Fastnet Rock in New Roles

Danehill’s son Fastnet Rock, champion of sprinters and stallions in Australia, belongs among the best sires in the world. The flagship of Coolmore’s Australian operations and once the most expensive stallion in Australia, who during his career never won a race longer than six furlongs, is the provider of speed at stud and most of his progeny saw their major achievements on distances under a mile. Last weekend, however, Fastnet Rock presented himself in new roles.

Qualify, the 1st European bred G1 winner by Fastnet Rock, photo Petr Guth

It all began on Friday at Epsom, UK, with the third classic race of the British season, the Investec Oaks. Until the race, the winner of the Victoria Oaks, Mosheen, was the only one of seventeen Gr. 1 winners by Fastnet Rock who won over 2400+ distance, as her triumphs included a single one over 2,500m. At Epsom, however, it was the 50/1 shot Qualify who beat the favourite Legatissimo. The daughter of Fastnet Rock became its eighteen Gr.1 winner, the first foaled from Fastnet Rock’s stay in Ireland.

Qualify, half-sister to the Czech Oaks winner Saltanat, is so far the most successful progeny of Fastnet Rock foaled in the Northern Hemisphere. Here, at Coolmore to be precise, Fastnet Rock has been since 2010 and it had been planned to move him for this season too but eventually he stayed in Australia. The demand for him grew gradually in Europe: he had fifty-five foals in his first European crop, 113 in the second, including Qualify. In 2012 he covered 183 mares, in 2013 ten more. But then the demand dropped – last year he had just eighty-three mares.          

The results of his progeny in Europe is significantly different from results in Australia. This is not meant to say that his progeny is sold for considerably lower prices in Europe than in Australia but, rather, that in Europe they achieve best results on distances over 2,000 metres. Let us look at last victories and places of his products on the black-type level. Before the triumph of Qualify in the Oaks, Fascinating Rock (out of mare by Champion sprinter Polar Falcon...) was the runner up in the Tattersalls Gold Cup (Gr.1) over 2,100 metres, before that Cape Clear Island was second in the Prix Hocquart (Gr.2) over 2,200 metres, Disegno achieved the same place in Dee Stakes (L) over 2,100 metres and Diamondsandrubies won the Cheshire Oaks (L) over 2,300 metres. This year’s achievements of his European progeny include the triumph of La Saldana in the Schwarzgold-Rennen (Gr.3) over 1,600 metres but none of his progeny foaled in Europe has won over a shorter distance in black-type race.

The different distance preference is caused by different approaches to Fastnet Rock in Australia and in Europe. In Europe the stallion gets much more opportunity with mid-distance or staying pedigree mares than in Australia. The same applies to the pedigree of Qualify’s dam Perihelion, which is based on the combination of two Epsom Derby winners Galileo and The Minstrel. It would be wrong to generalise though – not 24 hours elapsed when another horse by Fastnet Rock won a Gr.1 race over 2,400 metres – this time in Australia where Magicool won the Queensland Derby. In a single day Fastnet Rock had two new Gr.1 winners over a staying distance. This is, however, not the only thing that the two winners have in common. Both, Qualify and Magicool, are out of dam by Galileo and they are, so far, the most successful thoroughbreds of this combination so far. That Fastnet Rock became another son of Danehill with whom the breeders try the Galileo combination should come as no surprise and the weekend results meant a strong impulse for this combination. According to the Equineline database this combination has produced so far forty-nine foals of racing age. Most of them, however, still wait for their racing debut – only sixteen have performed on the racecourse so far. Four of them won a black-type race (besides Qualify and Magicool also the listed winner and Gr.2 placed Rock Hero and the winner at two Eagle Island). The two-year-old Sailing By finished third in the Gr.3 Maribyrnong Plate at Flemington. These are not poor results, with the exception of Qualify achieved with horses foaled in the Southern Hemisphere – in the North, most of the products of this combination still wait for their racing debut. It is worth mentioning that with the exception of Magicool the Australian representatives of this combination were successful over short distances, which is again related to the different approach of Australian and European breeders. The best proof of the way this combination is used by European and Australian breeders is the pedigree of the winner of the mile Oaklands Plate (L) Eagle Island, whose granddam Danendri was sired by Danehill, to whom the Magicool is 2x3 inbred.

Fastnet Rock presented himself this weekend not just as the sire of Gr.1 stayers. On Saturday, in the Gr.1 J.J. Atkins, two-year-old Press Statement held his unbeaten record. The colt is from the first crop of the top class juvenile Hinchinbrook, winner of the Gr.3 Skyline Stakes, half-brother to successful sire Snitzel and, above all, the first Fastnet Rock’s son who has managed to produce a Gr.1 winner at stud. Press Statement is the second stakes winner by Hinchinbrook, besides the listed winner Flippant. His other progeny, Brooklyn and Old Trieste, placed in black-type races. Hinchinbrook thus made half of black-type winners by sons of Fastnet Rock. The other two, Strykum and Dead Or Alive, are by Stryker and Wanted.

Fastnet Rock, whose current results in Europe could be seen as disappointment compared to his results in Australia, showed another way to use his talent this weekend, as well as the fact that the talent can continue in next generations.

Miloslav Vlček
photo Petr Guth

Thanks for another great story.
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