High Chaparral - One Stallion, Two Hemispheres, Two Approaches

It’s A Dundeel’s victory in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes (Gr.1) at Randwick on Saturday seems to be the biggest achievement of a horse by High Chaparral – at least judged by the prize money. The double Derby winner (England and Ireland) and the first horse to defend Breeder’s Cup Turf victory is a demanded and successful sire both on the Northern and Southern Hemispheres, although the ways of his use differ.

photo Coolmore Stud

When High Chaparral was launching his stud career at Coolmore, Ireland, in 2004, his neighbour Montjeu had his first crop already debuting as two-year-olds and another Sadler’s Wells’s son, Galileo, had just his first yearlings. It is difficult to say how High Chaparral would have fared without this competition but it is a fact that of the three stallions, he received the least support. On the other hand, it needs to be said that Montjeu’s success, oddly enough, opened up the door for him to succeed elsewhere.

In 2005, following the breathtaking achievements of the first three-year-olds, Montjeu stopped shuttling to the Southern Hemisphere where he was based at Windsor Park Stud, New Zealand and High Chaparral was sent instead. Although Montjeu did not fare badly at stud in New Zealand, rather the contrary (he sired two winners of the AJC Australian Derby, Nom Du Jeu and Roman Emperor, the winner of the Avondale Cup, Sharvasti, and the four-time Gr.1 winner Wall Street), the achievements of his first Irish crop could hardly be exceeded and Coolmore then made the decision to leave their champion in Europe. The career of High Chaparral, who replaced him at Windsor Park Stud, developed in an opposite manner. While he had only five black-type winners in his first European crop, the best of them being three Gr.3 winners (Magadan, Senlis and Unsung Heroine), the first crop in New Zealand produced four Gr.1 winners, including the ten-time Gr.1 winner So You Think, later successful in Europe too, the winner of the Caulfield Cup Descarado, the winner of the Victoria Derby Monaco Consul and Shoot Out, the winner of five Gr.1 races including the AJC Australian Derby. It was no wonder that in 2009, when his first three-year-olds appeared on the racecourse, the number of his partners in New Zealand increased from 66 in 2008 nearly threefold to 191 (he remained in Ireland in 2007 due to equine influenza). One should add that the first big triumphs did not come until well into the mating season.

The 2009 season, however, was High Chaparral’s last in New Zealand. He left for the Southern Hemisphere again after the 2010 European season, but this time he headed for Hunter Valley in Australia and the local subsidiary of Coolmore. After the achievements of So You Think and others the demand for him was huge. Although his Irish fee at that time amounted to EUR 15,000, in Australia it was AUD 88,000 and he covered a total of 235 mares; a year later the fee increased to AUD 99,000 and despite this he covered 187 mares. Then, in 2012 and 2013, the fee dropped to AUD 77,000 but in neither of the seasons did the number of mares drop under 150 (158 in 2012, 177 last year).

A comparison with Ireland offers itself: today his Irish fee is higher than in 2009 when it decreased to EUR 10,000 but even today’s EUR 30,000 does not equal his starting fee of EUR 35,000, let alone fees in Australia. Just to illustrate the point – while he covered 127 mares in Ireland last year for EUR 25,000, in Australia it was 177 mares for AUD 77,000. The income from fee was three times higher in Australia last year, let alone High Chaparral’s first season in Australia.

The progeny of the first Australian season arrive on the racecourse now. What they are like we will see in a few months time but even now we can say that the Australian breeders seem to approach High Chaparral similarly to European breeders than those in New Zealand. Why?

High Chaparral has, so far, produced fifty-four black-type winners. Of them thirty-five were born on the Northern, nineteen on the Southern Hemisphere. Although the stallion’s stay in New Zealand makes up 35% of all his black-type winners, if we look at horses who won a black-type race as two-year-old, only one was foaled in the Southern Hemisphere while eight in the North. If we count in three Irish-bred later black-type winners who placed in black-type as two-year-old (none such horse can be found in New Zealand), the difference is yet more pronounced. In short, European breeders strived to mate High Chaparral with mares who were characterised by precocity and speed much more than breeders in New Zealand. This is confirmed by the pedigrees of his black-type winners. With mares of the Danzig line, High Chaparral has so far produced nine black-type winners but with the exception of Hippopus, who, despite the influence of Danzig and Mr Prospector in his dam’s pedigree, felt most comfortably on long distances, all come from High Chaparral’s stay in Europe. The combination with Mr Prospector’s line has produced six black-type winners, two were born in New Zealand, the rest in Europe.

High Chaparral has scored huge success with the mares from the line of the New Zealand legend Sir Tristram. This combination has produced not just It’s A Dundeel, but also the Gr.2 winner Show The World and Hidden Asset (all three are out of dams by Zabeel), Gr.3 winner and Gr.1-placed Vaquera (out of a dam by Grosvenor) and Gr.3 winner Fairy Oak whose damsire is Sir Tristram himself. He is also the sire of the dam of Danske (Danehill), the damsire of another of High Chaparral’s black-type winners, the above mentioned Hippopus.

The connection with Sir Tristram's most successful son Zabeel brings into the pedigree the inbreeding to the mare Special through 3/4 brothers Sadler’s Wells and Nureyev. That this could be one of the key elements to develop High Chaparral’s talent is proved by the pedigrees of other black-type winners with the same inbreeding. Inbreeding to Special can be found in Wigmore Hall, Petit Chevalier, Beach Bunny or Lady Lupus, where the influence of Special is through Nureyev but not Zabeel, but also in High Chaparral’s only Gr.1 two-year-old winner Wrote, the winner of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf who comes directly from Special’s family, or the Gr.3 winner and Epsom Oaks-placed High Heeled, who is inbred to Special’s daughter Fairy Bridge through the influence of Sadler’s Wells’s brother Fairy King. Among fifty-four black-type winners by High Chaparral, therefore, we can find eight horses inbred to Special and one inbred to Fairy Bridge.

Inbreeding to successful dams proves to be an interesting way to use High Chaparral. His pedigree is based on the combination of Sadler’s Wells and Darshaan, one of the most successful nicks recently, which has produced, so far, twenty-eight black-type winners. I think that the key to its success, naturally besides the quality of the two sires, is the influence of Djeddah’s daughter Lalun, the dam of Sadler’s Wells’s damsire Bold Reason and the dam of Never Bend. Her further influence in various forms can be found in pedigrees of many dams of High Chaparral’s black-type winners. The dam of Shoot Out, for instance, is 3x4 inbred to Mill Reeef, the dam of Wrote is by Green Desert whose granddam is the daughter of Never Bend and Green Desert himself can be found in the pedigree of the dam of The Miniver Rose. The granddam of Joanna is the daughter of Riverman by Never Bend, the granddam of Magadan the daughter of Shirley Heights, same as the granddam of listed-successful siblings Laviva and Lucarelli or Baisse who also won a listed race. The Gr.3 winner Serienhoehe is out of a dam by Highest Honor whose damsire is Riverman; the pedigree of the damsire of another Gr.3 winner and second in the St Leger (Gr.1), Unsung Heroine, the stallion Tenby, is marked by the influence of Mill Reef. Mill Reef is also the damsire of Last Tycoon, who can be found in the pedigree of the Gr.3 winner Vaquera or the listed winner Kingdoms, third in the AJC Australian Derby (Gr.1). An interesting pedigree is that of the New Zealand listed winner Chaparella whose dam has, in her pedigree, not only the influence of Never Bend but also the mare Hardiemma (Shirley Heights’s dam) to whom Chaparella is 5x5 inbred. Through J.O. Tobin, the influence of Never Bend can be found in the pedigree of Lucky Chappy’s dam, as damsire of the stallion Straight Strike Never Bend is represented in the pedigree of Hippopus’s dam. Riverman’s son Irish River is the sire of the granddam of another among High Chaparral’s black-type winners Le Larron. Further, Mill Reef is the sire of Lady Heidi’s granddam. Even double influence of Never Bend can be found in the pedigree of Green Desert’s daughter Diary, the dam of Tempest Fugit, since Green Desert’s granddam is by Never Bend and Diary’s dam is by Darshaan.

The move to Australia brought High Chaparral in contact with other bloodlines, the one of Danehill naturally springs to mind first. High Chaparral has not scored exceptionally well with his daughters as this connection has produced, so far, two black-type winners (Above Average, Noll Wallop) from eighty-four horses of racing age, which is well below the level of High Chaparral’s progeny. In total we can find the influence of Danehill in the pedigree of five black-type winners, none of which scored higher than Gr.3. In Australia, however, it is the mares with Danehill’s influence, a key one, represent the substantial part of his partners. Of 177 mares covered by High Chaparral last year, twenty-one were daughters of Danehill, fifty-four his grand-daughters (of which forty-four were daughters of his sons and ten daughters of his daughters), other fourteen had Danehill on other places in their pedigrees. In total, eighty-nine of his partners, i.e. a half, had Danehill’s influence. More seventeen mares came from the line of Danehill’s sire Danzig, fourteen of Mr Prospector’s line. The emphasis on speed is rather pronounced in the pedigrees of his partners, although the fact cannot be neglected that fifty-one of his partners had in their pedigrees the influence of Sir Tristram with whom High Chaparral was so successful in New Zealand – twenty-three of them even in direct line.

Whether this approach, different from that of the New Zealand breeders, brings success is soon to be seen. So far the best progeny by High Chaparral was out of mares where the emphasis on speed was not dominating – see So You Think, It’s A Dundeel, Shoot Out or Descarado. All of these come from the stallion’s stay in New Zealand and their distance optimum was around ten furlongs although they were able to race over a mile or a mile and a half. On the contrary, his best European progeny Toronado is out of a mare from the Mr Prospector x Danzig nick and is best over a mile, the same holds true for the only Gr.1 two-year-old winner by High Chaparral, the Irish-born Wrote, whose dam is the daughter of the sprinter Green Desert.

All in all, we can say that High Chaparral has made a long way from the time when Demi O’Byrne bought him as a yearling at the 2000 Tattersalls Sale for the Magnier / Tabor team for GNS 270,000. This holds true both for the racecourse and the stud. Last year’s achievement by Toronado strengthened his position in Europe and we will soon see whether the Australian breeders can use the stallion as well as their colleagues in New Zealand managed to do.

Miloslav Vlček

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