Friday, July 15, 2016

Keeping It In the Family: Northern Dancer Rules Irish Oaks

Northern Dancer (WikiMedia Commons photo)
On July 16, attention turns to fillies in Ireland when the 2016 Darley Irish Oaks takes place at the Curragh. Twelve fillies from seven different barns will line up to join a winner’s list that has seen names such as Ouija Board, Alexandrova, Peeping Fawn, Snow Fairy, Blue Bunting and Chicquita join it in recent years.

International breeders will be paying close attention to this race as during the 2016 season, the eight sires represented in the entries stood in three different countries (Ireland, France, Germany) with no grandsire represented by more than one son. Not surprisingly, Galileo leads all sires by the number of runners with four in addition to being the grandsire of the Teofilo daughter Ajman Princess.

As has been on prominent display in 2016, Galileo is turning into just as important a broodmare sire as a sire and he has two chances to pick up another classic win in that category here (Red Stars and Turret Rocks).

While Galileo has continuously shown to be a top sire, Fastnet Rock has been a revelation of sorts in the northern hemisphere the last few years. The stallion shuttled from Coolmore’s Australia base to Ireland for the first time in 2010, spent five seasons on the shuttle rotation then was kept in Australia last year after covering 85 mares in 2014, down from 193 the previous year.

His vacation from shuttling didn’t last long with a standout season last year, where his daughter Qualify won the Investec Oaks, Fascinating Rock won the Champion Stakes and Diamondandrubies won the Pretty Polly, saw Fastnet Rock back in Ireland this year. If his classic presence in the northern hemisphere this year is any indication, we’ll continue seeing the 15-year-old shuttle in coming years as he has two fillies (Somehow and Turret Rocks) in this race.

Fastnet Rock is the only son of Danehill with runners in here but he’s far from the only one representing the line.

Zoffany
Three stallions with Oaks entries come from the Danehill sireline. Both Zoffany and Mastercraftsman are grandsons of the influential sire with Zoffany by Dansili and Mastercraftsman by Danehill Dancer. On the broodmare side, one other runner is out of a Danehill daughter. Not surprisingly, that runner is from the magical Galileo/Sadler’s Wells over Danehill (and family) cross.

Mastercraftsman’s runner Even Song is from the cross as well, with her dam by Sadler’s Wells. Fastnet Rock’s two runners are also out of mares by the father/son duo of Sadler’s Wells and Galileo. In fact, the only Danehill son or grandson whose runner isn’t from the cross is Zoffany’s. Zoffany’s filly is out of a Fasliyev mare.

Sadler’s Wells and Danehill make up the extended family of five of the eight stallions with runners here but there are some who stray away from those sires.

Canford Cliffs, who has first 3-year-olds this year, provides an outcross to the aforementioned stallions. By Tagula, who is a great-grandson of Hail to Reason, Canford Cliffs’s top side is free of any inbreeding with his 4 x 5 cross to Northern Dancer coming on his dam’s side. On the stallion roster with Galileo and his sons, Canford Cliffs provides Coolmore and others with a nice option for both Danehill (and sons) mares and those by Sadler’s Wells sons.

Mr. Prospector (Wikimedia Commons photo)
Another Coolmore stallion here is Thewayyouare. While he is definitely not an outcross like Canford Cliffs with his dam by Sadler’s Wells, he is by an outcross sireline with his sire Kingmambo by Mr. Prospector.

Northern Dancer again controls the broodmare sire lines in this race but Mr. Prospector is also seen through one line there with his grandson Mr. Greeley siring the dam of An Cailin Orga (dual classic winner Finsceal Beo).

Since 2000, 12 of the winners of the Irish Oaks were sired by stallions tracing back to Northern Dancer, with five winners’ broodmare sires coming from the line. Joining Northern Dancer as stallons with more than one winner are Mill Reef and Roberto with two winners each. Northern Dancer doesn’t have as big of a hold on the winner’s list broodmare sires with only five of the winners since 2000 tracing to him. Mill Reef and Alleged both make appearances close up in broodmare sirelines with two of Alleged’s sons producing the dams of Irish Oaks winners. One Mill Reef son and one grandson are also the broodmare sires of Oaks winners.


This year, three of the nine broodmare sires with entries don’t come from the Northern Dancer line, the same number of sires who don’t trace their sireline back to him.

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