stakes at Ascot in July. Her three-year-old stablemate (the pair are trained by William Haggas) Adaay has already won the Group 2 Sandy Lane Stakes at Haydock and he’s set to contest the Hungerford Stakes at Newbury next.

[Prince Faisal’s silks courtesy of JockeyColours]

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