THIS weekend sees the latest staging of the Group 1 Keeneland Phoenix Stakes at the Curragh.

The race has been won 16 times by horses trained by Ballydoyle’s Aidan O’Brien, by some way his most prolific achievement at the highest level.

One of that group was the 2017 winner, the Scat Daddy (Johannesburg) colt Sioux Nation. The bay’s win in the race was his best racecourse achievement, and came after he had landed the Group 2 Norfolk Stakes at Royal Ascot.

At three, Sioux Nation only won once, the Group 3 Goffs Lacken Stakes at Naas, but he was third to Havana Grey back at the Curragh in the Group 1 Derrinstown Stud Flying Five.

Now Havana Grey and Sioux Nation are in a different battle, that for pre-eminence among the stallions with their first runners in 2022. At the time of writing the score stands at 29 winners from 65 starters (45%) for the Whitsbury Manor Stud sire, while Coolmore’s Sioux Nation’s 19 winners have come from 49 starters (39%). Both now have sired a single stakes winner, Lady Hollywood winning a listed race at Naas, while Sioux Nation’s first blacktype winner has emerged at group level.

Bred by Mark and Caroline Hanly at Grange Hill Stud in Nenagh and by Mick Buckley, Sydneyarms Chelsea has emerged as a very smart juvenile and was gaining her second win in four starts when she landed the Group 3 Prix Six Perfections at Deauville.

She was fifth in the Group 3 Albany Stakes at Royal Ascot and fourth in a listed race, also at Deauville, on her non-winning starts. She cost Stuart Boman of Blandford Bloodstock just £9,000 at last year’s Tattersalls Ireland September Yearling Sale.

Sydneyarms Chelsea is the second foal, first runner and winner for her dam Wedding Dress, a daughter of Tamayuz (Nayef). Only raced at two, Wedding Dress won on her debut and was placed. Her first foal has not been named, but there are two gentlemen who will have been as pleased as the breeders to see the Charlie Hills-trained filly battle so well to win on Tuesday.

Happy pair

Pat Taaffe and Harry Swan spent €15,000 last year at the Goffs November Sale for a Zoffany (Dansili) half-brother to Sydneyarms Chelsea. That March 15th-born colt is Lot 815 at the Goffs Sportsman’s Sale, consigned by the recently married Peter Nolan. This is a family that produces plenty of winners, and Wedding Dress has made a good start for the next generation.

One of three winners for her group-placed dam Dream Bay (Oasis Dream), Wedding Dress is a half-sister to the stakes-placed juvenile winner Delhi (High Chaparral). Dream Bay is one of nine winners and three stakes performers on the flat from her dam Capistrano Day (Diesis). She was a listed winner in France and, like her daughter Delhi, she was placed in the Group 3 Fred Darling Stakes. In fact, one of those nine successful progeny was a listed winner, but Full Day (Champs Elysees) gained that win in a juvenile hurdle.

Alcando (Alzao) is the fourth dam of Sydneyarms Chelsea and she developed from winning a listed race at Ayr at two to a Group 3 win in France, ending up with a Grade 1 triumph in the Beverly Hills Handicap at Hollywood Park. She had a perfect record at stud, six foals and six winners.

Capistrano Day was her sole stakes winner, but her full-sister Leopard Hunt (Diesis) was stakes-placed, and now she is the grandam of the 2020 champion two-year-old in Japan, Danon The Kid (Just A Way).

ON Monday, the hugely valuable Irish EBF Ballyhane Stakes, carrying a winners’ purse of almost €150,000, was won by Annemarie O’Brien with her homebred Voce Del Palio. The two-year-old son of Bated Breath (Dansili) had previously landed a Roscommon maiden, but this was by some way his best performance.

Voce Del Palio failed to sell as a yearling for €14,000, and he was purchased in utero by Whisperview Trading when, through Howson and Houldsworth Bloodstock, they gave just 7,500gns for his dam Caption, a placed daughter of Motivator (Montjeu).

When looking back over past pages of Breeding Insights – and this is the 375th consecutive column (who’s counting?!!) – there are a number of themes that repeat themselves with great regularity.

One is the ability of Annemarie O’Brien to identify inexpensive mares who go on to produce good horses, many of them from world-famous farms. The other is the almost weekly success of horses from great Juddmonte families.


In the case of Voce Del Palio’s dam Caption, it is a combination of both. Raced by the late Khalid Abdullah, Caption had two minor placings from just three starts while in the care of Sir Michael Stoute. She was then culled at the Tattersalls Horses In Training Sale for 29,000gns, being purchased by John Davis. He, with his wife Susan, are also listed as the purchaser a year later when she was resold for 100,000gns, carrying her first foal.

In 2019, once again Caption was despatched to Newmarket and the December Sale, and this was when Annemarie and Aidan O’Brien’s Whisperview Trading took possession of her for 7,500gns, a price that would not have even covered the covering fee for Bated Breath.

That said, she was disappointing at stud at the time, with just a pair of placed runners to her credit. Now she is off the mark as a winner producer, and she has some well-bred youngsters in the pipeline.

The attraction of Caption was obvious. She is a daughter of the unraced Razzle (Danzig), and that mare is a full-sister to four group or graded stakes winners. They are Grade 3 winners Harpia and Shibboleth, the Grade 2 winner Eagle Eyed, and, most significantly, the Group 1 Haydock Sprint Cup winner, champion sire and influential breed-maker, Danehill (Danzig).

Greatest influence

Danehill was purchased from Juddmonte by Coolmore Stud and Arrowfield in Australia, and down under he became the greatest influence on the breeding and racing industry.

He was also the horse who, in many ways, spearheaded the notion of shuttle stallions. Today, he is ever present in the families of the world’s best racehorses.

Danehill is the grandsire, through Dansili, of Bated Breath, one of the most popular stallions with breeders in Britain. Standing this season for a career high fee of £15,000, almost double his first season cost of £8,000, he is a consistent sire of smart runners that trainers love. His seventh crop are two-year-olds, and he averages some 18 juvenile winners each year.

Twenty-two stakes winners so far include Grade 1 winner Viadera, five Group/Grade 2 winners and a further eight whose best win came at Group/Grade 3 level.