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Andrew Caulfield: Ribchester

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Ribchester | Racing Post

By Andrew Caulfield

The ripple effect, which has been defined as “a spreading, pervasive, and usually unintentional effect or influence,” is a force which sometimes comes into play in the Thoroughbred industry. It often manifests itself when a young stallion fails to maintain his popularity in his second, third or fourth seasons.

Of course, no stallion owner intentionally allows this to happen. But not even the most powerful of stallion stations are immune to this phenomenon, whose repercussions can be profound and long-lasting.

I was reminded of this by a couple of Saturday’s top winners. That fine filly I’m A Chatterbox dominated the GI Cotillion S. to push her earnings past the $1.3-million mark. Together with her fellow graded winners Om and No Problem, I’m A Chatterbox has helped prove that her young sire Munnings has considerable potential. However, I fear that this modestly-priced son of Speightstown will find it difficult to enjoy consistent success.

The Jockey Club’s statistics reveal that he started out with a book of 142 mares (for 109 reported live foals) in 2011. By 2012 the figures read 91 mares, for 54 foals, and then it was 82 mares in 2013, for 51 foals. As sometimes happens in these cases, some good prices for the stallion’s first-crop yearlings, or some early 2-year-old winners, can create renewed interest. In Munnings’ case, his first-crop yearlings averaged nearly $44,000, off a $12,500 fee, and he rallied a little, with 94 mares in 2014 for 62 live foals.

No doubt last year’s late surge by Munnings’ first 2-year-olds will have further revived interest in him during the 2015 breeding season and next year will surely be no problem. However, it may well be 2019 before Munnings enjoys another wave of smart 3-year-old performers. Therefore some good winners will need to emerge from his smaller crops during 2016, ’17 and ’18 to prevent further ebbs and flows from developing.

Another stallion who struggled to maintain initial interest was Darley’s Iffraaj, who appears to have a good prospect in Ribchester, winner of the G2 Mill Reef S. on only his third appearance. As the TDN report revealed, trainer Richard Fahey has hopes that Ribchester could be his G1 2000 Guineas horse, describing him as “a big baby with a big frame” who “will get better with time.”

Iffraaj began his stallion career with a crop of 111 foals, sired at a fee of €12,000. The fee stayed the same in his second year, but his output dropped to 91 foals, forcing a reduction in his fee to €8,000 in that notoriously difficult third season. This cut in fee didn’t have the desired effect, with this third crop numbering only 67 foals, so Iffraaj was priced at only €6,000 in his fourth year.

Iffraaj immediately set about remedying the situation and had five winners to his credit by early June. Consequently, interest in this handsome son of Zafonic quickly revived, to the extent that his fourth crop numbered 105 foals. Iffraaj ensured that the revival continued, ending 2010 with more 2-year-old winners– 40–than any other stallion in Britain and Ireland. He also earned enough to finish third among the juvenile sires by prize-money, with only Galileo and Invincible Spirit above him.

The best of Iffraaj’s representatives was Wootton Bassett, whose unbeaten sequence featured two very valuable prizes in England, plus the G1 Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere in France. His daughter Espirita also became a 2-year-old group winner in France.

Of course success tends to breed further success a few years further down the line. The interest engendered by Iffraaj’s impressive start to the 2010 season helped his fourth crop scale unexpected heights. This 2011 crop produced three 2-year-old group winners in Chriselliam, Hot Streak and Rizeena. The first to shine was Rizeena, with her victory in Royal Ascot’s G2 Queen Mary S., and she trained on very well, adding the G1 Moyglare Stud S. later in 2013 (and the G1 Coronation S. at three). Chriselliam was similarly talented, as she proved by following up her Group 1 success in the Fillies’ Mile with another in the GI Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf. Sadly, Chriselliam didn’t live to race at three.

As if to prove that the Thoroughbred industry is never totally predictable, Iffraaj’s 2012 crop–the one he sired at an increased fee of €15,000 following his freshman sires’ championship–has so far failed to add to his tally of group winners. Ribchester is a member of his 2013 crop, sired after his fee fell back to €10,000 following a comparatively disappointing 2011.

I feel sure, though, that the success-breeds-success theory will prove accurate with Iffraaj’s 2015 crop, as his triumphs with the likes of Chriselliam, Rizeena and Hot Streak earned him a book of around 160 mares and an increase in fee to €25,000. Before then, though, there may be another blip: Iffraaj struggled for support in 2013, following a second comparatively quiet year in 2012 (when he had only 67 two-year-olds). This time he covered 69 mares, for around 50 foals, which is another illustration of the cyclical nature of the breeding game.

His 2013 crop is beginning to clock up an encouraging total of juvenile winners. Besides Ribchester, he has enjoyed a flurry of recent success with Doubly Motivated (an eight-length winner at Lingfield), Fourth Way, Renfrew Street and Nathra. The one which interests me is the filly Nathra. Having made a winning debut at Salisbury earlier this month, Nathra took on three other previous winners at Newbury and romped home seven lengths clear, in the style of a future stakes winner.

Nathra also has an interesting pedigree, in that she is out of a daughter of Danehill. Iffraaj also covered some Danehill mares while on Southern Hemisphere duty in New Zealand. This nick now has 17 foals of racing age, of which 12 have run and nine have won. Among them are the previously-mentioned Group 1 winner Chriselliam, Turn Me Loose (New Zealand 2000 Guineas), Fix (a three-time Group 2 winner in New Zealand), Latharnach (second to Gleneagles in the G1 St James’s Palace S.) and now Nathra.

To get back to Ribchester, he is out of the very well-connected Shadwell-bred Mujarah. This daughter of Marju was understandably considered surplus to Shadwell’s requirement, having given little sign of any ability. It took only 18,000gns to buy her at Tattersalls’ 2011 December Sales, even though her female line could hardly have been better. Her fourth dam is the blue hen Fall Aspen. Her third dam is Elle Seule, dam of the G1 July Cup winner Elnadim and ancestress of further G1 winners in Occupandiste and Intello. Mujarah’s second dam is the G1 Irish 1000 Guineas winner Mehthaaf and her dam Tanaghum is a talented daughter of the highly-prized Darshaan.

Mujarah is the second of Tanaghum’s daughters to have produced a group winner and another of her daughters–the Teofilo filly Yaazy–became a Listed winner last week.

Iffraaj, too, has a notable female line, as his second dam is Park Appeal, the champion 2-year-old filly of 1984. Park Appeal is now arguably better known as the dam of Cape Cross, sire of the excellent Derby winners Sea The Stars and Golden Horn and broodmare sire of another, in Galileo’s son Australia.

With bloodlines of this consistent excellence, Ribchester may well have what it takes to develop into a classic contender.

Saturday, Newbury, Britain
DUBAI DUTY FREE MILL REEF S.-G2, £75,000, NBY, 9-19, 2yo, 6f 8yT, 1:14.39, sf.
1–#@RIBCHESTER (IRE), 127, c, 2, by Iffraaj (GB)
1st Dam: Mujarah (Ire), by Marju (Ire)
2nd Dam: Tanaghum (GB), by Darshaan (GB)
3rd Dam: Mehthaaf, by Nureyev
(€78,000 Wlg ‘13 GOFNOV; €105,000 Ylg ‘14
GOFORB). O-Godolphin; B-A Thompson & M O’Brien
(IRE); T-Richard Fahey; J-James Doyle. £42,532.
Lifetime Record: 3-1-2-0, $141,762. Werk Nick
Rating: A. Click for the eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree.
Click for the Racing Post result, the brisnet.com PPs
or the free Equineline.com catalogue-style pedigree.
Video, sponsored by Fasig-Tipton.

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