The impact of champion Canny Lad

July 25, 2017Ken McLean

Photo: Canny Lad  (Bletchingly-Jesmond Lass by Lunchtime (GB))

Published: April 2017

TWO of the most dominant sires in Australia today are Redoute’s Choice (Danehill (USA)-Shantha’s Choice) and I Am Invincible (Invincible Spirit (IRE)-Cannarelle), both produced from daughters of champion Canny Lad.

Many years ago Norman Carlyon and his wife Dizzy asked me to recommend suitable matings for their young imported mare Dancing Show (Nijinsky II-Show Lady by Sir Ivor), a mare selected for them by Joss Collins (BBA England). Joss had suggested the mare visit Miswaki in Kentucky for her first foal. This mating resulted in Gr.1 stakes winner Umatilla (seven wins, $683,305). After studying the mare’s pedigree pattern I came to the conclusion she might require speed from Star Kingdom’s strain and if possible introduce Fair Trial and/or Nasrullah.

Norman agreed to test Star Watch (Bletchingly-Light of Peace by Light Wind (FR)), a Gr.1 sprinter miler from Star Kingdom’s line of Biscay. Star Watch possessed a triple of Fair Trial in his make-up. The result was a bay colt foaled in 1991 named Hurricane Sky (six wins, $893,170), whose victories included the All Aged Stakes-Gr.1 and Blue Diamond Stakes-Gr.1. The following year I asked Norman to send Dancing Show to another son of Bletchingly, Champion Two Year-Old Canny Lad.

Shantha’s Choice

THIS special mating produced Shantha’s Choice, winning dam of champion miler and leading sire Redoute’s Choice. Shantha’s Choice was a lovely foal and showed ability until bad luck prevented her from possibly earning black type. As a producer, she established a high-class branch of her family.

Canny Lad (ex Jesmond Lass by Lunchtime (GB)) was truly an outstanding racehorse bred by Basinghall Investment Pastoral Company. Trained by Rik Hore-Lacy, he showed brilliance at two years, winning six of seven starts including the Golden Slipper Stakes-Gr.1 and VRC Sires’ Produce Stakes-Gr.1. His race record shows 15 starts for eight wins and earnings of $2,094,450. At three he added the Bill Stutt Stakes-Gr.2 (1600m), plus the Tattersalls Stakes-Gr.3. Retired to the Ingham family’s Woodlands Stud in 1991 and later standing at Darley’s Kelvinside Stud, Canny Lad was a highly successful sire of 11 Gr.1 winners and 55 stakes winners with progeny earnings exceeding $50m. He died aged 26 in mid-2014 in retirement, after covering his final book of 33 mares (27 live foals) in 2011 and is buried at Woodlands Stud.

Why did we choose Canny Lad for Dancing Show? Apart from the fact the Blecthingly horse was brilliant up to a mile, he was sound and showed courage. As well, Canny Lad possessed good temperament and clean airflow, major factors we considered in the selection process. He was a mix of Star Kingdom and Fair Trial, the two strains we felt might be genetically compatible for the spirited mare by Nijinsky II.

Dancing Show’s dam Show Lady (Sir Ivor-Best in Show by Traffic Judge) carried a double of Tracery via Papyrus (son) and Teresina (daughter) and much success can come from reinforcing English classic winner Tracery in matings. Tracery carries a sister to St Simon in his pedigree plus heavy line breeding to the famous mare Pocahontas, dam of influential sires Stockwell, Rataplan and King Tom, the latter being broodmare sire of St Simon.

Dancing Show’s dam is by English Derby winner Sir Ivor, and Sir Ivor is by Sir Gaylord, whose dam is by Princequillo (whose broodmare sire is Papyrus, best son of Tracery). Dancing Show’s second dam Best in Show is by Traffic Judge by Alibhai (Hyperion-Teresina by Tracery). It’s interesting to note Northern Dancer, sire of Nijinsky II, also carries the Hyperion/Tracery mix via Lady Angela, dam of Nearctic. Thus, Shantha’s Choice inherited considerable genetic impact from the Hyperion/Tracery mix, the same mix found in champion sire Star Kingdom.

These ancestors under review represent superior racing class. Star Kingdom was second best two year-old of his year in England, failing by a short head to champion Abernant at the end of the season. Hyperion was Champion 3YO in England, winner of the English Derby and leading sire in Europe. Tracery was champion 3YO in England and son of champion Rock Sand.
Alibhai (by Hyperion) was exported to the US but never raced. He showed brilliance at two, running fast fractions, but broke down before his debut. He became a very influential sire of high-class stakes winners and is remembered most for being the broodmare sire of the famous brothers Graustark and His Majesty. Teresina raced by the Aga Khan, was outstanding on turf and is considered to be the best-performed daughter of champion Tracery in the Stud Book. (See Chart 1)


When Danehill (Danzig-Razyana by His Majesty) covered Shantha’s Choice, this match would reinforce many superior ancestors, especially the Hyperion/Tracery mix, add more Tracery, and provide impact from the great mare Selene (dam of Hyperion, Sickle, Pharamond II). Their son Redoute’s Choice offered among others the following strains:
* another source of Lady Angela via Nearctic (paternal grandsire of Danzig)
* His Majesty, whose dam is by Alibhai
* Petition, whose broodmare sire Artist’s Proof is by Gainsborough (sire of Hyperion) from a daughter of Tracery
* Ribot, whose second dam is Barabara Burrini, by Papyrus by Tracery

These are powerful ancestors with classic speed and stamina helping to create an element of genetic dominance. Redoute’s Choice has enormous strength in his genotype and it comes as no surprise that many of his best-performed sons will be successful at stud.
I believe the alternate sex line in a pedigree pattern often explains success or failure on the racetrack. I refer to it as the zigzag influence and it plays an important role in the pattern of Redoute’s Choice. The zigzag line goes to his dam and then to broodmare sire Canny Lad.
Now let’s look at the sensational young sire I Am Invincible (by the Danzig-line sire Invincible Spirit), standing at Yarraman Park Stud. He too, has a zigzag going to Canny Lad.


I Am Invincible
(Invincible Spirit (IRE)-Cannarelle by Canny Lad)

I Am Invincible

CHAMPION Australian first season sire of 2013-14, I Am Invincible is in my opinion likely to become a better sire than his successful father Invincible Spirit (Green Desert-Rafha by Kris) who stands in Ireland. In phenotype, there are certain characteristics inherited from Canny Lad in the conformation and temperament of I Am Invincible, a bay horse standing 16.2 hands, born in 2004. Arthur and Harry Mitchell were quite astute in focusing on this horse as a stallion prospect.

A brilliant sprinter winning five of 13 starts for $270,050, his wins include the SAJC DC McKay Stakes-Gr.3, Listed Sir John Monash Stakes and The Age Handicap at Caulfield, as well as the AJC Hoxton Park Handicap at Warwick Farm. His best effort was runner-up to Takeover Target in the SAJC Goodwood Handicap-Gr.1 (1200m). He was Gr.3 placed as a juvenile. (See Chart 2)


From what part of his ancestry does this young stallion inherit his degree of dominance? How important is Canny Lad’s input?
I Am Invincible was a tough 1000m to 1200m performer with lots of fast twitch muscle fibre, but four of his five wins came as a four year-old. He is by a brilliant Irish sprinter from a daughter of an Australian champion 2YO, yet as a sire of stakes winners, many of his progeny are able to project their speed beyond a mile.

Invincible Spirit

INVINCIBLE Spirit was joint top rated sprinter in Ireland in 2001. He won seven races and £247,786 at two to five years and was very effective at six furlongs. His victories include the Haydock Park Leisure Sprint Cup-Gr.1, Curragh Anne MacDonagh Boland Stakes-Gr.3, Duke of York Stakes-Gr.3, and the Listed Ripon Champion 2YO Trophy. His progeny have earned more than £33m.

By Danzig’s son Green Desert, Invincible Spirit has sired Moonlight Cloud, Mayson, Territories, Kingman, and Fleeting Spirit, while in a short stint in Australia he got Yosei (ex Fuji Fairy by Fuji Kiseki), a talented filly whose victories included the 1000 Guineas-Gr.1, Tatts (Qld) Tatts Tiara-Gr.1 and the AJC Sires’ Produce Stakes Gr-1.

Invincible Spirit brings more Hyperion and Tracery strains to the table. He carries Lady Angela (dam of Nearctic), Petition, a double of Papyrus via the dam of Princequillo (the broodmare sire of Sir Gaylord, and the sire of Round Table), more Papyrus via Stella Polaris (third dam of Reliance, the broodmare sire of Kris) and even more of Tracery’s son Papyrus via Honey Buzzard (also in Kris’s make-up). Of course, Hyperion also features in his pedigree pattern.

Looking now at I Am Invincible’s second dam Countess Pedrille, who was matched with Canny Lad to produce Cannarelle, we discover clever duplication of superior ancestors.

Countess Pedrille

BORN in 1994, Countess Pedrille is by American-bred Zoffany (Our Native-Grey Dawn Girl by Grey Dawn II) from Sister Pedrille by Cardinal from Royal Law by Royal Artist (fast son of Star Kingdom). Cardinal is by High Hat, a son of Hyperion. How does Countess Pedrille connect with Canny Lad’s genotype?

Her second dam Royal Law is a mix of Star Kingdom with Fair Trial, and Star Kingdom is a mix of Hyperion with Tracery.

Zoffany, a tough Graded stakes winner in the US, has as his second dam Hoi Polloi by Princequillo (dam by Papyrus by Tracery). Apart from the double of Papyrus and Hyperion, Countess Pedrille introduced a “son” of champion Native Dancer.

Why is this important? To balance impact from Northern Dancer whose dam Natalma is a daughter of Native Dancer, it makes sense to bring in a “son” of Native Dancer for “sex balance” (deployment of similar genes on chromosomal pairings) and Raise a Native is an ideal ancestor to employ.

By far the best stakes winners carrying Northern Dancer’s strain are those who possess a “son” of Native Dancer and input from the French stallion Teddy (sire of Sir Gallahad II, Bull Dog, La Troienne). Two successful crosses using a son of Native Dancer involved Atan (sire of Sharpen Up) and Raise a Native (sire of Mr. Prospector, Alydar and Exclusive Native). Zoffany supplied a son of Native Dancer.

Native Dancer (Poynesian-Geisha by Discovery) was American Horse of the Year and a great champion who descends in male line from Sickle (Phalaris-Selene by Chaucer), the half-brother of Hyperion. He adds impact from powerful mare Selene.

Redoute’s Choice
(Danehill (USA)-Shantha’s Choice by Canny Lad)

Mumtaz Mahal

THE other strain in Canny Lad that keeps being reinforced in stakes winning progeny of Redoute’s Choice and I Am Invincible is champion filly Mumtaz Mahal (The Tetrarch-Lady Josephine by Sundridge), who features in the make-up of Nasrullah, Royal Charger and Mahmoud. I suspect Canny Lad gets much of his genetic dominance from the influential mare Jesmond Lass (Lunchtime-Beautiful Dreamer by Coeur Volant-Adina Rose by Jambo).

Lunchtime is out of a mare by Hornbeam (Hyperion-Thicket by Nasrullah), an extremely important ancestor in Canny Lad’s ancestry. Lunchtime’s dam is a wonderful mix of Hyperion, Nasrullah and Fair Trial. Jesmond Lass’s dam Beautiful Dreamer is inbred 3×3 to Jambo (GB), whose dam Dodoma is impeccably bred being by Dastur-Mumtaz Begum by Blenheim from Mumtz Mahal.

Dodoma is therefore half-sister to champion sire Nasrullah, and to the dam of Royal Charger. (See Chart 2)

I find this significant. It increases the chance for genes responsible for early maturing speed to be exploited. Descendants of Mumtaz Mahal are notorious for supplying dominant speed. When Mumtaz Mahal’s strain was matched with Nearco or his descendants it created a sensational pattern, a good example being the Aga Khan’s flying filly Diableretta, who happens to be the dam of Coeur Volant.

Champion 2YO and 3YO Colt Sepoy traces to Jesmond Lass (his third dam) and perhaps some of his best stakes winners might be produced from mares reinforcing Star Kingdom via his descendants Bletchingly, Biscay and Luskin Star. Sepoy is of course line bred to Northern Dancer and the brothers Graustark and His Majesty (brothers with Alibhai’s input). As well, we find Biscay and Lunchtime enhancing the pedigree for early maturing speed, a clever pedigree pattern certainly designed to upgrade racing class.

I Am Invincible (See Chart 3) owns a pedigree pattern to suit many fashionable mares and he may well become the country’s leading sire. In the meantime, I would suggest he suits mares with more Star Kingdom, especially via Biscay and Bletchingly and consider testing him with the strains of Nasrullah, Royal Charger, Princequillo, Alibhai, Halo, Vain, even another source of Zoffany (USA), and perhaps introduce a source of Sir Tristram, whose dam has the Princequillo mix with Hyperion’s three-quarter sister All Moonshine.


Ken McLean

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