In the aftermath of another terrific Royal Ascot, it is worth taking a look at the stallions that made an impact in the most prestigious Flat meeting.
As ever the mighty Dubawi and Galileo had their fair share of success, but one sire, sadly no longer with us, continues to make an impact at the royal meeting. The American Stallion Scat Daddy, collapsed and died in 2014, at the age of 11, when walking from his paddock at Coolmore’s Ashford Stud in Kentucky.
Despite his tragic demise, his bloodline is set to make an impact at the highest level in the coming years. He has proven especially effective with juvenile sprinters, claiming a number of prizes during last week’s five-day extravaganza.
Scat Daddy was trained by Todd Pletcher in America having been purchased by Michael Tabor as a yearling. He was an impressive juvenile, winning the Sanford Stakes and the Champagne Stakes, and completing his two-year-old campaign with a fourth place finish in the 2006 Breeders' Cup Juvenile.
His three-year-old season began with a third-place finish in the Holy Bull Stakes before winning the Fountain of Youth. He then took the Florida Derby, and headed for the Kentucky Derby as a well fancied contender. He failed to shine on that occasion, finishing down the field in 18th. It emerged that he had damaged a tendon during the race and sadly his racing career came to an end. In eight starts, he had won five and earned $1,334,300.
He started his career as a stallion in 2008 at the Ashford Stud in Lexington, Kentucky, initially commanding a fee $30,000. He also stood in Australia and Chile, becoming the leading sire in that country in 2013/14. His progeny hit the racetrack in 2011, and in America he made a terrific impact. With more than $1.5 million in progeny earnings, he ranked third to top US sires Kitten's Joy and Smart Strike.
He has been responsible for American Oaks winner Lady of Shamrock and the UAE Derby victor Daddy Long Legs. He was also responsible for the El Derby winner in Chile, in both 2014 and 2015, thanks to Solaria and Il Campione.
But it is his Royal Ascot victories that have been particularly eye-catching. No Nay Never was an outstanding juvenile sprinter in 2013. Brought over by Wesley Ward, he took the Norfolk Stakes in stunning fashion, before winning the Group 1 Prix Morny in France. His final appearance as a three-year-old in 2014 saw him chinned on the line in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint. He now stands at Coolmore’s stud in Ireland.
Acapulco followed in No Nay Never’s hoofprints, with a stunning success at Royal Ascot when winning the Queen Mary Stakes. She then came close to winning the Nunthorpe as a juvenile. Sadly, the great British weather kept the flying filly away from Ascot last week, and her future targets are yet to be confirmed.
In her absence, American trainer Ward unleashed yet another outstanding juvenile filly. Different in stature, but possibly even more talented, Lady Aurelia ran away with the Queen Mary Stakes in double-quick time. Her seven-length demolition job had jaws dropping, with Frankie Dettori saying: “That was breathtaking from the top. To win by seven lengths at Royal Ascot was sensational and I've never seen or experienced anything like it especially for a two-year-old.”
Ward feels that the filly lacks the stature to take on older horses, and therefore the Prix Morny looks the likely short-term target.
Another Scat Daddy juvenile to scorch the turf was the Aidan O’Brien trained Caravaggio. He was successful in the Coventry Stakes and has been installed as favourite for next year’s 2000 Guineas. His performance was all the more pleasing for connections, as he proved his stamina in very testing conditions.
O'Brien had concerns over the ground, and after the win said: “We were worried that he was so quick that we maybe should have had him in the Norfolk when the ground got so soft because he is very, very rapid at home. When a horse is that quick you are never sure that they are going to last out over six in soft ground, but he got it and he got it well.”
Whether he proves to be a realistic guineas contender, or a top-class sprinter, only time will tell. But Caravaggio is clearly a class act, and will be hard to beat in the coming months.
Scat Daddy was a huge loss to the bloodstock industry, but his progeny look set to carry the name forward in some style, with Acapulco, Lady Aurelia and Caravaggio in particular, likely to strike again at the highest level.