Thursday, February 4, 2016

New Stallion Free Eagle

From a strong European family, Free Eagle is an exciting new stallion for the Irish National Stud in 2016 after retiring from an eight race career that was worth £592,523 (approx. €778,513/$865,024US) in earnings.

Free Eagle made his debut in August of 2013 at Leopardstown at a mile where he blew away the 10 horse field when winning by 5 ½ lengths under Pat Smullen. From there, trainer Dermot Weld and owner-breeder Moyglare Stud pointed him to the Group 3 Icon Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Trial Stakes. 


FREE EAGLE BREAKING HIS MAIDEN

Video courtesy of Racing Post

In a field that included future dual-Derby winner Australia (Galileo) and multiple Group 1-placed Kingfisher (Galileo), Free Eagle tracked pacesetting Kingfisher until two furlongs out. After taking over the lead Free Eagle then had to deal with Australia, but didn't have enough to hold off that competitor with Australia winning by six lengths. However, Free Eagle was 3 ½ lengths clear of the third place horse to earn his first group stakes placing.

Given the winter off, Free Eagle started his preparations for a classic campaign in early 2014 as the Epsom Derby third-favorite. But those plans were canceled in April when the colt suffered an injury that forced him to miss the first half of the season. The injury didn’t force him to miss the whole season however, and he was back in training in the summer for a fall campaign.

Showing the promise he had on display the previous year, Free Eagle entered the Group 3 KPMG Enterprise Stakes for his return. Smullen let him sort himself out until he was comfortable in the running then asked Free Eagle to run with the colt giving him the response he asked for, drawing away to beat the field by seven lengths.



Courtesy of At the Races

Entering a Group 1 and shipping to England for the first time, Free Eagle faced the toughest field of his career in the Group 1 QIPCO Champion Stakes. While he wasn't able to catch the leading Noble Mission (Galileo) and Al Kazeem (Dubawi) in the final two furlongs, he showed that he belonged when he finished just 1 ½ lengths behind them. Among the horses behind him were Group 1 winners Cirrus Des Aigles (Even Top), Sheikhzayedroad (Dubawi), Pether’s Moon (Dylan Thomas) and Ruler of the World (Galileo).

While that finished out his 3-year-old season, he was back fairly quickly as a 4-year-old. Making his seasonal debut in the Group 1 Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot, Free Eagle was able to get his first Group 1 win when beating The Grey Gatsby (Mastercraftsman) by a short head at the end of 1 ¼ miles.

Taking the summer off, Free Eagle returned in September in the Group 1 QIPCO Irish Champion Stakes. Racing against Golden Horn (Cape Cross) in the final furlong, Free Eagle was part of a controversial finish with Golden Horn bumped him on the way to winning the race causing Free Eagle to finish third. The pair met again a month later in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe but Free Eagle wasn’t able to get close to Golden Horn in that contest, finishing sixth by 4 ½ lengths. Free Eagle’s career ended on a low note when he finished last in the Group 1 Longines Hong Kong Cup in December. 

Named the Irish Thoroughbred Horse Breeders’ Association’s 2015 joint-Older Horse, Free Eagle arrived at the Irish National Stud in early January, a month before breeding season began.



Free Eagle is one of two stallions by High Chaparral standing in the United Kingdom or Ireland who is advertised on Weatherbys. 

High Chaparral was the high rated 3yo in both England and Ireland over 11 to 13 furlongs in 2002 addition to being Ireland’s top rated older horse in 2003. The stallion won six Group 1 races including two editions of the Breeders’ Cup Turf and both the English and Irish Derbys. But for all he did on the track, High Chaparral was an even better sire. The stallion sired 120 stakes horses including 47 group winners, of which 14 were Group or Grade 1 winners. 

A successful sire in Europe, High Chaparral made an even bigger mark in Australasia where he was the sire of Australian and European champion So You Think and New Zealand champion Dundeel among many others. Of his 14 Grade or Group 1 winners, seven were bred in Australia or New Zealand with a farther 13 group stakes winners by the stallion bred in the southern hemisphere.


SO YOU THINK

Video courtesy of Coolmore

Free Eagle isn’t the only top horse out of his winning dam Polished Gem (Danehill). Her first foal, a filly by Medicean born in 2008, was the Group 2 QIPCO British Champions Fillies and Mares Stakes winner Sapphire. 

Her next foal was the multiple Group 2 winner Custom Cut (Notnowcato), who with Free Eagle’s help provided Polished Gem a memorable day last September when he won a Group 2 on the same card Free Eagle finished third in the Irish Champion Stakes on (Custom Cut also finished fourth in a Group 3 on the same card Free Eagle made his debut on in 2013). 

While her 2010 filly Amber Romance (Bahamian Bounty) wasn’t a stakes winner, the filly did win at four with Free Eagle born the year after her. A 4-year-old gelding by Dark Angel named Valac has hit the board five times in eight starts while their 2-year-old Dubawi half-brother, Rich History, has not yet started. Polished Gem has an unnamed yearling colt by Galileo.

Free Eagle’s second dam is the 1988 Group 1 Irish 1,000 Guineas winner Trusted Partner (Affirmed). A three-time winner, she is also the dam of the Group 1 stakes winner Dress to Thrill (Danehill), who was successful in both the United States and Europe. Another half-sister is the winning Nashwan mare Trust In Luck, who has started her own successful line of stakes winners. Three of Trust In Luck’s daughters have produced stakes winners with two of them being Group winners including the Group 1 winner Vert de Grece (Verglas).

Free Eagle’s third dam will be recognizable to U.S. breeders as she is the 1973 champion 2-year-old filly Talking Picture (Speak John), who won four graded stakes as a 2-year-old including two Grade 1s. In addition to Trusted Partner, she is the dam of Ireland’s 1985 champion older stayer Easy to Copy (Affirmed), who produced stakes winners Two-Twenty-Two (Fairy King) and Desert Ease (Green Desert). Also included on her resume are two other Affirmed fillies in Grade 3 winner Low Key Affair and listed stakes winner Epicure’s Garden. 

Some other horses who trace back to Talking Picture in their immediate family are another new stallion in Amira’s Prince (Teofilo), Group 1 winner Gallante (Montjeu), steeplechase Grade 2 winner Plinth (Montjeu), Grade 2 winner Dixieland Gold (Dixieland Band) and Group 2 winner Forgotten Rules (Nayef).


Amira's Prince
With breeder Moyglare Stud involved in his syndicate in addition to multiple other shareholders and outside breeders, Free Eagle looks to have solid support in his first few books before his first foals hit the track. Standing for €20,000 (approx. £15,221/$22,178US) in 2016, he is one of two new stallions standing for that fee in Europe this year.

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