Tony morris

THE breeding industry has suffered a cruel blow by the death of Montjeu, and though the loss to future racing can only be conjectured, his record to date allows the belief that, granted normal longevity, he would have delivered many more high-class performers.

However, we may be certain that what he would never have done was to produce a runner as good as himself. That is not to denigrate that undeniably outstanding sire in any way; it merely reflects the proven fact that horses of his athletic calibre – he was Timeform 137 – are unable to get products of equal or higher standard. They may well make significant contributions with a plethora of performers who achieve to a level way above the average, but never to their own level.

Refer back to Hyperion and Nearco, if you like. Plenty of top-class runners, but none to match their own merit. Similarly Nijinsky, Mill Reef and any number of others. We have lately seen enormous sums given for the early progeny of Sea the Stars; some of them may even prove to be bargains. But they are not going to be as good as him. Soon everyone will want a Frankel; that’s fine, just don’t expect an exact replica, because you won’t get one.

If you seek a stallion who might get something of real class, and better than himself, the best bet is to look in the range of horses rated in the upper 120s or lower 130s – especially one who is exceptionally well bred. Montjeu’s sire Sadler’s Wells was a 132, Frankel’s sire Galileo a 134, Sea the Stars’ sire Cape Cross only 129. They could all generate something better, helped by the fact that they weren’t just by good sires; their dams – Fairy Bridge, Urban Sea and Park Appeal respectively – were mares of real distinction.

I confess that I was never terribly enthused about Kingmambo as a racehorse. Sure, he did win three Group 1 mile events, but not in a great year for milers, and that was reflected in his Timeform mark of 125. However, he did have a special pedigree – by Mr Prospector out of Miesque – and if he got appropriate chances, he was the sort who might sire something better. He did. Immediately.

In Kingmambo’s first crop came El Condor Pasa, who gave Montjeu a real run for his money in the Arc, achieving a rating of 136. Plenty of other good ones followed, including Guineas hero King’s Best (132), who in due course delivered Derby and Arc victor Workforce (133). King Kamehamema (125), a Japanese Derby winner, got a fillies’ Triple Crown heroine in Apapane.

More recently there have been Henrythenavigator (131) and the Lanwades incumbent ARCHIPENKO, who proved his toughness over four seasons in which he notched major successes on three continents and achieved a Timeform 127. At Group 1 level he won the Queen Elizabeth II Cup in Hong Kong and was placed in both the Arlington Million and the Dubai Duty Free. In these parts he scored Group 2 victories in both England and Ireland.

Does ARCHIPENKO have the capacity to get top-class stock, including perhaps, something better than himself? I believe he does, because there is a lot more to his pedigree than his proven sire. His dam Bound, a daughter of Nijinsky, was herself a Listed winner and features as the granddam of Blame, conqueror of Zenyatta in the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Classic.

In addition, Bound’s full sister Number was also distinguished both as a racemare (two Grade 2 wins) and broodmare (two sons who have sired Group 1 winners), and their dam was the celebrated Special, dam of Nureyev and granddam of Sadler’s Wells.

This is the illustrious Rough Shod family, responsible also for such as Ridan, Thatch and Fairy King. ARCHIPENKO might well become its next celebrated sire, and to my mind he has plenty to offer.

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