Danehill-line alive & well in Hong Kong

4 min read
Each Tuesday TDN AusNZ will place the spotlight on the Hong Kong racing industry, with insights on bloodstock, pedigrees and sires who are performing particularly well. In the first edition, Alan Carasso discusses the top sirelines from last season.

No stallion has left a more indelible mark on Hong Kong racing down the years than the legendary Danehill. And although this past May marked the 15-year anniversary of his passing at the relatively young age of 17, his local legacy burns on through his stallion sons, including those who arrive in the Southern Hemisphere on the July shuttle and others based in Australia and across the Tasman in New Zealand.

Exceeding with Stunning

Darley homebred Exceed and Excel (ex Patrona {USA}, by Lomond) ended the 2017-2018 racing season as the leading Hong Kong stallion by earnings and was one of four sires to be represented by 10 or more winners.

Exceed and Excel at Darley

Flying the flag for Exceed and Excel was the outstanding Mr Stunning, the $110,000 topper at Inglis’s Great Southern Sale in 2013 who was purchased to race in Hong Kong after hammering for $250,000 at the 2014 NZB Premier Yearling Sale. His successful 5-year-old campaign, including a hard-fought score in the G1 Longines Hong Kong Sprint (1200m), propelled Exceed and Excel to earnings in excess of HK$38.1 million (A$6.7 million).

Spectacularly, Mr Stunning has been transferred from John Size to his former protege Frankie Lor, who made a tremendous splash on the scene in 2017-18, with 65 wins in his first year out on his own.

Mr Stunning and DB Pin

The Oaks Stud’s Darci Brahma (NZ) (ex Grand Echezeaux {NZ}, by Zabeel {NZ}) finished 21st on the sires’ table in 2016-2017, but was all the way up into fourth in the most recent standings owing to the sensational year put together by Mr Stunning’s then-stable companion D B Pin (NZ). Runner-up in the Hong Kong Sprint by a narrow margin and at rough odds, he turned the tables for a maiden Group 1 tally in the Centenary Sprint Cup the following month.

Size had D B Pin penciled in for a start on the dirt in the G1 Dubai Golden Shaheen in March, but was forced to pull the ‘pin’ on those plans. Even without Mr Stunning in the yard, Size figures to have a big year with sprinters like D B Pin and a gaggle of others. More about the upcoming season will follow in a future column.

Fastnet at the top

Coolmore and Arrowfield teamed to bring Danehill to Australia, where he led the stallion ranks on eight occasions. His Coolmore-based son Fastnet Rock (ex Picadilly Circus, by Royal Academy {USA}) has been a top-six stallion in Hong Kong in each of the last three racing seasons, including a third-place finish last term.

Whereas often times a single productive runner can skew results, Fastnet Rock has been a reliable source of winners and was the leader in that particular category with 16. The sire of the earners of HK$29.5 million in 2017-2018, his son California Fortune (Aus) was a three-time winner on the season, while the high-profile and largely underachieving Rivet (Ire) closed out the campaign with a runner-up effort that would have given trainer John Moore at least a little something to look forward to for 2018-19.

Fastnet Rock has been a top-six stallion in Hong Kong in each of the last three racing seasons.

Two-time leading sire Holy Roman Emperor (Ire) (ex L’On Vite, by Secretariat) has tailed off some over the last few years with the retirement of the likes of former Horse of the Year Designs On Rome (Ire) and Rich Tapestry (Ire), but Beauty Only (Ire) remained a solid runner during the first half of his 7-year-old season and appears to have lost little of his zest for racing.

Beauty Only

Grandsons stepping up

Danehill’s paternal grandsons Mastercraftsman (Ire) (Danehill Dancer {Ire}) and Not a Single Doubt (Aus) (Redoute’s Choice) filled eighth and ninth spots, respectively. The former is the sire of the hulking fan favourite Pingwu Spark (NZ), who won four times in Class 2, was runner-up in Class 1 and was third in the G2 Chairman’s Trophy.

Not A Single Doubt’s son Southern Legend defeated Pingwu Spark in the aforementioned Class 1 and added a third to HOTY Beauty Generation (NZ) (Road to Rock {Aus}) in the G1 Champions Mile ahead of a front-running success in the Kranji Mile in May.

The late Hinchinbrook (Aus) (Fastnet Rock) was represented in 2017-18 by the Size-trained Beat the Clock (Aus) and that galloper could be a force to be reckoned with yet again in the upcoming season.