Broodmares do not need to be great racetrack performers to be successful in the breeding barn. In fact, heavily raced mares often fail to produce anything with remotely their own ability when put to stud - as do heavily raced stallions.
Let me prove in this exercise these Group 1 Stakeswinners of the last couple of years whose female lines were ordinary or lacklustre performers on the race track.
1. Excellerator - winner of A$2.054 million. His mother Artless could not win a race. Grandmother Paris Look won a Listed Race at Caulfield. 3rd dam Follow My Leader couldn’t win a race and 4th dam Changeable didn’t start in a race.
2. Defier – winner of A$2.021 million. His dam Lilande couldn’t win a race – his 2nd dam Ladyyeri was unraced. 3rd dam Tristram Lady won 1 race in the scrub and 4th dam Doldrum was well named – she won 1 race over 2400 in Ireland.
3. Hasna – winner of A$1.166 million. Her dam won 1 race in America whilst 2nd dam American Revelation and 3rd dam American Legacy couldn’t win a race.
4. Kusi – won the Blue Diamond Stakes and is an enigma of a horse. His mother was beautifully named – she was called Naughty and won 4 races including 2 at Rosehill. Naughty’s mother was called Unashamed and she was unraced. 3rd dam Rhine Valley won 2 bush races and 4th dam Khoralee couldn’t win a race. Another interesting part of Kusi’s pedigree is his 5th dam Nereid. It’s so long ago I can’t find out if she won a race but Nereid had a son who raced as the champion Sometime - winner of 22 races from 1200 to 2800 metres - including a Caulfield Cup, Caulfield Stakes, St George Stakes, VRC Turnbull Stakes and twice winner of the Alister Clark Stakes. Sometime had a half-brother called Fox Myth – he won a Wellington Cup and stood successfully at the stud in New Zealand.
Sometime also had a half sister who could not get out of sight in a dark night – her name was Galston. Do you know what she produced at stud? They don’t come much better – the great Galilee, who won 18 races and was named “Australian Horse of the Year” for victories including a Melbourne Cup, Sydney Cup, Caufield Cup, Queen Elizabeth Stakes, Turnbull Stakes, C. B. Fisher Plate and Toorak Handicap. So when someone says who was the mare that could not win a race – even in the bush – which produced a champion, if you answer “Galilee’s mum” – you’ll be spot on.
That’s obviously also the reason why John Hawkes tries Kusi over a bit of ground – he knows back in the pedigree are some great stayers.
5. Pillage ‘N’ Plunder – won the 2003 Group 1 Adelaide Cup in a dominant display. His dam Rue was unraced as was his 2nd dam Lavender. 3rd dam Katushka won 3 races in the bush and 4th dam Larnui couldn’t win a race.
I picked this family out as its remarkable, because from the first 3 dams, 15 individual horses have raced of which 5 (a pathetic 33%) could win a race. Yet those 5 included Pillage ‘N’ Plunder and that great New Zealander Veandercross who won 8 Group 1 races and A$2.583 million.
6. Redoute’s Choice and Platinum Scissors are both Group 1 winning sons of their dam Shantha’s Choice who won just 1 race out in the scrub. 2nd dam Dancing Show won 1 race in America whilst 3rd dam Show Lady was unraced.
7. Scenic Peak has won at the elite level. His 1st and 3rd dams never raced, his 2nd dam Potamac’s Daughter won 3 staying races and 4th dam Red Tape couldn’t win a race.
8. Bulla Borghese won a VRC Oaks. Her dam Fionnay never faced the starter while 2nd dam Aminona and 3rd dam Lady Valentine both only won 1 race each over ground out in the bush.
9. Blevvo won the Group 1 Kingston Town Stakes in Perth. The only female in his first 3 dams to grace a race track was 3rd dam Better Glory who won 4 races – the best being a Novice handicap.
10. Always leave the best for last! The two most remarkable families in the Australian Studbook today emanate from 2 great mares – Denise’s Joy and Eight Carat. Denise’s Joy won 12 races. She won a QTC and VRC Oaks, a West Australian Derby, Underwood Stakes, Turnbull Stakes, Moonee Valley Stakes and a Craven Plate etc. A large photo of her easy win in the QTC Oaks adorns my home to this day. She became one of the greatest broodmares this country has ever seen. Do you know that the following black type performers emanate from either her or her direct descendants as (daughters, or granddaughters). Don’t forget these are only black type winners – non black type winners are not mentioned - Joie Denise, Sunday Joy, Joie, Miss Minden, Miss Danehill, Pentastic, Euphoria, Fleet, Christmas Tree (deceased sire), Jewel In The Crown, So Georgeous, All In Fun, Forehand, Stand And Cheer, Kenconcarne, Miss Wutika, Light Up The World, Doctor’s Orders, Thorn Park, Conspectus, Jolly, Master Jolly, Eastern Star, Record Dash, Jewel of Night, Sandridge Bay, Joie De Grise and Arlington Road.
That’s extraordinary isn’t it – well thank God someone didn’t put this hopeless race track mare on a truck and take her to the knackery! Born in England in 1975 the daughter of low profile sire Pieces of Eight and Klairessa (who won one humble race in England) – the mare called Eight Carat could not run a place in 5 starts. Bought to Australia because of her stout pedigree and the fact that she was a half sister to the champion European Sprinter Habibti (who won the July Cup), she is unchallenged as the greatest broodmare this country has ever – or will ever – see. Her dynasty of black type winners from herself, her daughters and granddaughters reads:- Octagonal (sire), Mouawad (sire in China!), Diamond Lover, Peruzzi, Don Eduardo (sire New Zealand), Lucida, Antwerp, Viscount (sire), Helsinborg, Dangerous (sire), Tristalove, Viking Ruler (sire New Zealand), Diamond Ike, Chimeara, Kaapstad (sire New Zealand), Marquise, Count of Jewels, Danewin (sire), Commands (sire), Emerald Dream, Special Bond, Mancini, Taimana, Monards, Philidor, Awakening and Shower of Roses.
So if a broodmare couldn’t win a race, or never faced the starter, don’t ever give up hope – it may be as simple as breeding the mare to the right cross. Imagine for just one second, that the hopeless Eight Carat was sent to the knackery – or had been left in England. We’d have missed Octagonal and his son Lohnro’s 20 Group 1 wins …….and that’s just for starters!