Australia is currently witnessing a real purple period, and four of its most exciting performers – Black Caviar, Pierro, Atlantic Jewel and More Joyous were all in action at Randwick last Saturday. World Champion Black Caviar; Pierro, who completed a sweep of the juvenile triple crown in the Moet & Chandon Champagne Stakes (gr. I); and Atlantic Jewel, successful in the All-Aged Stakes (gr. I), are all undefeated, while More Joyous’s success in the Robert Sangster Stakes (gr. I) was her second grade one success against colts in the space of eight days.
We’ve looked at the pedigree of Black Caviar in detail before, but the pedigrees of the other three are certainly worth some attention. Pierro, who is guaranteed to end the season as the Australasian Champion Two-Year-Old, boasts a five-for-five record, having won the Silver Slipper Stakes (gr. II) on his debut, then followed up with wins in the Todman Stakes (gr. II), Golden Slipper (gr. I), Sires’ Produce Stakes (gr. I) and Champagne Stakes (gr. I). These five victories achieved at distances from 1100m to 1600m (5½ furlongs to a mile) all came in the space of just eight weeks.
Pierro is from the fourth crop of his sire, Lonhro (by Octagonal, by Zabeel, by Sir Tristram). Quick enough to take a grade three over 5½ furlongs at two, won the Calufield Guineas (gr. I) and five other grade ones at three, added another five grade ones at four, and at five was Horse of the Year, after winning eight of ten starts, including grade one events from seven to ten furlongs. Although Lonhro could get ten furlongs on class in the right race, he was really more a a miler, and his best, which include other grade one winners Beaded, Denman and Benfica have tended to be later-maturing sprinter/milers, which bodes well for Pierro’s continued development.
Pierro is out of Miss Right Note, a daughter of the Mill Reef line stallion, Daylami. Lonhro is currently halfway through a debut shuttle season in Kentucky, and his sire, Octagonal briefly shuffled to France. The best horse sired from Octagonal’s Northern Hemispere sojourns was Laverock, whose victories included the Prix d’Ispahan (gr. I) and Gran Premio Del Jockey Club Italian (gr. I), and Laverock just happens to be a half-brother to Miss Right Note, making Pierro and Laverock very close relatives. The granddam, Sky Song, is a Sadler’s Wells half-sister to group winners Flying Cloud and Captain Webb. The third dam, Criquette, is a stakes winning daughter of Shirley Heights and the Icecapade mare, Ghislaine, and is half-sister ace miler, Markofdistinction, later a sire in Japan. This is an excellent former Marcel Boussac family that goes back to the Irish Oaks (gr. I) victress Djebellica.
Pierro is TrueNicks rated B on the basis of the relatively rarely tested Zabeel/Mill Reef cross, but there are all sorts of other interesting things going on in the pedigree. We can start with the fact that both Lonhro’s broodmare sire, Straight Strike (a very successful sire in New Zealand) and the dam of Daylami (broodmare sire of Pierro) are Mr. Prospector/Nasrullah crosses, with Daylami also being a reverse Never Bend/Mr. Prospector cross to Straight Strike. That daughter strain of Never Bend in Lonhro is particularly noteworthy here, as Pierro’s dam is inbred to Mill Reef, a son of Never Bend, and also has Sadler’s Wells, who is out of a mare by Never Bend’s half (more nearly five-eighths) brother, Bold Reason. Lonhro also picks up on the Sadler’s Wells by supplying that horse’s three-parts-brother, Nureyev, as well as First Consul (sire of Lonhro’s second dam), who is a Forli/Nasrullah cross, like Special (dam of Nureyev, granddam of Sadler’s Wells). Futher back we have a lot of Nasrullah and his three-parts-brother Royal Charger, combined with sisters to both. We could continue in similar vein, but we’ll some up by noting that there is an unusual concentration of the Nasrullah/Royal Charger/Djebel background (which links in all sorts of important ways). The same concentrations (less numbers, but closer) up dominated the background of Pierro’s grandsire Octagonal, but produce not only that outstanding champion (who stayed well enough to win the 2400m/12 furlong Australian Derby (gr. I)), but Octagonal’s brilliant brother, Mouawad, a horse who had no pretensions to wanting to race further than a mile. Given his background, we’d expect Pierro to continue to progress with age, but despite the presence of a stout distaff pedigree, we think he’s Mouawad, not Octagonal.
Three-year-old filly, Atlantic Jewel now sports a seven-for-seven record, and her last four starts have demonstrated considerable versatility, as well as class, as they’ve seen her win the 1,000 Guineas (gr. I), at 1600m (a metric mile); the Wakeful Stakes (gr. II) over 2000m/10 furlongs; the Sapphire Stakes (gr. II) over 1200m/six furlongs; and the All-Aged Stakes (gr. I) over 1400m/seven furlongs.
Atlantic Jewel is by Danehill’s son, Fastnet Rock, an Australian Champion Three-Year-Old Colt and Champion Sprinter who is currently the hottest sire in Australia, with 31 stakes winners, eight grade one in his first three crops (he’s shuttling to Europe too, and has to be one to watch with interest there). Atlantic Jewel is out of the Zabeel mare, Regard, and her second dam, is the Nashwan mare, Nanshan. Atlantic Jewel is the only stakes winner under the first two dams, but the third dam, Pass the Peace (by Alzao, a son of Lyphard), was Champoin Two-Year-Old Filly in Ireland, and included the Cheveley Park Stakes (gr. I) among her victories. She bred a winner of the same race in Embassy (also granddam of the group one winning sprinter, King’s Apostle), and a second group scorer in Tarfshi, who took the Pretty Polly Stakes (gr. II).
Atlantic Jewel is TrueNicks rated A++ on the basis of the Fastnet Rock/Zabeel cross that has produced three stakes winners (two grade one) and a total of five stakes horses from 15 starters. Fastnet Rock has Zabeel’s sire, Sir Tristram in the distaff side of his pedigree, and he’s already sire of seven graded stakes winners with Sir Tristram inbreeding, four of them grade one. He also has six stakes winners, five graded, three grade one, with Zabeel’s broodmare sire, Nureyev in the pedigree.
This is another pedigree with plenty to intrigue. To start with, with actually have three Northern Dancer/Sir Ivor or reverse combinations through Piccadilly Circus (graded winner and dam of Fastnet Rock), Zabeel (reverse cross) and Alzao (a very good sire in Europe who disappointed as a shuttle stallion, but could turn out to be important down the line as a source of Northern Dancer/Sir Ivor). Secondly, we think that the broodmare sire, of Fastnet Rock, Royal Academy, is particularly influential in the way that Fastnet Rock acts. Royal Academy is not only by Nijinsky II, whose dam is famously a Bull Dog/Menow cross (like Tom Fool, and Spring Run, who is important as the dam of Red God, the sire of Blushing Groom), and less famously out of a mare who is a Menow/Sir Gallahad III (brother to Bull Dog) cross. Royal Academy is a little different in this regard, as his third dam, First Rose, is another Menow/Sir Gallahad III cross, so he has has similarly bred mares in the second and third generations of his pedigree. Menow is three-parts-sister to the excellent racemare, Athenia, who just happens to be the granddam of Sir Ivor (which means a lot of Menow/Athenia here). As far as Atlantic Jewel is concerned, we also have the second dam being by the aforementioned Nashwan, a son of Blushing Groom, so bringing in the “other” Menow/Bull Dog cross, Spring Run (Blushing Groom isn’t the most frequently found strain in Australia, so it’s probably rather significant that Fastnet Rock already has six stakes winners, three grade one, out of mares with Blushing Groom in the pedigree).
This delving in the more distant reaches of the pedigree might seem a little arcane, and when we are planning a mating, we always try to start from looking at what how the most immediate ancestors for which there is evidence have worked (the TrueNicks Enhanced Report and the Pedigree Analysis program from Equineline being a great help here). That said, we believe that a cohesive background can often be the difference between the successful and unsuccessful iterations of a cross, and while it wouldn’t be practical (or necessarily useful) to include such detailed analysis in our mating reports, we’re constantly bearing in mind the potential of the impact of an accumulation of clustered ancestors a little deeper in the pedigree.
The five-year-old mare, More Joyous, isn’t unbeaten, but she’s won 19 of 26 starts (18 graded and six grade one), and her last four outings have seen her win graded events – three of them grade one – from 1300m/6½ furlongs to 2000m/10 furlongs, the last three coming in the space of four weeks, with victories over colts in the Doncaster Handicap (gr. I) and Queen Elizabeth Stakes (gr. I) on consecutive weekends.
More Joyous is a daughter of More Than Ready, a very good sire in the U.S., but an exceptional one in Australia. The family has been a stellar one in recent generations, particularly for fillies. The dam, Sunday Joy (from a Southern Hemisphere time service by Sunday Silence), is out of the Queensland Oaks (gr. I) heroine, Joie Denise (by the almost inevitable Danehill), also dam of the four time grade one winning Carnegie filly, Tuesday Joy. The third dam, Denise’s Joy, won the Australian Derby, VRC Oaks and Underwood Stakes (before the graded system came into effect) and the Craven Plate (gr. I). A half-sister to AJC Derby (gr. I) victor, Great Lover, Denise’s Joy is ancestress of a slew of top horses, including the grade one winners Thorn Park (now a hot young sire in New Zealand), Bentley Biscuit, Euphoria, Miss Danehill, Arlington Road and South African Champion Joie de Gris. Denise’s Joy’s dam, Fun For All (stakes winner and sister to a stakes winner) has an unusual pedigree as she’s inbred 4 x 3 to Fair Trial, with a second dam by the little-seen Samphire, a brother to the dam of Fair Trial, so perhaps that’s why the family exploded.
More Joyous is TrueNicks rated A++ on the More Than Ready/Halo cross. More Than Ready and the Sunday Joy are both Halo/Northern Dancer crosses, giving linebreeding to Almahmoud granddam of that duo, and Danehill also gives a doubleof Northern Dancer’s dam, Natalma. Given that More Than Ready’s affinity for Danehill, and that More Joyous’s Danehill strain will be in the fourth generation of her foals, one wonders if her owners will try her with a son or grandson of Danehill to go 2 x 4 or 3 x 4 to that horse, while maintaining the Almamoud intensity. Or maybe they could try Street Cry, who has another half-sister to Northern Dancer, and an extra strain of Halo.