Spotlight On South Africa’s Dominant Mares

Despite minimal international racing in this time of lockdown and no local live racing until at least the 1st of May, along with postponed yearling sales, work on the stud farms must continue. Breeders still need to prep their yearlings for the later sales dates, and continue to plan for the breeding season ahead. At the heart of most breeding operations is the strength of their mares and the success of the resultant progeny.

With some time to reflect on the cornerstone of our breeding industry, Ada van der Bent puts the spotlight on a small selection of dominant South African broodmares whose progeny have hogged the limelight these past seasons. She admits to her selection being one of personal preference and apologises for any oversight or omissions.


Reigning Broodmare of the Year Halfway To Heaven takes pride of place amongst Mary Slack’s broodmare band at Wilgerbosdrift. The Stakes winning daughter of Jet Master has rewritten the history books as the dam of a Gr.1 winner from each of her first three foals – Met winner Rainbow Bridge (Ideal World), champion Hawwaam (Silvano) and this season’s Cape Derby hero Golden Ducat (Philanthropist). Definitely a first in South Africa, if not the world, all three were bred by Wilgerbosdrift in partnership with ‘sister’ farm Mauritzfontein.

Wilgerbosdrift will offer the mare’s Silvano yearling colt, a full brother to champion Hawwaam, at this year’s National Yearling Sale. Halfway To Heaven produced a Querari filly in 2019 and she is currently in foal to Wilgerbosdrift newcomer Fire Away (War Front).


The paddocks at Mauritzfontein Stud have been home to some exceptional matrons for many decades, in no small way as a result of the foundation laid by the late Harry and Bridget Oppenheimer, who founded the famous stud in 1946. Fine fillies have been a hallmark of the stud,  15 of which have carried the famous yellow and black colours to victory in the SA Oaks. First won more than six decades ago by Angola in 1958, its most recent winner is Cherry On The Top, who landed the classic in 201.

The country’s champion three-year-old filly and one of just two Triple Tiara winners, the daughter of Tiger Ridge is out of Gr.2 Oaks winner Carolina Cherry (Fort Wood), who also produced Gr.3 winner Cherry On The Cake to the cover of Strike Smartly.

Carolina Cherry died in 2017, but her daughters are now valued members of the Mauritzfontein broodmare band and while Cherry On The Top is off to a fine start with her first two foals, Gr.1-placed Blossom (Silvano) and Gr.3-placed colt Seventh Gear (Captain Al), Cherry On The Cake won the race to a first Gr.1 winner as the dam of homebred Silvano three-year-old Summer Pudding. Successful in last month’s Gr.1 SA Fillies Classic and with the first two legs of the Triple Tiara in the bag, she will strive to emulate her aunt in the final leg, the Gr.2 SA Oaks, when racing resumes. Incidentally, Cherry On The Cake’s yearling colt by What A Winter is bound for the National Yearling Sales. The dam of a 2019 filly by Gimmethegreenlight (pictured), she is back in foal to Silvano, while Cherry On The Top is carrying to Deep Impact’s champion son Danon Platina.


Through judicious purchases of well-bred fillies and racemares, Lammerskraal Stud has reaped the rewards, with an enviable broodmare band yielding no less than three recipients of the coveted Broodmare of the Year award, the latest of which, Strawberry Lane, landing the title in 2017. Retired to the paddocks as just a modest one-time winner, the daughter of Jallad was quick out of the starting blocks with her first foal, the multiple Gr.2/3 placed filly Strawberry Ice (Western Winter), who has already produced Gr.2 winning stayer Flying Ice (Go Deputy).

Strawberry Lane came up trumps with her second foal, the colt Solo Traveller, also by Western Winter. He proved himself amongst the top of his generation, winning both the Gr.1 Cape Guineas and Gr.2 KRA Guineas. Six years later, Strawberry Lane produced yet another Western Winter filly named Redberry Lane, who provided her dam with a second top level winner by landing the Garden Province Stakes at the expense of Gr.1 Cape Fillies Guineas victress Snowdance (Captain Al).  A subsequent visit to Dynasty resulted in four-year-old Knight’s Templar, who became his dam’s fourth Stakes performer when third in the Listed Algoa Cup.


Although not a South African-bred, Irish import Mystic Spring (Royal Academy) is undoubtedly a blue hen mare as the dam of two champions and seven Stakes performers from ten winners. Retired after her last foal was born in 2018, the grey’s mushrooming legacy looks assured through her Stakes winning daughters and Gr.1 producers Secret Of Victoria (Goldkeeper) and Spring Lilac (Joshua Dancer).

Secret Of Victoria overcame a fractured a sesamoid early in her racing career to claim both the Gr.2 Southern Cross and Sceptre Stakes at four. She boasts an enviable produce record of seven winners from as many runners, amongst which the Gr.1 winning full sisters All Is Secret and The Secret Is Out. The former earned championship honours with victories in the Gr.1 Allan Robertson Championship and Thekwini Stakes, and went on to claim the Gr.1 Mercury Sprint in open company at three. The Secret Is Out emulated her sister by claiming the Allan Robertson. Both are daughters of the late Captain Al, as is Secret Of Victoria’s third Stakes winner to date, their younger full sister, Canukeepitsecret.

Remarkably, Captain Al also sired three Stakes winning daughters out of Secret Of Victoria’s Gr.3 winning half-sister Spring Lilac.

Based at Cheveley Stud, just like her now retired dam, Spring Lilac’s eight winners from nine runners include aforementioned classic winner Snowdance, who also won the prestigious Gr.1 Majorca Stakes and ran paternal half-brother Undercover Agent to a half-length second in the Gr.1 Gold Challenge. Her full sister Victorian Secret, a Gr.2-placed dual Listed Stakes winner, is off to a bright start for Varsfontein Stud as the dam of Gr.3 Godolpin Barb runner-up Master Of Illusion (Master Of My Fate). Wisely, Cheveley Stud retained their own sister Juniper Spring, who became Spring Lilac’s third Stakes winner when landing the Listed East Cape Breeders Stakes. Beaten just a neck in the Gr.2 Sceptre Stakes, she has now joined her dam and grandam at Cheveley and is sure to advance the fortunes of this fine family.


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