The Invincible sireline

8 min read
Invincible Spirit (Ire) has developed a stellar record as both a sire and sire of sires over recent years. It's even more impressive as his success has not been limited to either hemisphere. The Irish National Stud resident shuttled to Chatswood Stud from 2003-2006 and now has seven sons at stud in Australia and New Zealand.

Very often when a stallion becomes revered as an established sire of sires, he receives the credit posthumously. It takes a special horse to have reached that eminence in his own lifetime.

Of the elite few who attain such exalted status, the majority are horses who have had a flying start to their stud careers, retiring at a high fee and receiving strong books of high-class mares right from the outset.

It is particularly to the credit of Invincible Spirit (Ire) (Green Desert {USA}) that he is currently regarded as one of the most respected sires of sires in the world, despite having had to work his way up the stallions’ ladder after starting out on the lower rungs. When he retired to the Irish National Stud in 2003 at a fee of 10,000 euros, most breeders would have regarded him merely as a potential source of commercial ‘cheap speed’.

Now, 16 years later, he commands a fee of 120,000 euros with breeders justifiably hoping that their mares might produce not only black-type winners, but sons and daughters who could leave a long-term mark on the breed.

Invincible Spirit

Late-developing sprinter

Even the commercial breeders who patronised Invincible Spirit at the outset must have had slight misgivings about whether they had chosen the right horse, bearing in mind that, although he had been a Group One-winning sprinter, it had taken Invincible Spirit until he was an autumn five-year-old before establishing that credential (in the G1 Haydock Park Sprint Cup in September 2002).

Precocity seems to be prized by such breeders nearly as highly as speed itself, and Invincible Spirit had been a late-developer. Furthermore, at the time it was not known that his younger three-parts brother Kodiac (GB) (Danehill {USA}) would in time overcome the disadvantage of never having won a black-type race to establish himself as one of the most reliable sires of precocious juvenile sprinters in the world.

"Precocity seems to be prized by such breeders nearly as highly as speed itself, and Invincible Spirit had been a late-developer." - John Berry

As soon as Invincible Spirit began to have runners, however, it was plain that his stock would often be quicker-developing than he himself had been. He supplied the winner of Britain’s first feature two-year-old race of the 2006 season, with Spoof Master taking the Brocklesby S. at the end of March, and the ball has just kept rolling from there.

Invincible Spirit

The following year he showed that he could sire progressive horses, rather than merely precocious ones, when his first-crop three-year-old son Lawman (Fr) took the G1 Prix du Jockey-Club over 2100m and the G1 Prix Jean Prat over 1600m.

Now with a career tally of 32 Group/Grade 1 victories (provided by 18 different horses, three of whom scored at the highest level in 2017) Invincible Spirit is described, not without justification, by the Irish National Stud as “undoubtedly the best producer of Sprinters and Milers in the world!”

A sire of sires

It didn’t take long before it became apparent that Invincible Spirit might be going to make a mark as a sire of sires as well as of racehorses. Lawman’s first crop contained Most Improved (Ire), winner of the G1 St. James’s Palace S. as a three-year-old; while his second crop included the Group 1-winning juvenile Law Enforcement (Ire) as well as G1 Irish 1,000 Guineas and G1 E. P. Taylor S. heroine Just The Judge (Ire). But it was in Australia that Invincible Spirit made his first serious mark in this respect.

"Invincible Spirit is described, not without justification, by the Irish National Stud as “undoubtedly the best producer of Sprinters and Milers in the world!” - John Berry

If he had retired to stud in the current environment, it is doubtful whether Invincible Spirit, starting off as a relatively low-profile stallion prospect, would have shuttled. However, earlier this century there was a more extensive demand for the services of shuttlers, and he spent the southern-hemisphere seasons from 2003 to ’06 inclusive at Chatswood Stud in Victoria.

The diminutive filly Yosei was the star of his antipodean produce, winning three G1 races, but long-term I Am Invincible has proved the true star, graduating from very smart sprinter to outstanding stallion to such an extent that he finished second behind Snitzel in the General Sires’ Table last season and is currently occupying the same position this term.

I Am Invincible

Invincible Spirit’s ongoing success has cemented the (now posthumous) reputation of his own sire Green Desert (USA) (Danzig {USA}) as a formidable influence along the top-line of pedigrees, a reputation which had been formed by the likes of Cape Cross (Ire), Volksraad (GB), Oasis Dream (GB) and Sunline’s sire Desert Sun (Ire).

Now Invincible Spirit’s own reputation as a sire of sires is looking similarly solid, with a few excellent young stallions providing further evidence in Europe to reinforce the impression created by I Am Invincible in Australia.

Europe success

It is early days yet for 2014 Cartier Horse of the Year Kingman (GB), who ranks as arguably the best colt so far sired by Invincible Spirit thanks to his victories in the G1 Irish 2,000 Guineas, G1 St. James’s Palace S., G1 Sussex S. and G1 Prix Jacques le Marois. (Invincible Spirit’s best filly, of course, has been the splendid six-time Group 1 heroine Moonlight Cloud (GB)).

Kingman’s first offspring have only turned three this year, but he is already responsible for G2 Coventry S. winner Calyx (GB), G3 Autumn S. and G3 Prix de Fontainebleau winner Persian King (Ire), Listed winners Look Around (GB), Sangarius (GB) and Poetry (GB) and several very promising maiden winners including last week’s Newmarket winner Clerisy (GB). He is shaping up very much like a star stallion of the future.

Charm Spirit (Ire), successful in 2014 in the G1 Prix Jean Prat, the G1 Prix du Moulin de Longchamp and the G1 Queen Elizabeth II S., is also a very promising second-season sire. Last season he was represented by G3 Dick Poole Fillies S. winner Yourtimeisnow (GB) while last week he hit the target at Newmarket with Feilden S. winner Kick On (GB). He has been splitting his time in Europe between Tweenhills in England and Haras de Bonneval in France and has been shuttling to Windsor Park Stud in New Zealand, where his current first-crop juveniles include G2 Matamata Breeders’ S. victrix Aretha (NZ).

Already established as reliable sources of plentiful winners are 2012 G1 July Cup winner Mayson (GB), 2012 G1 Irish Derby runner-up Born To Sea (Ire) and the talented sprinter Swiss Spirit (GB); while 2013 G1 Dewhurst S. runner-up Cable Bay (Ire) has made a promising start to his career, sitting at the head of the GB & Ire first-season sires’ table at this very early stage of the season. This is good news for Woodside Stud in Victoria, whither Cable Bay shuttles from Highclere Stud in England.

Australian sons

It is thus understandable that several Australian studs are adding sons of Invincible Spirit to their rosters, hoping that these stallions can follow in the footsteps of I Am Invincible into the upper reaches of the General Sires’ Table.

Most recently, Sun Stud has announced that 2016 G1 Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere winner National Defense (GB), whom the stud raced, will shuttle from the Irish National Stud to its property in Victoria next season.

Other sons of Invincible Spirit available this year to Australian breeders include 2015 G1 Prix Jean Prat winner and G1 2,000 Guineas runner-up Territories (Ire) who is a Darley shuttler and whose first Southern Hemisphere progeny are currently foals. Arrowfield stands 2015 G1 Prix Morny and G1 Middle Park S. winner Shalaa (Ire) in his Southern Hemisphere seasons, the imposing bay horse holding court at Haras de Bouquetot in France during the first half of the year.

Gallery: Sons of Invincible Spirit standing at stud in Australia and New Zealand

Zebedee sired plenty of winners in Europe when he was based alongside Kodiac at Tally Ho Stud in Ireland. The best of them was Ivawood (Ire) who won the G2 July S. at Newmarket and the G2 Richmond S. at Goodwood as a two-year-old in 2010 and was placed in the G1 Middle Park S., the G1 2,000 Guineas and the G1 Irish 2,000 Guineas and who now stands on the Coolmore roster. Magical Memory (Ire), winner of the 2016 G2 Duke Of York S. and the 2017 G3 Hackwood S., was another very fast horse produced by Zebedee in Europe.

The imposing grey horse is now a valuable member of the roster at Cornerstone Stud in South Australia.

It is going to be interesting to follow the progress of Invincible Spirit’s career during the next few years, with the certainties seeming to be that his list of top-class offspring will continue to grow and that his reputation as a sire of sires will continue to solidify.