Juddmonte Farms

PEDIGREE INSIGHT - CHAMPS ELYSEES

Taken from the TDN, by Andrew Caulfield:

A couple of years ago, when I wanted to take a photograph of Hasili, I was reminded of that feeble joke which runs along the lines of: Question: ‘What do you feed a 600lb gorilla?’ Answer: ‘Anything it wants.’

It turned out that the last thing Hasili wanted to do at that particular time was to stand still while a bumbling amateur photographer clicked away. Instead, she skilfully eluded all attempts to catch her as she played leader of the pack in her paddock. But then Hasili has earned the right to do anything she wants. She could out-diva Diana Ross, Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston and no one in the Juddmonte operation would dream of complaining.

While Hasili still has a bit of work to do to match Fall Aspen (eight group/graded winners, including four Grade I winners) and Courtly Dee (seven graded winners, headed by three Grade I scorers), this extraordinary mare has a near-faultless record. Thanks to CHAMPS ELYSEES's stylish victory in the Gr.2 San Marcos Stakes, her first six foals have all scored at Grade 1 or Grade 2 levels, with four of them achieving Grade 1-winner status. It took the great Dahlia 11 foals to come up with four Grade 1 winners and a pair of Grade 2 scorers.

She is one graded winner ahead of Juddmonte’s recently retired Toussaud, who also produced four Grade 1 winners. Coincidentally, Hasili is currently carrying to a late cover by Empire Maker, one of Toussaud’s Grade 1 winners. She also has a three-year-old, Raise The Flag, by Sadler’s Wells and a yearling filly by Storm Cat. It was a shame she was barren to OASIS DREAM in her last season in Europe. This tremendously speedy son of Green Desert (sire also of Hasili’s excellent daughter Heat Haze) sired his first group winner, Visit, from Hasili’s younger sister Arrive.

Although Arrive and Hasili share the same parents, Kahyasi and Kerali, they showed very different talents on the racetrack. Hasili was fast enough to make a winning debut over five furlongs at two, before doing all her winning at up to a mile.

Arrive, on the other hand, didn’t race at two and set track records over 1½ miles and nearly 1 7/8 miles. The explanation is that Arrive was the more typical daughter of Kahyasi, winner of the Derby and Irish Derby, whereas Hasili clearly inherited more of the precocious speed which made her second dam, Sookera, one of the fastest juvenile fillies of her year.

With a background like this, Hasili was always likely to produce a range of winners, even when mated to Green Desert and Danehill, two Danzig line stallions which made their names as sprinters. Her first foal, DANSILI, was straightforward, racing almost exclusively over a mile, but Hasili’s subsequent runners have displayed their talents over a variety of distances. Heat Haze and Intercontinental must be considered her fastest offspring, as they became stakes winners over 6½ furlongs and seven furlongs respectively, but they also had enough stamina to win Grade 1 races over 1 3/16 miles and 1¼ miles. Banks Hill was equally effective over a mile and 13 miles and CACIQUE was pretty versatile too, gaining a pair of Group successes over a mile in France before becoming a Grade 1 winner over 1¼ and 1 3/8 miles.

CHAMPS ELYSEES, for his part, has already shown himself to be the best stayer of the bunch, as he once failed by only a nose to land the Gr.3 Prix Maurice de Nieuil over 1¾ miles. However, he doesn’t look like a stayer, as he’s a strong, robust sort with plenty of substance and, looking at him, you could be forgiven for thinking that he’s a miler. He was once considered the most precocious of Hasili’s sons until a bout of coughing forced him to miss the summer meeting at Deauville, where he had been expected to shine.

His performance in the San Marcos suggests that CHAMPS ELYSEES is well suited by a mile and a quarter - and that he is now ready to fulfil the promise of his immaculate bloodlines. He managed to out-speed the opposition at Santa Anita despite having been held up last in a race in which the commentator said they ‘couldn’t be going any slower--if they did they’d start rotting.’

There’s a good chance that the firm ground at Santa Anita also suited him. According to the Racing Post form, he never encountered ground faster than good during his time in Europe and I wouldn’t be at all surprised were he to prove best on ground firm enough to allow him to use his acceleration. Although DANSILI could handle very soft going, three of his best efforts came on the few occasions he encountered fast ground, on which he could use his change of gears. CHAMPS ELYSEES’ victory makes him no less than Danehill’s 16th graded winner on American turf tracks, following Artiste Royal, Aussie Rules, CACIQUE, Landseer, Banks Hill, Intercontinental, Dress To Thrill, Danish, Light Jig, Luas Line, Makderah, Simple Exchange, Spring Star, Chiming and Desert Lady.

The first 10 horses on this list all scored at the Grade I level and it is reportedly Bobby Frankel’s ambition to add CHAMPS ELYSEES’ name to this elite list. Bearing in mind the scale of success enjoyed by Danehill’s American turf runners, I find it a little surprising that there is only one stallion son of Danehill in Kentucky, with another in Florida.

However, the Kentucky-based son is the Derby-winning North Light, whose adverts include Frank Stronach’s assertion that ‘we have bred him to quality mares and fully expect his progeny to excel on dirt.’ Only time will tell whether North Light can fulfil Stronach’s prediction regarding dirt, but there is no reason why a son of Danehill shouldn’t excel as a sire of turf and all-weather performers in the USA. DANSILI was Britain’s champion sire of all-weather performers in 2006 and 2007, as well as being France’s champion sire of turf performers in 2006. Danehill took third place behind DANSILI among 2007’s all-weather stallions, with another son, Danetime, in eighth place, so this tough male line is thriving on the synthetic tracks. And CHAMPS ELYSEES is thriving in the USA, to the extent that he could help Hasili become the first mare to produce five Grade I winners.

Date: 23 January 2008