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Fantastic Light - York 17.08.99

Fantastic Light: sire achievements have not matched racecourse brilliance

  PICTURE: Gerry Cranham  

Why Ascot sires are no statistical certainties

STALLIONS are a statistical mine-field; no sooner you pronounce a distance, race, class, success or sales-related fact concerning one of them, then he will go and disprove it by siring winners with ability way above the talent they are supposed to possess or who can run a good deal further than they should.

But, if taking a look at the two Group races at Ascot on Saturday, you would say that they are statistical certainties from a stallion perspective.

The names of the sires represented in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth shout out two things: first, obviously Sadler's Wells – Ask is by the Coolmore sire and three of the runners are his grandsons; second, and nearly as obviously, top-class middle-distance producers. All the sires in the race are well-known for producing runners who tend to want 1m2f to 1m4f.

At the other end of the racing spectrum is the Princess Margaret, a Group 3 fillies' race run over 6f. It is full of runners by stallions who were either good two-year-olds themselves, fast runners or who have become known as producers of goodjuveniles.

Invincible Spirit, sire of Deal, and Acclamation, sire of Full Mandate, were both champion first-season sires of their year, while One Cool Cat, the Phoenix and National Stakes winner, had 22 two-year-old winners last season, finishing behind onlyKheleyf in last season's first-season sires' table by number of winners produced.

Xaar was a record-breaking Dewhurst winner, Bahamian Bounty won the Middle Park and is known for getting plenty of juvenile winners, first-season-sire Dubawi was a Group 1 winner and unbeaten at two, while Medicean's best performers to date are the dual Group 1-winning two-year-old Dutch Art, and Nannina, the Sun Chariot runner-up. Further, the US-based sire Songandaprayer got 33 winners last season. It seems precocity is a trait that is enduring.

All these are young sires, most having retired to stud since 2002, proving the enduring desire that we all have, inside and outside of the bloodstock world, with the new and the young.

Theoldest sire in the Princess Margaret field is the newly retired Three Chimneys-based stallion Rahy, whose first year at stud was way back in 1990. He has produced plenty of high-class juveniles, with perhaps the best being Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies' winner Dreaming Of Anna, Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere winner Rio De La Plata and Noverre, the Champagne Stakes victor and Dewhurst runner-up.

Rahy's best racehorse was the six-time Group 1 victor Fantastic Light. He only managed two wins in ordinary races and a Listed place at two, but went on to achieve marvellous things as a racehorse.

Unfortunately, Fantastic Light's record as a stallion has not nearly been so majestic, being particularly disappointing in Europe and the northern hemisphere. By 2006, he had produced just a handful of winners, three Group performers – only one in Europe – and, having had more success in the southern hemisphere and Japan, he was moved east to Darley Japan for the 2007 covering season.

But he has had hit something of a recent European flash of form. Not only has Saturday's King George and Queen Elizabeth contender Scintillo emerged, the winner of three Group races since March - the Winter Derby, and since May, the Ormonde Stakes and the Gran Prix de Chantilly – but the German-bred Flamingo Fantasy has also been doing his bit for his sire, his performances including a Group 1 second in last weekend's Deutschland-Preis behind Getaway, and a Group 2 win in front of the same horse in June.

As soon as a stallion is judgedby the bloodstock world to be good, bad or indifferent, he starts to break the mould once again.







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