There is plenty to learn from Pearl Congenial’s heady debut second in the $120,000 MRC Debutant S. LR on Guineas Day at Caulfield.
The 2YO filly jumped smartly for Craig Williams, raced boldly in the leading bunch, took control in the straight and was run down only in the final stages by Missrock who unleashed a whirlwind finish from the back of the field.
Pearl Congenial is the first Australian runner & stakes performer for US champion Gio Ponti who shuttled for the 2012 season from Castleton Lyons in Kentucky to Arrowfield. Bred by Watson Bloodstock, she is the second foal of city winner Congenial (by Redoute’s Choice) and was a $100,000 buy from the Newhaven Park draft at the Inglis Easter Sale for David Redvers on behalf of Pearl Bloodstock.
Pearl Congenial’s debut effort is an early indication that Arrowfield’s willingness to look beyond the obvious in the search for stallions is going to pay off. That she is out of a Redoute’s Choice mare supports the case for sending Danehill-line mares to outcross stallions with top-drawer American form.
Of course, that case has already been forcefully made by Street Cry and Medaglia D’Oro, responsible for 22 Australian-bred Group winners between them, notably last season’s best juveniles, Pride of Dubai and Vancouver, both out of Danehill mares.
The left-field strategy that brought Gio Ponti to Australia also led to Arrowfield’s 2012 purchase of Animal Kingdom. Like Street Cry, Medaglia D’Oro and Gio Ponti, he has an international, rather than a more familiar domestic pedigree and race record.
It’s significant that the Dubai World Cup G1 appears in the records of all four horses. Gio Ponti was fourth in 2010, Medaglia D’Oro was runner-up to Pleasantly Perfect in 2004, and Street Cry & Animal Kingdom won the race in 2002 and 2013.
Oppenheim notes Gio Ponti’s class, durability and versatility, and adds, “The other reason I like Gio Ponti so much is that two other American turf sires, Kitten’s Joy and English Channel, have made sires, and Gio Ponti was certainly in the same class, at least, as a racehorse.”
He writes of Animal Kingdom, “He showed top-class form on all three surfaces, and won the Kentucky Derby and Dubai World Cup. For all the legions of people who claim they want toughness and soundness, Animal Kingdom must be a horse who really appeals.”
Mated with Danehill-line mares, his chances of success in Australia must be rated outstanding, especially given the opportunities Arrowfield and their clients are giving him. The results so far include a beautiful first-crop filly from Arrowfield’s champion mare Miss Finland (by Redoute’s Choice) – now the dam of Group 1 winner Stay With Me, by none other than Street Cry.