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High Chaparral
coming to the fore

PUT your ear to the ground in early spring and you can hear, distantly at first but coming closer with every major race meeting, the sound of a herd of galloping horses. They come ghostlike in the fog of races not yet run; but by now, mid-May, they are rounding into view. They are shaping a line, or lineage you might say; son to sire to grandsire.

We should know this herd of horses by now, or at least the sire and grandsire part of it. For three of the last four years, the grandsire has been Sadler's Wells, led by Galileo and Montjeu, sire in turn of last year's Derby hero New Approach and the victors of 2007 and 2005, Authorized and Motivator.

This spring another son has joined the line-up - High Chaparral, whose second-crop three-year-old Golden Sword is a lively Epsom outsider after winning last week's Chester Vase from Masterofthehorse, one of his many Classic-aimed stablemates at Ballydoyle.

Masterofthehorse is by Sadler's Wells, as is Black Bear Island, a brother to High Chaparral entered in tomorrow's Dante Stakes, so don't throw the old man's chances out yet. But for a stallion who did not conceive his first Derby winner, 2001 victor Galileo, until he was 16, Sadler's Wells is leaving a remarkably swift imprint as a sire of sires on the most famous of British contests.

So swiftly did it happen that by now, with Montjeu just a 13-year-old and Galileo a mere 11-year-old - they conceived these crops at nine and seven years of age - it is no longer news. It seems more newsworthy to say that half of the six horses at the head of the ante-post Derby market are by other stallions.

High Chaparral, however, is a new factor. Along with Golden Sword, the ten-year-old is responsible for an early spate of stakes horses this season, including the four-year-olds Magadan and Winkle, first and third in the Group 3 Prix d'Hedouville at Longchamp this month, and the Feilden Stakes winner Redwood at the Craven meeting.

Incidentally, all but Golden Sword are out of mares from the Raise A Native line, but it is too small a sample to be worth anything other than raising a note about for future reference.

High Chaparral, winner of the 2002 Derby double and back-to-back Breeders' Cup Turf races, entered stud at Coolmore in 2004, the year Montjeu was in his fourth season and Galileo in his third. Those are tough years for any stallion, even one with Coolmore's support, and Galileo's fee had been dropped to €40,000, from €60,000 the previous season, while Montjeu's remained at €30,000. High Chaparral entered stud with a fee of €35,000.

The relatively close fees and similarly eminent race records raise a question: did High Chaparral cause a diversion of some of the best mares fromthese two in his first two seasons at stud, and if so was it significant enough to give him an advantage with his current three- and four-year-old crops? Or on the contrary, did the older stallions gain an early edge?

The accompanying table gives a snapshot of the books for all three stallions when this year's crop of four-year-olds was conceived. The three-year-olds have only just begun, so it would not be useful to analyse their results yet.

Clearly the best group of performers went to Galileo, who also had the largest book at 159. Six of his mares were Group 1 winners, compared to two Group 1 winners for Montjeu and none for High Chaparral. Seven per cent of Galileo's mares were Group winners, compared to six per cent for Montjeu and four per cent for High Chaparral. A full 17 per cent of Galileo's book were stakes winners, in contrast to 15 per cent for Montjeu and 11 per cent for High Chaparral.

2004 Mares
No. of Mares 149 159 117
Fee (€) 30,000 40,000 35,000
No. G1 winners 2 6 0
No. Grpup winners 9 11 5
%. Group winners 6% 7% 4%
No. stakes winners 22 27 13
% stakes winners 15% 17% 11%
No winners 92 89 62
% winners 62% 56% 53%
No. unraced 23 31 26
% unraced 15% 19% 22%
No. G1 producers 3 7 6
% G1 producers 2% 4% 5%
No SW producers 28 41 39
% SW producers 19% 26% 33%
No. first covers 19 18 12
% first covers 13% 11% 19%

When it comes to the mares' production records, though, High Chaparral would seem to have the advantage. Five per cent of his book were producers of Group 1 winners, compared to four per cent for Galileo and only two per cent for Montjeu. As for producers of Group stakes winners, there were 33 per cent in High Chaparral's book, 26 per cent in Galileo's, and 19 per cent in Montjeu's.

There was a mitigating factor, however - High Chaparral also had the highest percentage of unraced mares, 22 per cent, compared to 20 per cent for Galileo and 15 per cent for Montjeu.

Looking at the race results for the foals born in 2005, Galileo easily comes out on top, with three Group 1 winners, seven per cent Group winners and 11 per cent stakes winners. Montjeu has two Group 1 winners, five per cent Group winners and 7.5 per cent stakes winners - standing about two percentage points above High Chaparral in these categories. Notably, the percentage of winners for all three stallions was between 45 and 47 per cent.

comparision of 2005 foals: montjeu, galileo and
high chaparral
Live Foals 120 123 92
No. G1 winners 2 3 0
% G1 winners 2% 2% 0
No. Group winners 6 9 3
% Group winners 5% 7% 3%
No. stakes winners 9 13 5
% of stakes winners 7% 11% 5%
No. winners 56 58 41
% of winners 47% 47% 45

There are many other parameters to consider, such as the age of the mares - some of the best producers go to promising young stallions late in life, which means they are not in their prime in terms of the very important uterine environment or fertility. The other questions raised include: is it more advantageous, on average, breeding an unproven stallion to young high-class runners or to older, high-class producers?

For the moment, though, one thing looks clear. Galileo's and Montjeu's fees are both private this year, but they last stood at published fees of €150,000 in 2007 (Galileo) and €125,000 in 2008 (Montjeu). High Chaparral has done enough with what he's had to lookgood value as a sire of Derby types at this year's fee of €10,000.




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