Giant’s Causeway, Ten Years Later

Three times champion sire in America, thirteen of his progeny won a group race last year, the USD 85,000 fee making him not just one of the most expensive stallions at Ashford Stud but in the whole United States – this is Giant’s Causeway. A successful sire, and now a successful sire of sires, whose first crop made it to the track ten years ago.


Giant’s Causeway's performance as a sire was watched keenly not just by European breeders but by those in America too. Having spent his first season at Coolmore, Ireland, Giant’s Causeway moved to Ashford Stud in the United States. Great expectations were raised by his great track record as he was the winner of six Gr. 1 races, including the Eclipse Stakes, the St James’s Palace Stakes and the Irish National Stakes and it was just a bit of luck that he missed to crown his astonishing European campaign by winning the Breeders’ Cup Classic where he was a close runner-up behind Tiznow.

His start at stud was excellent. His first two-year-olds included the winner of the Dewhurst Stakes (Gr. 1), Shamardal, later to become the champion of two-year-olds. Maid’s Causeway, the winner of the Rockfel Stakes (Gr. 2), and Footstepsinthesand, the winner of the Killavullan Stakes (Gr. 3), were successful on the group level too.

All four of them, moreover, showed high class as three-year-olds. Shamardal, a champion after the next season too, won the Poule d’Essai des Poulains, the St James’s Palace Stakes and the Prix du Jockey Club, French Derby run, for the first time, over shorter distance. In the last race he beat Hurrican Run. Footstepsinthesand, too, won a classic – the 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket. Maids Causeway missed it though when as a favourite she was beaten by Virginia Waters in the 1,000 Guineas; she fought back winning the Coronation Stakes (Gr. 1).

It was no wonder that after such a start the original 2005 fee in the United States rose from USD 200,000 to 300,000.

Today, ten years later, Giant’s Causeway has nothing to prove as a sire: three times he became the champion sire in America, 136 of his progeny have won a black-type race and they are successful on both short distances and classic ones, both on turf and dirt and they perform well on both sides of the Atlantic. He is the most successful Storm Cat’s son at stud albeit he differs from other Storm Cat’s sons by the fact that a large portion of his progeny needs some time to mature and are successful over distances which are the upper limit of horses produced by other Storm Cat’s sons.

Giant’s Causeway does not lag behind, from the European perspective, in the production of sires either. It was them who gave him a special present for the 10th anniversary of his track debut as a sire – the gift had a form of the 20th Gr. 1 winner by a horse sired by his son. It was in on Sunday in the Hong Kong Mile and the winner was Able Friend, a gelding sired by Shamardal. His sire is the most successful son of Giant’s Causeway at stud today. Based at Kildangan Stud, Ireland, a part of Darley Emporium, this stallion has produced 58 black-type winners and 13 Gr. 1 winners. His fee is EUR 50,000.

Giant’s Causeway’s sons who have produced a black-type winner so far

YOB To Stud BT winners
SHAMARDAL 2002 2005 58
FIRST SAMURAI 2003 2007 14
NOBLE CAUSEWAY 2002 2008 4
FROST GIANT 2003 2009 4
ARAGORN 2002 2007 3
THE WAY HOME 2004 2008 3
MORNING RAIDER 2002 2007 2
HEATSEEKER 2003 2009 2
CAUSE UR MINE 2002 2006 1
FAIRBANKS 2003 2009 1
STONESIDER 2003 2008 1
GIANT GIZMO 2004 2010 1
RED GIANT 2004 2009 1
INTENSE FOCUS 2006 2010 1

Giant’s Causeway’s son Footstepsinthesand, based at Coolmore, Ireland, and a sire of three Gr. 1 winners, is available for a fee of just EUR 10,000. Intense Focus is in Ireland too. Last year, his first crop of two-year-old produced just a single black-type winner but this was no one else than Astaire, the winner of the Middle Park Stakes (Gr. 1). Besides him, Intense Focus had two more black-type placed horses and it is no wonder that his last year’s fee of EUR 5,000 doubled.

While there is little doubt in Europe about Giant’s Causeway to produce quality sires, in the United States he is less successful. It is true, indeed, that the European-born Shamardal and Footstepsinthesand have at least a one-year advantage (Intense Focus was foaled in the United States four years later). This is, however, not the case of the Irish-born Aragorn who launched his racing career in Europe but then was exported to the United States where he won two Gr. 1 races and finished second in the Breeders’ Cup Mile. He proved a disappointment at stud and his initial fee of USD 30,000 at Lane’s End Farm, dropped to USD 4,000 in 2012 when he left Lane’s End for Tommy Town Thoroughbreds. Breeders were not enthusiastic about Noble Causeway or Red Giant either.

Despite this, Giant’s Causeway has a strong son in the United States. It is First Samurai, based at Claiborne Farm, the sire of fourteen black-type winners, including Gr. 1 winners Justin Phillip and Executiveprivilege. The stallion, whose racing career was ended by an injury in the Blue Grass Stakes, was, contrary to the two Giant’s Causeway sons at American stud mentioned above, an early horse, winning two Gr. 1 races as a two-year-old (the Champagne Stakes and Hopeful Stakes) and finished third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. Frost Giant, too, had a promising start at stud and this year’s debut of first two-year-olds by the winner of the Wood Memorial, Eskendereya, is eagerly awaited. Eskendereya, same as First Samurai, had to end his career before the Kentucky Derby. Hopefully, he will manage to fight off this handicap as First Samurai and Footstepsinthesand, who also left the track early.

The main task to develop Giant’s Causeway’s line, lies – leaving aside, naturally, Giant’s Causeway – on European sires. They were helped by the fact that both Shamardal and Footstepsinthesand operated as shuttle stallions in Australia and that Giant’s Causeway progeny shows greater affinity to classic distances than is usual among Storm Cat’s sons.

Miloslav Vlček

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