Leading South African Sires

Although we see relatively few runners from South Africa in the U.S. or Europe, the performances of horses from that country in the Dubai World Cup (UAE-I) meet and in major preps at Meydan have left no doubt that South Africa can produce world-class runners.

South African stallion masters have gathered an intriguing and eclectic group of sires, as can be seen from a look at the 2012-13 South African leading sires list. Topping the table is Silvano (by Lomitas, by Niniski), who has a pretty good case to be considered the world's leading Nijinsky II line sireā€”his rival in this regard being Bel Esprit (AUS) (TrueNicks), sire of Black Caviar. Bred in Germany, Silvano was a real globe-trotter, who earned honors a champion older horse in Germany after a campaign when he didn't actually start in his own country but did win the Arlington Million (gr. IT), the Queen Elizabeth II Cup (HK-I), and the Singapore Cup (Sin-I).

Silvano began his stud career in Germany, then after two seasons departed for South Africa. It was intended that he "shuttle" between the two countries, but an outbreak of African Horse Sickness saw his home for a Northern Hemisphere season delayed until 2009. That German crop provided one-half of a remarkable mid-summer weekend double for Silvano, which saw Lucky Speed take the German Derby (Ger-I) and Heavy Metal land the Durban July (SAf-I), South Africa's greatest race. Lucky Speed is Silvano's only European group I scorer, but he has 12 winners at that level in South Africa. We'd be remiss if we didn't also mention Proudinsky, from Silvano's very first crop, a durable performer who scored five times in graded stakes in the U.S.

Second to Silvano is the deceased multiple champion sire Jet Master, a son of Rakeen (in turn a Northern Dancer half brother to Singspiel and Rahy). The top three are completed by another Northern Dancer line horse, Var (TrueNicks) (by Forest Wildcat). Var started his career in the U.S. but didn't show his true merit until coming to Europe, where he captured one of the premier five-furlong contests, the Prix de l'Abbaye de Longchamp (Fr-I). Var has sired 17 stakes winners from his first five crops, and 11 of them are group winners, and more tellingly, six of them have scored at group I level. As his pedigree and race-record would lead one to expect, Var is predominantly siring sprinter-milers, but he does have one that can stretch out in Princess of Light, a group II winner who has scored at as far as 2600m (13 furlongs).

Var is one of several Storm Cat line horses in the upper reaches of the table, the others include Tiger Ridge (Storm Cat half brother to A.P. Indy who started his career in the U.S.), who is 10th; 12th-placed Black Minnaloushe, an Irish Two Thousand Guineas (Ire-I) winner by Storm Cat who has also stood in Ireland and New Zealand; and Mogok, an unraced Storm Cat half brother to Machiavellian who has thrown to his pedigree, and has a pair that have shown their class outside of South Africa in the shape of Gypsy's Warning, who's won a pair of U.S. graded events including the Matriarch Stakes (gr. IT), and The Apache, who was first past the post in a somewhat controversial finish to the Arlington Million and who is also a group winner and twice runner-up in group I events in Dubai.

Looking forward, we see a future for crosses of Mogok mares with the fifth-placed on this list, Kahal (or the reverse), as that horse is a son of Machiavellian. The speedy Kahal won the Nearctic Stakes (Can-IIT) in Canada and the Challenge Stakes (Eng-II) in England. Kahal has 30 stakes winners to his name, 17 group, and six group I, and his best have scored from 1000m (five furlongs) to 3200m (two miles).

One place above Kahal we find Captain Al. He is by the late standout sire Al Mufti (by Roberto from the family of A.P. Indy) and has proved an excellent replacement for that stallion. Captain Al is a particularly good sire of juveniles, taking the 2-year-old sire crown in five straight years. He has six group I winners to his name, and he's a particularly good sire of sprinters and milers. We'll note that another young son of Al Mufti, Victory Moon, is also making a good start.

The recently-deceased Western Winter (by Gone West) checks in sixth. One of the best sires ever to stand in South Africa, Western Winter has been represented by 75 stakes winners, 44 of them group, and his 20 group I winners feature everything from sprinters to a 3200m winner.

We'll close with the father and son act, Fort Wood (ninth) and Dynasty (seventh). Winner of the Grand Prix de Paris (Fr-I), Fort Wood is by Sadler's Wells out of the great broodmare Fall Aspen. Now 23 years old, Fort Wood lived up to his pedigree in no uncertain terms and has three Horses of the Year to his name. Fort Wood's brilliant son Horse Chestnut went to the U.S. where he proved to be an indifferent sire, but he found another heir in Dynasty. A champion and Horse of the Year at 3, Dynasty has 14 stakes winners in his first three crops, and four of them have garnered victories at the highest level.

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