The Park Appeal legacy: from Cape Cross to Al Wukair

Sea The Stars, the best horse sired by Park Appeal’s son Cape Cross

There has been more than one reason lately to turn the spotlight on the 1984 Moyglare Stud Stakes and Cheveley Park Stakes winner Park Appeal. Her son, the excellent sire Cape Cross, died in April; her grandson Iffraaj, another successful stallion, has been making headlines for happier reasons in Australasia; and another grandson, Diktat, has become the grandsire of a leading 2000 Guineas contender.

Park Appeal became the second Cheveley Park winner out of her dam Balidaress in as many years after half-sister Desirable’s success in 1983. Balidaress won three times at up to a mile and a quarter but was nothing out of the ordinary (a 2,400 guinea yearling in Ireland, she ended up running over hurdles) and Desirable herself made only 10,000 Irish guineas as a yearling. But the value of the family’s stock soon began to snowball, and when it was Park Appeal’s turn to go through the sales ring as a yearling (after being sold for 6,600 Irish guineas as a foal), just a week after Desirable’s Cheveley Park win, she fetched 62,000 guineas at Newmarket.

After another twelve months it was clear that both fillies were hot property. Desirable failed to add to her two-year-old wins at three, but she finished second in the Nassau Stakes, third in the 1000 Guineas and fourth to Sadler’s Wells in the first running of what was then the Phoenix (now Irish) Champion Stakes. Meanwhile, Park Appeal enjoyed an unbeaten four-race campaign at two culminating in those Group 1 wins at the Curragh and Newmarket. Before the end of 1984, the half-sisters both changed hands, with Desirable selling for a million guineas at Newmarket in December, bought by Coolmore, while Sheikh Mohammed secured Park Appeal privately.

Desirable proved a good investment as a broodmare, but not before she’d changed hands for even more money – $1.6 million – just two years later, purchased this time by Shadwell for whom she produced the 1991 1000 Guineas winner Shadayid whose own daughter Bint Shadayid finished third in the same race five years later. Balidaress would later become grandam of a second 1000 Guineas winner when another of her daughters, the unraced Nijinsky mare Balistroika, produced the 2003 winner Russian Rhythm for Cheveley Park Stud.

Sheikh Mohammed had to be a bit more patient than his brother Sheikh Hamdan to see a return on his investment in Park Appeal. She ran just once at three (seventh in the Poule d’Essai des Pouliches) and ended up with John Gosden in California at four where her three runs included a win in the Country Queen Stakes at Hollywood Park.

Meanwhile, Balidaress had not finished producing good fillies, and in 1989 her daughter Alydaress (a $650,000 yearling by purchase by Sheikh Mohammed) won the Ribblesdale Stakes and the Irish Oaks.

Park Appeal really proved her worth once going to stud and had nine winners from as many runners, three by Green Desert, another three by Sadler’s Wells (at a time when Coolmore stallions were still patronised by Darley’s mares) and the remainder by Nureyev, Caerleon and King’s Best. The Green Desert colt Cape Cross proved the pick of Park Appeal’s offspring, firstly on the racecourse, where he gained his biggest win when breaking the Newbury track record in the Lockinge Stakes when supposedly only acting as intended pacemaker for Godolphin’s other runner Kahal.

Cape Cross went on to exceed expectations as a stallion too but showed his 2009 Derby winner Sea The Stars was no fluke by siring the 2015 winner Golden Horn as well, both those colts also winning the Eclipse Stakes, Irish Champion Stakes and Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. His first big winner, though, proving he could get top middle-distance performers, was the 2004 Oaks/Irish Oaks winner Ouija Board whose other top-level wins included two editions of the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf. The Epsom connection didn’t end there, as Ouija Board in turn became dam of the 2014 Derby winner Australia. Cape Cross retired from stud duties in 2016 and had to be put down due to the infirmities of old age, at the age of 23, in April.

John Gosden also trained Park Appeal’s first foal Pastorale (by Nureyev), though by then he was training in Britain. Pastorale ‘won’ her first two races (the second was a walk-over!) before finishing ninth of twelve in the Irish 1000 Guineas on her only other start. Like her own dam, Pastorale enjoyed a highly successful career as a broodmare, highlight of which was her Zafonic colt Iffraaj. A triple Group 2 winner over seven furlongs (two Park Stakes and a Lennox Stakes), Iffraaj missed out by just a head on a Group 1 success in the July Cup.

Like Cape Cross, Iffraaj has worked his way up as a stallion with his 2017 fee at Dalham Hall at a new high of £27,500. That followed the emergence of his best European son in 2016, the Prix Jacques le Marois winner Ribchester who could prove one of Europe’s top older milers this season. His trainer Richard Fahey also trained another of Iffraaj’s best sons, Wootton Bassett, unbeaten in five starts at two in 2010, including the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere. In turn, Wootton Bassett has become an unheralded success story at stud thanks to Europe’s star three-year-old of 2016 Almanzor.

Iffraaj might not be readily associated with winners beyond a mile in Europe but a couple of his New Zealand-bred offspring altered those preconceptions earlier in the year, with the gelding Gingernuts winning the New Zealand Derby (above) and the third in that race, Jon Snow, going on to win the Australian Derby.

Another daughter of Park Appeal to produce a very good horse was mile winner Arvola (by Sadler’s Wells) who was sent to Japan but not before leaving behind first foal Diktat, a son of Warning. Diktat finished second in Japan himself in the Yasuda Kinen over a mile as a five-year-old (he also had a spell at stud there, following in the footsteps of his own sire) but had made his name principally as a top sprinter in Europe the previous season when winning the Prix Maurice de Gheest and the Sprint Cup. Diktat and the year-older Cape Cross were Godolphin stable-companions with Saeed bin Suroor in 1999.

Diktat was less of a success at stud than either Cape Cross or Iffraaj, ending his stallion career in Spain, but he did produce the top-class Dream Ahead, one of the best of Frankel’s contemporaries (and officially rated his equal at two when successful in the Prix Morny and Middle Park Stakes). At three, Dream Ahead won the July Cup, Sprint Cup and Prix de la Foret. From his second crop, the unbeaten French colt Al Wukair, last-to-first winner of the Prix Djebel (above) earlier this spring, is a leading contender for the 2000 Guineas and potentially another Group 1 horse carrying Park Appeal’s name in his pedigree.

[Cape Cross image: S Parrott]


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