Looking at the blue chicks making the transition to blue hens
Words: Cassie Tully • Photos: Aga Khan Studs / Caroline Norris
Aremarkable thing about diamonds is that although there are trillions of carats of them around the world, they can come in endless different cuts, sizes, weights and values and still be a precious commodity to each individual possessor.
One of the rarest, officially priceless and largest cut diamond in the world however is the Koh-I-Noor, part of the crown jewels of the United Kingdom and set into the crown of the Queen Mother. And when considering comparables within broodmare terms, ‘blue hen’ is the label prescribed.
Hasili, Urban Sea, You’resothrilling and Polished Gem are the rarest of diamonds and trying to unearth the next is much like trying to sift through the gravel-clay pits in India for the next Koh-I-Noor.
Okay, minor exaggeration, but the concept does draw our attention to certain budding blue chicks. And several that have been in the limelight this year in particular spark an interest in what their future plans are in pursuit of that extraordinary accolade. Let’s delve.
While agreed that finding the next Urban Sea would be more of a fantasy than a feasible goal, it could also be agreed that a Pivotal mare might be a reasonable place to start. Maybe one that was a dual Group 1-winning champion who not only beat Goldikova in the Prix Jacques le Marois, but also placed third behind Frankel and Excelebration in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes.
Maybe also throw in that she is out of a Sadler’s Wells, a stakes-winning half-sister to champion sprinter and Group 1 sire Last Tycoon, as well as group winners Astronef and The Perfect Life, and the grand dam of Beauty Is Truth (Group 2-winning producer of star fillies Hermosa and Hydrangea).
Well, that exact recipe goes by the name of Immortal Verse and she has begun to match expectations that came along with her price tag of 4.7million guineas in foal to Dansili on her first cover back in 2013. She produced a pair of winners to War Front on her next two matings but it was the following two engagements with two different sons of Scat Daddy that struck gold.
Through a visit to the dual Group 1-winning sprinter Caravaggio in his first year at stud, the Group 1 Cheveley Park Stakes winner and joint European champion 2YO filly of last year Tenebrism was born. Tenebrism, like her dam did on several occasions, also toughed it out against the boys when winning the Group 1 Prix Jean Prat this year beating the likes of French 2000 Guineas winner Modern Games in the process.
Immortal Verse was next sent to Triple Crown winner and now leading first-season sire in North America, Justify, and that rendezvous gave life to the first of two European group winners for him – Statuette. Also trained by Aidan O’Brien, the towering chestnut won her maiden on debut at Navan by three lengths before taking the Group 2 Airlie Stud Stakes on her latest outing. So, what’s to come? This Coolmore Partners and Merriebelle Stables-owned mare shipped to Ireland to visit Wootton Bassett in 2021, which resulted in a colt foal. She returned to him again this year and is now journeying back to the States to repeat the already successful Justify mating in 2023.
Although she has been under the microscope countless times this year, it would be criminal not to mention the young dam of two Group 1 winners, one of whom happens to be one of the world’s best racehorses, Baaeed.
Aghareed - a fourth-generation descendant of the 1981 champion 2YO and foundation mare for Sheikh Hamdan, Height Of Fashion - is a French stakes winner by Kingmambo out of the Singspiel mare Lahudood who won the same listed race in France as her daughter before shipping to America and claiming champion turf female status by winning Group 1s, the Flower Bowl Stakes and Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf.
In her eight foals, Aghareed has visited seven different stallions. Three of those foals have run and three have won. Her quest for greatness began with Dubawi, Dansili and Frankel, but it was her fourth mating, to Sea The Stars, that would etch this pedigree into the constellation. That appointment produced this year’s Group 1 Coronation Cup winner Hukum and inspired a repeat visit to Sea The Stars to produce the six-time Group 1-winning champion that we now know as Baaeed.
Kingmambo is a noted broodmare sire influence with 27 individual Group 1 winners in that role, and Sea The Stars doesn’t need any introductions as a sire. BUT, the cross of Sea The Stars over a Kingmambo mare has yielded 20 individual runners and all have won. Eight of those are stakes winners (a huge 40%) and four have won at the highest level. In other words, of Sea The Stars’ 19 top-level winners, four are out of Kingmambo mares.
After Baaeed, Aghareed visited Intello, which yielded a now 3YO filly called Zaghareed who is retained by Shadwell and will be covered next year. The 2YO of this year is a colt by Nathaniel who is in training with William Haggas. (Galileo over Kingmambo has produced two Group 1-winning and -producing sires in Ulysses and Ruler Of The World). She also has a yearling by Night Of Thunder and was barren this year but is back in foal and carrying a full sibling to Baaeed and Hukum. Aghareed’s sole daughter of breeding age, Al Raahba (by Frankel) has a yearling filly by Ribchester, a colt foal by Awtaad and now also visited Sea The Stars this year. Further pedigree explosion pending? Watch this space.
In terms of purchasing one of those rare gemstones on a more reasonable budget compared to the bottomless pockets required for the likes of Immortal Verse, Suelita is the dream. The Dutch Art mare was initially bought at Tattersalls October Book 3 for 3,200 guineas by Bozzi Bloodstock and after running 33 times in Italy, winning on four of those occasions and placing 14 times, she was reoffered at the Tattersalls December Mare Sales in 2013 and purchased by Chris Harper of Whitsbury Manor Stud for 21,500 guineas.
Suelita was the first of only three foals out of her unraced dam Venoge. Her half-brother by Acclamation placed in the Group 3 Cornwallis Stakes and the other sibling, a filly by Cadeaux Genereux, bred Group 2 Lowther Stakes winner Living The Dream since Harper’s purchase. Venoge is out of a group-winning half-sister to the tough stayer Opinion Poll and it is the family of Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II Stakes winner Markofdistinction.
Statuette, seen here winning the Group 2 Airlies Stud Stakes, promises to add to Immortal Verse’s lustrous CV as a broodmare in 2023 (CN)
Fast forward to the present day and Suelita has produced six winners from as many runners, five black-type performers and one of the most exciting prospects for the Classics next year. Sent to Cityscape, who stood for £5,000 in his first year at stud, on her first mating, Suelita gave life to Listed Committed Stakes winner The Broghie Man. She then visited another first-season sire in Mukhadram (£7,000) and produced stakes-placed Gloves Lynch. The winning filly Praised (Pivotal) followed, and until this season, Suelita’s fourth foal, the Group 2 Mill Reef Stakes winner Alkumait (Showcasing) was her best and was followed by a full-sister that placed in two stakes races in Britain this season.
Through a well-earned mating with Frankel, Suelita has now added this year’s extremely exciting Group 1 Dewhurst, Group 2 Champagne and Group 3 Acomb Stakes winner Chaldean to that admirable record. Whitsbury Manor sent the May 20 born foal to the Tattersalls December Sale where Juddmonte purchased him for 550,000 guineas in 2020. The fairytale is set to continue as Suelita is still only 13, has a Kingman filly foal and is back in foal to Showcasing carrying a full sibling to Alkumait. Frankel is the confirmed plan for her 2023 mating.
Valiant, versatile, venerable - Timeform’s highest-rated three-year-old and champion three-year-old of 2022, Vadeni. This esteemed ‘V’ family joined the Aga Khan Studs banner in 2005 when all 222 horses from Jean-Luc Lagardère’s bloodstock operation (who also began all names in a family with the same letter) were acquired by the Aga Khan after the former’s death.
Vadawina was an unraced 3YO when that notable transaction took place and just two months later, won the Group 1 Prix Saint-Alary on her third start before a career-ending injury in the French Oaks. Her half-sister Vazira won the same Group 1 but Vadawina went on to produce five black-type performers including Group 2 Prix du Conseil de Paris winner Vadamar (Dalakhani) and Group 3 Tyros Stakes winner and Group 1 Racing Post Trophy-placed The Pentagon (Galileo).
Vadawina’s third foal was Vaderana. By Monsun, who is now the broodmare sire of 16 individual top-level winners, Vaderana won a race on fifth asking at Le Mans before settling into her second career, which has so far resulted in five winners from five runners, all by different sires and including two stakes performers by Footstepsinthesand and Makfi.
It was a mating to first-season sire Churchill in 2018 that produced Vadeni. The Prix du Jockey Club and Coral-Eclipse winner and impressive Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe runner-up is also bred on a very similar cross to 2019’s Arc winner Waldgeist.
Vaderana has since visited Camelot, the result of which is Vazirpour, a 2YO colt in training with Vadeni’s handler Jean-Claude Rouget. She has a colt foal by Too Darn Hot (a similar cross to Group 1 winners Wild Illusion and Yibir) and she visited Sea The Stars in 2022 (the same cross as Group 1 sire Sea The Moon).
A singular black-type update in any given year is the stuff of dreams for most people and pedigrees. Modern Ideals however, transcended all typical aspirations and ensured her name would be remembered with not only a Classic winner this season, but also a Group 2-winning 2YO who also Group 1-placed, and a stakes-winning 4YO - all by completely different sire lines.
The 12-year-old daughter of New Approach, who ran twice in France at three and four, is a half-sister to G1 Prix Jean-Luc Lagardère victor and sire Ultra. Their grand dam, the Mr Prospector Italian champion sprinter Proskona, is a half-sister to Keos, the German champion sprinter of 1999, and the group-winning dam of 1000 Guineas winner Bosra Sham and dual G1 winner Hector Protector.
We did take note last November when her then Dubawi 2YO, Modern Games, won the Group 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf after a 2½ length victory in the Group 3 Summerville Stakes. But he followed up this year winning the stallion-making French Guineas on his seasonal debut, placing third behind Vadeni in the Prix du Jockey Club, second behind Baaeed in the Sussex Stakes, winning the Group 1 Woodbine Mile, and finally cherry-topping the season by winning the Breeders’ Cup Mile over ten other G1 winners.
Modern Games’ elder brother by Shamardal, Modern News stormed the Listed Royal Windsor Stakes by over four lengths and also placed in two Grade 3 events, while their 2YO half-sister by Exceed And Excel, Mawj did not finish outside the first four in five starts, including winning the Group 2 Duchess of Cambridge Stakes and placing third in the Group 1 Cheveley Park Stakes.
Modern Ideals has a yearling filly by Mastercraftsman, a colt foal by Ribchester and the Classic-producing rendezvous was repeated when she returned to Dubawi this year. Modern Ideals and model yields!
Moral of the story? Diamonds may be a girl’s best friend, but a blue chick might just grow into a blue hen.