Powerscourt: could be heading from Ireland to Turkey this seasonPICTURE: Caroline Norris
Turkey out to boost its ranks by bidding for Coolmore trio
THE Turkish stallion ranks look set to grow considerably this season after it emerged on Monday that deals are in the pipeline to purchase the Coolmore-based Powerscourt, Dehere and Lion Heart. Two other US-based stallions are also thought to be on the shopping list.
Should the deals go through, the trio will join 21 other stallions standing under the management of the Jockey Club of Turkey inIzmit including Natagora's sire Divine Light and last season's leading Turkish-based sire Unaccounted For.
Lion Heart: reportedly is also on the Turkish shoppinglistPICTURE: Getty Images
The Jockey Club's most recent high-profile acquisition was Victory Gallop, who was purchased from WinStar Farm in Kentucky in January 2008.
Dehere and Lion Heart were advertised to stand this season at Coolmore's Kentucky arm, Ashford Stud, for $10,000 and $12,500 respectively. Their former stud-mate Powerscourt was transferred to the operation's Irish base late last year to capitalise on the success of his first crop, which included Moyglare Stud Stakes winner Termagant.
The son of Sadler's Wells, who captured the Tattersalls Gold Cup and Arlington Million for Aidan O'Brien, ranked 28th on last year's leading US first season sires' list and was set tostand his first Irish season for €7,500.
Champion two-year-old Dehere retired to Ashford in 1995 but was sold to stand in Japan four years later. He returned to Ashford in 2006, however, and is a regular shuttler to Australia, where he has been represented by the Group 1 winners Belle Du Jour and Defier.
Grade 1 Haskell Invitational Handicap winner and Kentucky Derby runner-up Lion Heart has been extremely popular since retiring to stud five years ago, never covering less than 150 mares. The son of Tale Of The Cat has been represented by 11 stakes winners worldwide and filled sixth position on last year's US second crop sires' list thanks to the winners of over $4.4m.
Move underlines major ambition
THE potential acquisition of three Coolmore stallions can be seen as a signal of intent from a racing nation that has long made clear its ambitions of standing shoulder to shoulder with other jurisdictions, writes Martin Stevens.
The Jockey Club of Turkey - which is overseen by the government - has maintained a continual programme of acquiring stallions to upgrade its bloodstock over the last 20 years, boosted by its share of an annual $1billion in betting revenue. The average age of its stallions is around 18, so it is notable that younger recruits are now being targeted.
The increased interest in bloodstock by Turkish interests has not gone unnoticed in the US, where according to Kentucky-based agent Chad Schumer.
"There was more Turkish participation than ever at the Keeneland November Sale and they were paying good prices," says Schumer. "But then that was true for most countries for last year. I've been looking at several stallion prospects for Turkey, and from what I've heard, there are more agents here doing the same."
During the early to mid 1990s, Turkey was an active player in the stallion market, purchasing such horses as Distant Relative, Doyoun and Mujtahid from Europe and Marlin and Sea Hero from the US.
More recently, the French champion two-year-old Okawango and the Japanese-bred Divine Light were secured for stud duty, the latter at the end of the season in which his daughter Natagora won the 1,000 Guineas.
According to the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities, the broodmare population has grown from 1,356 to 3,166 during the period 2000-08.
Another sign of Turkey's arrival on the world stage is the cash injection it has given in recent years to its international races. Last year the Michael Jarvis-trained Pressing earned his connections over £400,000 for winning the Topkapi Trophy.