Dancing Brave is back!

The Sunday triumph in the Centenary Vase (Gr. 3), under the heaviest weight, confirmed the exceptional class of the five-year-old Akeed Mofeed, a class demonstrated already by his December triumph in the Hong Kong Cup or even earlier in the Hong Kong Derby. He hinted at something of his abilities during his stay in Europe where, trained by John Oxx, he finished second to David Livingston in the Beresford Stakes. His achievement is not just another success in his sire Dubawi’s excellent career but – if you look further back into his pedigree – can serve as a reminder of the once exceptional star of European racing, Dancing Brave, whose name now appears more and more often in the pedigrees of successful horses.

There were not many horses in the 1980s who achieved what Dancing Brave did. The U.S.-born son of Lyphard, who raced in the silks of Prince Khalid Abdullah, won his both races as a two-year-old. As a three-year-old he won the Craven Stakes and the 2,000 Guineas. In the Epsom Derby, despite his fantastic finish, he just failed to catch the front-running Shahrastani whom he then beat in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes. Before this race, his class was tested in the Eclipse Stakes which he won easily by four lengths from Trillion.

Following the ten-length victory in the Select Stakes at Goodwood, he set out for France to run in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. It was thanks to him that this edition of the race went down to annals and Dancing Brave’s last surge of speed belongs among the best racing feasts ever seen (see the video). After that, he had just one last race, in the Breeders’ Cup Turf at Santa Anita, but he did not show his European form and finished fourth.

Khalid Abdullah kept a share in the horse but had him syndicalised and the horse left for Dalham Hall Stud. He started at GBP 120,000, which is 5,000 less than Frankel but if inflation and the power of the British currency (this was before George Soros’s attack) are taken into account, in reality the fee was much higher.

The start at stud proved a major disappointment. His first crop produced just the winner of the Silken Glider Stakes, Glowing Ardour, and the listed winner Mohican Girl, with the group of black-type winners later expanded by gelding Zabar. After his first season at stud Dancing Brave had serious health problems and these could have influenced the result of his second, slightly less numerous crop which left much to be desired. After the disappointment of the first two crops, the shareholders were given an offer, in 1991, by Japan Racing Association and the stallion moved to the association’s station in Hokkaido. As an effort to support the local small breeders, the fee was set at just GBP 10,000 - instead of the 80,000 charged by Dalham Hall in his last season in Europe.

It was while Dancing Brave was in Japan when his third crop came to the track. And it was this crop which has completely changed the perspective on the stallion: the winner of the Epsom Derby a Irish Derby, Commander in Chief, the winner of the Derby Italiano and the runner-up in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (behind Urban Sea) White Muzzle, the winner of the Irish Oaks, Wemyss Bight, another Gr.1 winner Ivanka, whose career and life came to an end when she broke her leg in training, or the winner of the Prix Hocquart (Gr.2) Regency - these propelled Dancing Brave to the second place in the British championship of sires, just behind Sadler’s Wells. Their results, however, brought joy and excitement mainly to Japanese breeders, especially when Commander in Chief and White Muzzle left for Japan.

It was White Muzzle – the sire, among others, of the winner of the Japan Cup Dirt (Gr. 1) Nihonpiro Ours, the winner of Tenno Sho (Spring) (Gr. 1) Ingradire or Shadow Gate, the winner of the International Cup (Gr. 1) – who had the best career in Japan, as at the time Dancing Brave and his sons arrived in Japan, the star of Sunday Silence rose to the orbit. White Muzzle’s two sons went to stud too but their progeny is yet to race. Commander in Chief produced fourteen black-type winners in Japan and his sons went to stud, but so far only Suehiro Commander has managed to produce a black-type winner – the listed winner Inazuma Amaryllis. Her pedigree is of interest for the Europeans as her dam sire, Lammtarra, is another Epsom Derby winner who left for Japan after a single season at Dalham Hall Stud. Dancing Brave expanded his line in Japan thanks to his son King Halo. The son of the Kentucky Oaks, American Oaks and Mother Goose Stakes, Goodbye Halo, whom Morio Sakurai bought at Keeneland in January 1990 for USD 2.1 million, is, quite surprisingly, more comfortable on shorter distances and his highest achievement was the victory in the Takamatsunomiya Kinen (Gr.1) over 1,200 metres. His best progeny include Laurel Guerreiro, the winner of the Takamatsunomiya Kinen, and the winner of the Yushun Himba (Japanese Oaks), Kawakami Princess.

What is less known is that Dancing Brave’s line found fertile ground in South Korea where three of his sons were active at stud, two of them foaled during his stay in Europe. The winner of the Gran Premio Citta di Napoli (Gr. 3), Revere, was the most successful of them, having produced a number of excellent horses in Korea, including the winner of the Presidents Cup (KOR-Gr.1) Gayasanseong or two winners of the local Oaks, Seohae Beontcheok and Baekpa, the latter of whom tried her luck, not with much success, in the United States. Gayasanseong and the winner of the KRA Cup Mile (KOR-Gr.3), Rainmaker, made it to the local stud which has thirty-five broodmares by Revere.

The departure of Dancing Brave and of both his best sons meant the end of his paternal line in Europe but it is precisely the European breeding through which Dancing Brave appears, more and more often, in the pedigrees of black-type winners. His influence has shifted to the third generation and further and on these positions he can be found in the pedigrees of nearly 450 black-type horses. This is mainly thanks to two successful sires, Oasis Dream and Dubawi, followed by another stallion with Dancing Brave in his pedigree, Beat Hollow. The mare Hope, bred by Khalid Abdullah’s Juddmonte Farms and of the last Dancing Brave’s European crop, is the one who transfers the influence of her sire to the pedigrees of black-type horses. She ran just once, in France, and did not place; unfortunately she died prematurely at twelve, nevertheless left a significant mark. It was mainly through her son Oasis Dream, one of the best European sires today and a very popular sire of sires). Beside him she produced the winner of the Poule d’Essai des Pouliches, Zenda, the dam of two black-type winners and potential founder of a successful family.

Hope is the sister of the above mentioned winner of the Irish Oaks and champion three-year-old filly Wemyss Bight, whose son Beat Hollow, the four-time Gr. 1 winner, is used also in the National Hunt breeding but has already produced thirty-one black-type horses and, thus, contributes to the spreading of Dancing Brave’s fame.

Same as Hope, Jawaher did not have a significant racing career. A member of Dancing Brave’s second crop, she placed three times as a three-year-old, but as a half-sister to the winner of the Epsom Derby, High-Rise, she had a value for breeding. She met the expectations by producing the champion of three-year-old and older fillies in Italy, Zomaradah, whose pedigree, same as the pedigree of Wemyss Bight, shows the good connection between the blood of Dancing Brave and Mill Reef. Zomaradah proved to be more yet more successful at stud as she crowned her stud career by the winner of the Irish 2,000 Guineas and the second best sire in England and Ireland 2013 (by prize money), Dubawi.

These three sires have contributed the biggest share to the expansion of Dancing Brave and their families belong among the major European sources of Dancing Brave’s further expansion. There are others though, such as Noble Destiny, the maiden winner from the first Dancing Brave’s crop, who is a granddam to the winner of the Lockinge Stakes, Peeress. The winner of the Haydock Park Sprint Cup (Gr. 1) and the best horse of Dancing Brave’s last European crop, Cherokee Rose, has established a successful family too, having become the granddam of two Gr.1 winners (Kirklees and Mastery) and of the second in the last year’s Dewhurst Stakes, Cable Bay. Dynamis, just average on the track, securing just two second and two third places of eighteen races, produced the Gr.3 winner Dalicia, the dam of the excellent Animal Kingdom. The maiden Almaaseh is the granddam of the Hong Kong Cup winner, Red Cadeaux, the maiden winner Congress is the granddam of the Cape Guineas (Gr.1) winner and the runner-up in the Cape Derby (Gr.1) Noordhoek Flyer. Dievotchka and other daughters of Dancing Brave have established successful families.

The influence of Dancing Brave moves further in the pedigree but is not lost. The winner of the last year City Plate (L) at Chester, the bay filly Ladyship, is inbred 3x4 to Dancing Brave. There is likely to be more similar black-type winners, also thanks to the numerous group of sons by Oasis Dream and Dubawi. Dancing Brave, an excellent racehorse and one of the unluckiest losers in the Epsom Derby, is not going to be forgotten any time soon.

Miloslav Vlček

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