Arrowfield’s ambition thirty years ago was to bring the best of the world’s bloodstock to Australia and, eventually, to send Australia’s best back to the world.
The acquisition of Danehill in 1989 fulfilled the first part of that “big hairy goal” and 14 breed-shaping years later his grandson Choisir – from a female family based in Australia since the 1920s – signalled the achievement of part two. His victory in the 2003 Royal Ascot Golden Jubilee Stakes G1 woke the world up to the quality of Australian-bred sprinters.
A succession of stars turned the Choisir story into a national novel. World champion Black Caviar, Takeover Target, Miss Andretti, Scenic Blast, Starspangledbanner, Ortensia, Brazen Beau & Alverta have all won or competed with distinction at Group 1 level in England. A Royal Ascot campaign for Australia’s top sprinters is now mentioned in the same breath as a tilt at The Championships in Sydney or the Spring Carnival in Melbourne.
But Arrowfield’s ambition always extended beyond the racetrack. The eyes of the Australian industry are now fixed on another contest: the First Season Sires’ premierships in Great Britain, Ireland and France.
Four of the top ten sires on the Great Britain & Ireland table are by sons of Danehill: Elzaam (3rd; by Redoute’s Choice), Bated Breath (6th; by Dansili), Helmet (7th; by Exceed and Excel) and Foxwedge (8th; by Fastnet Rock).
Better still, all of that quartet except for Bated Breath are Australian-bred, with Elzaam the result of Kia Ora Stud’s 2007 decision to send the Kingmambo mare Mambo In Freeport to Redoute’s Choice for a northern time mating.
A €280,000 buy for Sheikh Hamdan from the Arqana August Yearling Sale, Elzaam earned black type with a strong win in the Newbury Carnarvon S. LR as a 3YO. Better indications of his class were his close second, at his second start, in the 2010 Royal Ascot Coventry Stakes G2, and his fourth place finish, beaten two lengths by Society Rock, in the following year’s Golden Jubilee Stakes G1.
Elzaam stands at Ballyhane Stud, Ireland at a 2016 fee of €3,500 which looks very attractive after eight winners from his first 22 runners, including Clem Fandango (Group 2-placed at Royal Ascot) and King Electric (two wins and 4th, Curragh Railway S. G2).
The Danehill theme is repeated on the French First Season Sires’ table, which features Bated Breath again (5th), Redoute’s Choice (6th), Requinto (7th; by Dansili) and Excelebration (9th; by Exceed and Excel).
Redoute’s Choice gets his second chance to appear on freshman sires’ lists thanks to his two-season stint at HH The Aga Khan’s Haras de Bonneval. His first three runners include the filly Deep Inside (ex Well Spoken by Sadler’s Wells), successful over 1400m at Compeigne on 25 June for MD Bloodstock Ltd and trainer Gianluca Bietolini, and the colt Celestial Spheres (ex Copernica by Galileo), second on debut at Sandown for Godolphin and trainer Charlie Appleby.
Arrowfield is not the only stud watching the Danehill and Redoute’s Choice story unfold in Europe. Leading French stud Haras d’Etreham has already committed to stand Arrowfield’s new son of Redoute’s Choice, Scissor Kick, for the 2017 Northern Hemisphere season.
His sire and Elzaam have certainly paved the way for the dashing Group winner’s shuttle career, but European breeders need no introduction to Scissor Kick’s stellar female family. He shares his mitochondrial DNA, and some of his paternal genetics, with Danehill’s champion sire son Dansili, whose remarkable dam Hasili is a half-sister to Scissor Kick’s grand-dam.