Harbinger, A Stallion for Sunday Silence’s Daughters and Granddaughters

Keisei Hai (Gr.3) at Nakayama over 2,000 metres on Sunday was taken by Beruf, a nose in front of Black Bago. Beruf, bred at Shadai Farm, won the first black-type victory for his sire Harbinger. He triumphed only a week after another Harbinger’s son, Lord Felice, finished second in the Sho Shinzan Kinen (Gr.3), becoming the very first Harbinger’s product successful in a black-type race. Both are out of dams by Sunday Silence.

I don’t think we will find a major racing country, neither today, nor in the past, in which a single stallion could dominate so much over the others as Sunday Silence did in Japan. There is no need to list his thirteen sire championships, nor 171 black-type winners among the Japanese champions. The stallion has changed, to a considerable extent, the thoroughbred breeding in Japan and helped Japanese racing in its expansion to foreign racecourses.

It has its negative aspect too, namely the huge share of Sunday Silence’s progeny among Japanese sires and broodmares, for whom new partners have to be searched abroad. Japanese breeders can hardly avoid inbreeding to Sunday Silence and the victory of the three-year-old Not Formal, 3x3 inbred to Sunday Silence, in the Fairy Stakes on January 12, was the first black-type victory of a horse inbred to Sunday Silence.

You may remember our recent article on Deep Impact and his achievements with imported mares. This, too, seems to be the way to go and Shadai Farm walks it with a great success – all over the world they buy attractive mares who could be suitable partners for their most successful Sunday Silence’s son. As you will find in the article, 40 per cent of all Deep Impact’s progeny in Japan was born out of imported mares.
When Shadai Farm chose as their new sire Dansili’s son Harbinger, following his impressive triumph in the 2010 King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes, his theoretically good combination with daughters and granddaughters of Sunday Silence was no doubt one of the key factors in the selection, with excellent Almahmoud playing a role in the connection. Harbinger is a grandson of Danehill, 3x3 inbred to Natalma, the daughter of Almahmoud; Harbinger’s damsire is Bering whose sire Arctic Tern is a grandson of Almahmoud and more influence of Almahmoud is brought in by Northern Dancer’s sons Nijinsky, Lyphard and Shareef Dancer.

In total, Harbinger is 6 times inbred to Almahmoud. Sunday Silence is a son of Halo, the grandson of Almahmoud, moreover a significant part of his successful daughters has blood of the former ruler of Japanese breeding, Northern Taste, therefore the combination of Harbinger with daughters and granddaughters of Sunday Silence is characterised by multiple linebreeding to Almahmoud. Sunday Silence himself has not been given a chance with many Danehill’s daughters but a third of the progeny of twelve won a black-type race, including the winner of the Australian Oaks (Gr.1) Sunday Joy. From the reverse combination, i.e. the connection of a sire from Danehill’s line with the daughter or granddaughter of Sunday Silence, Fastnet Rock’s son Your Song, the winner of the Gr.1 BTP Cup, was the best so far.

Now the first three-year-olds by Harbinger come to the racecourse and it is they who will, to a certain extent, decide how such a connection will be used in future. If we look at the pedigrees of all Harbinger’s products, it has to be said that the breeders in Japan have a trust in such a combination. In 2012, 2013 and 2014 crops, Harbinger has 418 products, of which 83%, i.e. 348, are out of dams who have Sunday Silence’s blood. Most often these are Sunday Silence’s daughters – they have produced 120 of Harbinger’s progeny so far. Another 148 products come out of dams whose sires are sons of Sunday Silence and if we take into account that all of these come from the stallion’s first three crops, we can says that the Harbinger x Sunday Silence cross is one of the most frequently used connections today. Just to illustrate the point: the Equiline database registers 215 foals of racing age with the most popular nick in Europe, Galileo with daughters of Danehill

Damsires of Harbinger’s progeny with the highest number of products

Stallion (sire) No of products
AGNES TACHYON (Sunday Silence) 43
DANCE IN THE DARK (Sunday Silence) 24
FUJI KISEKI (Sunday Silence) 24
SPECIAL WEEK (Sunday Silence) 17
FRENCH DEPUTY (Deputy Minister) 12
ADMIRE VEGA (Sunday Silence) 7
EL CONDOR PASA (Kingmambo) 7
DEEP IMPACT (Sunday Silence) 6
END SWEEP (Forty Niner) 6
NEO UNIVERSE (Sunday Silence) 6
TAIKI SHUTTLE (Devil's Bag) 6
BRIAN'S TIME (Roberto) 5

Harbinger became the champion of debutantes last year (winning from Kinshasa no Kiseki and Vermilion) with eighty-five horses on the racecourse, of which twenty-one won and earning a total of 266,286,000 yens. In the championship of sires of two-year-olds, Harbinger placed sixth, behind Deep Impact, King Kamehameha, Heart’s Cry, Daiwa Major and Manhattan Cafe. None of his two-year-olds succeeded in a black-type-race, but Harbinger himself was unraced as a two-year-old and reached the peak of his career at four and since Sunday Silence showed no precocity either, Harbinger’s early results, despite the highest number of progeny among the debutantes, are very promising.

The promise is confirmed in the first weeks of the new year when Harbinger’s progeny won the first black-type races and Harbinger himself is at the tail of top-ten Japanese sires. It needs to be added though that he has just just thirty-seven products on the racecourse while other stallions, with the exception of Special Week (61), have over a hundred runners. Among Harbinger’s progeny the best are those whose dams are daughters of Sunday Silence or his granddaughter, as is the case of Tosen Basil
who is out of a dam by Fuji Kiseki. It is too early to evaluate this connection and Harbinger himself but as the stallions of the Danehill line, who showed greater stamina on the racecourse, proved to be a major disappointment at stud, Harbinger, supported by Shadai Farm, seems to have taken a much promising path indeed.

Miloslav Vlček

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