Monsun Season Underway in Europe

It's no secret that the late German stallion Monsun, who died last September at the age 22, was an outstanding sire. However, even by his standards, he had exceptional day May 26, with 5-year-old Maxios taking the Prix d'Ispahan (Fr-I) and 3-year-old filly Silasol capturing the Prix Saint-Alary (Fr-I), both at Longchamp; and in Milan on the same afternoon, Charity Line, from the second crop of Monsun's son Manduro, took the Oaks d'Italia (Italian Oaks, Ity-II).

Maxios wins the 2013 Prix d'Ispahan (Fr-I).

As a racehorse, Monsun was a talented, but not exceptional, performer. A true 1 1/2-mile horse, he won 12 of 23 starts, including the Aral-Pokal (Ger-I), two renewals of the Europa Preis (Ger-I), two runnings of the Gerling Preis (Ger-II), the Grosser Hertie-Preis von Deutschland (Ger-II) Hansa-Preis (Ger-II), and Grosser Preis der Steigebberger Hotels (Ger-III). Rated second best of his crop in Germany at 3, Monsun also placed in four other group I events, including when runner-up to his less fancied stable companion, Lando, in the Deutsches Derby (German Derby, Ger-I).

In what looks to be the only YouTube video of Monsun racing, below is Monsun running 3rd to Sternkoenig and Duitor in the 1994 Preis der Privatbankiers Merck, Finck & Co. (Ger-I), with Lando back in 4th.

Monsun runs 3rd in the 1994 Preis der Privatbankiers Merck, Finck & Co. (Ger-I).

As a sire, Monsun's deeds far outrank his race record. Champion sire in Germany in 2000, 2002, 2004, and 2006, he has been represented by 94 stakes winners to date, 55 of them group winners. Seventeen of Monsun's offspring have captured group I events, and among the best-know internationally are Manduro, Europe's champion older horse of 2007 and highweight on the International Classification; Shirocco, who took the German Derby on the domestic front but also captured the Breeders' Cup Turf (gr. IT) and Coronation Cup (Eng-I) against top class international foes; and Stacelita, who not only captured the Prix Jean Romanet (Fr-I), Prix Saint-Alary (Fr-I), Prix de Diane (French Oaks, Fr-I), and Prix Vermeille (Fr-I) in Europe, but also the Beverly D. Stakes (gr. IT) and Flower Bowl Invitational Stakes (gr. IT).

Monsun was something of a rarity, actually more nearly unique in the current day and age, in that he was a world-class stallion from the sire line of the great runner Swynford, through that horse's son Blandford, a six-time champion sire in England. The line that comes down to Monsun descends via Blandford's 1935 Triple Crown hero Bahram via his high-class son Persian Gulf, then the good English miler Tamerlane. The sire line arrived in Germany with Dschingis Khan, a German-bred son of Tamerlane who was champion sprinter in his native country, although he stretched out far enough to take the local Henckel-Rennen-German Two Thousand Guineas.

Monsun is by Dschingis Khan's son Konigsstuhl, the first horse to capture the German Triple Crown and subsequently a three-time champion sire in Germany (in an era where he had to compete with dominant German sire of the time Surumu, who just happens to be the broodmare sire of Monsun).

Monsun is actually linebred to Konigsstuhl's family, as his third dam is by Kaiseradler, a three-quarters brother to Kronung, the granddam of Konigsstuhl. At five generations, Monsun is an outcross to virtually anything that you are likely to find in other European or German commercial pedigrees (Nearco and Hyperion show up in the sixth generation). However, going back to the early part of the last century, "old-fashioned" German pedigrees tend have a narrow genetic base, and it's probably due to this that a stallion like Monsun has worked well as a first generation outcross.

One of the more surprising examples is the cross of Monsun with mares by sons and grandsons of Mr. Prospector. It made a promising start with a limited opportunity, which inspired some attempts with high quality stock. As a result, Monsun's current 3-year-old crop includes not only Silasol (dam by Gulch), who presaged her Prix Saint-Alary victory with a win in last year's Prix Marcel Boussac-Criterium des Pouliches (Fr-I), and Ocovango (dam by Gone West), who ran a good fifth in the Epsom Derby (Eng-I) after taking the Prix Greffulhe (Fr-II). With Monsun having five stakes winners from 18 starters out of Mr. Prospector line mares, both Silasol and Ocovango are TrueNicks rated A++.

Silasol wins the 2012 Prix Marcel Boussac (Fr-I).

The cross of Monsun with Northern Dancer line mares has been far more prolific, with more than 50 stakes winners. That includes this weekend's group I winner Maxios, who is out of a mare by Nureyev and is rated TrueNicks A+ as one of four stakes winners from 14 starters by Monsun out of Nureyev line mares. Maxios could make an interesting stallion prospect, as his granddam is Coup de Genie, a group I-winning sister to Machiavellian, and the third dam is Coup de Folie, who is by Halo out of Northern Dancer's half sister Raise the Standard, and so inbred to Almahmoud.

Talking of Maxios' stallion prospects reminds that five of Monsun's sons have already sired stakes winners. The first of these, German Derby winner Samum (out of a mare by the Sadler's Wells son Old Vic) already has four group I winners to his name, including his Kamsin (inbred to Sadler's Wells and Surumu, and has full siblings High Top and Cockade, the dam of Old Vic). Shirocco (out of a mare by The Minstrel), whose oldest runners are now 5, has nine stakes winners in his first two crops, four of them group winners.

Manduro, his sire's best racing son, is, like Samum and Shirocco, out of a Northern Dancer line mare (a daughter of Be My Guest). He actually has a rather interesting pedigree structure as his strain of Northern Dancer sits between a 3x4 inbreeding to Monsun's sire, Dschingis Khan, a pattern which invites Northern Dancer line mares. Manduro's oldest offspring are now 4, and he has six first crop stakes winners, four out of Northern Dancer line mares. His best winner to date is Criterium de Saint-Cloud (Fr-I) captor Mandaean, who is out of a mare by Darshaan but does have a Northern Dancer double, as his second dam is by El Gran Senor (by Northern Dancer) out of a half sister to the dam of Manduro's broodmare sire, Be My Guest. His weekend Italian Oaks scorer, Charity Line, is also out of a Northern Dancer line mare (a daughter of Hernando), and in fact her dam is inbred 3x3 to Northern Dancer's son Nijinsky II, through Niniski and Caerleon. The Nijinsky II strain is one that also proved very beneficial for Surumu, and there are no less than 23 stakes winners by Monsun and his sons out of mares carrying Nijinsky II, 15 of them group winners.

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