He was an excellent racehorse of an exceptional pedigree. Sired by the most successful stallion of his time, out of his most successful nick, a Gr.1 winner at two, two-time Derby winner at three, historically the first two-time winner of the Breeders’ Cup Turf who managed to win major Gr.1 races even at four. He proved to be an exceptional talent at stud too, where, however, he was not so lucky. He was not at the right place in the right time and then left prematurely for heavenly pastures.
Who am I speaking of? High Chaparral, the winner of the Racing Post Trophy, Epsom Derby, Irish Derby and Irish Champion Stakes and also, as has been said already, the first two-time winner of the Breeders’ Cup Turf. Sired by Sadler’s Wells out of an excellent family, representing Sadler’s Wells’s most successful nick Sadler’s Wells x Darshaan, he had just everything a stallion needed to succeed but luck. He went to stud in 2004 at Coolmore, which had, at that time, two sons of Sadler’s Wells already: Montjeu, who excelled next year with the first crop of three-year-olds, and Galileo, who was to make his debut on the yearling market. The whole Irish stud career of High Chaparral took place in the shadow of these two most preferred sons of the great Sadler’s Wells and who knows what his career would have looked like had he not have to face such a strong competition and, also, had he died later than on December 21, 2014, when he was euthanised at Fethard Equine Hospital during exploratory colic surgery due to a perforated intestine.“
Montjeu and Galileo made High Chaparral’s success in Europe more difficult but Montjeu, oddly enough, helped him to achieve success in the Southern Hemisphere. It is this southern engagement that seems, from the perspective of High Chaparral’s blood and its transfer to further generations, more important. After the success of Montjeu’s first crop Coolmore decided that Montjeu will no longer shuttle and that he would remain in Ireland. Instead of him, High Chaparral was sent to Windsor Park Stud, New Zealand. It was a happy decision since while in Europe High Chaparral’s debut was lukewarm, the first New Zealand crop included four Gr.1 winners including the best stallion’s progeny ever, the ten-time Gr.1 winner So You Think. He was foaled in 2006; three years later another progeny that could shift High Chaparral’s glory to further generation was foaled – Dundeel.
The great performance of High Chaparral on New Zealand was the reason that from 2010 High Chaparral moved from New Zealand to Australia – directly into the local subsidiary of Coolmore. That his progeny were successful there as well was proved, once again, this Sunday by the three-year-old Montoya’s Secret by winning the Gr.1 Storm Queen Stakes at Rosehill. By the way, it is worth mentioning that the runner-up, Nurse Kitchen, is out of the dam by Montjeu and the third Harlow Gold is a daughter of Tavistock, the most successful son of Montjeu at stud today.
But not only Montjeu looks from above which of his sons will take the throne. The same holds true for High Chaparral and although some of his perspective sons await the debut of their progeny on the racecourse, we can already wathc the progeny of his sons making their way upwards. Last weekend these were joined by the South Africa-based Golden Sword, the former winner of the Chester Vase and the runner up to Fame and Glory in the Irish Derby, whose daughter Belle Rose won the Oaks Trial (L) at Turffontein over the weekend. Golden Sword, based at Summershill Stud with a fee of 15,000 rands, has become the fourth son of High Chaparral to have produced a stakes winner.
So far the most successful son of High Chaparral at stud is So You Think, the sire of four black-type winners, of whom two, the New Zealand 1,000 Guineas winner La Bella Diosa and the recent Randwick Guineas winner Inference, won in a Gr.1 race. All eight black-type progeny of So You Think were foaled during his stay in Australia, including the two-year-old Gr.2 winner Gold Rush or the two-year-old listed placed Conscious and Smart As You Think. So You Think launched his stud career in Ireland a year later and last year he had the first two-year-olds on the racecourse in Europe, but without a black-type success. The production of precocious two-year-olds will certainly not be the strength of So You Think but even the early performance at stud seems to suggest that he could achieve more down under than in Europe. After all, he no longer performs his stallion duties in Europe and did not even last year. In his last European season in 2015, he had 55 mares, while in Australia he covered 172 mares in the same year and last year even 188 mares. In total, he covered impressive 895 mares during his five seasons in Australia.
There was a considerable demand among Australian breeders for the Victoria Derby winner Monaco Consul, who covered 101 mares in 2011 when his fee was 19,000 AS$. However, in the first crop he had just a single stakes progeny – the runner up in the Gr.1 Victoria Oaks and Flight Stakes, Honesta, and in the second his first and only stakes winner Tiamo Grace, therefore the demand has decreased and last year – with a 30% fee – he had just twenty mares.
Until last weekend the last son of High Chaparral to have produced a stakes winner was the globetrotting Redwood, the winner of the Gr.1 Northern Dancer Breeders’ Cup Turf Stakes at Woodbine and Gr.3 Glorious Stakes at Goodwood. The stallion whose granddam is the sister of the excellent Dancing Brave, has been based at Westbury Stud, New Zealand, since 2012 and has covered a total of 477 mares during his five seasons.
A number of very interesting sons still waits for their opportunity to produce black-type winners. In Europe, the highest expectations are associated with the couple Toronado - Free Eagle. The first of them, an excellent miler successful, among other races, in the Sussex Stakes or Queen Anne Stakes, based at the National Stud, has first yearlings this year. A year later, Free Eagle went to stud, whose top achievement was the victory in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes, a race taken by So You Think three years previously. Free Eagle is based at the Irish National Stud, where he covered 112 mares last year. It is worth mentioning that both stallions shuttle to Australia, where Free Eagle covered 83 mares and Toronado 142 (a year before even 175), while in England “just” 110.
At Arrowfield Farm, Australia, however, there is one more ace waiting, perhaps the most promising one – Dundeel. The six-time Gr.1 winner and champion, whose winnings exceed over 5.3 AUD, covered a total of 437 mares in his first three seasons. When a new Australian season starts in August, the first two-year-olds by Dundeel will no doubt become among the most eagerly watched debutantes.
The premature departure of High Chaparral was a great loss for thoroughbred breeding. He has left behind, however, a number of exceptional sons, among whom So You Think in Australia shows decent potential and others are yet to make their debuts with their progeny. Let us believe that there will be one among them that could equal the sire and take his legacy into further generations.