Did you know that Merrill Kruger from Lyndhurst Stud was “better known to all as Mick”? I put their stud on the website about 12 or 14 years ago and I must say I’d never heard of him being called “Mick”. In any event he was the man who picked out a stallion prospect called Celestial Dancer from “two hundred horses” he’d been offered.

As they say in the classics when things work out for the better -“the rest is history” – as that stallion Celestial Dancer went on to create world thoroughbred breeding history during his long time at Lyndhurst Stud. He was named “champion Queensland sire” on no less than seven occasions. On one occasion – in the 1995/1996 racing season – he even set a world record for the most number of winners by a thoroughbred stallion in a year, when 239 of his progeny won races. That feat alone ensured that Lyndhurst Stud became an internationally recognized and respected thoroughbred breeding entity. To show his remarkable consistency in the breeding barn, the following year Celestial Dancer threw an amazing 234 winners, just five less, but this time it wasn’t enough to win him the global award two years in a row.

Celestial Dancer ceased standing commercially at the close of the 2006 racing season and he consistently achieved a winners-to-runners ratio throughout his long career of over 75%.

Recently I came across a February 1986 article in Turf Monthly that was written by a Graham Orr and it was an article written after Mick Kruger had bought Celestial Dancer for his family’s Lyndhurst Stud at Warwick on the Darling Downs. It is repeated in full below – to give an insight into arguably the greatest stallion that will ever stand in Queensland.

The Lyndhurst Stud of today continues to move with the times and to that end, last Sunday in Brisbane, Jeff Kruger and his wife Cally, travelled to Brisbane for Jeff to address a racing function and to present special Spring achievement awards to Queensland based trainers that had tasted success with their horses during the recent Melbourne Spring Carnival. Jeff, along with his brother Griff, run the modern day Lyndhurst Stud.

The article on Celestial Dancer and Mick Kruger, courtesy of Turf Monthly from 27 years ago in February 1986 reads:

“The beauty of Godswalk is that he is a stallion that looks to be so well suited to Australian conditions with the outcross he provides.

“He’s had three Australian runners from mares imported here and they’ve all won.

“Pure of Heart won the Group one STC Ryder Stakes, and was dreadfully unlucky not to have won the Newmarket Hcp; Cheeky Trot won the Group Two Karrakatta Plate and was placed in the Perth Derby; and the other was Stands Out, which I trained, to win two-out-of-two before he was injured”.

The speaker was Colin Hayes, horse trainer extraordinaire, quoted at the time he pulled off the two million dollar coup, acquiring Godswalk for “Lindsay park Stud” in South Australia.

Godswalk stands for $15,000 at “Lindsay Park” and the American-bred son of Dancer’s Image and Kate’s Intent, by Intentionally, was the leading first season sire in the number of individual winners in 1981.

One of those winners was a bay colt out of the Nijinsky mare Oulanova, called Celestial Dancer.

And it was the same Celestial Dancer who won the Group Three Prix de Meautry at Deauville, the day that the deal to retain Godswalk for Australia was completed. And that colt now stands at the most famous Queensland stud of all time, “Lyndhurst”.

The principal of “Lyndhurst Stud” at Warwick on Queensland’s famous Darling Downs is Merrill Kruger, better known to all as Mick Kruger.

On a trip to England in 1984, Mick Kruger was the target of every bloodstock agent and seller when it became known that he was in the market for a stallion. Two hundred horses later, Celestial Dancer was bought, lock, stock and barrel, for Australia.

It is hardly surprising that Kruger was interested in the horse. Winner of six races at five and six-furlongs earning over 71,000 pounds, Celestial Dancer combines not only the bloodlines of all the chefs-de-race of American (and World) breeding but has the looks of a real aristocrat..

In addition to the Deauville stakes race, “The Dancer” won a Group Three race at Baden Baden and a stakes race in England.

He was also stakes placed four times.

The same year that Celestial Dancer was winning races around the globe, a two-year-old son of Godswalk was busy rewriting the records by winning sixteen races!

This smashed a 99-year-old race record and for all time the name Provideo will be known to researchers as the iron horse of Europe.

Celestial Dancer carries two crosses in his pedigree of Native Dancer, his great grandsire on his sire’s side, and sire of the dam of Northern Dancer.

And the other is Bull Dog, one of the really great sires in the history of American racing and breeding.

Godswalk’s race record is well-known. Briefly, he was the Champion Sprinter of his time winning eight races including the Royal Ascot King’s Stand Stakes, Group One. He was rated the top two-year-old in Ireland in 1976, ahead of The Minstrel and Nebbiolo.

At stud he has been a sensation and it can only be through the “old boys” pact of Colin Hayes and Robert Sangster that we were able to retain him for Australia.

Originally, Godswalk only came to “Lindsay Park” for two seasons but he was so popular that Hayes persuaded Sangster to leave the horse here.

New Zealand also has a very good prospect in Shearwalk at stud. This fellow, a grey like his sire, won at Newmarket before finishing third in the English Derby to Teenoso. He stands at a fee of $8000 (NZ) near Cambridge.

Godswalk’s Timeform rating of 130 is about the highest ever awarded to a stallion to come to Australia. And the maternal grandsire of Celestial Dancer. Nijinsky, was awarded an even higher rating of 138 … and that makes Celestial Dancer a horse truly bred on a cross of champions.

Oulanova, dame of Celestial Dancer, won at Saint-Cloud and comes from a prolific winner producing family.

A half-sister to four winners herself, she is out of Our Model who won five races and was also a half-sister to four winners including Model Moon, a good winning dam of Keep Your Promise ($73,798).

The next dam is Late Model, winner of six and $40,520 and a full sister to Belle Jeep, a phenomenal broodmare who produced no less than 12 winners including Jewel’s Reward (seven wins and $448,592) and Triple Crown (four wins and $128,874).

A bay, foaled in 1979, Celestial Dancer is very fortunate in that he goes to a well established stud where Smokey Eyes (also foaled in Ireland like “The Dancer”), Grand Chaudiere, Hail To Success, Mendham, Lysander II, and a host of others have had great success.

To stand as the property of a syndicate at a fee of $2500, payable on a 45 day pregnancy test, with live foal guarantees on application, Celestial Dancer will have every chance to show at stud the class he showed on the racecourse.

In the Group One sprint he was fourth of 16 defeating the brilliant Fearless Lad and Salieri (USA) (who sands at “Widden Stud” now at a fee of $15,000 and received a fabulous book of mares in 1984).

His versatility was underlined by the authoritative Timeform, which ventured the opinion that he acted on any going, a factor which will have a bearing on his Australian stud career.

There is a lot to like about Celestial Dancer. He is big and strong, possessed of a magnificent head with the “look of eagles” about him. He has that indefinable stamp of quality which is hard to describe but which fills the eye of a horseman who knows his horses.

At three years and five years, he had wonderful seasons, running only in pattern (stakes) races and acquitting himself well. In fact, at three, he took on the older horses in the race reserved for the best, the King’s Stand Stakes, a race won by his sire, and ran creditably.

Celestial Dancer is headed for stardom at historic “Lyndhurst”, the stud where The Buzzard stood for many years.

One could put a carbon copy into Colin Hayes’ summing up of Godswalk.

“His acquisition is a tremendous lift for the industry”, for Celestial Dancer, and “Lyndhurst”.

Today on www.brisbaneracing.com.au there’s the final montage of photos from Marburg and Doomben last Saturday, as well as Jeff Kruger at the Sunday Spring Carnival presentation in Brisbane. On www.sydneyracing.com.au there’s the popular What’s In A Name” segment from last Saturday’s race meetings, whilst on www.melbourneracing.com.au Matt Nicholls looks at Victorian racing.