Cassie Tully reflects on some hugely important Irish Champions Weekend performances which go back to a certain US champion juvenile from 1973.
The year was 1973 and a certain filly named Talking Picture was crowned the champion two-year-old in America after five wins which included two at the highest level.
She was purchased by visionary Walter Haefner, founder of Moyglare Stud, and that single transaction has provided both Europe and Moyglare Stud with many feasts.
The genes of Talking Picture were in the limelight once again on Irish Champions Weekend, 47 years on, with two individual Group One winning descendants and a Group Two-placed filly.
As a broodmare herself, Talking Picture bred 15 named foals in total, 11 whom were winners. And although she bred several Group-winning branches, her best performer and most notable to developing the European dynasties was her eighth foal, Trusted Partner.
By American Triple Crown winner Affirmed, Trusted Partner won the Irish 1000 Guineas for Dermot Weld and Moyglare in 1988. And emulating her dam’s phenomenal production record, also delivered 11 winners.
The best of those was Dress To Thrill. By Danehill and again trained by Weld, she won five Stakes races in Britain and Ireland, placed second in the Moyglare Stud Stakes at two, and then travelled to the States taking the Grade One Matriarch Stakes at Hollywood Park.
It is two individual sisters to Dress To Thrill (daughters of Trusted Partner), who brought about two of the weekend’s stars.
Beginning with the more established and celebrated sister who has developed into a present-day blue hen for Moyglare, Polished Gem.
Polished Gem (Danehill) was a winner at two for the same connections and also placed fourth in the Group Three Athasi Stakes at the Curragh.
Her second career at stud is actually unblemished, outshining even her dam and grandam’s remarkable records. She has borne 10 foals, by seven different stallions. All 10 of whom are winners, seven Stakes performers.
So, who are they?
Polished Gem’s first mating was a visit to Medicean which resulted in a bay filly named Sapphire who won the Group Two British Champions Fillies’ and Mares’ as well as placing second in the Pretty Polly.
Next came Custom Cut by Notnowcato, who ran an extraordinary 74 times, winning 13, nine of which were at Stakes level including three Group Two races, in the space of eight years. Notnowcato only had one other Group winner as a sire, so more praise to Polished Gem.
A Group One winner came along for the family next through a mating with son of Sadler’s Wells, High Chaparral. That horse was Free Eagle who raced only eight times (compared to his brother at least), winning on three occasions including the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot, as well as a placing behind Golden Horn and Found in the Irish Champion Stakes and behind Noble Mission and Al Kazeem in the British Champion Stakes.
Those feats earned him a place at the Irish National Stud where he is now a second season sire with 28 winners and a son who placed second in the Epsom Derby.
Valac is the fourth Stakes winner out of Polished Gem by a fourth different sire. He is by Dark Angel and after an unsuccessful career here, migrated to Australia and won a Group Three and Listed race, both over a mile and a half.
Returning to the Sadler’s Wells line, to Galileo for the first time on this occasion, this mating gave rise to the winner of last year’s Listed Coral Marathon over two miles, Falcon Eight.
That mating was repeated again, three times in fact, striking gold on the second attempt with the now dual Group One winner after her back to back Irish St Leger’s at the weekend, Search For A Song.
She is one of 16 Group One winners by Galileo out of a Danehill mare. And now also the ninth Irish St Leger win for Dermot Weld, tying him with Vincent O’Brien for most wins in the race.
If Search For A Song’s emphatic victory wasn’t enough for Polished Gem in one weekend, her younger full-sister called Amma Grace finished second behind Cayenne Pepper in the Group Two Blandford Stakes earlier on the card on Sunday.
While the next, and fourth offspring from Polished Gem by Galileo, is a two-year-old named Kyprios who won first time out last Tuesday for Aidan O’Brien.
It is fair to say that Polished Gem is earning both her keep at Moyglare and visits to Galileo, but returning to her dam Trusted Partner.
The second sister that we alluded to above, an elder to Polished Gem by Nashwan, is called Trust In Luck. She bred a Group Three-placed juvenile, Aahaykid, and also an unraced filly by Sadler’s Wells named Small Sacrifice.
Small Sacrifice was bought by Anne Marie O’Brien when she was three and bred the Listed winner to Fastnet Rock, Table Mountain, who also performed well in Hong Kong.
But most recently, her fifth foal and third winner was Sunday’s unbeaten Group One National Stakes hero and latest star kid on the block, Thunder Moon.
Thunder moon is by Zoffany who was actually third in the National Stakes himself after winning the Group One Phoenix Stakes. He also placed second in two Group One races by short margins at three, including ¾ of a length to Frankel in the St James’s Palace Stakes.
Beginning at a low fee, Zoffany’s first crop ended up yielding 15 Stakes winners including the Italian Group One winner and St Leger placed Ventura Storm, as well as Group Two Duchess of Cambridge Stakes winner and Cheveley Park second, Illuminate.
With several Group winners in between, Zoffany’s most expensive and best-bred crops are two and three-year-olds this year and so far include Jessica Harrington’s French Group One winning filly Albigna, and now Thunder Moon.
Fruits can always reappear on a quieter branch of the tree. And that 1973 purchase of Talking Picture by Walter Haefner in America looks set to blossom in Europe for quite some time.