Gr1 Double highlights Choisir's value

published: 31 Mar 2017 in Pedigree analysis

CHAMPION sprinter Choisir (Danehill Dancer (IRE)-Great Selection by Lunchtime (GB)) has always been one of the quiet achievers on the Coolmore roster and his stud fee has never climbed beyond $35,750 (2009, 2010). Which is remarkable, given his exceptional stud record as the sire of more than 900 winners of $88m, 77 of them, or 5.4% of his starters, stakes winners.

  His Gr.1 winners climbed to 10 in late September and early October with the success of the juvenile colt The Last Lion (IRE) in the historic Middle Park Stakes (6f) at Newmarket and the three year-old colt Divine Prophet in the Caulfield Guineas (1600m) in Victoria. The wins highlight Choisir’s remarkable versatility as a sire and his record of big race winners in both hemispheres makes him one of the best-ever reverse shuttlers.

  Since retiring to stud in Australia in 2003 and Ireland the following year he has had Gr.1 winners in Europe, Great Britain, Ireland, the US, Australia, NZ and a domestic Gr.1 winner in Hong Kong. His champion miler son Olympic Glory (IRE) (ex Acidanthera by Alzao (USA)) won the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes-Gr.1 at Royal Ascot, the Lockinge Stakes-Gr.1 at Newbury, the Prix Jean-Luc Lagadare-Gr.1 and the Prix de la Foret-Gr.1, both at Longchamp, was twice Gr.1 second and once Gr.1 third in France in a career of 15 starts (eight wins, four Gr.1) and has shuttled to Arrowfield, Scone, for the past two seasons (fee $19,250). His foals are drawing rave reviews.

  Starspangledbanner (ex Gold Anthem by Made of Gold (GB)), whose seven wins included the Caulfield Guineas-Gr.1 and Oakleigh Plate-Gr.1 (1100m) at Caulfield before following in his sire’s footsteps to the UK where he won the Golden Jubilee-Gr.1 (6f) at Royal Ascot, a race where Choisir created history in 2003 by becoming the first Australian-trained runner to win the event after he had won the Kings’ Stand Stakes-Gr.2 (now Gr.1) at the track a few days earlier.

  Starspangledbanner went one better than his sire, who was runner-up to Oasis Dream in the July Cup-Gr.1, by beating Equiano and Alverta in that event. He was also runner-up in the Nunthorpe-Gr.1 at York and third in the VRC Newmarket-Gr.1. Hopes were high when he first retired to stud in Ireland and Australia in 2011 but fertility issues saw him put back into training before he began covering restricted books in Victoria. Miraculously, his fertility improved to such an extent that he covered a normal sized book in Ireland earlier this year and is now busy on the Coolmore roster at Jerrys Plains where he stands alongside his sire on $24,750. Those first small crops produced several really smart horses including the French Champion Juvenile Colt of 2014, The Wow Signal (IRE) (dam by High Chaparral (IRE)), winner of the Prix Morny-Gr.1 at Deauville and a shuttler to Victoria in 2015.

  Choisir, who stands at $29,700, is also sire of the geldings Obviously (Montjeu), twice winner of the Hollywood Park Shoemaker Mile-Gr.1, the ARC Zabeel Classic-Gr.1 and WRC Thorndon Mile winner Historian (Marauding), Manawatu Sires’ Produce-Gr.1 winner Choice Bro (Palace Music), VRC Coolmore Stud (Ascot Vale) Stakes-Gr.1 winner Japonisme (Encosta de Lago), South Australian Derby-Gr.1 winner Kushadasi (Carnegie) and Hong Kong Derby-HKGr.1 winner Luger (Danzero). He can get a good filly too as evidenced by his ATC Doncaster Handicap-Gr.1 and VRC Myer Classic-Gr.1 winner Sacred Choice (Sir Tristram).

  His latest Caulfield Guineas winner Divine Prophet (ex Prophet Jewel by Encosta de Lago), bred and raced by the Falcone family, is trained by Michael, Wayne and John Hawkes and is a brother to the Gr.3 winner Proisir, also second in the Spring Champion Stakes-Gr.1 and Randwick Guineas-Gr.1 and now on the roster at Rich Hill Stud in NZ. Divine Prophet, who defeated Seaburge (Sebring) by a head in the $1m Caulfield mile, and the runner-up are both from daughters of champion broodmare sire Encosta de Lago, as is Coolmore (Ascot Vale) Gr.1 winner Japonisme. Encosta de Lago is by Fairy King, a brother to Cololmore’s great sire Sadler’s Wells (Northern Dancer-Fairy Bridge by Bold Reason), a horse who features in the pedigrees of several of Choisir’s better winners.

  Divine Prophet’s dam is a city winner of six races to 1300m and she is from the city winner Factor (Centaine) whose four winners include stakes placed Mr Esteem (Umatilla). Next dam Imperial Bride raced twice and is a daughter of the Forli horse Imperial March and the good producer Bridesmaid (Agricola), dam of stakes winners Down The Aisle (Imperialist) and Gold Pulse (Oncidium). Bridesmaid’s dam Sunbride (GB) (Tai-Yang-Graceful Bride by Golden Grace) was 1968 NZ Broodmare of the Year and her progeny included General Command (Agricola), winner of the Sydney Cup, Queen Elizabeth Stakes and AJC The Metropolitan at Gr.1 level, Straight Draw (Faux Tirage), winner of the Melbourne Cup, Sydney Cup and AJC The Metropolitan, all Gr.1, and Caulfield Cup-Gr.1 winner Ilumquh (Sabean), also second and third in the Melbourne Cup. This is also the family of Gr.1 winners Triumphal Queen, Dayana, Grand Cidium and North Island.

  Divine Prophet broke his maiden at Kembla at his second start at two and was beaten just over a length by Prized Icon next time out in the Champagne Stakes-Gr.1. His first start at three netted a win in the Up and Coming Stakes-Gr.3 at Randwick and then he was fourth in the Golden Rose-Gr.1, second behind Impending (dam also by Encosta de Lago) in the Stan Fox-Gr.2 before his Guineas win in 1:36.51 for jockey Dwayne Dunn at just his seventh start (three wins, a second and a third, $859,525).

  Choisir also has good winners with mares from the Sir Tristram line and seems to appreciate more returns of Star Kingdom (his second dam is by Biscay), especially via the brothers Todman and Noholme. Black type performers include runners out of dams by Ferdinand, Catrail, Zabeel (dam by Nureyev, a three-quarter brother to Sadler’s Wells and Fairy King), Kala Dancer, Thatching, Foxhound, Devil’s Bag, Mujadil, Rubiton, Humam, Rory’s Jester, Danzero, Kendor, Compton Place, Strategic, Seattle Slew, Fantastic Light and Tactical Cat.

  The Middle Park Stakes winner The Last Lion is from Mala Mala, a daughter of Brief Truce (IRE) (Irish River) and the Commanche Run mare Breyani. His fourth dam, Cake (Never Say Die-La Marseillaise by Alycidon) is well known in this part of the world as the second dam of Gr.1 winner and sire Al Hareb (USA) (sire of Hareeba) and as the third dam of Snowdrift (FR), dam of Gr.1 winner Snowland, and his stakes-winning brother Snippetson and their Golden Slipper-placed half-sister Portillo. Cake is also fourth dam of Prix Morny-Gr.1 winner and shuttler Myboycharlie (IRE).

  The Last Lion, purchased by John Brown and Megan Dennis for €82,000 at the Goffs Orby Sale and bred by Barronstown Stud, is a tough customer as he has raced 10 times for four wins (including a Gr.3 and a Listed event) and six placings for trainer Mark Johnston. The 25/1 shot led all the way in the Middle Park to win by three-quarters of a length from the Gimcrack-Gr.2 winner Blue Point to give his jockey Joe Fanning his first Gr.1 success on his 46th birthday. The Last Lion ran 1.12.13 on a good track and was coming off a dead-heat second in the Flying Childers-Gr.2 at his previous outing. An out and out sprinter, he is likely to be set for the Commonwealth Cup-Gr.1 in 2017.

  His Gr.1 placed dam has also produced Listed winners Contest (Danehill Dancer) and Russian Rock (Rock of Gibraltar) and is a half-sister to Irish 1000 Guineas-Gr.1 winner Tarascon (Tirol) and Gr.2 winner Mister Monet (Peintre Celebre). There are quite a few Australian performers under his third dam Molakai (Prince Tenderfoot) including stakes winners Russian Caravan, Custard, Serene Majesty, Fravashi, Pure Joy, Vivacious Spirit, Costa Viva and Audacious Spirit.

  Choisir also had a pretty busy time at two and three (although classed as a four year-old in three starts in England), winning seven as well as running five seconds (two Gr.1) and six thirds (four Gr.1). He started early, winning the Breeders’ Plate-LR on debut then collecting the rich Inglis 2YO Classic before landing the Skyline Stakes-Gr.3. He was also runner-up to Victory Vein in the AJC Sires’ Produce-Gr.1 and third in the Golden Slipper-Gr.1 and Champagne Stakes-Gr.1 and rated Champion Two Year-Old Colt in Australia in 2001-02. At three his major Australian victory came in the Lightning Stakes-Gr.1 (1000m) at Flemington and he also won the Linlithgow Stakes-Gr.2 (1200m).

  Trainer Paul Perry took the powerful three year-old to England where he demolished a field of the best sprinters in the King’s Stand Stakes-Gr.2 (5f) at the Royal Ascot meeting, relegating Acclamation and Oasis Dream, also now important sires, into the minors. That win, the first by an Australian-trained sprinter in England, caused a sensation, as did his win in the Golden Jubilee-Gr.1 at Ascot a few days later. Now owned by Coolmore he was tasked with running in the July Cup, a race not factored into his original program, and was far from disgraced when runner-up to Oasis Dream in this 6f event at Newmarket. He was named Champion Older Male Sprinter in GB in 2003

  His success opened the floodgates for Australian sprinters including his son Starspangledbanner and others like Miss Andretti (King’s Stand), Scenic Blast (King’s Stand), Takeover Target (King’s Stand) and Ortensia (Nunthorpe Stakes, King George Stakes) to chase success in Europe. 

   Choisir’s sire Danehill Dancer (IRE) (Danehill (USA)-Mira Adonde by Sharpen Up), a dual Gr.1 winner at two in Ireland, is another who initially flew “under the radar” at Coolmore, being farmed out at a modest fee when he first began shuttling to Australia in 1997. From an advertised $7500 (although noms could be had much cheaper), his fee gradually rose to $110,000 in 2008 on the strength of runners like Choisir and triple Gr.1 winner Private Steer (both second crop) and other local Gr.1 winners like Arapho Miss, Atomic Force, Light Fantastic and Steps in Time and northern stars such as Again, Alfred Nobel, Dancing Rain (Epsom Oaks), Esoterique, Hillstar, Legatissimo, Lillie Langtry, Planteur, Qemah, Where or When and four-time Gr.1 winner and NZ shuttler Mastercraftsman (IRE), sire of Gr.1 winners in both hemispheres.

  Danehill Dancer’s last local season (of 13) was in 2009 when he got 34 live foals from 98 mares covered. Danehill Dancer, whose third dam is dual Gr.1 winner and Champion European Sprinter Lianga (Dancer’s Image) and who is inbred to the great Native Dancer (5f,5fx4m,5m), left 988 live foals here.

  Choisir’s first two dams, Great Selection by the Dewhurst-Gr.1 winner Lunchtime, and Pensive Mood, by brilliant Biscay (Star Kingdom) were minor winners and his third dam Staid (Minor Portion (IRE)) won four races including the Listed Christmas Cup (2400m). Her dam Straightlaced (Jambo (GB)-Stayput by the Precipitation son Avalanche (GB)) also won black type in taking the Flight Stakes-Gr.2 (now Gr.1) and is a half-sister to SW Emperor’s Flight (Emperor). Next dam Adhere is a daughter of Spearhead (GB) and Cohesion (GB) by Syndrian. She is Choisir’s sixth dam and also left the Doncaster Handicap winner Prelate and the City Tatts Cup winner Billposter.

  Her sire Spearhead is a son of Spearmint and Baroness La Fleche (Ladas) and is a half-brother to English 1000 Guineas winner and noted broodmare Cinna (seventh dam of Show a Heart and of Sunday Silence). Cohesian is the dam 
of brilliant sprinter Valiant Chief (Heroic), winner of the Linlithgow Stakes and Memsie Stakes, and a half-sister to Aspen (Spiral) dam of NZ Derby winner Idaho. This is family 8f and came to Australia in the mid 1920s with the importation 
of Aspic (GB) (Polymelus-Jelly by Isinglass).

  A very good sire and now emerging broodmare sire (132 winners of $10m, 6SW), including the dam of Royal Ascot Gr.1 winner My Dream Boat (Lord Shanakill) and Moonee Valley Gr.2 winner My Poppette (Snippetson), Choisir looks set 
to establish a very strong branch of the Danehill sire line. His two recent Gr.1 winners, both very good colts, look exciting stallion prospects down the track. n