50 Group/Graded Victories for Holy Roman Emperor

The Saturday victory of the five-year-old Angelic Light in the Gr. 2 McEwen Stakes in Moonee Valley was the jubilee fiftieth triumph of a horse by the Coolmore sire Holy Roman Emperor in a group race. True, the list includes a number of victories in group races in India, which are otherwise labelled as listed but nevertheless it is worthwhile to pay attention to this stallion who is only 10 years old and has achieved so much.

Photo Coolmore Stud

The age at which successful racehorses retire to stud is influenced by a number of factors. Mostly it is the commercial aspect that decides and future stallions are taken from the racecourse immediately after their three-year-old campaign, sometimes even at the end of their first season on the racecourse. The retirement to stud is often influenced by health reasons, injury, or a drop in performance level and the effort to avoid damage to the good name of the stallion. The reason behind Holy Roman Emperor’s premature departure to stud was quite unique though — he had to help to close the gap caused by another stallion’s fertility problems.

Holy Roman Emperor raced for a single season. He won his maiden easily at Leopardstown. Thirteen days later he raced in the Coventry Stakes where he was beaten. Perhaps the black-type scene came too early for him and Coventry Stakes was the single race in his career in which he was not first or second. Two more weeks later he won the Gr.2 Railway Stakes, beating his future Coolmore mate Excellent Art, and in mid August he achieved a Gr.1 success, beating Helvellyn by 1 3/4 lengths in the Phoenix Stakes. He spent the rest of the season on the Gr. 1 scene. He was twice beaten by Teofilo in the National Stakes and Dewhurst Stakes and won the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere at Longchamp (Grand Criterium).

The preparation for the 2007 classic season came to a halt when it was revealed that George Washington had fertility problems and the Coolmore owners decided to offer breeders another Danehill’s sons who, too, won two Gr.1 races as a two-year-old – Holy Roman Emperor. The bay horse, the second ante-post favourite of the 2,000 Guineas, left Aidan O’Brien’s yard at Ballydoyle and took up a new job as a stallion at Coolmore.

Albeit lacking a three-year-old career, the not too high but sufficiently well built debuting sire had much to offer. His sire Danehill was at the peak of his European fame, taking the sire championship in Britain and Ireland for two consecutive years in the recent two seasons. His dam, unraced Secretariat’s daughter L’On Vite, produced, besides Holy Roman Emperor, three more black-type winners including the Gr.3 winner Milanova; his granddam Fanfreluche, the three-year-old champion filly in Canada, went down to history as the dam of another Canadian champion L’Enjoleur, later an excellent sire.

It needs to be said that the first crop of Holy Roman Emperor’s two-year-olds was not quite impressive. He had 144 horses in his first crop but only a single horse achieved a black-type victory as a two-year-old – High Award, the winner of the listed Woodcote Stakes at Epsom and the son of the Irish 1,000 Guineas winner Tarascon. Five others placed. The stallion’s fee dropped after this season to EUR 10,000 the lowest level at which he officially ever provided his services. The next year, however, was much better, also thanks to the horses of the first crop. Banimpire was one of them. As a two-year-old she achieved “just” the fifth place in the listed Flame of Tara EBF Stakes, but next season she became the most successful product of Holy Roman Emperor’s first crop, winning the Royal Whip Stakes and Ribblesdale Stakes (both Gr.2) and finished second in the Irish Oaks (Gr.1). The second crop of two-year-olds arrived at the racecourse, with the promising Homecoming Queen, a 3/4 sister to Dylan Thomas, who, as a three-year-old, demolished her competitors in the 1,000 Guineas. The next crop brought the Hong Kong King of the Year, Designs On Rome, and Holy Roman Emperor’s fee grew to EUR 12,500 (2012) and since 2013 it stands at 20,000. In 2007 to 2010 Holy Roman Emperor shuffled to Australia and as all Danehill’s sons he was significantly more expensive than in Europe (27,500 to 44,000 AUD). Even so, he covered 529 mares in four seasons and had 333 horses.

If we sum up his current results we will arrive at very interesting statistics. In four crops of horses who are three-year-old and older, he has 42 black-type winners, the fifth crop, this year’s two-year-olds, has just one – the winner of the Sunday Premio Eupili (L), Spicy Jam. The youngest, and so far the last of Holy Roman Emperor’s black-type winners, shows one of the successful ways, i.e. a connection with mares of the Roberto line. With mares of this line Holy Roman Emperor has produced six black-type winners, including the winner of the New Zealand 1,000 Guineas (G1) Rollout the Carpet, or the above mentioned Banimpire or G3 winners Octavia and Honorius; the influence of Roberto, although not in direct line, is also in the dam of the listed winner and second in the Cheveley Park Stakes (G1), Sunday Times. It should be stressed that this connection looks very well even when we take into account the opportunity that Holy Roman Emperor had with such mares.

Holy Roman Emperor is 3x3 inbred to Northern Dancer and further expansion of his influence shows to be very successful with the wide spectrum of his sons. When speaking about Danehill, many of you will think immediately about Galileo and his daughters as these two giants have shown repeatedly that they complement each other perfectly and the Galileo x Danehill nick belongs among the most successful. Holy Roman Emperor has had, so far, seven horses out of Galileo’s daughters on the racecourse, two of them won a black-type race. The India born Smashing, whose dam was bought in foal by Holy Roman Emperor at Goff November Mares Sale for EUR 120,000, won the local Gr.1 Indian Oaks and finished second in the Indian Derby, the Irish Gr.3 winner Leitir Mor took valuable second places in the Gr.1 Dewhurst Stakes and Phoenix Stakes. Directly with a daughter of Sadler’s Wells Holy Roman Emperor produced a single black-type winner (Gr.1 placed Rich Tapestry) of 44 foals of racing age but if we look more closely on the results of this connection, we will find five more horses who placed in black-type races (Roman Soldier, Maxentius, Pussycat Lips, Juliet Capulet and Fly To The Moon).

The connection with the daughter of Sadler’s Wells’s son Barathea, who showed more speed on the racecourse than his sire, produced the third of the Molecomb Stakes in England and later the top sprinted in Hong Kong, Charles The Great. Good results were achieved by Holy Roman Emperor with the mares of the Nureyev line, with whom he produced Gr.3 winners Pinturicchio and Victory Laurel.

Sadler’s Wells is the sire of the granddam of the Indian Gr.1 winner Be Safe, the only Holy Roman Emperor’s black-type winner out ouf a dam by King’s Best (of five foals of racing age). The Mr Prospector line provided dams of nine black-type horses by Holy Roman Emperor (of which 5 black-type winners), but it should be mentioned that three of them (Princess Noor, Sandslash, Crying Lightening) have in their dam pedigrees the influence of Danzig to whom the horses are inbred. Inbreeding to Danzig can be found in the pedigrees of nine black-type horses by Holy Roman Emperor, including Mango Diva and Leitir Mor, who are inbred directly to Danehill.

The connection with the mares of the Sharpen Up line deserves attention too. The classic winner Homecoming Queen is one of five foals of racing age by Holy Roman Emperor out of daughters of Diesis; the Gr.3 winner Cannon Hill is out of the daughter of Selkirk with whom, or whose daughters, Holy Roman Emperor has just eight foals of racing age.

There seems to be an excellent affinity with the daughters of Cadeaux Genereux (whose damsire is Sharpen Up), with whom he produced two black-type winners and one placed of just six runners. Two black-type winners (including G1 winner Morandi) of seven runners – this is a great result for the daughters of Bering when combined with Holy Roman Emperor.

Designs On Rome is out of a dam by Alleged, the Australia Gr.1 placed Angelic Light out of a dam by Fuji Kiseki, the top sprinter Emperor Max out of a dam by Strategic and we could continue. Holy Roman Emperor produces successful horses with mares of many lines and as the numbers of his recent partners show (191 in 2013, 181 in 2012), breeders are well aware of his quality and flexibility.

Miloslav Vlček

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