Star Witness gives Nureyev line a boost

THE line of Nureyev has struggled to get a real purchase in Australia, at least as far as establishing a male line is concerned. In that light, it’s pleasing to see that the current leader among the Australian third season sires is Star Witness (Starcraft-Leone Chiara by Lion Hunter), a great-grandson of Nureyev.

Star Witness’s sire Starcraft has the distinction of being the best runner from the Nureyev line in Australia. The versatile son of Soviet Star was Champion Older Sprinter in New Zealand, won the Australian Derby-Gr.1, AJC Chipping Norton Stakes-Gr.1 and Queen Elizabeth Stakes-Gr.1 on this side of the Tasman, and earned honours as Champion Older Male Miler in Europe, after a course-record breaking win in the Prix du Moulin-Gr.1 at Longchamp.

Winner of the MRC Blue Diamond Stakes-Gr.1 and VRC Talindert Stakes at two, Star Witness was Champion Three Year-Old Colt in Australia at three, when his most notable efforts including a win in the VRC Coolmore Stud (Ascot Vale) Stakes-Gr.1 and at Royal Ascot, a second in the King’s Stand Stakes-Gr.1 and third in the Golden Jubilee Stakes-Gr.1. To mid-December Star Witness had six stakes winners, three Group, from his first two crops, and his third crop, currently two year-olds, is his largest, numbering 144 foals.

His best to date, Global Glamour, successful in the MRC 1000 Guineas-Gr.1 and AJC Flight Stakes-Gr.1, is out of a daughter of Testa Rossa, a mating that brings together Nureyev and his three-quarter brother, Testa Rossa’s sire Perugino. His dual Group winner Star Turn is out of a mare by Made of Gold (Green Forest, from the Noholme II branch of Star Kingdom), and South African Group scorer Mella Maria is out of mare by Sunday Silence son Keep The Faith.

Star Witness is out of a mare by a son of Danehill, but he’s already sired stakes winner Pearl Star out of a mare by Danehill son Fastnet Rock. His other black-type winners are The Barrister, out of a mare by another Danzig line horse Desert Sun and Well Sprung, out of a mare by Grand Slam (giving the brothers Try My Best and El Gran Senor).

The ill-fated Beneteau (Redoute’s Choice-Slice of Paradise by Encosta de Lago) looks a real loss. Lightly-raced, Beneteau was a precocious two year-old, winning the MRC Blue Diamond Prelude-Gr.3 and running third in the MRC Blue Diamond Stakes-Gr.1 to Star Witness. Considering he started at a very modest stud fee, it’s hard to escape the impression that Beneteau was on his way to becoming an exceptional sire, as from only two crops, which have so far supplied 88 runners, he is sire of nine stakes winners, five of them Group, including the Gr.1 winner Lasqueti Spirit.

There were some interesting pedigrees among them, with three of the stakes winners inbred to Danzig, including Lasqueti Spirit (dam by General Nedyim) and the siblings Prompt Return and Prompt Response, out of a mare by Exceed and Excel (so 3×3 to Danehill), with a second dam by Danzig grandson Desert Sun, and a third dam who is a half-sister to Monde Bleu, the sire of Beneteu’s second dam. Another Group scorer Almighty Girl is 4×2 to Last Tycoon, whose sire Try My Best is from the immediate family of Beneteau’s sire Redoute’s Choice. Hinchinbrook (Fastnet Rock-Snippets’ Lass by Snippets), a three-quarter brother to Snitzel, was also precocious and won the AJC Canonbury Stakes, AJC Skyline Stakes-Gr.3 and ran third in the AJC Sires’ Produce Stakes-Gr.1 and fourth in the STC Golden Slipper-Gr.1.

He lived up to that billing, emerging as Champion Freshman Sire, and now has seven stakes winner from his first two crops. His star so far is Press Statement, whose four Group victories include the MRC Caulfield Guineas-Gr.1 and BRC J.J. Atkins Stakes-Gr.1. He’s also been represented by Group winners Whispering Brook, Samara Dancer, Spright and Flying Jess. Press Statement is out of a mare by Sir Tristram grandson Kaaptive Edition and also has two crosses of Nijinsky II, along with his relative Storm Bird. Whispering Brook (dam by Machiavellian) and Spright (out of a mare by Dash For Cash) are both from Mr. Prospector line mares, with Whispering Brook having a third dam who is a three-quarter sister to Storm Bird (sire of Hinchinbrook’s second dam).

Samara Dancer is out of a mare by Singspiel, so bred on a version of the very successful Fastnet Rock/Sadler’s Wells cross, Flying Jess, who has an outcross pedigree, is from a daughter of Magic Albert and he also has stakes winners out of mares by General Nediym and Zephyr Zip. French Derby-Gr.1 and French 2000 Guineas-Gr.1 winner Lope de Vega (Shamardal-Lady Vettori by Vettori) is no longer shuttling, but so far four stakes winners winner have emerged from his first two Australia crops, headed by the ATC Reisling Stakes-Gr.2 scorer French Fern (out of a mare by Strategic); Group winners Vega Magic (out of a mare by Magic Albert, who like the dam of French Fern is a Zeditave/Danehill cross) and Santa Ana Lane (out of mare by Fastnet Rock, and featuring the relatives Storm Cat and Royal Academy, along with Far North, a close relative to their respective sires, Storm Bird and Nijinsky II); and stakes winner Man of His Word (out of a mare by Fasliyev).

By the same sire as Hinchinbrook is Rothesay (Fastnet Rock-Schiaparelli by Woodman) whose second dam Canny Lass is a multiple Gr.1-winning sister to Canny Lad. A winner over 1100m at two, he carried his speed a mile, taking the BRC Queensland Guineas-Gr.2 and BRC Lord Mayor’s Cup-Gr.3. At mid-December Rothesay was tied for leadership of this group this season as far as individual winners are concerned, and has stakes winner in the shape of Too Good To Refuse, who is out of a mare by Dodge (by Canny Lad) and thus has Canny Lass/Canny Lad 3×3. Breeders’ Cup Mile-Gr.1 victor War Chant (Danzig-Hollywood Wildcat by Kris S.) is a veteran sire as far as his US career is concerned, but is a third season sire in Australia.

He has a trio of Group winners, all from his first two crops, in the WATC West Australian Guineas-Gr.2 scorer Variation, out of a mare by Don’t Say Halo; dual Group winner and Gr.1 placed Silent Sedition, out of a mare by Dubai Destination and WATC Gimcrack Stakes-Gr.2 scorer Chantski, from a mare by Marauding. Like Star Witness, Reward For Effort (Exceed and Excel-Miss Prospect by Rory’s Jester) captured the Blue Diamond Stakes-Gr.1, as well as the STC Concorde Stakes-Gr.3, MRC Blue Diamond Preview and MRC Sir John Monash Stakes.

Bred for speed on both sides of his pedigree, Reward For Effort is a three-quarter brother to Champion Two Year-Old Overreach. Reward For Effort is tied with Rothesay amongst this group as leading by individual winners this term, and has been represented by the black-type winners Gold Symphony, successful in the MRC Vain Stakes-Gr.3 and MRC H.D.F. McNeil Stakes-Gr.3, out of a mare by Stravinsky, with a second dam by Zabeel, giving inbreeding to Nureyev, a strain that does very well with Exceed and Excel; the MVRC Champagne Stakes-Gr.3 scorer Take Pride, out of a mare by Elusive Quality (a similar cross to Exceed and Excel’s star, Guelph); and stakes winner Dalradian and Group placed Gratwick out of mares by O’Reilly. New Zealand-based Shocking (Street Cry-Maria di Castiglia by Danehill), a Melbourne Cup-Gr.1 winner, was never going to get a slew of early runners, but he’s showing signs that he might be more than useful given some patience.

He now has eight stakes winners from 79 runners from his first crop, including the WRC New Zealand Oaks-Gr.1 heroine Fanatic (out of a mare by Groom Dancer, The Hassler, out of Zabeel mare who is inbred 2×3 to Sir Tristram and successful in the ARC Championship Stakes-Gr.2 and the Counties RC Counties Cup-Gr.3 scorer Chocante. The top 10 third crop sires’ list is completed by the late Captain Sonador (Shamardal-Pushing Daisies by Kenny’s Best Pal), who died in February 2014 as a result of a paddock accident after getting just three crops. Winner of the Epsom Handicap-Gr.1, Captain Sonador was by Giant’s Causeway son Shamardal, out of a Kenny’s Best Pal half-sister to the talented Umaline.

He’s sired 56 individual winners to mid-December 2016 from his first two crops, including the stakes winning Throssel (out of an Anabaa mare) and the Queensland Derby-Gr.1 third I’m Belucci (out of a mare by St Jude). We’ll also mention a third Fastnet Rock horse in Stryker (Fastnet Rock-Laetitia by Woodman). Stryker, who is from the great family of Denise’s Joy, gained black-type wins in the BTC Classic-Gr.3 and STC Heritage Stakes, and was also multiple Group placed, including when third in the STC Golden Rose Stakes-Gr.1 and AJC Galaxy Stakes-Gr.1. He is sire of Rangipo, successful in the ARC New Zealand Derby-Gr.1, Waikato Guineas-Gr.2, ARC Avondale Guineas-Gr.2 and ARC Great Northern Guineas-Gr.2.

Rangipo’s dam is by Zabeel, a reverse Sir Tristram (Sir Ivor)/Northern Dancer cross to the dam of Fastnet Rock. Stryker is also sire of first crop stakes winner Strykum, who is out of a mare by the Rory’s Jester horse Happy Giggle, dam by Bluebird, a Storm Bird/Sir Ivor cross, so again very similar to the dam of Fastnet Rock, who is Nijinsky II/Sir Ivor. n