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Strong Sales

Posted 31/10/2021

            After a few rather poor years for sales results we have done much better this year and managed to sell all five yearlings on offer this year for an average of approximately £34,000 which is over three times the average cover fees. Equally satisfying are the homes that the five have gone to and we are very hopeful that they will have good, happy careers and be a source of pleasure to their new connections. The Twilight Son filly we sold in August for £70,000 we believe went to Lambourn based Clive Cox who knows all about sprinters and how to get the best out of them. In Book 2 we sold our Oasis Dream filly for 52,000 guineas and she will be the first horse we have bred to be stabled at trainer David Menuisier's establishment in Sussex. Going For Gold's Bated Breath filly went to another Lambourn based trainer in Sylvester Kirk for 2,500 guineas. The price was disappointing given her half sister was a black type performer and full brother had a top RPR of 103. However, it was clear on her physical and pedigree that she will need some time and the market doesn't particularly like waiting! We'll see, as Syl is a very good and experienced trainer and no doubt she will get every chance.Bated Breath x Aureana colt at the Deauville Yearling SaleBated Breath x Aureana colt at the Deauville Yearling Sale

            On to Deauville and we were thrilled not only to sell Aureana's Bated Breath colt for €40,000 but also that the purchaser was Jean Claude Rouget one of the top trainers around. As he is based in Pau, only 90 minutes car ride from where we live in Donostia-San Sebastian, it is quite possible we'll get a chance to see the colt race at a nearby track. Finally our Ultra filly sold for €10,000 to Marc Pimbonnet, a trainer based in Lyon. It is important for us that both French yearlings stay in France as they could win French Breeders Premiums for us down the road, something we haven't been able to do after seven years of trying mainly because the yearlings were sold to people who had them trained outside of France!

            The Yearling Sales in aggregate have been strong and in particular the rise in median prices which for me signifies a stronger middle market. This is welcome news to many breeders as are the clearance rates which were also strong. Clearly the recent passing of some very key industry players at Cheveley Park, Juddmonte and Shadwell was a concern running up to these sales but I think any drop in their buying activity was more than made up for with strong participation from abroad (in particular the USA) as well as UK and Irish players. Whilst Shadwell in particular, who also downsized at last week's Tattersalls Horses in Training Sale, it appears that they and the others will continue their activities although perhaps at a lower volume than before.                                                                                                                                                                       

Ultra x Lady Macha filly at Deauville Yearling SaleUltra x Lady Macha filly at Deauville Yearling Sale

                                                                            So, the show goes on and we will be selling our 3yo unraced filly Galerna at the Tattersalls December Mare Sale. She is a full sister to Chicadoro who, after winning at Haydock Park, was second in the Listed Pretty Polly Stakes at Newmarket before being beaten just over 6 lengths in the Ribblesdale at Royal Ascot. After that she was sold to race in the USA where she was a winner and has now ventured into her new career as a broodmare with a yearling filly by Kessaar before being covered by Kodiac last year. 

            Galerna is also a half sister to Aureana who has made a promising start to her broodmare career with the two foals to date including the Bated Breath colt we sold to Jean Claude Rouget in October. There will be plenty of action on the page between the three young sisters and could be a very astute purchase for someone!

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Yearling Sales

Posted 10/10/2021

            We have two yearlings for sale this week at Tattersalls in Newmarket and two next week at Arqana in Deauville. First up on Tuesday 12th October will be a February filly by Oasis Dream out of Redskin Dancer. She is half sister to seven times winner Lincoln Rocks who won a Listed race over a mile and also came 2nd in a Group 3 over 7 furlongs and had a top rating of 106. Lincoln Rocks herself is now a broodmare and her first foal by Churchill, also a filly (Lot 696), goes through the ring on the Monday whilst this filly does so on Tuesday as Lot 894. She also has a 3yo half brother by Territories called Chirimiri who is currently in training with Christophe Ferland in France and has won two races to date reaching a rating of 39.5 in kilos which is equivalent to 87 in lbs. He ran a very good 4th yesterday in a class 2 €50,000 1200m handicap at Chantilly beaten a length whilst finishing strongly in sticky ground. He will now go on a break and be brought back for a Spring 2022 campaign when we aim to go for a Listed race at some stage.  

Oasis Dream x Redskin Dancer 2020 filly being prepared for the Book 2 yearling saleOasis Dream x Redskin Dancer 2020 filly being prepared for the Book 2 yearling sale

She is a very strong filly as you can see in the picture and should be a sprinter around the 6f mark like Chirimiri. Sire Oasis Dream had a great day yesterday gaining his 18th Group 1 winner when Native Trail won the Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket and has put himself up as the top 2yo in the UK in 2021. Oasis Dream has been a brilliant sire and is proving there is life in the old boy yet!

            On Friday in Book 3 we will be selling a Bated Breath (BB) filly out of Going For Gold who has already produced stakes placed Chicadoro and Kaanoon, who also happens to be a full brother to the filly. This is our 6th Bated Breath foal and the 4 to have run have yielded two stakes performers in Ekhtiyaar and Grade 2 winning Gift List as well as brother Kaanoon who was smart winning 3 of his 7 races and reaching an RPR of 103. The 4th was Kokocha who also won 3 races in France so that in total our BB foals have won 14 races from 50 runs and £664,300 with an average RPR of 99! The 5th foal is 2yo Moonlight Frolic who is in training with Amy Murphy and due to make a first appearance on the racecourse before year end, all being well. She is out of a half sister to the dam of Palace Pier so if a bit of her cousin's ability comes through she could be useful. I don't want to tempt fate, but she is progressing nicely and may well continue our BB run. 

            There is no doubt that this filly will need a bit of time, like Kaanoon who debuted at 3yo, but all good things come to he/she who waits!  

Bated Breath x Going For Gold 20f during sales preparation for Book 3 in October 2021Bated Breath x Going For Gold 20f during sales preparation for Book 3 in October 2021

                            The following week at Arqana on Wednesday 20th October (Lot 489) we will see BB number 7 who was foaled four days after number 6. He is out of Aureana who is half sister to the yearling filly in Book 3 and this yearling looks to be more of a 2yo which he probably gets from damsire Kyllachy's contooribution to his genes. His half sister is 2yo Pretty Persuasive by Footstepsinthesand, owned by Le Haras De La Gousserie who recently had a Group 1 winner in Rougir. She is due to make her first appearance at Chantilly on Wednesday over 1300m. This yearling looks very different from his BB auntie and very much in the up to a mile category of racer. 

Bated Breath x Aureana 20c in May 2021 at Haras De Logis, NormandyBated Breath x Aureana 20c in May 2021 at Haras De Logis, Normandy











            Finally on Thursday we'll be selling via Haras De Logis, who are also selling the BB colt, an Ultra filly out of Lady Macha (Lot 595). This is her first foal. The dam is a full sister to Bartholomeu Dias who has won 5 races in the UK and Australia and holds some high level entries in Group 1 races like the Caulfield Cup and the Melbourne Cup although to be honest I think it's doubtful he will run in either race. Nevertheless, he has accumulated Aus$341k in his career to date and is clearly a smart racehorse. Lady Macha herself retired after a couple of placed efforts due to injury but had already demonstrated some ability. Likely this yearling filly will need a mile plus so don't expect to see her early on as a 2yo.


                So a very important couple of weeks that need to see some good sales and cash coming in to offset the cash that goes out on a daily basis! After the very good sale of our Twilight Son filly at the Goffs Premier Sale for £70,000 we are optimistic but, as we all know, these things can change in the bat of an eyelid.

Ultra x Lady Macha 20f in her Normandy field with her mates in May of this yearUltra x Lady Macha 20f in her Normandy field with her mates in May of this year



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Chirimiri Loves Deauville

Posted 22/8/2021

            Chirimiri, our 2018 colt by Territories out of Namid mare Redskin Dancer, continued his upwardly mobile career and his love affair with Deauville when running a neck second to paternal half brother Mysterious Land at the coastal track yesterday. Whilst we could be somewhat disappointed that he just missed out on a second win at Deauville this month, we were very happy with the fact that he coped with the tough 4.5 kilo (11lbs) rise in his rating that the handicapper had given him. Chirimiri (No.4) 2nd at Deauville on 21 August over 1400mChirimiri (No.4) 2nd at Deauville on 21 August over 1400mHe was initially awarded 32 (70 in lb terms) in April after three runs and has now proven himself to be worthy of his current 39.5 (87) rating with this run. It's clear that when putting a horse into training there are a couple of key things to have in mind. First, how fast do you go with him/her? Quite a lot of horses never make the racetrack or never reach the level of innate ability they have and this could be down to pushing them too hard too soon. Secondly, take your time to get to know what your racehorse likes and dislikes when racing. Is there a preference for a certain type of going, racetrack, distance to run or tactics in running and what type, if any, of items of equipment help eg blinkers, visor or tongue tie?

            There is no doubt that we made the right decision with Chirimiri not to rush him with his racing and did this for a number of reasons. First, he was foaled on 28th April which makes him a relative youngster of his generation but perhaps more importantly was his physique which hinted at scope but did not shout out "I'm ready to rock!" when he was a two year old. His seven time winning half sister Lincoln Rocks, who also won a listed race, was much better at four years old and taking all these factors together we saw no reason to rush. Having said that, I think you have to give them some developmental exercise and not just leave them in the field until you decide to press on with getting them to the track. We sent him for a couple of months education and pre-training work before another spell in the field and then he was sent off to France with Christophe Ferland to start his career in September of 2020. 

Chirimiri in February 2021 at his stables in La Teste De BuchChirimiri in February 2021 at his stables in La Teste De Buch

Chirimiri made his debut in early March 2021 in a decent maiden at Chantilly on the all weather track over 1600m and ran decently to be 5th beaten 6 lengths. His second run was at local track La Teste De Buch, again over 1600m although this time on turf, and he ran a similar race in coming 4th beaten 5 lengths against decent types. At this point we were somewhat disappointed with his early efforts without being despondent but his third race was a worry as he trailed in 11th in an 1800m contest. It was at this point that we decided to try him over a shorter distance as he did not seem to relish going beyond 1400m in his races to date and that resulted in his first win when he trotted up in a 1400m handicap at Bordeaux where he was also held up versus running prominently. It was at this point that jockey Julien Augé suggested a straight course eg Deauville would suit as Chirimiri didn't like going around curves too much, and, after a fair run at Toulouse (with curves) under his new handicap mark of 35, he started his love affair with Deauville's straight track when running an excellent third in a competitive handicap over the shorter distance of 1300m. It was clear to us at this point that Chirimiri preferred shorter distances as well as the change in tactics of holding him up versus being up front which were first employed in his win at Bordeaux. It was also apparent that he preferred a bit of give in the ground although his win at Deauville over 1200m in early August was achieved on

Chirimiri at his stables in August 2021Chirimiri at his stables in August 2021ground described as good. Again he came from the back and won comfortably which probably explains why the handicapper gave him such a hefty rise of 4.5 kilos to 39.5. Subsequent events in his race yesterday at Deauville proved that the handicapper was not far off the mark although I still think he was harsh by a kilo or so. 

In conclusion, we have learnt a fair bit about Chirimiri and what he likes and doesn't like on the racetrack and physically he has developed tremendously over the previous six months as can be seen in the two photographs taken in February and August this year. Whilst photos quite often mislead due to their quality, angle taken, winter coat vs no coat and the light, it's clear that the horse below taken in August is a much stronger and imposing example than the one above taken in February. Whilst that is partially down to his natural growth pattern, it's also down to the regimen of training and racing that has developed his muscle condition and strength and possibly is something that would not have happened so well if we had put him in training 6 to 9 months earlier. We'll never know if that is a true conclusion of course, but I am a firm believer in letting nature take its course and not trying to force the pace. Ultimately the horse will tell you whether he/she is ready for a particular stage and it's up to the people looking after him/her to read the signals correctly. Hopefully we continue to read his signals correctly and Chirimiri goes on from being even more than the useful handicapper that he is today. We all know that patience is a virtue but listening is as well, oh and for Chirimiri, Deauville is the best!


Jim Atkinson

James Ortega Bloodstock Ltd 

22nd August 2021

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50 Wins Up on Twilight Calls Show

Posted 13/7/2021

            We started breeding 10 years ago and had our first runners and winners in 2013. Robynelle, by Royal Applause out of Chicita Banana, was the first to win a race albeit a modest 5f event at Carlisle for trainer Keith Dalgleish and ridden by Joe Fanning. Roll on eight years and Twilight Calls put up an impressive display to beat class 3 opposition at Newmarket on the July course under a confident ride by David Probert for trainer Henry Candy and owners Cheveley Park Stud to record a 50th win by James Ortega Bloodstock bred horses!Twilight Calls after his impressive win over 5f at Newmarket's July meetingTwilight Calls after his impressive win over 5f at Newmarket's July meeting

            Twilight Calls didn't have it all his own way as the improving King Of Stars forced him to put the pedal down although ultimately he won cosily with almost 4 lengths back to the third. The Racing Post subsequently gave Twilight Calls an RPR of 100 and today we will see what the official rating ends up at. I am expecting around 95 which means this son of Twilight Son has improved by 10lbs from 2yo to 3yo so far, which is around 11lbs less improvement than his sire showed by this stage of his 3yo career. Twilight Son won his next race, the Group 1 Betfred Sprint Cup at Haydock in September over 6f to eventually improve by 34lbs in his sophomore year. Whilst Twilight Calls is about 9lbs behind his sire's official rating at this stage of his career he has clearly inherited a lot of the sire's ability and, whilst a G1 win this year is perhaps unlikely, he could be a serious player in stakes races by the end of the year.


            The best wins out of our 50 have been a Grade 2 in the USA by Gift List (Bated Breath x Birthstone 2018 filly), a couple of Group 3's in the UK by New Providence (Bahamian Bounty x Bayja 2012 filly) and a UK Listed event by Lincoln Rocks (Rock Of Gibraltar x Redskin Dancer 2013 filly). The former is currently running in the USA with trainer Brian Lynch whilst the other two are now broodmares. Certainly the 3 fillies have done us proud with those four stakes wins coming from 15 fillies we have bred who have run at least once and, as we have three or four by sires such as Oasis Dream, Bated Breath and Ultra scheduled to go through the yearling ring this autumn you have an opportunity to get one soon!

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Shalaa Shaking It Up

Posted 7/6/2021


            In my analysis of the runners of the 2020 First Season Sires (FSS) during their first year, I noted three stallions that had underperformed despite receiving some of the best mares in Shalaa, The Gurkha and Awtaad, and whilst Awtaad has had a couple of black type winners and The Gurkha a couple of stakes placed performers during the first 5 months of 2021, it's Shalaa who is making the most significant move upwards. That is what my updated analysis is telling me in terms of the increase in the average rating of the 2020 FSS' runners as they started their 3yo careers. The top 5 improvers in terms of their 1st crop average rating in lbs are:-

Shalaa                 +5.0             72% of potential runners have raced

Belardo                +4.2             67%        "                "                "

Goken                  +3.5             75%        "                "                "

Territories           +3.4             72%        "                "                "

Twilight Son        +3.0             76%        "                "                "


            King Shalaa won two races as a juvenile but stepped up on that when he won a Listed event at Cagnes Sur Mer although he did subsequently disappoint in a G3 on soft ground whilst No Speak Alexander did even better with a G3 win followed by an excellent third in the Irish 1,000 Guineas and is clearly Shalaa's best progeny to date. My Sea Cottage had an introductory run mid 2020 in the USA and then was put away for 7 months before making three appearances this year improving on each run which ended with a win at Gulfstream Park. It has been a similar story with Boomshalaa in the UK who was off the track 9 months after his debut and has then won two on the bounce for an RPR best of 96. There are a a few other examples at a more modest level that illustrate how Shalaa's runners are improving with time and experience which have all added to the overall rating average increase.

            Also it is noticeable that of his 19 runners who have made their debuts in 2021 there are at least six (Wadhnan, Talabaat, Miami Voice, Tawfan, Abraaj & Divertissement) who have ratings of 80+ including three above 90. That is another indication to me that the Shalaa offspring may not be ones to rush with and certainly much less precocious than those of eg Mehmas. On the face of it, that is quite surprising as Shalaa himself was precocious winning five times at 2yo between late May and Sept.

            Belardo did well with his 2yos in terms of getting four stakes winners but overall his record was slightly below what one would have expected given that he received average mares. The increase in 2021 is not particularly linked to the impact of his 11 new starters with the exception of Saboor who has achieved a 90+ rating in France but is traceable to a few that have improved markedly from 2 to 3yo. These include Chipie D'Irlande who, after coming a distant last in her debut in Italy back in May 2020, came out to win her maiden in January of this year and recently came 4th in a Listed event demonstrating significant improvement. Another is Abelard F who, after coming last in his debut in France in August 2020 reappeared in January of this year with a better run and has since been placed a couple of times as well as finishing 6th in a Listed event behind Saiydabad who was 4th in the Prix Du Jockey Club on Sunday. Overall, whilst the average runner rating is an improvement for Belardo, I do not see the same strength in depth of progression that I see for Shalaa.

            Goken's offspring made a quickfire impact in 2020 and then dropped off slightly although I still had him in my 6 to follow from this 2020 FSS group. Interestingly, he seems to have reversed that blip and from my perspective his offspring are obtaining ratings not far behind Mehmas from a similar level of mare. 75% of his potential runners have raced versus Mehmas at 78%, but Mehmas has 2.5 times the number of runners that Goken has and one has to be careful drawing conclusions from smaller sample sizes. Of his nine new runners this year Fang has won a couple of races and reached a rating of 92 whilst Kimina has been placed three times and top rated at 85. There are a fair few who have shown much improved form at 3yo including Lanaken who ran a couple of times at 2yo before reappearing on the track six months later in 2021 and recently came a close 4th in a Listed event in France. Pile Ou Face is another who has improved well to be rated in the high 80's and there are a number who have also improved (Golena, Cogolin, Gorgo, Singapore Trip) at a more modest level. All of that sways me towards the belief that Goken's progeny are not just fast out of the trap and that he is doing well. His issue is, and will be over the next couple of years, that the initial crop was not that big and indeed will be even smaller in his 2nd and 3rd crops although I note his 4th crop will be back to around the same level as his 1st crop following his successful first year in 2020.

            Territories continues to do well and has the highest average rating for his runners of this 2020 FSS group despite the fact that his mares are just a bit better than average. He himself improved at 3yo and he has a fair few showing improvement, including Mysterious Land in France who has risen to a rating of 96 and been placed 4th in a Listed event and Aldaary rated 105, but what is most noticeable to me is that of the 17 new runners in 2021 nine are rated 76+ including Laos 95, Invincible Light (France) 101 and Badlands 87. Our own Chirimiri made his debut in March in France and has shown ability, none more so than when winning at Bordeaux and reaching a rating of 77. We think there is more to come and hopefully he follows in the footsteps of his half sister Lincoln Rocks who improved markedly at 4yo reaching a rating of 106. Fingers crossed!

            Twilight Son's offspring have been winning races like nobody's business in 2021 and certainly people are comparing that with his own spectacular improvement from winning 2yo to Group 1 3yo. What I see are very few stand out improvers or newcomers but a very broad improvement at an often modest level. Twilight Spinner is the obvious exception making his debut in April before following up with a win and then a 6 length plus demolition job in a Listed race. Of those who ran in 2020, Warrior Within, who races in Italy, has improved steadily to reach 91 and has competed in stakes races on his last three appearances. Light Wakeup ran three times in the UK reaching a modest rating of 62 before being switched to France and given 7 months off racing only to return and reach a rating of 86. Our own Twilight Calls has won in 2021 and posted an RPR of 95 last week versus his best of 87 in 2020. For me, Twilight Son is demonstrating the broadest base of performance improvement from 2yo to 3yo so far of the 2020 FSS cohort although, it has to be said, his average remains some 6-7lbs behind Mehmas from a group of mares that demonstrated similar levels of ability on the racecourse.

            Mehmas himself continues to power on although the average increase was a much more modest 1.3lbs. He has contributed 7 of the additional 19 black type racehorses this group has achieved in 2021 which speaks a lot for his ability to get high level horses and no doubt keeps him up there as firm favourite in the market.

            Whilst this blog has been about improvement of runners from 2yo to 3yo I will update my top 6 taking into account latest information as follows:-

            18 Feb 2021                                                        31 May 2021

  1. Mehmas                                                            1. Mehmas
  2. Coulsty                                                              2. Territories
  3. Territories                                                        3. Coulsty
  4. New Bay                                                           4. Goken
  5. Kodi Bear                                                         5. Kodi Bear
  6. Goken                                                               6. New Bay (not seen as much improvement in ratings as I thought for 10-12f horse)

One to watch -  Twilight Son                              Keep watching Twilight Son & start watching Shalaa


Jim Atkinson

James Ortega Bloodstock Ltd

8th June 2021

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Chirimiri Pours It On

Posted 19/5/2021

            First win for 3yo Territories colt Chirimiri in his fourth outing at Bordeaux on May 9th. We dropped him back 400m from his previous run and his tactics changed as he had previously been well towards the lead in his races whereas this time he was plum last for about three quarters of the race. However, he showed an excellent turn of foot under the drive of Julien Augé and kept on stoutly late on to hold Super Cute by 3/4 of a length with the third a further two lengths behind. Chirimiri holds off Super Cute over 1400m at Bordeaux on 9th May Chirimiri holds off Super Cute over 1400m at Bordeaux on 9th May

            Following this success his handicap has been raised by 3 kilos to 35 which is equivalent to 77 in lbs terms. He looks to have a good turn of foot and it is likely that he'll stay 1600m well using these tactics and as he strengthens up. He has been entered for a 1600m handicap at Toulouse on May 26th. This win for the Christophe Ferland trained colt is promising and it will be interesting to see if he can continue the progression in his next race.

            Incidentally Chirimiri's win is the fourth from the last five runs of James Ortega Bloodstock bred horses and is by far our best run to date.


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Three On The Trot

Posted 4/5/2021

            During the first 4 months of this year not one James Ortega Bloodstock Ltd bred horse had won but that scenario has changed radically in the last four days with three winners from the last three to run! It all started at Churchill Downs, New York on the evening of the last day of April when Gift List (Bated Breath x Birthstone 2018 filly) stormed home by over 4 lengths in the Grade 2 Edgewood Stakes over 8.5 furlongs. The filly, who now races for Brian Lynch in the USA, has won three of her seven races and been second in the other four and is rated 106. It turned out later that the long odds on favourite Aunt Pearl had bled during the race explaining her under performance. However, the manner of Gift List's disposal of the rest of the field convinces me that she would have given the favourite a tough race anyway. Hope that Aunt Pearl recovers well and one day reopposes in good health.

Gift List winning the Grade 2 Edgewood Stakes at Churchill DownsGift List winning the Grade 2 Edgewood Stakes at Churchill Downs

              I was especially pleased for the 19 year old mare Birthstone who, after winning two races as a two year old including the Group 3 Prix D'Aumale, was retired due to injury to become a broodmare. She belongs to a famous line going back through her dam Baya, who was 2nd in the Prix Diane,   to her grandam Barger who was full sister to the legendary Triptych. Whilst Birthstone has had 4 other winners, none have reached black type level, although a couple did make ratings in the 90s so Gift List's win is the best to date for her offspring. She is currently visiting Bated Breath again, so we may see a full brother or sister to Gift List in a year's time.

              The next day Twilight Calls (Twilight Son x Zawiyah 2018 colt) finally got off the mark over 6f at Doncaster after three good runs as a 2yo. The field was only four in total and it is difficult to judge what he beat, but he could hardly have done it any easier and strolled home by almost three lengths. The second had run a promising debut third with a Racing Post Rating (RPR) of 76 and so with Twilight Calls having a handicap mark of 85 and off level weights he would be expected to win. Nevertheless the manner of the victory was impressive and he has gone up to 87. If he runs off that mark in a handicap next time out, I will think about putting the house on it!

            Henry Candy is the trainer of Twilight Calls and he also trained the colt's Group 1 winning sire Twilight Son as well as the Group 1 winning grandsire Kyllachy, so I took an in depth look at their racetrack progression. There are already similarities with Twilight Son's career although he did win twice as a 2yo to start his 3yo career off a mark of 83 whereas Twilight Calls managed two seconds and a rating of 85. They both made their 3yo debuts at the beginning of May and both won. Twilight Son ran all his ten races over 6f and so far Twilight Calls has run all his career races over the same distance. Next up for Twilight Son was a Class 2 handicap at York in June of his 3yo career which he won after which he was given a rating of 104. He wasn't seen on the track again until September of that year when he won the Group 1 Betfred Sprint Cup at Haydock. I am convinced that Henry Candy is planning a similar campaign for Twilight Calls, giving him time to strengthen up and progress to possibly match his sire's achievements. Apparently Twilight Son grew and strengthened up a lot from 2yo to 3yo enabling him to improve his rating by 34lbs to 117 and I understand that Twilight Calls is developing likewise from a physical perspective. Kyllachy started out in a similar fashion winning one and being second twice from three runs at 2yo ending up with a rating of 90. His first 3yo race was at the end of April, which he duly won, before progressing during the year to end it on a rating of 103. The main difference between Kyllachy and Twilight Son is that Kyllachy's best form was as a 4yo when he won the Group 1 Nunthorpe Stakes in August of that year reaching a rating of 120 and he ran all his races over 5f. Twilight Calls also won a Group 1 (Diamond Jubilee) at 4yo but he was 14lbs better than Kyllachy at 3yo. Henry Candy is a patient man and clearly has done it before with this line of colts not once but on two occasions, and who is to say he won't do it again? I hope so!!Zephron ridden by Annalise Cullen to be her first ever win as a jockeyZephron ridden by Annalise Cullen to be her first ever win as a jockey

            Sunday May 2 was a boring day with no runners or winners but Monday at The Curragh brought win number three albeit in a low level 6f handicap with no less than 27 starters. Low level handicap it may have been but it was a special day for trainer Dennis Cullen and his family when Zephron (Ivawood x Amarylis 2017 gelding) scooted home by almost three lengths under an excellent ride from his 19 year old daughter Annalise who was gaining her first ever victory as a jockey to make it a memorable day for all concerned! That was Zephron's second victory and will see him move back up from his current mark of 73 closer to his best to date of 82 with the promise of more to come.

            So here I am on Tuesday 4th May writing up what has been the best ever run for our horses on the track. So what's next? Well Maysonlight (Mayson x Highland Starlight 2016 gelding) is out in the 4.20 at Gowran Park but, whilst he has shown a glimmer of ability in his runs to date, his best is a 4th place and a rating high of 71 and his price this afternoon is 28/1! Whatever, he couldn't make it four on the trot could he????? .................No he couldn't..........

Zephron storming home under Annalise Cullen at The Curragh (picture courtesy of The Curragh Racecourse)Zephron storming home under Annalise Cullen at The Curragh (picture courtesy of The Curragh Racecourse)

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Mighty Mehmas & Machiavellian Mares

Posted 18/2/2021

            So another first season sire year has come to a close and, whilst the COVID pandemic tried its best to disrupt events, I think we can objectively analyse the new boys' performances as in any other year despite a delay at the beginning of the season. I followed the fortunes of 26 new sires and these are my thoughts on how some of them performed.

            Whilst I won't dwell too long on the lack of success of some of the new sires that I was expecting to do well, I did advise people that Mehmas was very likely to win the new sire GB/Ireland race for the most winners and it was no surprise to anyone when he duly obliged given that he was a sprinter with by far the most potential runners and those factors linked to his own conformation and demonstrated precocity meant that he looked a solid bet even at the skinny odds of 2/1. What has surprised me is the quantity and quality of his winners and it is extremely unusual that a sire who covered below average quality mares overall can get so many stakes performers which numbered 12 by year end. 69% of his potential runners hit the track which is a higher % than any other 2020 First Season Sire (FSS) and that says to me that he is passing on good conformation as well as the precocity that was expected. As a son of Acclamation and out of a Machiavellian mare he is three parts in blood related to Dark Angel and with this start I think there is a very good chance that he will end up imitating his close relation which would suggest that, whilst he has had his fee more than tripled to €25k, it could look a real bargain a couple of  years down the road.

            For me an odd characteristic of the 2020 FSS performance analysis is that the sires who covered the best mares underperformed. I expected Shalaa to be a major player but I think connections will be hugely disappointed with no stakes winners and only three black type placed runners from well over a hundred potential runners. The same can be said of The Gurkha and Awtaad who only managed three stakes performers between them. This triumvirate covered on average the best mares and their runners did not exactly cover themselves in glory. Early days to be writing sires off but this 1st crop needs to step up in 2021 and their 2nd crops need to perform to a much higher level in my opinion or else they will be packed off to "lesser climes" fairly quickly.

            Switching to the lower end, Coulsty (by Kodiac out of an In The Wings mare) was an absolute revelation. He covered by far the lowest quality mares yet from only 45 potential runners and 23 actual runners he obtained 5 black type performers including 3 winners and around one third of his runners were rated 80+. Clearly he has not received the same plaudits as Mehmas but that sire had more than 100 runners and 56 winners as well as quality black type performers to help blow his trumpet. Herein lies Coulsty's main challenge in that he covered very few mares in his second, third and fourth seasons which means he will have less than 25 new runners in the next three years. Perhaps his 1st crop will continue to shine at three years old (plenty of stamina on his dam's side) or a star or two come out of these new runners but he's going to find it extremely hard to get any air play until 2024 and that assumes he covers many more mares this year! At €4k he is exceptional value based on his FSS performance in 2020.

            So who else did well as a FSS? Territories (by Invincible Spirit out of a Machiavellian mare) impressed me without producing any really top performers. Some 17% of his runners are rated 90+ a figure that is only matched by Mehmas. He hasn't received the same press as the mighty Mehmas which is possibly down to the lack of a really top performer but also that four of his seven stakes performers obtained that level in Italy which tends to be downgraded in people's minds when compared with the UK and Ireland. Territories did run four times as a 2yo including a close 2nd in the Group 1 Jean Luc Lagardare run in October, but he shone as a 3yo and possibly his offspring have more potential for improvement as 3yos than Mehmas. He covered better quality mares than Mehmas but, as indicated above with the 90+ rated runners, he has produced plenty of quality in depth and very few duds. At £10k he looks very good value and we have booked him in to our mare Redskin Dancer who already has a 3yo by Territories called Chirimiri who is due to make his debut shortly in France, all being well!

            Before moving on to some of the other FSS of 2020 it is interesting to note that both Mehmas and Territories are out of Machiavellian mares. I was already sold on Machiavellian as a damsire with our Birthstone producing Gift List to get black type last year before being sold to race in the USA. The fact that two of the top three new sires from 2020 are out of Machiavellian mares has only reinforced my belief that he is an extremely good damsire to follow. Another belief I have is in the blue hen mare Rafha who provided the sires of both Coulsty and Territories and clearly is a major influence on the breed through the exploits of her sons Invincible Spirit and Kodiac.

            Moving on to the FSS of more stamina, as usual there are not so many and amongst the group I studied are New Bay, Fascinating Rock, Vadamos, Dariyan and Harzand. New Bay (by Dubawi out of a Zamindar mare) was by far the best of them on a number of counts. First, he had 54% of his potential runners actually run whilst the other four sires ranged between 28% and 46%. Secondly, he obtained two stakes winners and two placed whereas the other four achieved only three placed ones between them. Finally his runners were way ahead of the others in terms of average rating. Considering New Bay only ran once at 2yo in November and he was best between 10 to 12 furlongs it is surprising that he had so many runners and that they produced such good results. Of all the FSS mentioned so far one would have thought that his runners have potentially the biggest chance to shine in their second season and it would be no surprise to me if they do just that in 2021.

             Of the rest I think Kodi Bear (by Kodiac out of a Mujtahid mare) and Goken (by Kendargent out of an Indian Rocket mare) did well from relatively modest mares and the former at €6k is very good value. Twilight Son disappointed me a bit as his runners were rated 5lbs or so below Kodi Bear and Goken from a similar quality of mare and my hope is that his progeny pick up as 3yos just as their father did. He improved by 34lbs from 2yo to 3yo and early signs in January and February are that this improvement may well be happening as he has had a bunch of winners since the turn of the year. Pride Of Dubai and Belardo had plenty of stakes winners between them but their progeny performance overall was not so good. Scissor Kick only had 35% of his potential runners actually run with only 15 making the track of which four were rated 87+ but the numbers are too small to make any firm conclusions in my opinion and the low turn out rate worries me somewhat. Buratino, Adaay, Prince Of Lir and The Last Lion were pretty average overall although The Lir Jet was a big positive for Prince Of Lir. The rest need to up their game or they won't be around in the UK, France or Ireland for much longer.

            In conclusion, considering the quality of mare covered as well as number of winners, stakes performers and average progeny ratings my top six from 2020 FSS group are:-

  1. Mehmas
  2. Coulsty
  3. Territories
  4. New Bay
  5. Kodi Bear
  6. Goken

& one to watch is Twilight Son!

Jim Atkinson

James Ortega Bloodstock Ltd

18th February 2021

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Gift List Keeps Giving

Posted 25/10/2020

            Yesterday, James Ortega Bloodstock (JOB) registered another black type bred performer when 2yo filly Gift List battled home in a Newbury quagmire to come second in the Listed Radley Stakes over 7f to Love Is You. That makes 6 black type performers from 32 runners giving a ratio of 18.75% black type to runners for JOB. Interestingly, 5 are fillies from only 13 runners (38.5%) whereas we have not been so successful to date with the colts. Hopefully we keep that high filly ratio as we have a whole slew of them coming to the racecourse in the next few years.

Galerna at Manor House Farm Stud before pre-training and moving to Grant Tuer's stable in SeptGalerna at Manor House Farm Stud before pre-training and moving to Grant Tuer's stable in Sept

            We have sold three yearling fillies this year. One is by Bated Breath out of Chicita Banana who is a half sister to the dam of top 3yo Palace Pier, another by Equiano out of Zawiyah who is the dam of promising 2yo Twilight Calls and in France a beautiful Footstepsinthesand (FITS) filly out of Aureana who is a half sister to Chicadoro and Galerna. Amy Murphy trains the Bated Breath, David Simcock the Equiano and probably Frederic Rossi the FITS. Whilst we look forward to the French premiums for the FITS filly we can also have hopes of pay days as breeders for the UK based fillies as both are Great British Bonus (GBB) registered. This UK scheme is very welcome in these tough times. 

            Talking of the GBB scheme, back to the heroine of yesterday in Gift List who has already won two bonuses worth £40,000 in total and was just touched off for a third! That together with over £45,000 in prize money and her current market value means she was an exceptional purchase by John & Paul Fretwell at 23,000 guineas in Book 3 of 2019. She has probably finished her season now and deserves a rest after ploughing through a fair bit of mud in her last three races although she has gone well on good ground and I don't think she is dependent on soft to perform well. She is very honest and game and exactly the sort of racehorse we all wish to own.

            Gift List's achievement is also a big feather in the cap of dam Birthstone who herself won a Group 3 in France as a 2yo and, whilst she has had some very useful performers in Charm Bracelet and Classic Win, this is the first time one of her eight foals of racing age has won black type.Birthstone in October 2017 carrying future black type performer Gift ListBirthstone in October 2017 carrying future black type performer Gift List

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Hitting The Woodwork

Posted 10/7/2020

Gift List on the left just fails to get up on debut at Ripon - Photo by Racing PostGift List on the left just fails to get up on debut at Ripon - Photo by Racing Post            My football team Leeds United hit the woodwork three times last night and fortunately twice the ball went in for a goal in a 5-0 demolition of Stoke whereas James Ortega Bloodstock has had three runners it has bred in the last two days and all three came close without succeeding narrowly missing out on some nice Plus 10/GBB bonuses. I don't mind too much until Leeds seal promotion and then I don't mind if the horses come in and the ball goes out for a couple of weeks. Is it a deal?

            An interesting couple of days started with 2yo filly Gift List running an excellent race at Ripon on Wednesday coming second on her debut. Trained by Karl Burke and ridden by Ben Curtis, the daughter of Bated Breath and our Group 3 winning Machiavellian mare Birthstone did not have the swiftest of starts and she took the first few furlongs of the 6f race to get used to her new career. However, once she had sorted out what she had to do and despite being somewhat left alone in the middle of the track, Gift List knuckled down to the task in hand and came home very well only to be beaten a head. She is the first offspring of Birthstone to even run at two years old and clearly still has some growing to do so with any luck she could develop into a useful performer and, who knows, become the fourth winner from four we have bred of racing age by Bated Breath. 

            Later on the same day saw the debut of Twilight Calls, who is by Twilight Son and out of Invincible Spirit mare Zawiyah. He is trained by Henry Candy, who also trained his sire, and was ridden by David Probert in the 6f Newbury contest. After a reasonable start he was taken towards the rails and held up behind another couple of runners. Travelling very well, he was then pulled out from behind those rivals with about 2f to go and was going so well that he traded at 1.12 to win on Betfair! Unfortunately when sitting quietly came to push Twilight Calls could not get the job done and he faded to come in 5th beaten just under 4 lengths. I had mixed emotions after the race as, on the one hand, he clearly has ability and a high cruising speed, but on the other hand could not see out the final furlong. It was Henry's first two year old runner of the year and he is a trainer who gives his charges the opportunity to develop so I am pretty sure that Twilight Calls would not have been given a hard time getting ready for this race and indeed David Probert gave him a sympathetic ride leaving the whip well alone. Clearly he has been showing a lot at home and that was signalled by early money for him when he opened at 14/1 the night before and was soon trading around 5/1 finally setting off at 4/1 which cannot have happened to many Henry Candy debutant two year olds! Perhaps they have an eye on the Goffs Sales race over 6f at York on August 20th for which Twilight Calls holds an entry and this opener was part of the preparation in which case we may see him out again towards the end of July. Alternatively, after this race they may give him more time to strengthen up or drop back to 5f and give the York race a miss, but it was certainly an exciting first appearance for this very good looking horse.Twilight Calls as a foal. He showed exciting potential at Newbury on debutTwilight Calls as a foal. He showed exciting potential at Newbury on debut

            Finally, Thursday saw 3yo Zephron have his second race this year at Navan in a 5.5f maiden acquitting himself very well to come a close up 3rd after a fairly awkward start. Trained by Dennis Cullen and ridden by Mark Gallagher, Zephron is by Ivawood out of Rip Van Winkle mare Amarylis and is a first foal. He has shown ability in all four of his races to date and usually shows plenty of speed before not quite getting home. certainly this half furlong less than his previous races seemed to suit and it would not surprise me to see him out over the minimum trip next time out. Hopefully he runs out a winner fairly soon and continues on an upward curve.Zephron as a yearling. Ran another fine race at Navan coming a close up 3rdZephron as a yearling. Ran another fine race at Navan coming a close up 3rd

            So three good runs from our stock and, whilst it's frustrating that at least one of them didn't get over the line first, it is very encouraging for the future as, like all racehorse breeders, we want to breed good, healthy horses who demonstrate ability on the racetrack. Still, the football team keeps winning and as they say, "You can't have it all"

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 Comparing black type winners for these two stallions, NoT has achieved 7 winners and four placed horses from his Northern Hemisphere offspring whereas NNN had 6 winners in the 1st year of his first two crops with 4 and 8 placed respectively which is again broadly at the same level of achievement. One could argue that NoT has not produced outstanding offspring with his sole Group 2 winner , Night Colours, having done that in Italy, which with all due respect is probably a lower level than say France, UK or Ireland. Another slightly concerning factor is that the number of his potential runners that reached the track is a bit low at 46% for a horse who showed his best form at a mile and is of average height (16.05 hands). Maybe some of that poor conformation did get passed on and resulted in some 2yo's missing the track in 2019 but perhaps I am just searching for a negative for a young sire that looks exceptional judging on first season progeny performance. 

            Who else looks promising from the 2019 first season sires? Golden Horn looks to me to be the one who will emerge from the pack in 2020. Whilst one would have expected 2019 to be a quiet year for him given that he is a horse who showed his best form at 10 to 12 furlongs, I think it was even quieter than one would expect! His best horse was West End Girl who won the Group 3 Sweet Solera but then disappointed later in the season as did his other black type winner Festive Star who won a listed event in Italy before running down the field in France. However, it was never going to be about their 2yo careers and what is noticeable is that Golden Horn has thrown a high percentage of horses who have performed very adequately in the 70 to 85 rating range with very few below average horses. You will not get rich producing horses with those types of ratings but, given the likelihood that his produce will improve significantly at three, there may be a few stars about to burst through of those who did run as 2yos as well as from the 54% who did not run. 

            Apart from the fact that Golden Horn was at his best over middle/longer distances why else should his offspring do better in 2020? First, he only ran once as a 2yo winning a late October maiden over an extended mile (rated 86) before being put away until his Feilden, Dante, Derby, Eclipse four timer as a three year old followed later in the year with wins in the Irish Champion Stakes and the Arc as well as two other close up Group 1 second places. Secondly, he is a sizable unit at 16.2 hands and if he passes that on his offspring may just need a bit more time. Thirdly, he had 46% of his potential runners turn up on the racetrack at two years old which is relatively high given his size and his need for a distance. This suggests that his progeny have good conformation in general and we can expect to see plenty of them as three year olds. Finally, whilst the 2019 group as a whole in their second season covered around 72% of the mares they covered in their first season, Golden Horn covered 91% and indeed covered around 100 mares in each of his third and fourth crops which means that he is likely to remain in focus for the next few years. Note also that he is demonstrating a higher than average ability to convert those coverings into live foals which points to a very good fertility rate. 

            Gleneagles has done ok and in Royal Dornoch and Royal Lytham one could argue has produced better horses than both NoT and Golden Horn. Royal Dornoch beat the subsequent Group 1 Futurity winner Kameko in the Group 2 Royal Lodge Stakes whilst Royal Lytham won the Group 2 July Stakes before finishing a close up third to Siskin in the Group 1 Phoenix Stakes. However you would have expected his progeny to score much higher than Golden Horn's in their 1st year considering that both stallions visited mares of roughly the same quality given that he was a 7 to 8f horse and more compact at just under 16 hands high.

            Muharaar was disappointing as from a high class book of mares he finished well behind both Gleneagles and Golden Horn. On a positive note he covered in excess of 120 mares in each of his first four seasons as a stallion and has the best conversion rate of covers to foals on the ground. 2020 will be key for him to show that 2019 was not the best of him. Whilst it is still early days for this cohort of stallions it is hard to enthuse about the rest after the 1st year and the graph above does not support certain hefty hikes in stallion fees for the likes of Cable Bay, up to £15,000 from £6,500, and Due Diligence up to £8,500 from £4,000 in 2019. In both cases it is probably down to the usual market sentiment caused by excellent performer Liberty Beach for Cable Bay and three black type winners for Due Diligence as well as both getting over twenty winners in 2019. Whilst Cable Bay covered well over 100 mares in his 2nd year, that dropped off rapidly to some 30 mares in 2019 whilst Due Diligence fell away sharply in his 2nd year to less than half the mares covered in 2016 and also only covered around 30 mares in 2019. This means that things are going to go very quiet for them a year or two down the track.  Strangely Ivawood, who has been sent off to France by Coolmore and standing at about a third of his 2016 fee, comes out as having progeny on average 2lbs better than Due Diligence from a similar mare quality! Ivawood did manage a couple of French black type winners but perhaps that mercurial market sentiment isn't impacted so much by what goes on outside the British and Irish isles. Parochial, us?? Mais non. Whilst one might be tempted to punt on Ivawood as a cheap cover my worry is that he has the lowest rate of actual foals per mare covered of this lot and I wonder whether part of the fact he has been dismissed to foreign lands is down to a lower than average fertility rate.

             So, in summary, Night Of Thunder is the obvious top dog from this 2019 band of aspiring sires and that is hardly a surprise to anyone as it coincides with headline stakes performances and market sentiment. What is more, at €25,000 he is tremendous value and hopefully you managed to get in at that price because if his offspring performs as well in 2020 as they did in 2019 we are likely to see a significant hike in his covering fee for 2021. The one under the radar for me is Golden Horn and it would not surprise me at all to see him have a great 2020 for the reasons outlined above. Having said that, being under the radar at £60,000 (now £40,000) is not something in the price range of most breeders and my optimism for him this year still has to be realised. A punt on new sire and fellow Derby winner and Darley inmate Masar at £15,000 could be a better bet(This begins to sound like a Darley advert!!). Nevertheless, Golden Horn is my second best pick from the 2019 class followed by Gleneagles who incidentally covered 182 mares in 2019 and being the only one who covered more than he did in his 1st year as a stallion in 2016. 

Jim Atkinson

James Ortega Bloodstock Ltd

20th February 2020