the focus this week is on the exploits of their counterparts based in the Northern Hemisphere.
With access to the world’s best bloodlines, British breeders understandably look askance at South African-bred fillies, yet those few who have put faith in our female lines have been handsomely rewarded.
None more so than respected Irish breeders Airlie Stud, who acquired the Sportsworld mare Kournikova at the conclusion of her racing career.
Trained by Paddy Kruyer for owner-breeder Frank Sharp, she left South African shores with a CV embellished by a defeat of the mighty Ipi Tombe in the Gr1 Triple Tiara 1600 at Turffontein.
Adding to her credentials, she had an attractive pedigree in that her dam, the Russian Fox mare Faberge Flowers, was out of a Royal Prerogative half-sister to champion sprinters Harry Hotspur and Rotterdam.
Kournikova rewarded Airlie with three stakes winners, the first of which, the Peintre Celebre filly Slight
Advantage, crossed the channel to win the Preis der Silbernes Band des Rheinlandes. Next came the Jeremy filly Pearl Of Africa, a dual Irish stakes winner and twice Gr2-placed in Dubai.
Rounding out the trio was the Dylan Thomas gelding Spark Plug, whose string of stakes places included a third in the Gr3 Earl Of Sefton Stakes.
Rose and Ashley Parker have bred some fine fillies at their Ascot Stud over the years, yet they never dreamed that one of them would become the dam of a French Gr1 winner!
This was the Corne Spies-trained Rock Opera, who earned Championship honours following an undefeated juvenile season capped by victory in the Gr1 Allan Robertson Fillies Championship.
Exported to Dubai, Rock Opera failed to add to that tally, although she did finish third in the UAE 1000 Guineas.
The daughter of Lecture and Al Mufti mare Drummer Girl has since become a valued member of Godolphin’s broodmare band as the dam of undefeated Gr1 winner Royal Meeting.
An impressive debut winner, he earned his Gr1 stripes second time out in the Gran Criterium at Chantilly, where he defeated Aidan O’Brien-trained Galileo filly Hermosa, who would go on to complete the Gr1 English and Irish One Thousand Guineas double.
The Australians won the battle for this Gr1 winning son of successful sire Invincible Spirit and he took up stud duties in Victoria in 2020. Royal Meeting was Rock Opera’s second stakes winner, the first being the admirable Exceed And Excel gelding Heavy Metal, a multiple Group winner in Britain and Dubai of 15 races.
Corne has enjoyed remarkable success with members of this female line. He also trained the Ascot-bred Seattle Singer, a Sail From Seattle filly out of Rock Opera’s three-part sister Royal Drummer. Winner of the Gr3 Sycamore Sprint, she had found only Always In Charge her superior in the 2016 Gr1 Gold Medallion.
Two years later, Spies went one better with the filly’s close relative Van Halen, who defeated paternal half-brother Cue The Music in an epic finish to the Hollywoodbets Scottsville sprint.
Out of Rock Opera’s Gr1-placed own sister Rock Concert, the son of Oratorio left South Africa after winning the 2020 Gr1 Mercury Sprint and is currently in training in France.
Thanks mainly to Barry Irwin’s Team Valor International, the success of South African-bred mares also stretches across the pond.
The American has never been shy of extolling the virtues of South African stock and has reaped handsome rewards with fillies he purchased here. Those who made their mark as broodmares in the States include Secret Heart and Sally Bowles.
A Fort Wood daughter of Varsfontein Stud’s top matron Secret Pact and a grandaughter of celebrated Broodmare of the Year Soho Secret, Secret Heart won the Listed Prix du Cap and ran third in the Gr1 Cape Fillies Guineas and SA Filllies Guineas.
For Team Valor, she came up trumps with her first foal, the Breeders Cup Juvenile Turf winner Pluck.
A virtual ringer for his sire More Than Ready, he stands at Vinery Australia where he has to date sired four stakes winners and has become renowned “for breeding toughness, soundness, versatility and a straight-forward, trainable attitude into his progeny.”
Secret Heart’s death at just age 15 was a huge loss, one which Irwin described as “a hard one to swallow,” and underlined when Hard Spun daughter Three Hearts became her dam’s second stakes winner with victory in the Gr3 Red Carpet Handicap at Del Mar. She is owned by leading SA breeders, the Kieswetters, and is based in Ireland.
Lest we forget, the family has flourished at Varsfontein in recent years. Secret Heart’s champion half-sister Promisefrommyheart produced red-hot sire Master Of My Fate and is also the grandam of Triple Crown winner Malmoos.
Another Gr1 winning half-sister Covenant features as the dam of new resident stallion Erik The Red.
Sally Bowles proved another Team Valor success. A daughter of London News bred in the Karoo by David Southey, she gave notice of her talent as a juvenile when beaten a head in the Gr1 Allan Robertson Fillies Championship.
She went on to win the Gr2 KZN Fillies Guineas in the Team Valor silks, while defeating future Gr1 winners Royal Fantasy and River Jetez! Exported to the States, she produced the More Than Ready filly Consumer Credit, a Gr3 winner who also finished third in the Gr1 American Oaks.
Mated to Proud Citizen, Sally Bowles foaled London Citizen, who crossed the Atlantic, scored twice in Britain and also ran second in the Swedish Derby.
The latest top performer to make the journey to the States is star sprinter Celtic Sea, who is set to join the broodmare band of her owner Anthony Beck at the famed Gainesway Farm.
Trained by Sean Tarry, this daughter of Captain Al carried the famous Beck silks to repeat victories in the Gr1 SA Fillies Sprint, whilst also defeating Horse of the Year Oh Susanna in the Gr1 Garden Province Stakes.
Although her departure is yet another loss to the South African gene pool, she will have access to some of the best stallions in Kentucky which greatly enhance her prospects of making her mark as a broodmare.