Story courtesy today’s THE INFORMANT, UK correspondent Amy Bennett reports...
At this mid-point in the flat season, the table of leading first season sires in Britain and Ireland is really taking shape.
Darley’s New Approach is the clear leader in terms of prize-money, due in large part to his hat-trick of stakes winners at Royal Ascot, but interestingly that trio remain his sole individual winners.
The 2006 St Leger victor Sixties Icon led the early charge among the British-based sires, being first out of the gate with a winner when Vanessa won at Musselburgh on April 8. Sixties Icon, currently on shuttle duty in Argentina, was also the first to sire a stakes winner, when Chilworth Icon scored in the Listed Woodcote Stakes at Epsom on Derby day.
The son of Galileo has sired a total of seven individual winners as of August 7 and can boast a 50 per cent strike-rate of winners to runners – excellent form for a stallion who stands for just £4,500 at Norman Court Stud in Wiltshire, and who could hardly have been expected to be a source of early two-year-olds.
By contrast, the Gr. 1 July Cup winner Sakhee’s Secret was top of most people’s lists as a likely candidate for early success. Indeed, he has vindicated those beliefs as he currently tops the table of freshman sires in Britain and Ireland with no less than 10 individual winners to date, three more than Sixties Icon and four ahead of the third-placed freshman Henrythenavigator.
Sakhee’s Secret, who stands at Whitsbury Manor Stud in Hampshire and shuttles to The Oaks Stud in New Zealand, was initially a little slow off the mark, with his first winner not until May 25, when Tommy’s Secret put his head in front at Goodwood. Since then winners have come at a fair rattle, and he is now the sire of 10 winners from 31 runners, for a 32 per cent strike rate.
It is worth bearing in mind that Sakhee’s Secret himself was not what could be classed an early two-year-old. By the top class middle-distance performer Sakhee, his speed comes from his dam Palace Street, herself a useful performer over 1200-1400 metres and dam of a pair of Listed sprint winners aside from her Group One-winning son.
In the care of trainer Hughie Morrison, Sakhee’s Secret did not debut until July as a two-year-old, finishing third on his first start. He got off the mark at the second time of asking, easily winning a Windsor maiden, before finishing fourth on his only other juvenile start.
At three he ran up an unbeaten sequence of four by a total of 12 and a half lengths, culminating in the July Cup at Newmarket. Prior to that, he had made the transition into Pattern company by landing the Listed Carnarvon Stakes at Newbury and Listed Cathedral Stakes at Salisbury.
The field for the 2007 July Cup included no less than six Group One (or subsequent) winners , among them the prolific Australian winner Bentley Biscuit, and last year’s leading first season sire Dutch Art.
In a race so often fought out by the older generation, it was Sakhee’s Secret and Dutch Art who battled out the finish to the July Cup, with Sakhee’s Secret getting the upper hand by half a length. It scarcely mattered that the colt would not win again before his retirement to stud; he had more than proved himself.
Although yet to put a stakes winner on the board, several of Sakhee’s Secret’s progeny have shaped with real promise. With the lucrative sales races and a host of black-type contests before the season’s end in November, there is much more to come from this eye-catching young sire.