Kiwi Chronicles

What took so long?

In a first, the Danehill (Danzig) sire line has finally succeeded in providing a New Zealand Sire Championship winner, in this case Champion New Zealand Sire of 2022-23, Proisir (Choisir).

Rich Hill Stud’s Proisir qualifies via Danehill’s son Danehill Dancer and grandson Choisir, breaking an eight-year stranglehold on the premiership by living legend, Savabeel (Zabeel).

Australian readers might look at this and wonder, what took so long?

Arrowfield Stud’s John Messara knew what he was doing when he co-negotiated the purchase and subsequent standing of Danehill in Australia. Not only did Danehill dominate the late 90s and early 00s, his sons landed three Golden Slipper Stakes (Gr 1, 1200m) from his first three Australian crops. It was all on as two of those Slipper winners would become champion sires in their own right. They picked up the baton and ran hard.

Alone, he bagged a record nine Australian titles in the space of 11 years between 1995 and 2005, his last six in a row. The Australian record for successive titles is held by Heroic (Valais) who managed seven during the 1930s.

Danehill’s Australian-bred sons added a further seven such titles. Beginning with Redoute’s Choice in 2006, his sons maintained dominance until 2015. Redoute’s Choice secured three titles, Fastnet Rock two with Flying Spur and Exceed And Excel achieving one apiece.

Danehill was not finished. His grandson, Snitzel (Redoute’s Choice), proceeded to win four successive titles from 2017 to 2020. This translates to an amazing 20 titles in the space of 26 years that can be attributed to Danehill.

Even without all the premierships, the effect Danehill has had on the industry is massive. Exceed And Excel has sired 210 individual stakes winners, Fastnet Rock 193, Redoute’s Choice 182, Flying Spur 99 and Commands 80. His top five sire sons have accumulated 764 stakes winners.

Redoute’s Choice may be third on this list but his sire line production is greater than Exceed And Excel’s and Fastnet Rock’s combined. Courtesy of, primarily, Snitzel (135) and Not A Single Doubt (81), Redoute’s Choice’s sons and grandsons account for an additional 482 stakes winners and a grand total of 664.

Compare that to Fastnet Rock whose sons and grandsons are responsible for 133 stakes winners and a grand total of 326. The numbers for Exceed And Excel are 97 and a grand total of 307.

Succession is clear
It is clear then that the success of the Danehill sire line is firmly in the hands of Redoute’s Choice. Whether Snitzel or Not A Single Doubt assume control of the line is yet to be determined. Snitzel probably has the inside running at present.

Meanwhile, in New Zealand, it was up to Darci Brahma to fly Danehill’s flag and he was not at all disgraced despite not securing a New Zealand title. He came close, was second on four occasions [three of those behind Savabeel] and twice third, siring a healthy 57 stakes winners. Given that there are 198 foals that are either yearlings, two-year-olds or three-year-olds, that number can be expected to increase as his stakes winners / runners ratio is 7.4 per cent.

It took an Irish-bred son, namely Danehill Dancer to facilitate Danehill’s first New Zealand title. Danehill Dancer is Danehill’s fourth most successive stakes producer with 173. Son Choisir, bred in Australia, is responsible for a further 104 and Irish-bred Mastercraftsman, 96. Adding Danehill Dancer’s 173 stakes winners to his sons’ and grandsons’ 192, totals 365, ahead of Fastnet Rock yet still a distant second to Redoute’s Choice.

Stakes Winners Sons or G/sons SWs Total
Redoute’s Choice 182 482 664
Danehill Dancer 173 192 365
Fastnet Rock 193 133 326
Exceed And Excel 210 97 307

Stats: Courtesy of Arion Pedigrees

Proisir enjoyed a phenomenal 2022-23 season, siring five individual Group 1 winners during the season. From six crops to the races his stars include Levante, Prowess and Legarto. All that remains now is to see if he can maintain his rate of production.

Topping Savabeel was quite the feat. Siring two Group 1 winners in Australia was huge. He might be a little late to the Danehill party but the signs are that he intends to stick around for the champagne and dessert. Maybe an apple and a peppermint.

The recent passing of Show A Heart (Brave Warrior) is a reminder that sire line succession is not guaranteed. Star Kingdom (Stardust) held sway during the late fifties and sixties, scoring five titles. His son Biscay may not have followed suit but his son Bletchingly’s three successive titles (1980, 1981 and 1982) reignited the prospect of a strong continuance. Forty years later, Star Kingdom cannot be found in the top line (tail-male) of any stallion.

Here, in New Zealand, Sir Tristram (Sir Ivor) is the country’s Danehill equivalent, in a sense, matching the Danehill-Redoute’s Choice-Snitzel succession with his own Sir Tristram-Zabeel-Savabeel version. It is going to be interesting to see who is next or whether his sire line continues. Will Pierro (Lonhro) and sons do the job?

See you in September
The breeding season is just around the corner and Highview Stud could not have timed their coup better. Brent and Kurtis Gillovic’s coup was securing Proisir’s younger brother, Divine Prophet (Choisir), taking full advantage of not only Proisir’s break-out season but also the fact that Proisir’s book was full months ago. A hefty yet justified service fee increase to NZ$70,000 (plus GST) did nothing to dissuade breeders.

Highview’s reward, mere weeks before the first covering date, appeared in the form of See You In Heaven (Divine Prophet) and her big win in Saturday’s Behemoth Stakes (Gr 3, 1200m) at Morphettville.

The four-year-old mare was impressive. Never closer than three off the fence she was too strong in the run home to bag her fifth stakes in 12 starts. Saturday’s win was a prelude to what might take place this spring as she has already proved up to Melbourne Group class, having secured the Sandown Guineas (Gr 2, 1600m) last November. Her Melbourne assignment this spring is the Empire Rose Stakes (Gr 1, 1600m).

Divine Prophet’s career is slightly different from his older brother’s. Proisir had the misfortune of running into champion Dundeel (High Chaparral) several times and therefore was denied Group 1 honours. Had Proisir beaten Dundeel it is unlikely that Rich Hill Stud would be standing him. Kudos to agent Michael Otto for seeing the stallion’s potential and making the approach.

Divine Prophet captured the Caulfield Guineas (Gr 1, 1600m), often cited as a stallion-making race. Another difference is that Divine Prophet found himself in Ireland in 2018. From that one season he has sired 12 winners from just 20 runners. Overall, his winners/runners ratio stands at 50 per cent (81 winners from 162 runners) with three southern hemisphere crops and one northern hemisphere crop behind him.

See You In Heaven aside, he has been represented by Skyline Stakes (Gr 2, 1200m) winner Promitto plus Group 3placed metropolitan winners Soothsayer and Fortunate Kiss. There is plenty to build on not to mention that his third Australian crop consists of 111 foals. Odds are that a few of those will make a noise. As it will be 2026-27 before we see his first New Zealand crop to the races, Highview will be hoping so.

A different streak
Waikato Stud and Savabeel may have been gazumped by Proisir (Choisir) for the 2022-23 New Zealand Sire Premiership, halting an eight year run, but the stud owns the New Zealand Champion Broodmare Sire equivalent.

Favourite O’Reilly (Last Tycoon) wrapped up his fourth since 2017, achieving back-to-back titles the last two seasons. What a great advertisement O’Reilly was for the stud. In 2014 O’Reilly won the last of his four New Zealand Champion Sire titles and in the same year his daughters propelled him to second on the Broodmare Sire list.

O’Reilly and barnmate Pins (Snippets) have had a mortgage on the rankings. O’Reilly has been first or second in eight of the last ten seasons. Since 2018 Pins has won the title once (2020), finished second twice and third three times.

To no one’s surprise, Savabeel crept into fourth this past season. When you see the line up of Savabeel, O’Reilly, Pins and former champion sire Centaine (Century) along the bottom line of a pedigree, breathe easier. Your odds of breeding or buying a high quality winner just improved.

We’re nearly there
The lull is almost over. Black-type racing is the industry’s life-blood. Checking the winners and their ancestry is interesting and informative. This coming week, ten such races will be run throughout Australia and New Zealand so the season is about to heat up substantially.

Here in New Zealand it is less than two weeks before the Foxbridge Plate (Gr 2, 1200m) and two more weeks until our season’s first Group 1, the Tarzino Trophy (Gr 1, 1400m).

Finding a New Zealand connection to any of the three winners of Saturday’s stakes was a bit of a challenge but dig deep enough and all will be revealed.

Prior to the running of The Rosebud (Listed, 1200m), Tiz Invincible (I Am Invincible) was fairly rated as the best maiden in the country. At start three she was also the only maiden in the field, yet started favourite.

Although Saturday’s hard-fought win was her first start since early April, the filly’s last-start second in the Percy Sykes Stakes (Gr 2, 1100m) entitled her to be the hardest to beat. A serious shoulder bump when looking to move out and challenge did not put her off and she was brave over the last 100 metres to hold on.

Of course, she is beautifully-bred. By the country’s champion sire from a half-sister to likely Australian Horse of the Year, Anamoe (Street Boss), she was already worth plenty even if she never raced. Nevertheless, she is now a Listed winner and her value just skyrocketed.

The Kiwi connection? She is from the famous “Belle” family, established by James and Annie Sarten in 1939 and maintained so well by their daughter Marie Leicester.

Foaled in 1979, Electric Belle (Sovereign Edition) was a daughter of Dame Belle (Hermes), the sister to Australian Champion Stakes (Gr 1, 2000m) winner Asgard (Sovereign Edition). After her export to Australia Electric Belle is responsible for, not only Anamoe, but also his Group 1 winning dam, Anamato (Redoute’s Choice). Apart from Anamoe, her stand-out descendant is Grand Armee (Hennessy), the $5.3 million earner who was a Randwick specialist, landing five of his seven Group 1s there.

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