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Par Martin Stevens - Bloodstock News - 17 December 2021

Good Morning Bloodstock

This year’s article encompasses 21 lightly raced two-year-olds who were awarded Racing Post Ratings between 92 and 104 in 2021, up to mid-November, with four sires fielding more than one representative on the list – Almanzor (pictured below), Churchill, Dubawi and Kingman.

I must admit that Almanzor’s presence among that exalted company surprised me a little, as the general impression I had of his freshman record was that it was, at best, solid rather than spectacular.

Indeed, on the surface of it, his seven winners from 33 runners (21 per cent) and absence of any stakes scorers in Europe is a little underwhelming for a brilliant three-year-old champion who was a stakes winner at two, and subsequently covered his first book of mares at Haras d’Etreham at a lofty fee of €35,000.

However, after closer inspection of Almanzor’s performance prompted by those two particularly highly rated juveniles, Dissociate and Filistine, I rediscovered several other unexposed youngsters by the sire who hold plenty of promise and I've consequently upgraded my opinion of him.

Dissociate, bred by Tally-Ho Stud out of a middle-distance placed Makfi half-sister to US Grade 3 winner Observational, was sent out by Paddy Twomey to win a seven-furlong Curragh maiden in late October by three and a half lengths from Toy, the Galileo full-sister to Classic winners Gleneagles, Joan Of Arc and Marvellous, for an RPR of 92.

Filistine, meanwhile, was bred by Etreham and Gestüt Zur Küste out of a nine furlong-winning Lawman mare and was transformed by Longways Stables from a €30,000 yearling into a £120,000 Arqana breezer. Trained by John and Thady Gosden, he beat future winner Silent Speech to take a seven-furlong Newmarket novice stakes three days after Dissociate’s victory, with the pair pulling six lengths clear of the third. That effort earned him an RPR of 93.

There is also the Carlos Lerner-trained Queen Trezy, a distant relation to Dissociate who cost €125,000 as a yearling and looks another filly to follow next year after winning a mile conditions race at Lyon-Parilly in September and running second, after a tardy start, in the Prix des Reservoirs in mid-October. 


Fabrice Chappet’s Saving Grace, out of Prix de Diane fourth Desiree Clary, has a similar profile to Queen Trezy as she won a seven-furlong conditions race at Vichy in September before finishing runner-up in the Prix Isonomy one day after that filly's stakes placing.


Among the other autumnal blooms for Almanzor were Abbado, a Cheveley Park Stud homebred out of Prix Royal-Oak winner Allegretto who won over ten furlongs at Chester and Chelmsford for Sir Mark Prescott in September; and Franz, a half-brother to Newmarket Stakes winner UAE Jewel and smart handicapper Nugget who scored on debut in a mile Haydock novice stakes for Kevin Ryan in mid-October.

Another with abundant untapped potential is Unanimous Consent, a 150,000gns Tattersalls October Book 1 purchase who scored impressively on his sole start for Chad Brown and Klaravich Stables over a mile at Monmouth Park in September.

Almanzor has a fair chance of adding to his tally today with two horses who finished third on their last starts. The Joseph O’Brien-trained Almanera contests a seven-furlong maiden at Dundalk at 4.30 and Sir Mark Prescott’s Snap Ambush runs in the mile fillies’ maiden at Kempton at 5.15. Snap Ambush faces the sire’s seasonally named filly Follow That Star, out of Sea The Stars’ ten furlong-winning daughter Queen Of The Stars, who makes her debut for Andrew Balding in the same race.

A good reason for giving Almanzor more time to show what he can do as a sire is the profiles of many of the dams of his first-crop runners mentioned above. He appears to have covered a good number of more classically bred and slower maturing mares, or producers of those sorts of horses, as befitting his status as a blue-chip middle-distance performer standing at a higher fee.

The market certainly didn’t lose its appetite for the sire’s produce, with the average and median prices for his second crop of yearlings of 94,568gns and 72,500gns only slightly down on last year’s figures of 96,000gns and 75,000gns. They were headed by the half-brother to Palace Pier sold to Godolphin for 425,000gns and the half-sister to Poetic Dream knocked down to Amanda Skiffington for €450,000.

It will be fascinating to follow the progress of Almanzor’s three-year-olds. If his progeny improve as much as they are entitled to on pedigree and juvenile promise, the best should be yet to come. Either way, his record will be less open to debate this time next year.

Good Morning Bloodstock will be back in January after a short break. Like Covid, it's not going away and is something we will all have to learn to live with. 


In the meantime, keep an eye on the Racing Post’s bloodstock pages in the paper and online, where among the festive features will be my annual awards for the movers and shakers on the breeding scene and my pick of the best value sires in Britain and Ireland.


I wish all readers an enjoyable Christmas and a happy and prosperous New Year.


Martin Stevens - Bloodstock News