Spur is still Flying high

There are many paths a stallion’s career can take, but the hardest trick is putting a final flourish on an outstanding stud record.

Champion sire Flying Spur experienced many highs and a few lows during his 17-year stud career, but when he retired in the Spring of 2012, there was more than enough evidence on the board to ensure he will always be a gold-plated name in a pedigree.  He had earned the right to retreat gracefully off the stage, leaving the limelight to his barnmate Redoute’s Choice and the young guns of the next generation.

However, the now 23-year-old son of Danehill is working from a different script. In the three-and-a-half seasons since he left the Arrowfield stallion barn, 15 horses have added 30 Group & Listed stakes wins to his record, and his worldwide, lifetime progeny earnings have increased by $22 million to almost $128 million.

Although, inevitably, Flying Spur’s racetrack representation will diminish and the flow of winners will eventually stop, it’s not happening yet. 78 winners and $4.1 million kept him in last season’s top 30 Australian sires, and right now, he’s 17th with 52 winners and $3.3 million.

That’s largely thanks to 3YO colt Mahuta, from Flying Spur’s last full crop, who has progressed from maiden class to multiple Group success and $1.6 million prizemoney in less than six months.

4YO Arrowfield graduate Traveston Girl won twice in Listed company last November & December, while Hazard, Okahu Bay & That’s A Good Idea – already stakeswinners – have placed in black type company.

Across the Tasman just over a year ago, Sacred Star became Flying Spur’s 12th Group 1 winner, earning the title of Champion New Zealand Sprinter. He returned last Saturday to win the ARC Darley Plate LR, his ninth victory in a $678,000 career.

Flying Spur is now only one winner away from a century of stakeswinners and, given the durability of his stock, it will be no surprise to see him add a few more beyond that milestone.

At the same time, his sons, and especially his daughters are building a powerful second-generation legacy. Flying Spur’s value as a broodmare sire is well-established by 62 stakeswinners, six of them Group 1 winners including Preferment, Speak Fondly and leading sire Sebring. His sire sons Magnus (11 SW lifetime), Casino Prince (12 SW) and Jet Spur (7 SW) all appear among the top 35 stallions on the current Australian General list.

Buyers looking for a touch of Flying Spur’s magic can start with the 15 Inglis Easter Sale yearlings out of his daughters, including Turangga Farm’s handsome filly by Charge Forward from Chatelaine. The Charge Forward/Flying Spur cross has an excellent SWs/runners strike rate of 13.5% and this filly is a full sister to the best of them, Champion 2YO Filly & 3YO Group 1 winner Headway.

Charge Forward in a class of his own

Looking for a Group 1 sire standing for less than $20,000, who averaged more than $100,000 at both the Magic Millions (Book 1) and Inglis Easter Sales in 2015?

That search produces just one result: Charge Forward.

His eight yearlings sold at Australia’s two major sales averaged $115,000, with a top price of $180,000 for the Laissez Faire colt bought at Magic Millions by Tony Gollan & John Foote from the Arrowfield draft.

It’s surely no co-incidence that this colt and the next two most profitable Charge Forward yearlings sold in 2015 are all out of Danehill-line mares.

Charge Forward’s statistics show that he’s sired 7.1% Stakeswinners/Runners from Danehill or Danehill-line mares.

To put that figure in perspective, only Redoute’s Choice among last season’s top 10 active Australian sires have a better lifetime strike rate from all his runners. And all of the stallions in that group are standing at considerably higher fees than Charge Forward.

In all, 17 of Charge Forward’s 29 stakes performers are from Danehill-line mares, and 12 of them either won or placed in stakes company as juveniles. 

It’s a pattern that started early, when Charge Forward’s first-crop daughter Headway (ex Chatelaine by Flying Spur) emerged as his first stakeswinner and progressed to victory in the VRC Coolmore Stud S. G1. She has been followed by another four stakeswinners out of Flying Spur mares, notably the brothers Road Trippin’ & Crack A Roadie who together earned around ten times their combined purchase price. 

Brilliant Group-winning sprinter Solar Charged, from a Danehill mare, appeared in Charge Forward’s second crop, and then came the Group winners Cavalry Rose, Direct Charge & London Lolly whose dams are by three different Danehill sons (Danske, Redoute’s Choice & Lion Hunter).

It’s the same story with several of Charge Forward’s six-figure earners last season: First Light Racing’s multiple city winner Face Forward (ex Endearment by Danehill), Moonee Valley winners Pathways & stakes-placed Fast Cash (both out of Choisir mares) and Singapore winner Good News (ex Rezyana by Redoute’s Choice).

However, it’s a rare rule that doesn’t generate exceptions and Charge Forward’s success isn’t limited to Danehill-line mares. Dual Group 1 winner Response, Group 2 winner Shrapnel and last season’s two-time Group 3 winner Slightly Sweet are from mares by Match Winner, Snippets & Dubai Destination.

In the past couple of years, daughters of Charge Forward have made a splash at broodmare sales, as breeders seek outcross mates for stallions with Danehill close up in their pedigrees. Cavalry Rose & Solar Charged each made $650,000 at the 2014 Magic Millions National Sale, and at the same sale this year Response, in foal to Snitzel, was knocked down for $1.5 million to Katsumi Yoshida.

It’s a pair of talented 4YO mares that are likely to lead Charge Forward’s team this Spring and fittingly, they are both Jason Coyle-trained homebreds for the family of the late Phillip Esplin, a founding director of Arrowfield and the breeder of Charge Forward.

Something Secret (from juvenile stakeswinner Secret Land by Secret Savings) has made a very good impression in provincial company, winning at Wyong & Gosford last month.

Slightly Sweet already has two Group victories on her eight-start record and is about a fortnight away from a trial after returning from her winter break in superb order.

Gai Waterhouse’s 2YOs include what she describes as a “nice colt” called Tribal (ex Mozambique by Redoute’s Choice) for Ron & Deb Gilbert. The Gilberts have already achieved success with Charge Forward as the breeders of Shrapnel, a two-time Group winner, and twice Group 1-placed at three.