Breeding plays such a vital role in creating high-class racehorses, and this is certainly the case in producing winners of the Epsom Derby.
Certain stallions appear again and again in the pedigree of Epsom Classic heroes. It may not be the deciding factor in attempting to find the winner of a Derby, but it’s certainly a point of interest when making that all important selection.
I’ve looked at the last dozen years or so, and it’s no surprise to see the name of Sadler’s Wells appear in the bloodline on numerous occasions, whether directly or indirectly. One of the great stallions of the modern era, by the time of his death in 2011 he had produced many of the leading lights of the Flat racing scene. Derby winners Galileo and High Chaparral; Arc winner Montjeu; St Leger winners on both sides of the Irish Sea – Kayf Tara, Milan and Yeats; and Guineas winners, Entrepreneur and King Of Kings, have all arrived via the Sadler’s Wells production line.
In Montjeu and Galileo, that exceptional DNA has been passed to numerous recent Derby heroes. Galileo is the leading Sire of the present day, and in recent times has produced New Approach, Ruler Of The World, and Australia. Montjeu is responsible for Motivator, Authorized, Pour Moi and Camelot.
Cape Cross has proved an ever-present Sire in the last few years, with Golden Horn and Sea The Stars winning in 2015 and 2009. The 2014 winner Australia had both Galileo and Cape Cross in the pedigree. And last year’s Derby victor Harzand also had the Cape Cross connection, being a son of Sea The Stars. Few contenders have the stallion in their bloodline this time around, though there is one at a price that catches the eye.
The third and final stallion I wish to focus on is the 1993 St James’s Palace Stakes winner Kingmambo. Though born and bred in America, he was campaigned in both the UK and Ireland during a successful period in the early 90s. Retired to stud in 1994, he died early last year at the grand old age of 25.
He’s been responsible for several mighty beasts. El Condor Pasa was no mug. One of Japan’s finest, he was runner-up to Montjeu in the Arc of 1999. Lemon Drop Kid won a fortune in the States, including victory in the Belmont Stakes. King’s Best could have been one of the greats, had it not been for injury. He took the 2000 Guineas before injury struck in the Irish Derby. Kingmambo sired other outstanding milers including, Dubai Destination, Russian Rhythm and Henrythenavigator.
Of recent Epsom Derby victors, Kingmambo has influence through both the Sires, but more so through the Dam’s side of pedigrees. Golden Horn is an example of the latter, with Dubai Destination prominent on the Dam’s side of the family. Ruler Of The World was by Galileo, but out of a Kingmambo mare. And likewise, 2012 winner Camelot was the product of a Kingmambo mare. The 2010 Epsom Derby winner, Workforce, was another from the Kingmambo production line, being by one of his famous son’s, King’s Best.
So, what of this year’s Epsom Derby line-up, and who fits the pedigree profile?
It’s always tempting to manipulate your findings a little, to substantiate your opinion on a previous fancy. I’ll do my best to stick to the brief, without attempting to justify the unjustifiable.
I’m a huge fan of Cracksman, and I believe his position at the head of the market is completely vindicated off the back of his Derby Trial success at Epsom. He’s by Frankel, who in turn is by Galileo, hence a tick on the Sire side of the bloodline. That may prove enough for many pedigree followers, though the Dam side of his breeding is less conclusive. He’s out of a Pivotal mare, often associated with classy soft ground milers, and rarely mid-distance Classic winners. Sariska was a Pivotal that captured the Oaks, and the likes of Eagle Top, Wings Of Desire and Izzi Top were also classy types. They give hope that Cracksman has enough class on the dam side to prevail.
The pedigree case is somewhat easier to make for Ballydoyle’s Cliffs Of Moher. By Galileo (tick), he’s out of a Dansili mare, which at first glance cries out speed over stamina. Wave is the dam in question, and her mother was Queen Cleopatra, a decent sort at around a mile or just further. It’s at this point of the pedigree that Kingmambo arrives on the scene. Indeed, Queen Cleopatra was by Kingmambo out of a Sadler’s Wells mare. We’re having to go back a couple of generations, but the result is arguably a ‘double-tick’ for Cliffs Of Moher.
Godolphin’s best chance appears to be with Best Solution. He too is a partial pedigree fit, thanks to the dam’s side. Al Andalyya came to little on the racetrack, but she is by Kingmambo, out of a Sadler’s Wells mare. It is the Sire side of the pedigree that is a cause for concern for Best Solution fans. Kodiac has always proved a source of speed over stamina, and it would be a surprise, if he were to produce a Derby winner.
Money has come this week for Aidan O’Brien’s Capri, and he of course has the mighty Galileo in his pedigree. But again, the dam side is an issue coming from an Anabaa mare. Soft ground is sure to suit, but whether he’ll have the class, or indeed thoroughly stay the trip, is questionable.
Eminent is a horse I’m struggling to fancy off the back of a slightly disappointing Guineas performance. Admittedly he finished less than four lengths back in sixth, but I thought he looked weakest at the finish. Nevertheless, he was ridden to win a Guineas that day, and is sure to be given a different type of ride on Saturday. He certainly passes the pedigree test with flying colours, indeed is possibly top of the class.
By Frankel, in turn by Galileo, Eminent is out of the Kingmambo mare, You’ll Be Mine. Her Dam (stay with me here), is Quarter Moon, a mare by Sadler’s Wells out of a Darshaan mare (tick, tick, tick, tick, tick). If only it was this easy, I’d be re-mortgaging the house, and lumping on Eminent.
A final colt worth a mention is Khalidi. His bare form suggests that he is well-held by Permian, though he was mightily impressive at Goodwood last time. There’s also positives to draw from his pedigree. He’s not quite up there with Eminent, but he’s not a million miles away. He’s by Epsom Derby winner, High Chaparral, a son of Sadler’s Wells. On dam’s side, we have Bezique, a mare by Cape Cross. Certainly, on pedigree, Khalidi looks a decent each-way proposition.
And there you have it. Breeding is certainly an aspect that I’ll be adding to the melting pot, when choosing my likely Epsom Derby winner. Of the above I’d have to side with Cliffs Of Moher and Eminent, with Khalidi the long-shot. Of course, all the contenders have an outstanding pedigree, but not all will be suited by the unique demands of the Epsom Classic.