Juddmonte Farms

In-depth Analysis

By Claire Curry and Henry Bletsoe

To describe Acclamation as a rags to riches story is over the top but a 33,000gns yearling who went on to prove himself a top sprinter before becoming Champion first season sire, despite retiring at a fee of only €10,000, is a significant achievement. To then go on to sire Group 1 producing sons and daughters heaps even more credit on this son of Royal Applause.  

Acclamation was bred to be precocious – his dam Princess Athena had won the Queen Mary Stakes and his sire Royal Applause won the Middle Park, Gimcrack and Coventry before securing the Haydock Sprint Cup as a four-year-old. Acclamation did not follow his parents' lead by becoming a blacktype winner at two – but he did win the very valuable St Leger Yearling Stakes at Doncaster. He had an abbreviated career at three years before making up for lost time at four, annexing the Gr.2 Diadem Stakes and placing in the Gr.2 Temple Stakes, Gr.2 King’s Stand Stakes (behind Choisir, beating OASIS DREAM), and the Nunthorpe Stakes (behind OASIS DREAM). Acclamation and OASIS DREAM both then retired to stud  – and Acclamation gained revenge for the Nunthorpe defeat by beating his track rival to the first season sire championship.

Acclamation becoming Champion First Season Sire was in no small part due to Dark Angel, who attained blacktype by winning the Gr.1 Middle Park Stakes and the Gr.2 Mill Reef Stakes (another son of Acclamation called Berbice came third) and who earned a big pay day in a sales race - the St Leger Yearling Sale at York (he had been a £61,000 purchase).

There was some controversy when Dark Angel retired to stud as a three-year-old but his success needs no introduction – his current fee of €85,000 illustrating the achievements of his progeny. He has sired seven Group 1 winners of 11 Group 1 races including some of the best sprinters of recent times – Battaash, Mecca’s Angel and Harry’s Angel.

The tally of Acclamation’s blacktype performers amongst his first crop of two-year-olds was in double figures – Equiano's third place in the Gr.2 Criterium de Maisons-Laffitte amongst them. Equiano would go on to prove himself a top-class sprinter – winning the Gr.1 King's Stand Stakes - and has also gone on to prove himself a very able stallion – his best progeny being the triple Group 1-winning sprinter The Tin Man.

Acclamation has proven himself to be a reliable source of speed and class – EXPERT EYE is the only one of his five Group 1 winners to have won at the highest level at 8f – Marsha, Aclaim and the aforementioned Dark Angel and Equiano all won at 7f or less. In fact only one in four of all of Acclamation’s Group winners attained a Group win at further than 7f.

EXPERT EYE is a fourth generation Juddmonte homebred and his dam, maternal grandparents, and all four maternal great grandparents, are also homebred. His family has been in the Juddmonte Stud Book for over 30 years, since his fourth dam Nijinsky Star was purchased for $700,000 at the 1987 Keeneland November Sale in foal to Conquistador Cielo. Nijinsky Star was herself unraced but her first foal Hometown Queen was a stakes winner and was runner-up in that year’s Kentucky Oaks. She was a daughter of the outstanding champion Chris Evert and therefore a half-sister to the dam of Chief’s Crown and that year’s Gr.1 Frizette winner, Classic Crown. Nijinsky Star went on to become one of Juddmonte’s best foundation mares, with her homebred blacktype descendants numbering twenty, five of which are Group 1 winners. 

EXPERT EYE's dam Exemplify made a winning debut as a two-year-old in the Prix des Marettes at Deauville, a race that often throws up a good filly – indeed future Juddmonte Group winners Antonoe, Proportional and Modern Look all debuted in the race. Unfortunately, Exemplify failed to build on this debut (her stable was afflicted with a virus) but as a half-sister to the Champion Two-Year-Old Filly and dual Guineas winner Special Duty, her place at stud was assured. It is one of the quirks and fascinations of breeding racehorse that racecourse talent is not always an automatic key to success as a broodmare – and Exemplify and Special Duty’s dam Quest To Peak is a good example of this. Quest to Peak was highly regarded, and as a sister to seven-time Group 1 winner Sightseek and a half-sister to dual Group 1 winner Tates Creek it is easy to see why. However, she only made one visit to the racecourse - finishing unplaced. Despite lacking the race record of Sightseek and Tates Creek, it is Quest To Peak who has proven to be the best broodmare – being the dam of a Group 1 winner and the grandam of another Group 1 winner.   

Exemplify’s KINGMAN three-year-old, Clerisy, won a Newmarket maiden at the Craven meeting in 2019. She also has a Dark Angel two-year-old colt, a yearling colt by KINGMAN, and foaled a full sister to EXPERT EYE in early April 2019.
EXPERT EYE retires to stud as one of Europe’s leading 7f/8f performers. He gave notice of his ability when making a winning debut in a 6.5f Novice Stakes at Newbury in June, this being significant as it is not necessarily the norm for his stable’s two-year-olds to win first time out – and because the subsequent Gr.2 Richmond Stakes winner Barraquero was beaten into third. Two months later EXPERT EYE was sent off the 7/4 favourite for the Gr.2 Vintage Stakes at Goodwood, and his four- and-a-half length victory was so impressive that Timeform described it as “arguably the most striking performance by a two-year-old in a Pattern race all year.” Unfortunately a disappointing run in the Dewhurst was to follow – but the impression left by that Goodwood victory meant that Roaring Lion was the only British-trained two-year-old to achieve a higher Timeform rating than EXPERT EYE.

A respectable comeback run in the Greenham (second behind James Garfield) was followed by another disappointing effort on the Rowley Mile in the 2000 Guineas but from June onwards EXPERT EYE lived up to the promise he had shown the previous year.

EXPERT EYE was sent off as joint third-favourite in a typically open looking Gr.3 Jersey Stakes at Royal Ascot – but he won in the style of an odds-on shot – scorching to a four-and-a-half length victory, the biggest winning margin this century. EXPERT EYE confirmed himself to be firmly of Group 1 calibre when finishing runner up in the Sussex Stakes at Goodwood on his next start, arguably not being suited by the way the race was run but battling on in game style. A comfortable victory in the very valuable Gr.3 City of York Stakes, despite carrying a 3lb penalty, showed EXPERT EYE to be holding his form well – a fact further borne out by his unlucky third in the Prix du Moulin, being caught in traffic when making his run.

Churchill Downs on 3rd November was when EXPERT EYE's talent and consistency was fully rewarded. There had not been a British-trained winner of the Breeder’s Cup Mile since 1994 – and EXPERT EYE had to defy not only that statistic, but also the rain-softened ground – but defy he did – coming with a strong run down the centre to catch some more prominently-ridden rivals. 

EXPERT EYE retired to stud as one of the best two-year-olds of his generation, one of the best 7f/8f colts of his generation and as one of the most exciting stallion prospects in Europe.