Zafonic’s son Iffraaj was, for a long time, considered mainly as an excellent sire of two-year-olds. He still performs this role but the last months show that his talent is much wider. And what more, he does not score achievements only as a sire but also as grandsire, both on the male and female side of the pedigree.
When Iffraaj launched his stud career ten years ago at Kildagan Stud, Ireland, the broodmare owners paid 12,000 euros. The son of the 2,000 Guineas winner Zafonic and two-time winner Pastorale, the half-sister of the Lockinge Stakes winner and successful stallion Cape Cross, left for stud with the record of seven wins of thirteen races, including three Gr.2 winners over 7 furlongs and the second place in the Gr.1 July Cup. However, he achieved his best results at five, which could have raised concerns about the precocity of his progeny.
Any doubts were dispelled by the first crop. His first two-year-olds included the Gr. 1 Gran Criterium winner Wootton Bassett, Gr.3 winner Espirita and stakes-placed Stay Alive, Free Art, Zacynthus, King David and Musharakaat. The first crop of his two-year-olds included a record number of 38 winners. In the very next season his fee increased from 6,000 in 2010 to 15,000 euros.
As it happens the second crop was weaker and there was a single stakes-placed product (Urjooha) among two-year-olds and even the three-year-olds did not fare well in 2011, so it was no wonder that his fee for the next season decreased again to 10,000 euros and remained on this level even the next year.
Since 2008, however, Iffraaj started shuttling to the Southern Hemisphere, namely New Zealand, and this engagement helped him a lot. In the very first season at Haunai Farm Iffraaj had 130 mares and the total of his partner for nine seasons there is 914 mares. The stay in New Zealand also brought about the change in the perception of Iffraaj not only as the producer of two-year-olds. The filly Fix was the star of his first New Zealand crop, winning three Gr.2 races at two, but also finishing second in the New Zealand Derby and third in the New Zealand 1,000 Guineas.
Fix not only showed that Iffraaj was able to produce a Derby horse but she also hinted at the potential with mares of the Danehill line. The key importance of the ability to combine well with Danehill blood for success in Australasia does not have to be stressed for regular readers of this column but it needs to be said that Iffraaj indeed took this opportunity fully. He has sixteen runners out of Danehill’s daughters, eleven are winners, five in stakes races, more three black-type winners he has produced with Danehill’s granddaughters.
The last months show that Iffraaj’s talent is by no means limited to the production of excellent two-year-olds and excellent results achieved with mares of the Danehill line. Last year, Iffraaj scored first success as the sire of sires and his entrance to this scene was excellent too. The French champion unbeaten at two, Wootton Bassett, based at Haras d’Etreham, had in his first crop the shining star of Almanzor, the winner of the Prix du Jockey Club, Champion Stakes, Irish Champion Stakes and, above all, the best European trained horse of the last year.
Iffraaj, however, is not just an excellent sire of two-year-olds or the sire of sires. Early this year his son Gingernuts won the Gr.1 New Zealand Derby, while Iffrraj’s achievement was underscored by Jon Snow, who finished third. Two weeks later Gingermuts won the Gr.1 Rosehill Guineas and Joy Snow, having taken the Gr. 2 Tulloch Stakes in March, won the Gr.1 AJC Australian Derby over 2,400 metres this weekend. Iffraaj thus had two Derby winners in just a single month!
And not only this. After two stakes-placed progeny of his daughters last year, Iffraaj now had the first black-type winner out of his daughter. And it was indeed some debut. The two-year-old Melody Belle, the daughter of Danehill’s son Commands won the Gr.1 Manawatu Sires’ Produce Stakes at Awapuni by 1 ½ lengths this weekend, having placed third last year in the Gr.2 Wakefield Challenge Stakes. Even as a damsire Iffraaj shows affinity to partners of the Danehill line.
Iffraaj thus became not just a sire of Gr.1 winners and the sire of a stallion who produced a Gr.1 winner, but he succeeded in the same category as a damsire too. Before this season his fee in Europe (he stays at Dalham Hall Stud, Newmarket, for the third season) grew from 22,500 pounds to 27,500. If he stays successful as in the recent weeks, this is likely not to be the last raise of his fee.