It's In The Blood


There can be few more potent pedigrees in Australian racing at present than that of Hilal, who broke through for black-type success with a slashing win in Saturday’s Stan Fox Stakes (Gr 2, 1500m) at Randwick. 

The Team Hawkes-trained colt is from one of Emirates Park’s strongest female families – one which has spawned such titans as Redoute’s Choice (Danehill), and which in this case ends with an Encosta De Lago (Fairy King) mare in Hilal’s dam, Salma. 

Match that with a sire surely now qualified for “phenomenon” status – Fastnet Rock (Danehill) – and it’s easy to see why Emirates Park is buzzing about Hilal’s stud prospects, even before he contests next month’s Bondi Stakes (1600m) and, likely, an autumn Guineas, when he’ll seek to better a brace of Randwick Group 1 seconds last season, when beaten by the quinella pair from last Saturday’s Caulfield Guineas (Gr 1, 1600m), Anamoe (Street Boss) and Captivant (Capitalist). 

Just where is it going to stop, or even slow down, for Fastnet Rock? The Coolmore legend has been so good for so long it might be easy to take him for granted. Sometimes you have to stop and take it all in. 

Hilal’s Stan Fox success gave his sire a black-type double in the space of 20 minutes, after daughter Sneaky Five claimed the Thoroughbred Club Stakes (Gr 3, 1200m) at Caulfield. Hilal became Fastnet Rock’s 180th stakes winner worldwide, two more than Redoute’s Choice, and behind only Exceed And Excel’s (Danehill) 189 amongst Australian stallions. Sixty-eight of Fastnet’s stakes-winners have come outside Australia, including 43 in Britain, Ireland and France.  

Still commanding Australia’s equal second-highest service fee of $165,000, and still shuttling to Coolmore Ireland, the 20-year-old Fastnet Rock covers managed books these days but will still serve some 80 mares this spring, so is certain to rocket well past the 200 stakes-winners mark. 

The son of the great Danehill – who holds the world record of 347 stakes winners ahead of Galileo’s (Sadler’s Wells) 344 – has sired 41 Group 1 winners worldwide, including the extremely rare feat for a southern hemisphere stallion of getting an English Classic winner in 2015 Oaks (Gr 1, 1m 4f) victor Qualify. 

Eight of Fastnet Rock’s sons have already sired Group 1 winners, such as Foxwedge, Hinchinbrook and Smart Missile. He was fifth on the Australian broodmare sires’ table last season, represented by nine stakes winners. Fastnet Rock was also fourth among Australian two-year-old sires last season. 

Still, more about him later. 

The process that led to Hilal being one of Emirates Park’s brightest began when the stud’s boss Nasser Lootah bought a yearling filly in 1994 who he named Show Dancing (Don’t Say Halo). Her third dam was the great American blue hen Best In Show (Traffic Judge), dam of Kentucky Oaks (Gr 1, 9f) winner Blush With Pride (Blushing Groom) and Malinowski (Sir Ivor), Ireland’s champion two-year-old colt of 1975. 

Best In Show also threw Show Lady (Sir Ivor) who, in turn, delivered not a great deal of racetrack note, but when put to the great Nijinsky (Northern Dancer), produced Dancing Show (USA, 1983). Here’s where this family really kicked off. 

Dancing Show won one out of 12 but, sent to New Zealand via France, she produced 11 foals, eight runners and seven winners. And not just any winners. 

Her first named foal was Umatilla (Miswaki), who won a Group 1 – in Perth’s Karrakatta Plate (Gr 1, 1200m) in 1990 – and was placed in four others in Melbourne. Umatilla, in turn, sired six Group 1 winners, including multiple top-level successes Sincero (see last week’s column) and Umrum. 

Just to show this was easy, for a third named foal, Dancing Show threw Hurricane Sky (Star Watch), winner of two Group 1s including the 1994 Blue Diamond (Gr 1, 1200m). Hurricane Sky, of course, went on to elite success at stud, siring four top-tier winners, including Desert Eagle and Divine Madonna, who won four each. 

Dancing Show next produced her first filly, by Canny Lad (Bletchingly), who on the back of her big brothers’ exploits was bought by Muzaffar Yaseen for a then-hefty $220,000 as a yearling in 1994. Shantha’s Choice would recoup only $6,900 of her purchase price through a Seymour win and a Sandown second from just two starts, but how she’d repay Yaseen at stud. 

For her first mating, where else would you go in 1996 but Danehill himself? The result was the colossus, Redoute’s Choice. 

Two years later, the same match struck gold again (or at least precious metal) in Platinum Scissors, 2002 Spring Champion Stakes (Gr 1, 2000m) winner. Later came Manhattan Rain (Encosta De Lago), who won the 2009 AJC Sires’ Produce Stakes (Gr 1, 1400m), and has so far sired Golden Slipper (Gr 1, 1200m) and Moir Stakes (Gr 1, 1000m) heroine She Will Reign, and Whisky Baron, who won at the elite level in South Africa. 

Not only was she a card-carrying blue hen, Shantha’s Choice’s lesser-performed produce, half-sisters to Redoute’s, drew some staggering numbers at Yaseen’s 2014 dispersal, such as the stakes-placed Monsoon Wedding (Danehill, for $2.3 million), and maiden winner Taste Of Heaven (Encosta De Lago, $1.5 million), who became a stakes-winning broodmare in the US before returning home, to be bought again as an 11-year-old this year for $1.6 million. 

Meanwhile, after Shantha’s Choice, Dancing Show had thrown a second filly, Show Dancing, the filly bought by Lootah in 1994. She won two of eight, in Sydney, but like her half-sister would prove far more valuable as a broodmare. 

Her second named foal was Group 3 winner Salameh (Secret Savings, USA), but two later came Al Maher (Danehill), the 2005 Australian Guineas (Gr 1, 1600m) winner. Lootah maintained ownership in both. Al Maher bears the Emirates Park flag at stud, siring 36 stakes winners, including four Group 1 winners. Among them are SA Oaks (Gr 1, 2000m) and Derby (Gr 1, 2500m) winner Delicacy – who beat a rising Winx (Street Cry) to the title of Australia’s top three-year-old filly in 2015 – Fat Al, who won the Epsom of 2012, and Private Eye, who won it two weeks ago. 

Salameh also went to stud and threw eight named foals. Six were colts, including Big Time (Danewin), winner of the Dulcify Quality (Listed, 1500m) of 2011. One of the two fillies was Salma. 

The daughter of Encosta De Lago – who was bred by Emirates Park as well – had five ordinary barrier trials before it was decided she might work best as a broodmare. 

A colt by Harbour Watch (Acclamation) sold for just $50,000 at the Gold Coast in 2016. Exported to South Africa as Trojan Harbour, he won in Listed class in 2017. 

Salma’s second named foal, Salateen (I Am Invincible), was sold at this year’s Gold Coast Broodmare Sale for $300,000 and became a Doomben winner last month. And her third is Hilal, completing this female line through Best In Show-Show Lady-Dancing Show-Show Dancing-Salameh-Salma. 

“She’s a nice type of mare, but the reason we sent her to Fastnet Rock is she can handle that big, stronger, physical type,” Emirates Park’s Bryan Carlson says of Salma, who has a “very nice” two-year-old Fastnet Rock filly in work with Team Snowden, a Not A Single Doubt (Redoute’s Choice) yearling filly, and a new foal by the Emirates Park-owned Tassort (Brazen Beau), who stands at Newgate.  

“It’s been a remarkable family. There’s Redoute’s Choice, Umatilla, Hurricane Sky, Manhattan Rain and Al Maher, all up close within the last three generations. Hopefully Hilal can go to stud at Emirates in the near future and keep it going.” 

Encosta De Lago mares are by far Fastnet Rock’s best nick by winners, with 64 (Galileo and Zabeel are next with 42 and 41), including four stakes winners. But then it’s hard to go wrong with Fastnet Rock, beyond doubt one of Australia’s greatest-ever stallions. 

“He’s a phenomenal sire,” Coolmore’s Colm Santry says. “Look at the legacy he’s going to leave – eight sons have left Group 1 winners already. He’s a great broodmare sire, he’s still a potent two-year-old sire, he’s got a load of yearlings, foals being born, and pregnancies. He’ll be around for a long time yet.” 

Current stakes-winning offspring of Fastnet Rock mares include Quantum Mechanic (Deep Field), multiple New Zealand black-type winner Need I Say More (No Nay Never), and Queen Of Dubai (Pride Of Dubai),who ran seventh in yesterday’s Thousand Guineas (Gr 1, 1600m) at Caulfield. 

They also include two who began in Ireland before becoming stakes winners in Australia: I Am Superman (Footstepsinthesand) and Harpo Marx (by Galileo out of exported Coolmore Stud Stakes winner Nechita). 

And while Fastnet Rock has had 14 stakes winners as a broodmare sire this calendar year alone, that bunch doesn’t yet include Gytrash. That son of Lope De Vega (Shamardal) could, however, give his damsire quite the boost – as if one were needed – in Saturday’s Everest. 

“In the modern era you could genuinely say Fastnet is the most successful Australian sire to shuttle to the northern hemisphere,” Santry says. 

“And when you consider how hard it is for shuttle stallions to break into their opposite hemisphere, he’s done amazingly well, and done it all over the world.”