In January, the European Pattern Committee announced a number of enhancements to the race programme for stayers at listed/pattern level which included the upgrading of the Goodwood Cup to Group 1, and the Queen’s Vase, Royal Ascot’s staying race for three-year-olds, to Group 2. At the same time, it was agreed that no pattern race over 13 furlongs or more in Europe would be downgraded before 2022. With this mind, thebreedingshed looked at the winners of Europe’s top staying events to identify any patterns in the pedigrees of the horses concerned.
In 2016, the European Pattern included 27 Group races over a mile and three quarters (2800m) or more which were split between Britain (11), France (9), Ireland (4), Germany (2) and Italy (1) and these were won by 22 different horses.
The four who won more than one such race were Ireland’s top stayer Order of St George (Gold Cup and Irish St Leger Trial), France’s top stayer Vazirabad (Prix Vicomtesse Vigier, Prix Gladiateur and Prix Royal-Oak) and the British-trained pair Quest For More, who won the Lonsdale Cup and the Prix du Cadran (beating Vazirabad) and Sheikhzayedroad who beat Quest For More in both the Doncaster Cup and the Long Distance Cup.
Easily the most dominant sire line in Europe’s top staying events is that of Sadler’s Wells who accounts for 11 of the 22 winners, exerting most of his influence through his outstanding son Galileo. As well as Order of St George, Galileo was also the sire of Vintage Crop Stakes winner Bondi Beach, Sagaro Stakes winner Mizzou (who was also runner-up in the Gold Cup) and Curragh Cup winner Sword Fighter.
In addition, Galileo’s sons Teofilo and New Approach were respectively responsible for Quest For More and the Prix Kergorlay winner Nearly Caught. The other son of Sadler’s Wells to be represented by more than one group-winning stayer was Beat Hollow, the sire of Irish St Leger winner Wicklow Brave and Prix de Barbeville winner Fly With Me. The Juddmonte-bred Beat Hollow, winner of the Grand Prix de Paris and Arlington Million, now stands as a National Hunt sire, and Wicklow Brave himself (Juddmonte-bred on his dam’s side too – the Prix Chaudenay winner Doha Dream is from the same family) was a Cheltenham Festival winner before reaching the highest level on the flat.
Sadler’s Wells also made his presence felt through his son In The Wings whose German-raced sons Adlerflug and Soldier Hollow were respectively the sires of Prix de Lutece winner Moonshiner and the St Leger Italiano winner Dschingis Secret.
Although one of the best of Sadler’s Wells sire sons, Montjeu, who has sired some top stayers, only appears in the pedigree of Henry II Stakes winner Pallasator who is by Montjeu’s Derby-winning son Motivator.
Sadler’s Wells is far less prevalent in the bottom half of the stayers’ pedigrees, though is the sire of the dam of Park Hill Stakes winner Simple Verse and sired the grandam of Doha Dream, while the Deutsches St Leger winner Near England is out of a Galileo mare and Prix Maurice de Nieuil winner Candarliya is out of a mare by Sadler’s Wells’ son Barathea.
Near England and Candarliya have another point in common in that their respective sires, Lord of England and Dalakhani, are both from the sire line of 1978 Derby winner Shirley Heights. Simple Verse’s dam was a product of the classic Sadler’s Wells x Darshaan mare cross, Darshaan a son of Shirley Heights.
Sadler’s Wells’ contemporary Rainbow Quest has had nothing like the same influence as a sire of sires, but he’s an undoubted stamina influence in the bottom half of pedigrees. Quest For More and Wicklow Brave are both out of Rainbow Quest mares, while Dschingis Secret’s grandam is by Rainbow Quest – all three of those, as we’ve seen, by Sadler’s Wells-line stallions.
French stallion Highest Honor was a mile/ten-furlong performer and not that stoutly-bred, but he does occur in stayers’ pedigrees; in this sample, Fly With Me and Sheikhzayedroad are both out of his daughters.
European exports by Monsun have won three of the last four Melbourne Cups, so it’s not surprise to see Germany’s best stallion of recent times cropping up here. Vazirabad is by Monsun’s son Manduro, while Moonshiner is out of a daughter of Monsun.
Danehill is not a name that would be expected to occur that frequently in stayers’ pedigrees but he has sired some top stayers of his own in Westerner, winner of a Gold Cup and two editions of both the Prix du Cadran and Prix Royal-Oak, and Goodwood Cup winner Distinction who was twice placed in the Gold Cup.
Danehill needs ‘help’ from elsewhere in a pedigree to get stayers, but he can’t be overlooked in this sample, with his sons Rail Link and Duke of Marmalade (both Group 1 winners at a mile and a half) both having pattern-winning stayers in 2016. Rail Link was sire of the Oleander-Rennen winner Wasir, while Duke of Marmalade had Goodwood Cup winner Big Orange and Park Hill Stakes winner Simple Verse. Additionally, both Bondi Beach and Nearly Caught (who’ll we return to) are out of Danehill mares.
Of the three pattern-winning stayers we haven’t mentioned, it is not difficult to identify staying influences close up in the pedigrees of Lillie Langtry Stakes winner California, a daughter of Azamour, and Yorkshire Cup winner Clever Cookie who is by sprinter Primo Valentino but out of a mare by strong stamina influence Ela-Mana-Mou, best known as the sire of Double Trigger, winner of the Gold Cup as well as three editions of both the Goodwood and Doncaster Cups.
With one exception, each of our 22 pattern-winning stayers have at least one of just seven sires close up in their pedigree: Azamour, Danehill, Ela-Mana-Mou, Highest Honor, Monsun, Sadler’s Wells, Shirley Heights.
That exception is the St Leger winner Harbour Law, who can probably be classed as the stayer with the least obvious staying pedigree among these. He’s by the Prix du Jockey Club (10.5f/2100m) winner Lawman, a son of sprinter Invincible Spirit, out a mare by another sprinter Pivotal. His dam Abunai won three times over five/six furlongs as a two-year-old and never raced beyond seven furlongs. However, Lawman’s grandam was by one of the seven sires listed above, Shirley Heights.
But while staying influences in pedigrees are relatively straightforward to detect, much rarer in flat pedigrees these days are stallions who were themselves stayers. Nearly Caught’s grandam, though, was by the dual Gold Cup winner Ardross – who was himself out of a mare by another Gold Cup winner, Levmoss.
[All images by thebreedingshed]