Zoffany’s Great Start

Last week’s column was dedicated to Dansili thanks to the hundredth progeny who won a black-type race. Five days of great racing at Royal Ascot later and Dansili commands attention again, this time as the sire of sires thanks to the fantastic debut of his son Zoffany whose progeny won three Royal Ascot stakes races for two-year-old.

photo www.coolmore.com

You may remember Coolmore’s Zoffany best from the St James’s Palace Stakes where he chased the confidently ridden Frankel. Zoffany’s career, however, is richer than that. He made his debut as a two-year-old as early as April 18 when he won easily a maiden race at Leopardstown over six furlongs. Not a month later he won – with even more ease – a conditional race over six furlongs at Naas. He finished sixth in the Coventry Stakes but three weeks later won the Golden Fleece stakes over 7 furlongs, then the equally long Gr.3 Tyros Stakes and crowned the season and his career by winning the Gr. 1 Phoenix Stakes. His last race of the season, in the Gr.1 National Stakes, brought him third place behind Pathfork and Casamento.

While as a two-year-old he won five of seven races, he did not win a single race at three. He had his first race as late as end of May at Leopardstown where he was second in the Ballycorus Stakes (Gr.3), then came the memorable second place in the St James’s Palace Stakes (Gr.1) ¾ lengths behind Frankel but 1 ½ in front of the excellent Excelebration. He then crossed the channel to Chantilly for the Prix Jean Prat. The race was run in the French pace and in the stretch Zoffany started really going in the last metres and finished second to Mutual Trust by head. He then raced three more times – in the Prix Maurice de Gheest, Shadwell Turf Mile Stakes and Breeders’ Cup Turf Mile, but did not place.

Dansili’s sons - sires of black type winners

Stallion (suffix), YOB To Stud Number of BT winners
  Rail Link (GB), 2003 2008 9
  Zoffany (IRE), 2008 2012 4
  Strategic Prince (GB), 2004 2008 3
  Thousand Words (GB), 2004 2009 1
  Harbinger (GB), 2006 2011 1
  Early March (GB), 2002 2008 1

He then left for Coolmore where he started his stud career in 2012 with the fee of 7,500 euro. The fastest and most precocious son of Dansili, as he was advertised by Coolmore, was much demanded right from the start. He covered 194 mares in his first season, a year later 116 and last year 151. This year his fee grew to 12,500 euro. I may have omitted someone but I really cannot recall any great sire, namely of Coolmore, whose fee would grow in his fourth season, the most demanding one, let alone by two-thirds. If you look at the development of fees of Coolmore stallions, the fourth season is the time when the fee is the lowest. To be more precise, the lowest in the period when the stallion has no progeny on the racecourse. Then it develops depending on their success.

That Zoffany went the opposite way was caused by two factors – a high number of mares covered and the success of his first crop on yearlings’ sales. His progeny sold last year for over eight-score of the then fee, while the progeny of Pour Moi, who made his debut at Coolmore in the same year, were sold for four-score of the original fee and the progeny of another Coolmore stallions, Canford Cliffs, only for 3.5-score of the fee.

The current results show that the trust of buyers in Zoffany’s progeny was well-founded. In the very first Irish black-type race for two-year-olds, the Marble Hill Stakes (L), on May 23, his son Washington DC finished second. He was bought as a foal for 75,000 guineas but then sold to BBA Ireland at Goffs Orby Sale for 340,000 euro as a yearling. Eight days later, the second black-type race of the Irish season for two-year-olds was run at Naas, and it was won by a horse by Zoffany! The chestnut Argentero, out of unraced Frabjous (Pivotal), won from Galway Bay by 2 lengths.

Then came the Royal Ascot. The above mentioned Washington DC, out of the listed-placed How’s She Cuttin’, won the Windsor Castle Stakes (L, 5f). On the third day, Waterloo Bridge won the Norfolk Stakes (Gr.2, 5f) and on the fourth day Illuminate won in the Albany Stakes (Gr.3, 6f). These two belonged on sales of yearlings among the most demanded horses by Zoffany. Waterloo Bridge, out of the listed winner Miss Childrey, a dam of the Gr. 3 Prix Minerve winner Forces of Darkness, was with the price-tag of 350,000 guineas, for which it was sold to Peter & Ross Doyle Bloodstock at Tattersalls October Sale Book 1, the second most expensive yearling of Zoffany’s first crop. Illuminate, out of unraced Queen of Stars, half-sister to the Italian Gr.3 winner Lady Catherine, was bought again by Peter & Ross Doyle Bloodstock, this time at Doncaster Premier Yearling Sale for 95,000 guineas.

At the end of June, therefore, Zoffany has four two-year-old black-type winners, including two group winners which is a record I cannot recall for any other debuting stallion in Europe. After all, it was Zoffany himself who showed enough of precocity and it can be found in his pedigree too. His dam Tyranny is by Machiavellian, the European two-year-old champion, whose affinity to Danehill's blood has been mentioned in this column several times, most recently in relation to the successes of Street Cry with Danehill’s daughters. The four stakes winners have enough of precocity on the dam side of the pedigree too. Waterloo Bridge is out of Miss Childrey, a listed winner at two, Washington DC is out of How’s She Cuttin’, the daughter of the sprinter Shinko Forest, who is sired by one of the most successful sires and the bearer of precocity, Green Desert. Argentero is out of Frabjous, daughter of another of bearer of speed Pivotal. Illuminate has a very interesting pedigree, as her dam is the daughter of Green Desert (and is therefore, same as Washington DC, inbred to Danzig), but her granddam Queen Catherine is a daughter by Machiavellian, to whom Illuminate is 3x3 inbred. The connection of Danehill with Machiavellian brings into the pedigree a numerous presence of Almahmoud, who can be found in the pedigree of Illuminate thanks to further influence by Northern Dancer ten times!

Zoffany now comfortably leads the UK & Ireland championship of sires with first crop on the racecourse. In the championship of sires of two-year-olds he is closely behind Dark Angel (also out of mare by Machiavellian). The great start is very likely to cause his fee to grow which is accompanied by the growth of the quality in mares. Although the season for two-year-olds is still at the beginning, Zoffany has a very impressive start indeed and we can only look forward for further achievements of his progeny.

Miloslav Vlček

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