The last few years have provided the perfect eulogy for Danehill, who died during the 2003 covering season at the age of 17. After finishing runner-up to his fellow Coolmore stallion Sadler’s Wells on five occasions, including by less than £10,000 in 1997, Danehill finally took his rightful place as champion sire in Britain and Ireland in 2005 and repeated the feat in 2006 and 2007.
Danehill was also six times champion sire of two-year-olds, as well as champion sire in France on two occasions, and he also headed the Australian table eight times in a ten year period. He sired champions in every sphere, ranging from champion two-year-olds and sprinters to that outstanding long-distance performer Westerner, and now has an enviable record as a sire of sires.
The number of sons of Danehill which have sired a European G1 winner now stands well into double figures, and two sons in particular – the Irish-based Danehill Dancer and Dansili - have made a rapid ascent through the stallion ranks in Britain and Ireland. Although none of Dansili’s first six crops, born between 2002 and 2007, was sired at a fee higher than £12,500, these crops had produced 31 Group winners to the end of 2011, including seven Gr.1 winners. These Group winners represented 5.8 per cent of the 538 foals in Dansili’s inexpensive crops. No wonder he has earned comparisons with his exceptional sire.
These achievements suggest that Tony Morris may well have been on the mark in January 2001, when he commented:
“Danehill’s foal tally is now numbered in four figures but I wonder how many have bred a better runner by him than Abdullah’s Dansili? Don’t bet against his becoming Danehill’s best stallion son.”
Becoming the best of Danehill’s stallion sons is going to be a considerable achievement, judging by the impressive achievements of several of them, in Europe and Australasia. In Australia Redoute’s Choice has been champion sire in 2005/6 and 2009/10, with another son, Flying Spur, taking the title in 2006/7.
In 2006 Danehill’s nearest pursuer for the title of champion sire in Britain and Ireland was Danehill Dancer and Danehill Dancer defeated Sea The Stars’ sire Cape Cross to take the Anglo-Irish sires’ championship in 2009. As Dansili landed the title of champion sire in France in 2006, Danehill has now been represented by at least one champion sire son in each of the three countries where he was champion sire.
It’s said that a man is known by the company he keeps, and the same could be said of stallions. The top six stallions for 2006, by money won in Britain, Ireland, France, Germany and Italy, were Danehill, Danehill Dancer, Sadler’s Wells, Montjeu, Monsun and Dansili. Dansili was again a top 12 stallion on this combined table in 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012.
And, in a changing world with more synthetic tracks coming on line, it is well worth remembering that Dansili was the champion sire of all-weather performers in 2005/6 and 2006/7.
Dansili’s rise to the top continued in 2010, when his first higher-priced progeny raced as two-year-olds. He took second place behind the mighty Galileo on the leading sires’ list, by prize-money, and he also took high rank by number of Group winners (an impressive total of ten) and stakes winners (16 in all). His 2008 crop, sired at £30,000, earned Dansili sixth place among the sires of two-year-olds, and has already produced the Gr.1 winners Zoffany and Giofra.
Dansili continued to prove himself one of the world’s elite stallions in 2011, when he was represented by more individual stakes winners - a tremendous total of 22 - than any other stallion, including Dubawi, Galileo and Montjeu. His total of 14 Group winners was also outstanding and he was again a top-ten sire of two-year-olds.
2012 saw the emergence of the Gr.1 fillies The Fugue and Fallen For You, as well as leading 1000 Guineas fancy Big Break. Dansili is the leading British-based sire by Group winners 2010 to 2012, and is one of only two European sires to produce more than 25 Group winners in this period.
This catalogue of success suggests that Danehill has founded a major dynasty, with Dansili well placed to prove himself Danehill’s rightful heir. With a pedigree which blends speed and stamina, Dansili is following Danehill’s example by providing breeders with everything from Group-winning juveniles to top-class middle-distance performers.
When the Juddmonte broodmare band was being established, one of the most important transactions was the purchase from Swettenham Stud of Sookera, winner of the 1977 Cheveley Park Stakes for Robert Sangster. This young daughter of Roberto had yet to have a runner, but she went on to prove that she was just as effective as a broodmare as she had been on the racecourse - which is to say very effective indeed.
Sookera’s pedigree represented a blend of speed and stamina. Whereas her sire Roberto was most famous for his middle-distance exploits, which included a Derby victory and a defeat of the brilliant Brigadier Gerard, Sookera’s dam Irule had done her winning at up to a mile. Irule in turn was a daughter of Young Emperor, a brilliantly speedy two-year-old who recorded 6-length successes in the Coventry and Gimcrack Stakes.
While her May 15 birthday seemed to rule out a quick start to her racing career, Sookera proved to be so precocious that Dermot Weld asked her to make her debut as early as March 17, when she won over 5 furlongs. She made her first trip to England for the 6-furlong Chesham Stakes at Royal Ascot, where she became one of the few horses to beat Tumbledownwind as a two-year-old. Returning from a rest, she took second place in the Moyglare Stud Stakes and this put her in perfect shape for the Cheveley Park, which she won after moving into the lead on the bridle with a furlong to run. Sookera shared the title of champion two-year-old filly in Ireland with Fairy Bridge, who later found fame as the dam of Sadler’s Wells, Tate Gallery and Fairy King.
The precocity shown by Sookera was no great surprise in view of her pedigree. Roberto and Young Emperor had both dominated the two-year-old scene in Ireland and Roberto’s sire Hail To Reason was another champion juvenile. Extraordinarily for a top-class colt, Hail To Reason raced 18 times as a two-year-old after starting early in the year.
Sookera’s female line had also displayed plenty of talent. Her dam Irule (who had only three foals) was a half-sister to I’m A Pleasure, who was rated only 5lb inferior to America’s best juvenile filly of 1973 after placing in two Gr.1 events. Sookera’s second dam, the Round Table mare Iaround, has the distinction of having three daughters which bred Gr.1 winners. In addition to Sookera, Iaround is the second dam of Is Your Pleasure (Gr.1 Jerome Handicap) and Leroy S. (Gr.1 Wood Memorial Invitational). Another of Iaround’s daughters bred a Gr.3 winner and Iaround’s dam, Itsabet, was a very useful winner of four stakes races over 6 furlongs. This family continues to shine, as has been demonstrated by the Gr.1 Hollywood Starlet Stakes success of I Believe In You, a filly whose third dam is Iaround, and by the two Gr.2 American successes of Dry Martini, whose fourth dam is Iaround.
With a background of this quality, Sookera was bound to make her mark as a broodmare. Her second foal, the Northfields filly Field Dancer, developed into a smart performer over 7 furlongs and a mile, numbering the Hardwicke Cup among her five wins as a four-year-old. However, it wasn’t until Sookera was transferred to Kentucky, to become a regular visitor to Known Fact, that she produced her best efforts. Her first foal by Known Fact was So Factual, who raced with distinction from two to five years, notably winning the Gr.1 Nunthorpe Stakes and the Gr.3 Cork and Orrery Stakes. A later visit to Known Fact resulted in Bold Fact, a similarly speedy colt. The quick-maturing Bold Fact followed So Factual’s example by being placed in the Gr.3 Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot (where Bold Fact was an unlucky loser) and he later won the Gr.3 July Stakes. Further stakes successes followed for Bold Fact at three, four and five years of age.
Three of Sookera’s broodmare daughters have added to this family’s reputation. Field Dancer is the second dam of Camporese, a Sadler’s Wells filly who won the Gr.3 Prix Corrida, while Sookera’s Godswalk filly Resooka is the dam of the Group-winning Thousla Rock, as well as being the second dam of Hawksley Hill and the third dam of the 2007 Prix de l’Abbaye winner Benbaun. A multiple Gr.2 winner, Hawksley Hill demonstrated the extent of his talent with two fine efforts in the Gr.I Breeders’ Cup Mile, going down by only a head in 1998 and then finishing fifth in 1999. With Dansili failing narrowly to win the 2000 Breeders’ Cup Mile and his sisters Banks Hill and Intercontinental running away with the Filly & Mare Turf in 2001 and 2005, Sookera has been very well represented at the Breeders’ Cup – the world’s most competitive event. Her great-grandson Leroidesanimaux added to the family’s achievements when a close second in the 2005 Breeders’ Cup Mile.
Dansili is out of a grand-daughter of Sookera and his pedigree highlights how much speed there is in this family. His second dam, Kerali, was by High Line, a stallion whose stock have an average winning distance of nearly 13 furlongs. However, Sookera’s speed proved dominant and Kerali won over 7 furlongs as a three-year-old, having failed over 1¼ miles. This speed also surfaced when Kerali was mated with two strong influences for stamina. Her mating with Niniski, whose progeny had an average winning distance of 12.9 furlongs, resulted in Skiable, a winner from 7.5 to 9 furlongs. Skiable has gone on to produce the high-class Three Valleys, who showed impressive speed as a two-year-old in Britain before becoming a Gr.2 winner over a mile in the USA. Three Valleys’ achievements included three track records.
It was a mating with Kahyasi (average winning distance 12.7 furlongs) which resulted in Dansili’s dam Hasili. Once again the family’s speed proved dominant. Forward enough to race eight times at two, Hasili won over 5 furlongs, 6 furlongs and twice over a mile, notably winning the Prix des Sablonnets, a Listed race. Her speed and toughness were again evident at three, when she was second in Listed races over 7 furlongs and a mile, notably running the Gr.1 winner Coup de Genie to 2 lengths in the Prix Imprudence.
However, another mating between Kerali and Kahyasi produced a different – but similarly talented – filly in Arrive, who set track records over 1½ miles at Salisbury and over an extended 1¾ miles at Newmarket. Arrive’s Listed victory in the Bahrain Trophy was gained by 4 lengths from Fair Question, who went on to take the German St Leger by 10 lengths. Arrive has made an excellent start with her first two runners being Promising Lead, a Danehill filly who won the Gr.1 Pretty Polly Stakes, and Visit, a Gr.3-winning Oasis Dream filly who had a couple of near-misses at Gr.1 level. Arrive’s achievements earned her the 2008 TBA award for Broodmare of the Year.
Juddmonte sold Kerali’s first foal, the Ahonoora filly Dissemble, for only 3,000gns but Dissemble has developed into a first-rate broodmare in Brazil. Her first foal, by the Sadler’s Wells horse Blue Stag, became a Gr.3 winner and her fourth foal, the Blush Rambler colt Uapybo, won the Gr.1 Gran Premio Sao Paulo in May, 2002. But Dissemble’s best representative is Leroidesanimaux, who started his stallion career in 2006, having won six Graded stakes and three Gr.1 events in the USA. Leroidesanimaux also set track records at Hollywood Park and Saratoga. He has now shown that his bloodlines can be effective anywhere, under any conditions, with his second crop producing the 2011 Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom.
Hasili has an extraordinary record, which has been rewarded with Broodmare of the Year honours in the USA and in Britain. Her first six foals – all by sons of Danzig – were all good enough to compete in the white-hot competition of Breeders’ Cup Day. The first, Dansili, produced a stretch run which took him from tenth to third in the 2000 Mile and he would surely have won with a clearer run. The second, Banks Hill, secured her Eclipse Award with her impressive victory in the 2001 Filly & Mare Turf, before finishing second in the same race the following year. It was Heat Haze’s turn to contest the Filly & Mare Turf in 2003 but the distance tested her stamina to its limit and she finished fourth. Intercontinental had no such problems in the 2005 race, holding off Ouija Board in such good style that she too earned the Eclipse Award for turf female. Heat Haze had finished second in the voting for the same award two years earlier. Then Cacique contested the 2006 Turf, only to find the mile-and-a-half distance beyond him, and Champs Elysees was beaten little more than five lengths in the 2008 Classic.
These six had all run well at the highest level in Europe, with Dansili and Banks Hill respectively finishing second in the French 2,000 Guineas and 1,000 Guineas, while Intercontinental finished third in a vintage 1,000 Guineas in England in 2003. Although a mile stretched Intercontinental’s stamina under European conditions, she eventually harnessed her energies better under Bobby Frankel’s tuition and she duly became her dam’s third consecutive Gr.1 winner in the Matriarch Stakes – a race won by the turbo-charged Heat Haze in 2003. Hasili’s fifth foal, Cacique, won at Gr.3 and Gr.2 levels in Europe and it was by only half a length that he failed to beat the future Arc winner Bago in the Grand Prix de Paris. Cacique also proved very well suited by the fast conditions on America’s turf courses as a five-year-old, winning two Gr.1 races – the Man o’War Stakes and Manhattan Handicap – and finishing second in three others. Champs Elysees, Hasili’s final foal by Danehill, became her sixth Group winner from six foals when he landed the Prix d’Hedouville and he proceeded to become a triple G1 winner in Canada and the USA, notably taking the Canadian International before returning to stand at Banstead Manor.
Hasili’s eighth foal, the Storm Cat filly Deluxe, also showed very smart form. After winning her first two starts, Deluxe was beaten only half a length in the Gr.1 Prix Saint-Alary and was then fourth after being hampered in the French Oaks. She became her dam’s seventh Group/Graded winner when she won the Gr.3 Cardinal Handicap after her transfer to the USA.
Altogether five of Kerali’s daughters - Dissemble, Skiable, Hasili, Arrive and Kid Gloves – have now collectively produced 14 Group/Graded winners, making this one of the most productive families of recent times.
It is a measure of Dansili’s quality that this Juddmonte homebred was asked by André Fabre to contest 12 consecutive Group races after he had won his first two starts in impressive style. Equally, it is a measure of his class and consistency that this brother to the champion fillies Banks Hill and Intercontinental managed to reach the first four in all but one of them, recording three Group successes, four seconds (three at Group 1 level) and three Group 1 thirds.
Although he gained his first success on heavy ground, his subsequent career suggested strongly that his record would have been even more impressive had he been able to compete only when the ground was good or faster. Dansili was capable of producing exceptional acceleration - the hallmark of most top-class performers - when ground conditions were in his favour, as he showed when he ran so well against Giant’s Causeway in the Sussex Stakes. The fastest conditions he encountered were at Churchill Downs, when he produced a sensational stretch run to all but win the Breeders’ Cup Mile, having been 13th of 14 with only a quarter of a mile left to run. The ground was also on the fast side when Dansili quickened at least 3 lengths clear of the remainder in finishing second of 15 in the Poule d’Essai des Poulains.
At 2: Ran once.
PRIX DE BLAISON, 1M, LONGCHAMP
Won from Bedawin, with the future Gr.2 winner First Magnitude third.
French Racing Online (FROL) commented: “Dansili is certainly a very serious horse and he proved it first time out with a very convincing success. Quickly in front, with Bedawin second, Dansili quickened at the top of the straight, challenged immediately by Bedawin. But the son of Danehill controlled his rival for the last two furlongs with Peslier not having to raise his whip.”
At 3: Ran six times, including:
PRIX DU LABYRINTHE, 1M, CHANTILLY
Won by 4 lengths from Tijiyr (a subsequent Gr.3 winner)
FROL: “Highly impressive performance by Dansili. Second four lengths behind Hexagon who led the race at a strong pace, Dansili moved out one and a half out and quickened beautifully under Olivier Peslier to win going away in the style of a classy horse.”
DUBAI POULE D’ESSAI DES POULAINS GR.1, 1M, LONGCHAMP
Second of 15 to Sendawar, accounting for Kingsalsa, Way Of Light, Mujahid, Indian Danehill and Bertolini.
Racehorses of 1999: “though unable to get to grips with the one and a half length winner Sendawar, he ran on strongly through the last two furlongs to pull clear of the remainder.”
PRIX MESSIDOR GR.3, 1M, DEAUVILLE
Won by 4 lengths from the multiple Group winner Kabool.
FROL: “Dansili, third in the centre behind the early leaders, quickened well two out to be soon out of reach.”
HARAS DE FRESNAY-LE-BUFFARD-JACQUES LE MAROIS GR.1, 1M, DEAUVILLE
Third, beaten 3½ lengths by Dubai Millennium.
EMIRATES PRIX DU MOULIN DE LONGCHAMP GR.1, 1M, LONGCHAMP
Third to Sendawar, beaten 1¾ lengths, accounting for the Gr.1 winners Aljabr, Slickly, Field of Hope, Way Of Light and Fly To The Stars.
Rated Timeform 125.
At 4: Ran seven times, including:
PRIX EDMOND BLANC GR.3, 1M, SAINT-CLOUD
Won by 2 lengths.
FROL: “Dansili travelled in second, quickened nicely to take the lead with a furlong left and held his lead easily.”
PRIX DU MUGUET GR.2, 1M, SAINT-CLOUD
Won by 2 lengths from Kingsalsa.
FROL: “Dansili made all and stayed on very well to the line for an easy success.”
QUEEN ANNE STAKES GR.2, 1M, ROYAL ASCOT
Second, beaten ½ length by Kalanisi, accounting for Aljabr, Sugarfoot, Muhtathir and Indian Lodge.
Olivier Peslier in the Daily Telegraph: “when he took the lead a furlong from the finish I was confident we could win. Unfortunately, he could not quite hold Kalanisi, but it was still a great effort as we were giving 3lb to the winner because of Dansili’s penalty.”
Gr.1 SUSSEX STAKES GR.1, 1M, GOODWOOD
Second, beaten ¾ length by Giant’s Causeway. Beat Medicean, Golden Silca, Aljabr, Arcadian Hero and Valentino.
J.A. McGrath, Daily Telegraph: “I am sure Oliver Peslier would not have moved as early as he did on Dansili if he were to ride the race again. Dansili was travelling so well two furlongs out, Peslier felt compelled to go for home. But in making his move so early, he allowed Giant’s Causeway to gear up for a battle inside the final furlong…the Frenchman’s tactics played right into his hands.”
PRIX DE LA FORET GR.1, 7F, LONGCHAMP
Second to Indian Lodge, beating nine Group winners.
James Underwood, European Racing and Breeding Digest: “Dansili ran on well but once again Peslier might be criticised for not selecting his way earlier and getting Khaled Abdullah’s smart miler on the move in time. He may not have beaten the winner but he would certainly have been closer.”
BREEDERS’ CUP MILE GR.1, 8F, CHURCHILL DOWNS
Third, beaten a neck and a nose, by War Chant, defeating Affirmed Success, Muhtathir, Altibr, Ladies Din, Distant Music, King Cugat, Indian Lodge and Arkadian Hero.
James Willoughby, Racing Post: “Dansili continued his run of desperate luck at the highest level when a very close third in the Breeders’ Cup Mile….= The André Fabre-trained colt was given far too much to do by his American jockey John Velazquez, but showed himself to be one of the best horses in the world with an incredible final quarter of 21.8 sec. Velazquez joins Olivier Peslier in having cost this amazing horse a Group 1 win.”
The important thing to remember about Dansili as a stallion is that his results are likely to continue on an upward curve. With his younger siblings adding extra lustre to his family’s glittering record with each successive year, Dansili’s fortunes have risen accordingly. Having started out at £8,000 in 2001, his fee was increased to £10,000 in his second season, then to £12,500 for each of the next four seasons. The next rise was to £30,000 in 2007, following his achievement of becoming champion sire in France and champion sire of all-weather performers in 2006. In other words, all of his racing-age offspring aged three or over in 2010 were sired at a fee no higher than £12,500. Even so, he ranks as one of only four stallions to have achieved a top 12 finish on the combined leading sire lists of Britain, Ireland, France, Germany and Italy in each of the seven years from 2006 to 2012, the others being Montjeu, Galileo and Pivotal.
His numerous Group winners from these early crops include the imperious Harbinger, rated the best horse in the world by a margin of 6lb following his brilliant victory in the King George; Rail Link, winner of the Arc; Proviso, a quadruple Gr.I scorer in the USA in 2010; Zambezi Sun, winner of the Grand Prix de Paris; Price Tag, a demoted winner of the French 1,000 Guineas; and that fine filly Passage of Time, who defeated the colts in the Gr.1 Criterium de Saint-Cloud.
Dansili attracted more than 60 stakes winners in 2007, including 30 Group winners, and this crop produced its first G1 winner in Zoffany. His 2008 book contained the stunning total of 26 G1 winners and there were also many notable visitors to Dansili in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012. Mares due to foal to him in 2013 include the Gr.1 winners/producers African Rose, Arum Lily, Balisada, Binche, Bourbonella, Damson, Daryakana, Etoile Montante, Eva Luna, Fallen Star, Field Of Hope, Gracefully, Indian Ink, Insight, Louvain, Love Divine, Maycocks Bay, Miss Keller, Occupandiste, Rosanara, Russian Rhythm, Stormina, Together and Tyranny.
His progeny from these higher-priced crops look sure to see him continue to challenge for top honours.