Sizing John demonstrated the enduring influence of British National Hunt stallion Midnight Legend when doubling his Grade 1 tally in the Stan James Irish Gold Cup at Leopardstown on Sunday.
Midnight Legend died last year at the age of 25 following a bout of colic, having had a varied and successful career both as a racehorse and a stallion. He started off on the Flat with Luca Cumani, winning seven times before becoming a rare entire to run over hurdles with David Nicholson and claimed Grade 2 novice events at both Aintree at Punchestown.
He began stallion duties quietly at Conkwell Grange Stud in Bath but it was his transfer to Pitchall Farm Stud near Stratford-upon-Avon that he began to thrive as a National Hunt stallion, producing useful performers such as Midnight Chase, Seeyouatmidnight and Sparky May.
Sizing John was Midnight Legend’s first Grade 1 winner when he landed the Future Champions Novice Hurdle at Leopardstown in December 2014 and had been running into the superstar Douvan over fences before his transformation over three miles.
He was bred by Bryan and Sandra Mayoh and Bryan, a Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association Elected Board Member, bought his dam, useful novice hurdler La Perrotine, privately from trainer Howard Johnson at the Doncaster [Goffs UK] November Sales in 2006.
Kathleen Holmes, who runs Pitchall Farm, said: “We were very pleased for the horse, especially as he was bred by a friend of ours. I suppose the only shame is that it couldn’t have happened when Midnight was about 15, then he might have had a chance of covering a lot of better mares.
“There are still foals of his due to come, probably about 15, and we have one here from the family of (Champion Hurdle winner) Katchit. There will hopefully be Midnight Legends around for the next decade and we think he will be a successful broodmare sire, we are crossing lots of our mares with Passing Glance and they are looking good so far.”
Shadwell Stud and leading stallion Dubawi secured another important Grade 1 victory in America on Saturday through the British-bred Almanaar in the Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap.
The five-year-old was bred by owner Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum’s operation out of his home-bred Bahhare mare Baqah, who won three times for Freddy Head including the Group 2 Prix de Sandringham. She also finished third in the Group 1 Falmouth Stakes at Newmarket.
It was a 27th individual top-flight winner as a stallion for Dubawi, who stands for £250,000 at Darley’s Dalham Hall Stud in Newmarket. The son of Dubai Millennium has become a shining light of the British breeding industry, producing such champions as Makfi, Al Kazeem and last year’s Juddmonte International and Coronation Cup winner Postponed.
Almanaar also started off his racing career in France with Head, winning four times including two Group 3 events at Chantilly. He was transferred to Chad Brown’s care last year and had appeared twice before, his best effort being a narrow second in last month’s Grade 2 Fort Lauderdale Stakes at Gulfstream.
Stepped up slightly in trip to nine furlongs for the US $350,000 prize on the same course in Florida, he was settled in mid-division by Joel Rosario and began to deliver his challenge on the home bend. Almanaar kept out of trouble towards the middle of the track and powered through close home to score by three-quarters of a length.
“It was lovely to see, especially with a home-bred,” said Shadwell’s racing manager, Angus Gold. “He’s quite a big horse for a Dubawi. He had quite a nasty stifle cyst as a young horse and was given plenty of time.
“He had a few problems but did well in France. I suggested Sheikh Hamdan sent him to America and he had rather disappeared off the radar. He is obviously improving as he gets older – he always looked like he was going to win.”
It was much the biggest success for Baqah, who has also produced the four-time winner Funon.
“Baqah was very good, one of the best of the Bahhare mares there ever was,” Gold continued. “She’s 16 and hasn’t bred a lot but this is obviously a very good horse. We’ve had the family all the way back to (dam) Filfilah and (grand-dam) El Rabab, who was by Roberto. They could all run a bit.”
Limato, Henry Candy’s brilliant Darley July Cup and Prix de la Foret winner, will take off tomorrow (Saturday) to fly to Los Angeles to take part in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Mile at Santa Anita the following Saturday (November 5th).
Pictured above in his Team British Racing livery with groom Amy Scott, Limato was a £41,000 yearling acquisition at Goffs UK Sales in Doncaster in August 2013. He has since banked more than 20 times that purchase price in prize money for his owner, Paul Jacobs, winning eight of his 13 career starts.
And his 2016 seasonal debut, when beaten by less than three lengths into fourth place in the Group 1 Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes at Newbury, is the only time that he has ever finished out of the first two.
The American-trained Tepin, winner of the Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot in June, is set to be Limato’s toughest opponent among a full field of 14 for the Breeders’ Cup Mile – which is also set to include fellow British raiders Dutch Connection and Home Of The Brave.
Tepin won this race easily last year but suffered a surprise defeat when failing to peg back another Mile candidate, Photo Call, in her final prep race in Kentucky three weeks ago.
Henry Candy, trainer of Limato, said:
“I am very excited about going to America with Limato and am looking forward to it – it’s going to be a good outing. I’ve never been there before, apart from on holiday.”
“Limato has been absolutely brilliant since the Foret and will be flying out to Santa Anita on Saturday, while I will get there on Wednesday.”
“The plan is to do very little with him after he arrives, we might have just one little pipe-opener [piece of work] with him, we’ll see how he travels and what his appetite is like. If he’s his usual relaxed self he might just need one little pipe-opener.”
“He’s a very clean-winded horse so if he just canters [after he gets there] I think that will be fine. We will just see how he looks.”
“He’s been a good rainmaker of late [encountering unwanted rain in the days leading up to an intended big race outing] but I think the ground out there is going to be rattling fast, which is what we’ve been looking for all year, so no excuses on that front.”
“My preference for him has always been the Mile and I would have been perfectly happy if Tepin had won last time. I think our horse is out of the ordinary so I’m ready for the big match.”
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