Tributes paid to hugely influential Pivotal, as superstar sire dies aged 28

Cheveley Park Stud have announced the death of Pivotal, the champion sprinter and sire of 32 individual Group One winners, at the age of 28.

Bred and raced by Cheveley Park, the son of Polar Falcon had been the stud’s flag-bearer since his retirement in 1997.

In the care of Sir Mark Prescott, he broke the all-age track record at Folkestone as a juvenile and was crowned champion sprinter as a three-year-old in 1996, winning the Group One Nunthorpe Stakes at York, following his victory in the King’s Stand Stakes (then a Group Two) at Royal Ascot.

Though his career on the track spanned just six races – ridden in all but one by George Duffield – he became one of Europe’s leading sprinters, although his greatest influence was as a sire, who initially commanded a stud fee of just £6,000.

Pivotal died peacefully in his paddock, and Chris Richardson, Cheveley Park’s managing director, paid a heartfelt tribute.

He said: “It hasn’t been a great day. Pivotal was an icon in his own world and is a dear friend who gave a huge amount of pleasure to David and Patricia Thompson and all of us at Cheveley Park Stud.

“From the moment he was born he was always a little superstar and we were very fortunate to have him.

“Winning the King’s Stand at Royal Ascot and going on to York and winning the Nunthorpe and then retiring and doing what he has done…to have so many Group One winners – it is incredible really.”

Pivotal immediately proved popular with commercial breeders and soon sired his first British Group One winner in Kyllachy, who emulated his father in the Nunthorpe before also retiring to Cheveley Park.

Such was his commercial success, Pivotal was a leading British-based first-season sire, who proved his versatility, despite having a tag of producing progeny who preferred easier ground.

Tenebrism on her way to winning the Cheveley Park Stakes
Tenebrism on her way to winning the Cheveley Park Stakes (Tim Goode/PA)

Richardson added: “He had that moniker of producing offspring that liked soft ground, and some of his early progeny did appreciate a bit of give in the ground. Then we had the likes of Golden Apples (winner of the 2002 Eclipse Award), who won the Del Mar Oaks from his first crop. He was pretty versatile.

“Sir Mark put him on the map. He broke the all-age track record at Folkestone and he gave the Thompsons their first Group One win in their Cheveley Park colours, which was obviously very special to have a home-bred colt do that.

“He has had a fantastic life, but it is a sad day. They are all friends. It is hard for everybody here. The stallion handler, John Rice, has looked after him for all these years, day and night, and has slept next door to him. So it is very hard for everybody here. It is like seeing somebody for 20 years every day – they become really close friends.”

Pivotal sired Classic winners such as Sariska, Halfway To Heaven, Falco, Buzzword and Saoire, plus Dubai World Cup winner African Story and Qipco Champion Stakes hero Addeybb, and Richardson hopes his legacy will live on for many years to come.

Crowned champion European broodmare sire from 2017 to 2019, his daughters have produced 26 individual Group One winners to date, including back-to-back Champion Stakes winner Cracksman and most recently Tenebrism in this season’s Cheveley Park Stakes.

St Mark's Basilica is a grandson of Pivotal
St Mark’s Basilica is a grandson of Pivotal (Nigel French/PA)

He has also made an impact as a sire of sires, with seven of his sons having sired seven Group One winners, most notably Siyouni, who has already produced multiple Group One winner St Mark’s Basilica and Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe victor Sottsass.

Richardson added: “Of his last crop of foals, we have two fillies and a colt, and from the last crop of 30 mares he covered in 2020, he got 15 in foal.

“There are around 10 foals born this year, that we will look forward to seeing perform. We are fortunate that around 75 per cent of our broodmare band has a Pivotal influence.”

Alpinista keeps Arc dream alive with another Group One triumph

Alpinista took her Group One tally to three in the Grosser Preis Von Bayern in Munich – and kept next year’s Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe firmly on her agenda.

Sir Mark Prescott and Kirsten Rausing’s filly extended her unbeaten 2021 campaign to five races with a typically tenacious three-quarter-length victory from Mendocino, with her old rival Nerium back in third.

Luke Morris made sure the 4-5 favourite was soon up close to the pace set by Nerium, before laying down her challenge into the straight. She then had a battle on her hands, as she has in her two previous Group One successes in Germany this year, but again she proved well up to the task.

Prescott , watching at home from his Newmarket yard, was delighted with Alpinista’s performance – and her prolific season.

He said: “It went well. It’s been a little plan that came off for once!

“It’s been marvellous. She’s not missed a beat – she just had a cloudy scope and couldn’t run in one (race) in England, and we had to miss that.

“But other than that, she’s won five out of five.”

The manner of Alpinista’s latest victory was very much in character.

“That’s her style,” added Prescott.

“The other two (races) are more or less exact replays – and the third horse, Nerium, he’s wonderful. They’ve really produced their form together almost every time, to a length.”

Among those defeated by Alpinista through the summer was subsequent shock Arc hero Torquator Tasso, a near four-length runner-up to her in the Grosser Preis von Berlin at Hoppegarten in August.

That form line inevitably alerted many to her potential at the very highest level – and Prescott confirmed the plan to target some major prizes next year, most likely on home soil, en route to ParisLongchamp.

“I think with her, because she’s won three Group Ones and she’s a filly and not a colt, you can be pretty brave,” he said.

“I think you would run in the glitzy Group Ones – you’d probably go for them now, if she’s as good next year.

“I think that would mean less (travelling) probably. You’d take the view that you’ve won three Group Ones, you’re very lucky and you want to roll the dice.

“We can all plot them, can’t we? You can plot it easily enough – it’s just a question of getting one good enough.”

Alpinista has put herself in that bracket, and already proved herself a leading light in the dynasty of home-bred stars over many years for her owner Kirsten Rausing.

Prescott added: “It’s been a marvellous season for Miss Rausing.

“She’s had the most fantastic year, and she thoroughly deserves it – and she’s got two or three of these very good fillies, all home-bred, (so) it must be wonderful for her.”

As for Alpinista, Prescott admits her ability to fare so well on overseas trips has surprised him as much as her sustained improvement on the track – although this time, he was indebted to fellow Newmarket trainer Roger Varian for providing a travelling companion in Believe In Love, who went on to finish a near five-length fifth for her trouble.

“She’s great, she takes it very well,” Prescott added, of his stable star.

“She still has to have a companion to travel – and you wouldn’t have thought, when she was young, she would travel as well as she does.

“When we’ve been on our own, I’ve had to send my old hack over with her.

Roger Varian's Believe In Love joined Alpinista on her trip to Bavaria
Roger Varian’s Believe In Love joined Alpinista on her trip to Bavaria (Mike Egerton/PA)

“This time, fortunately, Mr Varian wanted to come over – so we had a share without having to send the old hack over.”

The trainer had reason to be pleased with himself too, for completing the keyboard skills which allowed him to watch Alpinista from afar –  in the absence of his usual technical support, principally his assistant William Butler.

“It tested all my skills!” he said.

“William’s there, and he normally manages these things, and the secretary’s off.

“So everybody came to the rescue, and I had just two buttons to press to watch it – and it all went well.”

Alpinista bags Group One Preis von Europa

Sir Mark Prescott’s prolific filly Alpinista doubled her Group One tally with a decisive victory in the Preis von Europa at Cologne.

Alpinista, also successful at the top level in the Grosser Preis von Berlin at Hoppegarten last month, was keeping it in the family with her latest victory – in a race won 17 years ago for Prescott, and owner Kirsten Rausing, by her granddam Albanova.

Luke Morris had the 11-10 favourite in contention throughout, but off the strong pace set by outsider and eventual runner-up Nerium.

Alpinista moved closer for pressure to collar the long-time leader inside the final furlong, and then stretched a length and a quarter clear at the line.

Reflecting on the triumph, assistant trainer William Butler told Deutscher Galopp: “We’re very happy. It’s a fantastic family, and thank you very much to Miss Rausing for sending us such a lovely filly.

“It’s a very lucky family for us, right the way back to (dual Champion Stakes heroine) Alborada – through to Albanova, who won this race in 2004.

“I was here (then) – I don’t look that old, but I was here!”

Frankel filly Alpinista is unbeaten in her four starts this year, including the Lancashire Oaks at Haydock, and is unlikely to have finished her four-year-old campaign yet.

She has a Group One entry on the British Champions card at Ascot next month, and another trip to Germany for the Grosser Preis von Bayern in Munich in early November is high on the agenda too.

Butler added: “It’s great – she’s done everything we’ve asked of her this year. That’s four runs, four wins, two Group Ones, a Group Two and a Listed.

“So we’re very, very lucky to have her.

“That (Munich) is probably the next option. There’s (also) the (Qipco British Champions) Fillies And Mares at Ascot to add.

“The main thing is to get her back home and make sure she’s OK – but I think probably pencilled in is Munich.

“With these fillies, you’ve just got to make sure they’re in good form and they’re healthy – and when they are, they can do things like this.”

Alpinista upholds family tradition with Group One victory in Germany

Alpinista emulated her granddam as she claimed a first Group One victory in the Longines 131st Grosser Preis von Berlin at Hoppegarten.

Albanova won the German feature in 2004, when it was known as the Deutschland-Preis and run at Dusseldorf, and her four-year-old granddaughter followed in her footsteps on Sunday for trainer Sir Mark Prescott.

Partnered by Luke Morris, Alpinista was one of two British raiders along with Walton Street and James Doyle set out to make all on the Godolphin representative in the 12-furlong contest.

Alpinista was settled in fourth in the eight-runner field and Morris was content to bide his time before launching a challenge at the top of the straight.

The Frankel filly then found plenty for pressure to hold the late challenge of Torquator Tasso, with Walton Street keeping on for third.

Prescott said: “I was very pleased with her, she stays really, really well. She wasn’t going particularly well early on, turning in she was perhaps going less well than anything but for two, but she stuck on really well and I was enormously pleased with her.

“Obviously Miss (Kirsten) Rausing has a big say in it, but I think we have probably sort of earmarked the Preis Von Europa at Cologne on September 26 and we’ll just see if something comes in between. I think that will be the pattern.

“She (Rausing) had Albanova with me a few years ago, Albanova won this and that race, so we might follow the same pattern because of course they are very closely related.

“It’s just interesting that she (Alpinista) should follow in the hoofprints. She stays really well this filly, she would go a bit further if we had to.”

Alpinista won the Lancashire Oaks before her German trip and chased home Love in the Yorkshire Oaks last year, with Betfair offering 12-1 about her chance on the Knavesmire this year.

Asked if he would be tempted to go to York again, Prescott added: “Only if she came back so well that I couldn’t not run.

“She would need to be so well, so it would probably better to just ease off and have a go at another Group One.”

German Group One option open for Alpinista

Alpinista could try to emulate her granddam and win a first Group One in the Grosser Preis Von Berlin at Hoppegarten next month.

Trainer Sir Mark Prescott is considering the big race in Germany on August 8 for his Group Two-winning four-year-old filly.

The Qatar Lillie Langtry Stakes at Glorious Goodwood on July 31 is the alternative target for Alpinista, who won the Lancashire Oaks at Haydock on her latest start.

Her granddam Albanova won the German feature in 2004, when it was known as the Deutschland-Preis and run at Dusseldorf.

Prescott said: “She’s fine. She’ll either go for the Lillie Langtry at Goodwood or she might go to Germany for the Group One there that Albanova won – who is, of course, her grandmother.”

Alpinista could be accompanied to Berlin by stablemate Alerta Roja, who completed a hat-trick at Ascot on Friday.

Prescott is planning to move the daughter of Golden Horn up in class after three handicap victories.

“She’s got to find a bit of black type,” he said.

“She might go to the same place – there’s a mile-and-six Listed race at Berlin, the Stayer Preis.”

Alpinista hits the heights in Lancashire Oaks

Alpinista stamped her class on the bet365 Lancashire Oaks at Haydock.

Sir Mark Prescott’s filly set the standard on her runner-up finish behind the brilliant Love in the Yorkshire Oaks last summer, after which she was narrowly beaten in a Group Three at Newmarket.

She got the current campaign off to a successful start in a Listed event at Goodwood in April – and having missed a couple of intended engagements since, she was the 11-4 favourite for the Group Two feature.

With front-running Oaks runner-up Mystery Angel beginning to fade inside the final two furlongs, the Roger Varian-trained pair of Cabeletta and Lady Hayes were left fighting it out for the lead.

However, Alpinista picked up well in the hands of her regular partner Luke Morris to win the day by just over a length.

Morris said: “We’d chosen not to run her a couple of times because of the ground. Today they’ve rolled the dice and she seems to handle firm ground as well as soft ground.

“She was second to Love in the Yorkshire Oaks last year and she’s a Group Two winner now.

“These are the horses you want to ride when you’re getting up early in a morning and getting home late in the evening.”

Prescott’s assistant, William Butler, said: “She’s very game and we’ve trained lots of her family, who were very game as well.

“We were slightly worried about the ground as she was so effective on firm last summer, but her class got her through.

“She’s a Group Two winner, Group One second and dual Listed winner and you can pick your targets now.

“There are races like the Lillie Langtry (at Goodwood) and the Yorkshire Oaks and we’ll make a plan.”

Alpinista edges out Makawee in thrilling Goodwood finish

Last year’s Yorkshire Oaks runner-up Alpinista began the new campaign with a hard-fought victory over Makawee in the British Stallion Studs EBF Daisy Warwick Fillies’ Stakes at Goodwood.

Five lengths behind Love at York in August, she signed off for the campaign with a narrow defeat in a Group Three at Newmarket and was sent off the 13-8 favourite against just three rivals, one of whom, Oriental Mystique, is also owned by Kirsten Rausing.

Makawee set out to make all under James Doyle, but Luke Morris looked to have him covered as he moved his Alpinista alongside.

However, Makawee stuck to her task gamely and Morris had to get pretty serious with Sir Mark Prescott’s filly, who eventually scrambled home by a short head with Oriental Mystique a length back in third.

“The plan was to make all today, but James was quite keen to go on, so I was quite happy to take a close sit,” Morris told Racing TV.

“When I finally drew up to him at the two pole I was fairly confident I had his measure, but fair play to the runner-up, she was very brave.

“My filly is probably a gallop or two short of her best on her homework and she was just a bit ring-rusty when I went for her.

“Hopefully there’s plenty of improvement in her going forwards.

“Miss Rausing’s horses generally come into their own with time. We had the dam (Alwilda) at Sir Mark’s and she improved with age, so I’d like to think this filly will take a similar path.

“There’s stamina in the pedigree, but being by Frankel, there’s a bit more speed in there. Sir Mark will come up with a plan.

“She was second to Love in the Yorkshire Oaks and the programme sort of marks itself out for a filly like that.”

Stat of the Day, 27th August 2020

Wednesday's pick was...

4.05 Musselburgh : Millie The Minx @ 4/1 BOG 5th at 11/2 (Tracked leaders until halfway, close up, ridden over 3f out, kept on same pace) 

Thursday's pick runs in the...

6.00 Lingfield :

Before I post the daily selection, just a quick reminder of how I operate the service. Normally, I'll identify and share the selection between 8.00am and 8.30am and I then add a more detailed write-up later within an hour or so of going "live".

Those happy to take the early price on trust can do so, whilst some might prefer to wait for my reasoning. As I fit the early service in around my family life, I can't give an exact timing on the posts, so I suggest you follow us on Twitter and/or Facebook for instant notifications of a published pick.


Escalade @ 4/1 BOG a 10-runner, Class 5, A/W Handicap for 3yo over 1m4f on Polytrack worth £3,493 to the winner...


Well, the racecard has lots of indicators for us...

Starting with a 3 yr old (obviously) filly in decent enough nick, finishing in the frame in all three starts this season (all at this trip, twice at this level but also once at class 3). She has one win from six so far, also at this grade and ridden by today's jockey, also on a left handed track.

Our trainer, Sir Mark Prescott, has 14, 30 and C5 next to his name, suggesting his horses are running well right now and have also fared well at this venue in the past, whilst jockey Ryan Tate's 30 shows he has been amongst the winners too and then the subsequent trainer jockey combo stats show a prolonged period of success, all of which gives me a good feeling of at least getting a run for my money.

The above strike rates (20%+), A/E figures (1.25+) and IV score (1.50+) are all very impressive and when creating angles to follow, those are my own personal starting points. In fact with IV scores all north of 2.0 and plenty of profit, these are really good numbers, but you can see that for yourself.

So, what can I add that you might not already know?

Well, I believe that 1m4f is a bit of a specialist trip and since the start of 2017 at odds ranging from 7/4 to 15/2, our trainer's runners are 11 from 45 (24.4% SR) for 17.3pts (+38.4% ROI) profit, including of relevance today...

  • 10/33 (30.3%) for 18.8pts (+56.9%) during June to September
  • 9/31 (29%) for 18.1pts (+58.5%) in races worth less than £4,000
  • 5/19 (26.3%) for 6.6pts (+34.7%) at Class 5
  • 4/17 (23.5%) for 4.23pts (+24.9%) at 6-20 dslr
  • and 4/15 (26.7%) for 12.8pts (+85.3%) with females...

...whilst in sub-£4k races during June-Sept, they are 9 from 23 (39.1% SR) for 26.1pts (+113.6% ROI), including 4/11 (36.4%) at C5, 4/10 (40%) at 6-20 dslr and 3/8 (37.5%) with females... us... a 1pt win bet on Escalade @ 4/1 BOG as was available at 8.05am Thursday, but as always please check your own BOG status (*some firms are not BOG until later in the morning)To see a small sample of odds offered on this race... here for the betting on the 6.00 Lingfield

Don't forget, we offer a full interactive racecard service every day!


Here is today's racecard

P.S. all P/L returns quoted in the stats above are to Betfair SP, as I NEVER bet to ISP and neither should you. I always use BOG bookies for SotD, wherever possible, but I use BFSP for the stats as it is the nearest approximation I can give, so I actually expect to beat the returns I use to support my picks. If that's unclear, please ask!