There’s been much talk of Galileo in recent days after the stallion’s dominance in the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket. It was also his dam that produced 2000 Guineas winner Galileo Gold.
Though Galileo is undoubtedly an outstanding stallion, and likely to take have more than his fair share of top level winners throughout the summer, other stallions will also make an impact at the highest level. One that’s set to continue to establish himself among the best is the ex-Andre Fabre inmate Lope De Vega.
The talented colt was a terrific racehorse, making an instant impact on the track as a juvenile, and continuing on an upward curve during the early part of his three-year-old campaign. He won two of his three outings as a two-year-old, with his only defeat coming in the Group 1 Prix Jean Luc Lagadere, when finishing fourth behind Siyouni on good ground.
His first start at three came in the Prix De Fontainebleau in April 2010, a recognised trial for the Poule d'Essai des Poulains; the French 2000 Guineas. He finished a promising third behind the Aga Khan pair of Rajsaman and Siyouni. In May he arrived at Longchamp as a 10/1 shot for the Guineas. Drawn wide, he came with a swooping run to beat Richard Hannon’s Dick Turpin, who had previously finished runner-up in the Guineas at Newmarket.
He followed up his first Group 1 success by stepping up in trip to take the Prix Du Jockey Club at Chantilly in stunning fashion. The race was run on good to soft ground, and Lope De Vega appeared to revel in the conditions. In completing the French Classic double he was emulating his own sire Shamardal who had taken both events in 2005. He failed to spark in the remainder of his campaign and was retired to stud at the end of the season.
Lope De Vega started his new career as a stallion at the Ballylinch Stud in Ireland in 2011. The latter part of his racing career had not gone well, yet he remained a Group 1 winner and it was hoped that he would become a success at stud. He was to make a huge impact, becoming the Champion First Crop Sire in Europe for 2014, with Belardo his leading juvenile thanks to victory in the Dewhurst Stakes. His 2015 juveniles continued the success with more high profile victories including Blue De Vega’s group win at Leopardstown.
Though Belardo somewhat under-achieved at three, he remains a horse of huge promise when conditions are in his favour. He needs to ‘get his toe in’ to be seen at his best, as was the case when chasing home Solow in the QEII at Ascot last October. He looks capable of further group success at around a mile when the ground is testing.
It’s refreshing to have an exciting stallion that doesn’t reside with the usual powerhouses of Darley, Coolmore, and Juddmonte. Lope De Vega is backed by a number of breeders, both in Europe and in Australia. Ammerland, Ballylinch, and SF Bloodstock are major breeders who support the horse every year in the Northern Hemisphere.
Gestut Ammerland was founded in 1989 by Dietrich Von Boetticher. Numerous outstanding horses have been campaigned by the German stud including Hurricane Run, Borgia, Boreal, Grey Lilas and dual Classic-winning mare Golden Lilac. Their association with Lope De Vega will give hope of more exceptional horses to come.
Progeny that look set to make an impact this term include the aforementioned Irish trained Blue De Vega. He finished runner-up on his seasonal debut at the Curragh, and has an entry in the Irish Guineas along with the Epsom Derby. It’s likely he’ll be seen to best effect on a more testing surface. The horse is trained by Michael O’Callaghan for Qatar Racing and partners, and their racing manager, David Redvers, spoke after the Curragh run, saying: “Blue De Vega’s run was very promising. He needed it and it will put him spot on. He also needs further, so we’ll come back for the Irish Guineas.”
One that is set for a return after almost a year off the track is Ger Lyons promising four-year-old Endless Drama. He was last seen chasing home Gleneagles in last year’s Irish Guineas. That was a huge performance, and he had Belardo behind him that day. If he returns fit and well, there’s no reason why he shouldn’t be competitive in group events. He’s entered in the Lockinge and then has dual entries at Royal Ascot.
One colt that has already impressed this season was the John Gosden trained Linguistic, who won at Newmarket in April. The three-year-old may well head for the Dante, and should the ground at York be on the soft side you’d have to give him a chance. He’s by a Montjeu mare and has the potential to take high order.
It’s an exciting time for a stallion that remains a relatively new kid on the block. Watch out for his progeny when ground conditions suit, at trips close to a mile.