Arrowfield pursues a global vision

Animal Kingdom’s global campaign, from the United States to Dubai to Royal Ascot, spotlights the international ambitions of his majority owner, Australia’s Arrowfield Stud, founded almost 30 years ago by Sydney stockbroker-turned-master stallion maker John Messara.

Those ambitions and the wide circle of relationships necessary to achieve them have always been part of Arrowfield’s DNA, driven by Messara’s unquenchable enthusiasm for the sport, shrewd judgement and gift for cross-cultural deal-making.

The evidence is easy to find. It’s in the stories of the horses bred, raced and sold by Arrowfield, and the stallions resident at the Stud over the past three decades.

There’s Australian Horse of the Year, and world champion 3YO Weekend Hussler, bred in partnership with the Japanese Yoshida family’s celebrated Shadai Farm. Weekend Hussler was a first-crop son of Hussonet, the champion sire of Chile and a signature left-field purchase by Arrowfield in 2003.

There’s the great New Zealand sire Zabeel, sire of 43 Group 1 winners, and bred by Arrowfield’s partnership with the game-changing English investor and sportsman Robert Sangster.

There’s the champion filly Miss Finland, a five-time Group 1 winner bred by Arrowfield with HH Sheikh Maktoum’s Gainsborough Stud.

Miss Finland is by champion sire Redoute’s Choice, whose 50 per cent purchase by Arrowfield in 1999 has proved to be destiny-shaping for the Stud and his owner-breeder, Sri Lankan-born Muzaffar Yaseen. Redoute’s Choice is now completing his first northern hemisphere season, serving a top-drawer book of mares at HH the Aga Khan’s Haras de Bonneval in France.

And, of course, there’s supersire Danehill, identified as a stallion prospect by Arrowfield in 1989 and purchased in partnership with Coolmore from Prince Khalid Abdullah’s Juddmonte Farms. Danehill’s acquisition, and subsequent shuttling between hemispheres, are among the most successful and influential industry plays of the last half-century.

Animal Kingdom’s multi-national provenance matches the scope of Arrowfield’s global vision. His first 14 ancestors were foaled in seven countries and the United States appears as the birthplace of only two of them: his paternal grand-sire Candy Stripes, and European Champion Dancing Brave, the sire of his maternal grand-dam.

The European turf weighting of Animal Kingdom’s pedigree has strong appeal for Arrowfield, and breeders in Australia, where almost all racing is on grass. Danehill’s absence from Animal Kingdom’s ancestry is also appealing because he figures in the pedigrees of 33% of Australian stallions that covered mares in 2012, and 22% of all the mares that were covered.

John Messara quickly recognised that Danehill’s dominance would make complementary bloodlines essential and he has always been prepared to beat his own path to find them. That explains the acquisition of Hussonet (by Mr. Prospector) from South America, and more recently All American and Charge Forward (Australian-bred sons of Red Ransom), the New Zealand-bred Starcraft (by Soviet Star) and US turf champion Gio Ponti (by Tale of the Cat) for the Arrowfield roster.

However, what attracted Arrowfield’s initial interest was Animal Kingdom’s historic 2011 Kentucky Derby victory at his first start on dirt, after he had been successful on grass and synthetic surfaces.

His powerhouse finish in last year’s Santa Anita Breeders’ Cup Mile G1 on grass, overcoming a troubled passage to run second behind US Horse of the Year Wise Dan in race record time, clinched Arrowfield’s desire to stand the son of Leroidesanimaux. The Stud’s purchase of a majority interest in him was completed before Christmas 2012.

A commanding two-length victory in the world’s richest race, the US$10 million Dubai World Cup, followed in March. At the end of April Animal Kingdom was rated 126 on the World Thoroughbred Rankings, making him the planet’s best entire in training. A Royal Ascot campaign immediately firmed to probability.

John Messara says that winning a Group 1 race at HM The Queen’s own meeting has long been on his bucket list. With the help of American & Middle Eastern co-owners, an English-born trainer, a Puerto Rican jockey and the glorious Kentucky-bred son of Brazilian and German parents, it’s a list he hopes to shorten on Tuesday afternoon at Royal Ascot.

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