Lost Opportunity?

Hindsight is, as they say, twenty-twenty, and as that relates to opportunities lost regarding stallions, Darci Brahma (Danehill) comes close to fitting that lost opportunity.

The term: “Flying under the radar” seems appropriate and Darci Brahma has done that for most of his career.

A very nice Group 1 win by his daughter Sierra Sue on Saturday could not be a better reminder of just how under-appreciated the son of Danehill (Danzig) might be.

Several weeks ago Kiwi Chronicles made similar observations about Grangewilliam Stud’s Zed (Zabeel) as well as Hallmark Stud’s Super Easy, who just happens to be a son of Darci Brahma.

Zed, of course, is represented by the eight-times Group 1 star Verry Elleegant while Super Easy has just emerged from his most successful season, highlighted by Matamata Breeders’ Stakes (Gr 2, 1200m) winner Bonny Lass, Trentham’s Anniversary Handicap (Gr 3, 1600m) winner Super Strike and Listed winners Sheezallmine and Spine Tingle.

Even though Super Easy, who is from Darci Brahma’s first crop, sired the very speedy Prom Queen in his first crop, breeders seem reluctant to recognise the successes of both sire and son.

Kiwi Chronicles contacted Rick Williams from The Oaks Stud, where Darci Brahma resides, for his observations as the stallion enters his twilight years.

“His stats are so obvious and it’s a bit of mystery as to why his stock do not make as much at the sales as you might expect,” began Williams.

“They perform on the track and his record here at home plus in Hong Kong and Singapore is just super.” 

A candid Williams then commented: “The one thing that might have counted against him at the sales is size. They could be a half a hand bigger and that might have made the difference but at the same time, the smaller ones have been just as good as the bigger ones.

“Darci Brahma fits a similar mold to Pins, who was a terrific sire, but not rewarded in the sales ring,” continued Williams, who added: “He is very well, in good health and, in fact, quite sprightly. His bookings are very consistent and it is likely he will serve around a hundred mares this season.”

Darci Brahma has single-handedly kept the Danehill banner aloft in New Zealand while in Australia the Danehill line has completely dominated the annual sire rankings for the last decade.

Eight of the last ten Australian Sire Premierships have gone the way of Danehill’s sons and grandsons, Snitzel accounting for four successive titles. On two occasions the Danehill line filled four of the top five on the earners’ rankings and on a further five occasions, three of the top five. The word ‘dominance’ may be insufficient to describe this feat.

Here in New Zealand, Darci Brahma may not have secured a Sire Premiership but he has certainly been ultra consistent from the 2012-13 season when, from his third crop, he finished third. In the intervening years he has finished second four times, three of those in succession (2013-14 to 2015-16).

During the seven-year winning reign of Savabeel (Zabeel), Darci Brahma has been runner-up three times as well as once third and twice fourth.

Against power house Waikato Stud, in the 2013-14 season, he headed Savabeel (third) but had to settle for second behind their O’Reilly (Last Tycoon).

With eleven crops to race, the 19-year-old stallion is about to embark on his 15th stud season.

His best, so far, is the crop of 2012-13. From 89 runners he sired ten stakes winners. His best crop from a stakes wins perspective was his initial 2008-09 batch which accrued 25 stakes victories, much aided by the nine stakes wins in Singapore for Super Easy.

Of his 53 stakes winners, 12 have succeeded at the elite Group 1 level and three of those (Nashville, Julinsky Prince and Recite) have managed the feat twice.

Darci Brahma’s ability to sire top fillies is significant, as four of his classic winners represent the fairer sex. Gust Of Wind took out the Australian Oaks (Gr 1, 2400m) and Artistic the New Zealand Oaks (Gr 1, 2400m), while Risque and Kahma Lass each bagged the New Zealand One Thousand Guineas (Gr 1, 1600m).

The first mentioned receives a special note from Rick Williams: “Gust Of Wind was the last horse to defeat Winx.” That makes for a good trivia question and answer.

A classic Guineas winner himself, Darci Brahma was the Champion two- and three-year-old of his crop as well as the Champion Sprinter in 2006-07.

His sole classic-winning male is the brilliant New Zealand Two Thousand Guineas (Gr 1, 1600m) winner Catalyst who is back in work with Tony Pike and is looking to return to his former exciting self in the next few months.

A possible explanation as to why Darci Brahma has not been as attractive to Australian buyers is the well of Danehill blood in Australia. It is vast, as discussed above, yet despite being overlooked he might have the last laugh with his broodmares.

Already his young mares have produced 62 individual winners including three Australian Group winners headed by Doomben Roses (Gr 2, 2000m) winner Only Words (Sweynesse), Tulloch Stakes (Gr 2, 2000m) winner Yaletown (Vancouver) and Maribyrnong Plate (Gr 3, 1000m) winner Finance Tycoon (Written Tycoon), also the winner of the rich VOBIS Showdown Stakes (1200m).

Also out of a Darci Brahma mare, and bred on the same cross as Only Words, is recent Hong Kong export Solid Impact (Sweynesse) who raced here as Explosively. He showed quality and speed to be twice Group placed in his few races, and it will be no surprise to see him make some noise there.

Few and far between

Sierra Sue descends from a family that is not exactly prolific for producing stakes winners. In ten generations and the passing of 100 years there have been just eleven stakes winners, however, if one were to invest in the family, the branch represented by Sierra Sue is the one to stick with.
During the early 1970s, and three generations closer, appears Breathalyser (Battle-Waggon), winner of the Great Northern Oaks (Gr 1, 12f) and two further Group races.

Thirty years on, the family’s best representative, by a country mile, is Tit For Taat (Faltaat), whose 15 victories included 11 at stakes level, of which five were Group 1s: the New Zealand Two Thousand Guineas, Captain Cook Stakes (1600m), Telegraph Handicap (1200m), Waikato Draught Sprint (1400m) and Levin Bayer Classic (1600m). He took his form to Brisbane scoring the Sir Byrne Hart Stakes (Gr 2, 1400m) at Eagle Farm and was named New Zealand Horse of the Year in 2002-03.

Tit For Taat is a half-brother to Sierra Sue’s granddam Miss Tree, a Group 3 placed daughter of Oregon (Halo).

A half-sister to Sierra Sue’s dam Centree (Centaine) is Miss Puzzle (Citidancer) who, after winning three in New Zealand and capturing a Listed placing at Ellerslie, was exported to the US where she has since produced two stakes winners, including dual Grade 1 winner Fashion Plate (Old Fashioned), winner of the Santa Anita Oaks (8.5f) as well as the Las Virgenes Stakes (8f), also at Santa Anita.

Centree has visited Darci Brahma just the once and since Sierra Sue has foaled two colts to Per Incanto (Street Cry) including the Hong Kong winner Oscar Glory. She was not served for two seasons and was covered by Mongolian Khan (Holy Roman Empire) last year. 

-Lloyd Jackson, ANZ Bloodstock News 


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