Tepin’s Ballydoyle Connections

Last year’s champion US turf mare Tepin will be making her first start outside the States in the Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot. She brings with her a record of eleven wins from nineteen starts and earnings of over three million dollars. Much of that comes from her success in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Mile in which she added her name to those of Royal Heroine, Miesque, Ridgewood Pearl, Six Perfections and Goldikova among the fillies and mares to have won the Mile. An unbeaten record of four wins this year, including another Grade 1 win (her fourth in all) in the Jenny Wiley Stakes, also at Keeneland, means Tepin will be bidding for her seventh win in a row at Ascot.

A $140,000 yearling, Tepin has an all-American pedigree and comes from a very successful family of stakes winners. Her unraced dam Life Happened had already foaled the future Grade 2 winner Vyjack (also third in the Grade 1 Wood Memorial and Forego Stakes), while her grandam Round It Off and great grandam Capp It Off also produced graded stakes winners of their own.

But there’s also a strong European thread running through Tepin’s breeding thanks to the racing records of the sires close up in her pedigree. Her own sire Bernstein, her dam’s sire Stravinsky and her grandam’s sire Apalachee all have much more in common than being US-bred colts who had turf careers in Europe. All three were trained at Ballydoyle in Ireland, Apalachee by Vincent O’Brien and Stravinsky and Bernstein by Aidan O’Brien. More than that, all three colts were strongly fancied for the 2000 Guineas, though all three failed to meet those expectations.

Apalachee’s defeat in the 1974 2000 Guineas was one of the major classic shocks of the last forty years or so given that he started at 4/9 to keep his unbeaten record, highlight of which was his impressive win at two in the Observer Gold Cup (now the Racing Post Trophy) at Doncaster. His third place at Newmarket behind Nonoalco and Giacometti was to be the final race of his career and he was subsequently sold back across the Atlantic for a reported two million dollars to take up stallion duties at Gainesway.

Round Table
1958 US Horse of the Year Round Table is an ancestor of both Tepin’s sire and dam

Apalachee, along with the 1973 Dewhurst Stakes winner Cellini and the 1975 Irish Derby and St Leger runner-up King Pellinore, were all by Round Table and from the same female family, that of Rough Shod, who would go on to become great grandam of Nureyev and the fourth dam of Sadler’s Wells, another Ballydoyle inmate who, of course, was to have a phenomenally successful stud career at Coolmore.

Nureyev (himself disqualified ‘winner’ of the 1980 2000 Guineas) is the sire of Stravinsky who was made ante-post favourite for the 1999 2000 Guineas after a winning debut in York’s Convivial Maiden the previous summer. However, an odds-on defeat in soft ground on his reappearance at three shook confidence in him, and he ended up missing his classic engagement. But Stravinsky atoned in no uncertain terms later in the year when switched to sprinting, winning the July Cup and Nunthorpe Stakes and so becoming champion sprinter in Europe. He too began his stud career in Kentucky, at Coolmore’s Ashford Stud, though he has since stood at Coolmore in Ireland, as well as in Japan, Australia and New Zealand.

The same summer that the three-year-old Stravinsky was making a name for himself as a sprinter, Ballydoyle’s latest highly-regarded two-year-old, also named after a composer, became ante-post Guineas favourite after taking his record to two wins from two starts in the Railway Stakes at The Curragh. However, Bernstein’s bubble burst in the National Stakes at the same course (starting at 4/11) and when he contested the following season’s 2000 Guineas, he returned tailed off as his stable’s second string to favourite Giant’s Causeway (also a son of Storm Cat, like Bernstein) who finished second. Bernstein won over shorter trips later in the year, though without matching Stravinsky’s success the year before.

Incidentally, Bernstein’s own grandam was by Round Table, which gives Tepin a double presence of that ancestor (as well as Northern Dancer) in the fourth generation of her pedigree. Like Apalachee and Stravinsky before him, Bernstein began his stud career in Kentucky when his racing career at Ballydoyle was over. Although twice leading sire in Argentina, Bernstein’s most notable achievement as a stallion is siring consecutive Breeders’ Cup Mile winners, with Tepin’s success coming twelve months after Karakontie’s in the same race.