Eclipse aim for The Fugue

27 May 2013

TRAINER John Gosden has indicated that The Fugue will have her next start in the Group One Coral Eclipse at Sandown on July 6.

Lord and Lady Lloyd-Webber’s star race-filly made a pleasing seasonal debut when third to Al Kazeem in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot last week.

She holds an entry in the Irish Pretty Polly Stakes this weekend but Gosden feels she would benefit from another week.

He said: “We had considered the Pretty Polly Stakes in Ireland on Sunday, but we have decided it comes too quickly for The Fugue, who we are now pointing at the Eclipse.”

Chiberta King lands Royal Ascot prize

24 May 2013

THE Watership Down Stud bred Chiberta King won the Queen Alexandra Stakes at Royal Ascot on Saturday.

A son of King’s Best, Chiberta King was purchased by his trainer Andrew Balding for 30,000gns at Tattersalls Book 1 in 2007. Now seven, he has been a grand servant to connections with Saturday’s victory a career best.

He was given a good ride by Jimmy Fortune, who settled his mount at the rear during the early stages of the two and a half mile contest.

Fortune made smooth headway up the back straight before turning for home in second position.

He took over the running with two furlongs to run and Chiberta King stuck his neck out gamely to repel Shahwadi by a neck.

Trainer Andrew Balding said: “He is such a fun horse to have. So consistent and versatile. We knew he would stay and all being well he’ll be back here next year.”

Ocovango prepares for Derby assault

24 May 2013

THE WATERSHIP DOWN Stud-bred Ocovango looked in good shape ahead o f his Epsom Derby bid next Saturday when he worked at the ‘Breakfast With The Stars’ event at the track yesterday morning. This is a well-trodden path for trainer Andre Fabre, who also brought over Pour Moi for an ‘Epsom-sighter’ prior to his success in the 2011-renewal.

Prince Faisal’s colt looked in excellent condition and caught the eye of many of the onlookers as he worked over the Derby course under big-race jockey Pierre-Charles Boudot.

Fabre said: “He is a very well-balanced horse and he has a very good cruising speed. There is a small doubt about the trip as he has plenty of speed on the dam side but his sire is a good influence of stamina so I am not too worried. He is a Derby horse.”

Ocovango heads to the Epsom showpiece unbeaten in three starts to date. His last victory came in the Group 2 Prix Greffulhe where he beat a strong field in authoritative fashion.

He also has a ‘Classic’ pedigree being by Champion-sire Monsun out of Crystal Maze, an unraced daughter of Group 1-winning two-year-old Crystal Music.

Darara and Claba Di San Jore nominated in the Racing Post

15 May 2013

DARARA and Claba Di San Jore have been nominated for the Racing Post ‘battle of the broodmare’s competition. The duo are among 40 short-listed mares for the award which is voted for online by the racing public.

Darara needs little introduction. She was purchased as one of Watership Down Stud’s foundation mares for 470,000 Irish Punts at Goffs in 1992.

Darara had already demonstrated that she was a top-class racehorse, winning the Group 1 Prix Vermeille in the colours of her owner and breeder, HRH Aga Khan. In fact, she comes from one of his most prolific families being a half-sister to champion Darshaan and Dalara, dam of multiple Group 1 winner Daliapour.

The first two foals she produced under Watership Down-ownership sold for 500,000gns each. Kilimanjaro, a colt by Shirley Heights, was second in the King Edward VII Stakes while Rhagaas, a colt by Sadler’s Wells, was third in Prix du Jockey Club.

In 2000 her colt by Sadler’s Wells sold to Demi O’Byrne for 3.4million guineas at Tattersalls Houghton Yearling sale – a record which still stands for a yearling sold in Europe. Diaghilev won a Group 3 in France before being sold to Hong Kong where, under the name River Dancer, he took the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II Cup.

The best was yet to come and in 2005 produced Dar Re Mi, by Singspiel. She went on to become Darara’s third individual Group 1 winner, following River Dancer and Darazari, who had been top class in Australia.

She landed the Irish Pretty Polly Stakes and the Yorkshire Oaks as a four-year-old before winning the Group 1 Dubai Sheema Classic the following year, taking her career earnings to £2.7million.

Darara’s final foal in 2007 was Rewilding, a colt by Tiger Hill. He was bought at Tattersalls for 500,000gns by John Ferguson and went on to become one of the leading middle-distance colts of his generation. He won the Great Voltigeur Stakes at three before following in his half-sister’s footsteps and taking the Dubai Sheema Classic in 2011.

Rewilding then went on to claim the scalp of Australian champion So You Think in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot.

In total she produced 12 foals, four individual Group 1 winners and two more who were Group 1 placed, earning a combined total of £7,250,000 in prizemoney. Her progeny that were sold as yearlings made a total of 4,900,000gns. She died last year, aged 29.

Claba Di San Jore is a new mare to the Watership Down - roster having been purchased at last December’s Tattersalls Sale for 575,000gns.

Claba di San Jore, a 14-year-old daughter of Barathea, has already produced Awelmarduk, winner of the Italian Derby, Crackerjack King, who won last year’s Premio Presidente della Repubblica, and Jakkalberry, a Group 1 winner in Italy and a Group 2 in Dubai.

Along with her three Group 1 scorers, Claba di San Jore has also bred a Listed winner and a Listed-placed performer from just six foals.

Bois Joli, one of Claba di San Jore’s winning daughters is the dam of Celticus, a leading contender for this year’s Italian Derby. The son of Stroll was the impressive winner of a Listed race in Milan last month.

She has a Shamardal filly yearling and a foal by the great Dubawi.

Watership Down Stud Foundation Mare Silver Lane Dies

07 May 2013

SILVER Lane, the last of Watership Down’s four founding broodmares, has died, aged 28 at Paca Paca Stud Farm in Japan.

A daughter of Silver Hawk, Silver Lane was the first broodmare to take up residence at Lord and Lady Lloyd Webber’s Watership Down Stud in 1993.

On the track, Silver Lane ran in the colours of Ecurie Fustok. She won the Group 3 Prix de la Grotte over a mile at Longchamp before finishing third behind the dead-heaters Melodist and Diminuendo in the Irish Oaks at the Curragh.

She fitted the bill as a perfect foundation broodmare as not only was she a top-class racehorse, she also had looks to match and a blue-blooded pedigree.

She was one of 12 winners out of her dam, Straight Line, an unraced daughter of Chieftain II. Straight Line also produced Hawkster, a multiple Grade 1 winner in America and the Group 1-placed Silver Kite.

Silver Lane exceeded all expectations and was a key factor in the expansion and promotion of Watership Down Stud.

In 1994 she foaled a colt by Nureyev called Black Hawk. He ended up as one of the leading performers in Japan winning two Group 1s and earning prizemoney of over £3.5million.

She also produced another Group 1 winner in Pink Cameo (French Deputy), who took the NGK Mile Cup in Tokyo 2007.

Her other Stakes performers include Starmaniac, Kauai Lane and Shakespeare.

Her progeny also reached lofty heights in the sales ring most notably Shakespeare (Rainbow Quest) who sold for 2.2million guineas as a yearling in 1998.

Her yearling colt by Darshaan was also sold as a yearling for 400,000gns at Tattersalls in 2003 whilst in Japan Pink Cameo was sold as a yearling for 71,000,000 JPY and Kauai Lane for 35,000,000 JPY.

Simon Marsh, general manager of Watership Down Stud, said: “Silver Lane was the first foundation mare at Watership Down Stud. She was a very good race filly and transferred much of her ability into her offspring, which included two Group 1 winners in Black Hawk and Pink Cameo.

“Not only did her progeny do us proud on the racetrack, they also allowed us to develop Watership Down and Kiltinan Castle Stud after Shakespeare sold for 2.2million at Tattersalls in 1998.

“She was the last survivor of our four foundation mares and it is the end of an era now they have all gone. Thankfully, we have a number of their daughters and grand-daughters and their legacies are continuing through them.”

Silver Lane was soon joined at Watership Down Stud by Darara, Crystal Spray and Sumoto, making up their quartet of foundation broodmares.

Darara went on to become one of the best broodmare’s ever, producing four individual Group 1 winners, including Rewilding and Dar Re Mi. The latter is now in foal to champion Frankel.

Crystal Spray produced Group 1 winner Crystal Music, among other Stakes performers, and is the great grand-dam of this year’s Derby hope and recent Group 2 winner, Ocovango.

Sumoto’s legacy is living on through her daughter, Twyla Tharp, who sold for a sale-topping 1.7million at last season’s Tattersalls December Sale and through her daughter The Fugue, winner of the Group 1 Nassau Stakes.

Last year’s Tattersalls December Sale purchase, Claba di San Jore was bought to inject a new bloodline into Watership Down Stud.

A daughter of Barathea, Claba di San Jore had already proven herself to be a prolific producer with her sons Jakkalberry, Crackerjack King and Awelmarduk all winning Group 1s. Just last weekend the family received another boost when Celticus was the impressive winner of a Listed race in Milan. Celticus is out of Bois Joli, a winning daughter of Claba di San Jore. He is now being aimed at the Italian Derby.

Ocovango Remains Unbeaten

06 May 2013

OCOVANGO is firmly on target for a bid at Classic glory having taken his unbeaten record to three with a commanding win in the Group 2 Prix Greffulhe at Saint-Cloud on Saturday.

The Watership Down Stud-bred colt races in the colours of Prince Faisal and is trained by the French-maestro Andre Fabre.

Following his impressive Listed win last month, Ocovango was sent off the odds on favourite for Saturday’s contest and won in cosy fashion under jockey Pierre-Charles Boudot.

Boudot established an early lead aboard Ocovango and set a decent tempo up front.

He had many of his rivals stretched with over three furlongs to run and it was only second-favourite Bravodino who mounted a challenge.

That challenge however, was short lived and Ocovango went on to score well by half a length.

He is now the second-favourite behind Dawn Approach for the Epsom Derby on 1 June. Fabre also used this race as a stepping-stone to Derby glory with 2011 winner Pour Moi.

A son of champion sire Monsun, Ocovango is the first foal out of Crystal Maze, an unraced daughter of Group 1-winning two-year-old Crystal Music.