One of the Southern hemisphere’s most successful stallions is now making an impact in Britain and Ireland. Fastnet Rock is part of the prolific Coolmore operation, and has gone down a storm since retiring to stud in 2005.
His racing career was cut short, but he had already made a substantial impact in Australia. Sired by Danehill, he started racing in 2004. Unable to hit the target as a two-year-old, his career hit top gear at three, becoming one of the top Australian sprinters. He won a host of Group races including the Group 1 Lightning Stakes and Oakleigh Plate in February of 2005.
His trainer Paul Perry hoped Fastnet Rock would repeat the successful English raid of the sensational Choisir, who he brought to these shores in 2003. He was sent to the UK to prepare for the Group 1 Golden Jubilee Stakes and the July Cup, but sadly suffered from travel sickness and failed to run. The decision was then made to retire him to stud.
Standing at Coolmore Stud Australia in New South Wales, his career to date has been outstanding. In 2007 he covered 257 mares, and in 2008 another incredible total of 248 at a fee of $82,500. In 2012 that fee started to go through the roof as his progeny started to dominate the major events. His fee rose to $220,000, making him the most expensive stallion in Australia.
He has sired almost 20 individual Group 1 winning horses. His successful crop include the terrific filly Mosheen, winner of the Group 1 Australian Guineas and VRC Oaks at Flemington in 2012, on her way to over $2,500,000 in career prize money.
Sea Siren was his next flying filly and she also managed famous Group 1 victories in 2012, most notably when becoming the first three-year-old filly to win the Group 1 Doomben 10, 000.
The Group 1 Thousand Guineas at Melbourne has gone to Fastnet Rock fillies in 2009, 2011 and 2014. The Australian Guineas went the sire’s way in 2010 and 2012. Success has also come in New Zealand with Planet Rock and Rock ‘N’ Pop taking the 1,000 and 2,000 Guineas in 2011. Atlante kept the Fastnet success going when winning the New Zealand 2,000 Guineas in 2013.
Finally it’s time for Britain and Ireland to feel the Fastnet force. As is often the case, it’s a filly that is making the greatest impact, with Aidan O’Brien’s Diamondsandrubies a fancied contender in the Epsom Oaks after her six-length demolition in the Cheshire Oaks at Chester. “We’re delighted with that performance,” said Coolmore’s UK representative, Kevin Buckley. “She settled into the race really nicely, Ryan said he got a good feel from her. When he pressed the button she responded well and went away to score in decisive fashion.”
Fascinating Rock is another of the progeny set to have a fruitful season. Dermot Weld’s colt failed to cope with a step up in trip last season, finishing down the field in the Epsom Derby. Back to back victories this season have come at a mile and then a mile and two furlongs. The trainer believes the horse has matured well from three to four, and he is set to win more Group races during the summer.
At York today William Haggas runs the three-year-old Rive Gauche, another Fastnet filly who could well improve with age. She ran just once as a two-year-old, finishing a promising fourth in a fair maiden at Newmarket.
It would be a major surprise if we failed to see a number of Fastnet Rock youngsters, coming to the fore over the next few seasons. The likes of Californiadreaming and Timbuktu have started their careers in promising fashion. However, experience in Australia and New Zealand appears to show that the progeny are ‘slow burners’ and hit their stride at three. Therefore, the likes of Rive Gauche and Sir Michael Stoute’s Disegno, could be among the eye-catchers this summer.