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Scarborough's special siblings starring on the track and in the barn

10 min read
As St Mark's Basilica (Fr) (Siyouni {Fr}) continues to build on his remarkable race record in the Northern Hemisphere, on the other side of the world his half-brother Magna Grecia (Ire) is marking milestones of his own, with the arrival of his first crop of foals from his Coolmore Australia base.

The racetrack deeds of both Magna Grecia and St Mark's Basilica are proving to be two of Australian breeder Bob Scarborough's finest achievements, with their dam, Cabaret (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}) establishing her credentials as the most elite and rare of blue hens.

Purchased by Scarborough through BBA Ireland’s Adrian Nicoll at the Tattersalls December Mares’ Sale in 2011 for 600,000 gns (AU$1.19 million), Cabaret, a Group 3 winner on the track, took until her fifth foal to produce an elite racehorse.

Cabaret (Ire) | Image courtesy of Hazelwood Bloodstock

The Invincible Spirit (Ire) colt secured a price of 360,000 gns (AU$714,420) through the 2016 Tattersalls December Foal Sale. Purchased by M.V. Magnier, Mayfair Speculators and Peter and Ross Doyle, he would be named Magna Grecia and, like his dam, would join the Ballydoyle Stables of Aidan O'Brien.

Less than two years later, he would win the G1 Doncaster Futurity S. and he followed that up with a career-defining success in the G1 2000 Guineas the following May. The authoritative victory confirmed his future as a dual hemisphere Coolmore stallion. It was the final racetrack success of his six-start career.

That same year, his half-brother by Siyouni (Fr) came up through the draft of Norelands Stud at the 2019 Tattersalls October Yearling Sale. It was no surprise to see M.V. Magnier again win the day in the ring, purchasing him for 1.3 million guineas (AU$2.58 million).

Hopes were obviously high for the colt named St Mark's Basilica, but not even the phenomenally successful Magnier family could have predicted what the colt was going to do on the racetrack under O'Brien's expert eye.

Like his half-brother, he was a Group 1 winner at two, winning the G1 Dewhurst S., but he would plot a slightly different path in his 3-year-old campaign resuming with a victory in the G1 Poule d'Essai des Poulains at Longchamp before claiming the G1 Prix du Jockey Club at Chantilly.

St Mark's Basilica has entered rare territory with his most recent two wins against the older horses, thrashing Addeybb (Ire) (Pivotal {GB}) in the G1 Coral Eclipse, and then, last Saturday, prevailing in an epic renewal of the G1 Irish Champion S.

"He's just an exceptional horse," O'Brien said after the race. "We're so lucky to have him, and it's to keep him safe now and have him to go off to stud, which is going to be very exciting for us all.

"He has all the Galileo-strong qualities, in that he is genuine and his head goes down when you ask him to lengthen. And then he is getting the speed from Siyouni, who is by Pivotal, so he is a beautiful blend of speed and determination."

"He (St Mark's Basilica) has all the Galileo-strong qualities, in that he is genuine and his head goes down when you ask him to lengthen." - Aidan O'Brien

Whether that it his final run, or there is still a chapter to be written in his racetrack story is yet to be seen, but his destiny seems to be to occupy the same stallion barns as his half-brother, in Ireland, and likely at Jerrys Plains in the Hunter Valley as well.

Two Cabaret stars

Magna Grecia's dual Group 1 winner from a proven, successful sireline in Australia, didn't need St Mark's Basilica to be an out-and-out champion to prove his own stallion credentials, but his half-brother's emergence as a champion through this year certainly can't hurt.

Magna Grecia (Ire) | Standing at Coolmore

Now embarking on his second season at Coolmore Australia, having served a book of 122 in his first season, there is a sense of good timing about what his half-brother has been able to do through his 3-year-old campaign.

"Magna Grecia is the only son of Invincible Spirit to win Group 1s at both two and three years – a 2000 Guineas winner out of a Galileo mare just like exciting young sire Night Of Thunder – and an outstanding physical specimen," Coolmore Australia's Stud Manager John Kennedy told TDN AusNZ.

"St Mark’s Basilica is thought to be one of the best horses to go through Ballydoyle in many years, and his five straight Group 1 victories have certainly served to strengthen the already impeccable credentials of Magna Grecia as a stallion prospect."

"His (St Mark's Basilica) five straight Group 1 victories have certainly served to strengthen the already impeccable credentials of Magna Grecia as a stallion prospect." - John Kennedy

The greatest advertisement for a young stallion is often not a burgeoning pedigree page, but what they can produce with their early crops, and with Magna Grecia's foals arriving across Australia over the past six weeks, strong first impressions are being made.

Evergreen impressions

At the Bott family's Evergreen Stud Farm, a Magna Grecia filly out of Slippery Satin (Benicio), arrived on August 27, and early signs are very positive.

"We are very happy with her. She's a nice, leggy, attractive filly, who has got a lovely head on her. She's got good strength, moves well, with a good action. We are looking forward to seeing her turn into a lovely horse," Aaron Bott said.

Slippery Satin, the half-sister to Group 1 winner Great Shot (Magnus) and stakes winner Gawne (Flying Spur), has produced three winners already.

Magna Grecia (Ire) x Slippery Satin (filly) | Image courtesy of Coolmore

Bott said the decision to send her to the son of Invincible Spirit was made on the basis of the usual criteria of the stallion's pedigree, type and race performance.

"His race record and race performance is very strong, and type is such a big thing here in Australia. That sireline is proven here in Australia as well," he said.

"We sent a couple of other mares to him last year. We have got a couple more to foal yet and we are looking forward to seeing the others. He's a gorgeous horse himself and he looks as though he is stamping them."

"He (Magna Grecia) is a gorgeous horse himself and he looks as though he is stamping them." - Aaron Bott

Bott indicated Evergreen would be sending mares back to the Coolmore stallion this year, perhaps the best endorsement of the first impressions the filly has made.

Fairhill filly standing out

Mike and Debbie O'Donnell of Fairhill Farm welcomed a Magna Grecia filly out of High Specs (High Chapparal {Ire}) on August 9 and have been suitably impressed by her early development.

"She has got a lot of quality. She's a very nice and tidy filly," Mike O'Donnell said. "There is no doubt Magna Grecia is stamping them, and there is a bit of High Chapparal influence there with her too."

Magna Grecia (Ire) x High Specs (filly) | Image courtesy of Coolmore

Fairhill Farm purchased High Specs, who is out of stakes-winning Flying Spur mare Creative Plan, for $50,000 through this year's Inglis Australian Broodmare Sale, in foal to Magna Grecia.

She may be the only mare on Fairhill to foal to the stallion this season, but the impression her filly has made will likely see him as part of their breeding plans moving forward.

"It certainly influences a person's thinking when you get a nice filly like that and see some of the photos that others are putting out. He seems well worth a try," O'Donnell said.

"It certainly influences a person's thinking when you get a nice filly like that and see some of the photos that others are putting out." - Mike O'Donnell

"When you consider what his family is doing currently, he's got that very good half-brother in the Northern Hemisphere, it augurs well for him."

On the home front

At Coolmore's Jerrys Plains property, the first Magna Grecia foal to arrive was a colt out of Sucker Punch (Encosta De Lago) on August 10. Two days later, another colt out of Cat's Wish (Rock Of Gibraltar {Ire}) was foaled.

"Both of them are standouts in their respective paddocks," Kennedy said.

"Each of them have continued to please us in their progression, with both of them possessing many of the same qualities of their sire. The Sucker Punch colt is a proper foal, with great scope and a wonderful rich colour. He is a real ‘head turner’. The Cat's Wish colt is a strong and powerful-looking foal, and he looks fast. We couldn’t be happier with him."

Both colts are out of families with strong Australian pedigrees. Cat's Wish is out of Mighty One (Giant's Causeway {USA}), the half-sister to the dam of G1 Blue Diamond S. winner Catchy (Fastnet Rock).

"The Cat's Wish colt is a strong and powerful-looking foal, and he looks fast. We couldn’t be happier with him." - John Kennedy

Sucker Punch is out of G1 Golden Slipper S. winner Merlene (Danehill {USA}), which is the family of G1 VRC Oaks winner Dear Demi (Dehere {USA}), as well as fellow Group 1 winners Miss Pennymoney (Brocco {USA}) and Capitalist.

Feedback Coolmore has sourced from those breeders who supported Magna Grecia in his first season has been overwhelmingly positive.

"Magna Grecia was a real ‘talking horse’ last year amongst the first-season sires. He is one of the best-looking horses you will ever see and thankfully his foals have inherited many of his redeeming qualities," Kennedy said.

"One thing common amongst all of them, both at Coolmore and at other farms throughout the Hunter Valley, is their great colour, good limbs and quality heads."

Star siblings could be set to unite

There is a strong possibility that come the 2022 breeding season in Australia, as Magna Grecia's second crop hits the ground, Australian breeders will also be assessing the possibility of sending their mares to St Mark's Basilica.

That's something that excites the team at Coolmore Australia.

"St Mark’s Basilica is an extremely rare proposition, having the speed and precocity to win over 1200 metres as a 2-year-old, with enough class to stretch out and win the French Derby and Irish Champion S. as a 3-year-old," Kennedy said.

"He has now won five Group 1 races in a row, including the Dewhurst S. as a juvenile, and is arguably the most exciting sire prospect in the world. Given the success of Siyouni in Australia, there is no doubt that he would be extremely popular as a stallion in this part of the world."

"Given the success of Siyouni in Australia, there is no doubt that he (St Mark's Basilica) would be extremely popular as a stallion in this part of the world." - John Kennedy

With two of Cabaret's sons so well-positioned to make an impact with Coolmore, Kennedy says there is a great gratitude to the foresight of Scarborough.

"It is such a great achievement by his Australian breeder Bob Scarborough to produce two Champions in such quick succession," he said.

As for what is coming next for Cabaret, her 2-year-old Siyouni (Fr) colt named Paris Lights (Ire) was retained by his breeder after passing in short of his 700,000 gns (AU$1.39 million) reserve last year and is in work with Jessica Harrington. She foaled a Kingman (GB) colt his year and is in foal to Kingman again.

“I’m still waiting for a filly to keep and race so we’ll see what happens. She’s still young enough to hopefully produce a couple of fillies for me,” Scarborough told TDN AusNZ earlier this year.

Magna Grecia
St Mark's Basilica
Coolmore
Aidan O'Brien
Bob Scarborough
Aaron Bott
Evergreen Farm
Cabaret
Mike O'Donnell
Fairhill Farm
John Kennedy
Kingman
Invincible Spirit
Siyouni