Danehill in the Fourth Generation

Desert Sun’s daughter Helsinge went down into the history of thoroughbred breeding by producing the excellent Black Caviar, a sprinter unbeaten in twenty-five races, winner of fourteen Gr.1 races. Besides her, she gave birth to the colt All Too Hard, winner of the Caulfield Guineas and more three Gr.1 races. All Too Hard made his debut at stud in 2013 at Vinery Stud and in his first year covered 176 mares. In his first crop he has 145 horses and this Saturday the first of them, the filly Mystic Empire, managed to place in a black-type race.

Starspangledbanner, photo Coolmore

In May it will be fourteen years since Danehill was euthanised due to an injury sustained in paddock. His first progeny debuted in 1993 and it is indeed astonishing how big influence Danehill got in a relatively short timespan and how many precious wins and places have been since then achieved by his progeny, progeny of his progeny and progeny of progeny of his progeny.

All Too Hard belonged on the racecourse among the most successful Danehill’s grandson and now he is among the first stallions thanks to whom we will find Danehill’s name already in the fourth generation in paternal line. To be exact – he is just fourth grandson of Danehill to have produced a black-type horse at stud and the very first one who is not sired by Choisir. On February 1, it will be three years since the very first one triumphed when the two-year old Bugatty, the son of the Stan Fox Stakes (Gr.2) winner, Dreamscape, took the listed VATC Chairman’s Stakes at Caufield. This son of Choisir failed as a stallion but he will remain the first stallion thanks to whom Danehill’s line will shift in black-type races by another generation.

A few months later and a few thousand kilometres to the north, he was followed in England by another Choisir’s son Stimulation. The stallion at Llety Farms, England, had in his first crop two horses (Tongue Twista and Union Rose), who also placed in stakes at two, Tongue Twista even in the Gr.3 Duchess of Cambridge Stakes. Even for Stimulation the results of the first two-year-olds were the major achievements and since then none of his progeny scored success in black-type.

Even the stallion who is currently the most successful grandson of Danehill did not have it easy. No doubt an exceptionally talented stallion, the sire of seven black-type winners including a single Gr.1 winner, does not fight just his competition but even himself, or, to be more precise, his fertility. You may have already guessed that we are talking about the champion sprinter in Australia and Europe, the well-built chestnut Starspangledbanner. He went to stud in 2011 in Coolmore (he served as a shuttle stallion in Australia in the same year), but due to low fertility was unfortunately returned to the racecourse. In his first crop, however, he had the winner of the Gr.1 Prix Morny The Wow Signal, the winner of the Gr.2 Queen Mary Stakes and the runner-up in the Gr.1 Cheveley Park Stakes Anthem Alexander or the Gr.3 winner Home of The Brave. And since he produced a group winner, Of The Brave, in his first Australian crop as well, he returned to stud two years ago. In the Northern Hemisphere, that is, in Australia he had just a year break. The Australian data show that the return was successful and that his fertility rate improved significantly – from 37.4% in 2011 to excellent 87% in 2015, when he covered 77 mares who gave birth to 55 foals. He covered as many as 120 mares in Ireland last year.

Starspangledbanner is a proof that Danehill’s line can be strong in the next generation as well. Moreover, his example shows how to provide further development for his line – from Starspangledbanner to Choisir to Danehill Dancer all connecting elements to Danehill are sprinters, as was Danehill himself.

Miloslav Vlček

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