The top-class Ato, who is from the same male line as last season’s Champion Sire Silvano, now stands at the Millstream Farm in Robertson.
Ato, whose first crop race this season, was a high-class performer in Singapore where he raced for South African born trainer Pat Shaw and owners Newbury Racing.
The handsome bay, bred in the Cape by Maine Chance Farrms, won nine times from 1200 to 1600m, with Ato’s career highlight coming when he defeated a top-class field to land the 2012 G1 Krisflyer Sprint over 1200 metres.
Among the notable performers vanquished by Ato in the Krisflyer were Secret Asset (just touched off in the G1 Prix de’l Abbaye) and Krypton Factor (G1 Dubai Golden Shaheen winner).
Named Champion Four Year Old in Singapore for 2012, Ato earned over $1.5 million on the racetrack.
Dennis Evans, who raced Ato in partnership with Andreas Jacobs, says of the sprint star, ““On first sight at the BSA 2009 NationalYearling Sale it was decided that he would go home with us. He had such an athletic walk, and wonderful eye and carriage. We went to R850,000.00 with Andreas Jacobs retaining a 25% share in him. His main strengths were speed, stamina and a good action.
Ato’s speed was good enough to win Singapore’s International Group1Kris Flyer Sprint over 1200 metres at his first and only attempt and follow up by winning the Group 3 Patrons Bowl over 1600 metres.
Horses of note behind him in the Kris Flyer were Mr Big who ran second in Dubai’s Golden Shaheen Sprint and Krypton Factor a multiple winner in Dubai and beaten only 3 lengths by Black Caviar at Royal Ascot.
He preferred being off the pace and running opposition down in the straight.”
His trainer described Ato as, “Straight forward to train, intelligent and seemingly aware of his ability for he was always ready to show off. No health issues until the injury which ended his career.”
Shaw had been keen to bring Ato to Royal Ascot but sadly an injury forced him into retirement.
Ato is a son of Nijinsky II’s Breeders’ Cup Mile winning son Royal Academy, a multiple champion sire whose 160 stakes winners include no fewer than 23 G1 winners. His notable runners include G1 Blue Diamond Stakes winner Bel Esprit, made immortal through the deeds of his undefeated champion daughter Black Caviar.
Royal Academy, broodmare sire of the influential champion sire Fastnet Rock, has enjoyed profound success in South Africa, through the likes of Cape Guineas winner Express Way and July winning champion Eyeofthetiger, while his daughter Mystic Spring was crowned Equus Broodmare Of The Year last season.
Like top sires Dubawi, Oasis Dream and Dansili, Ato is inbred to Northern Dancer. He is out of the top class racemare Another Legend whose six wins included the G2 All Along Stakes in North America.
A horse with a lovely temperament (Millstream’s Jan Mantel describes Ato as an “absolute gentleman”), Ato, owned by Newbury Racing in partnership with Maine Chance, stands privately at Millstream Farm this season.
His offspring are typical of the Royal Academy line in general, and Jan believes that Ato could well improve on any coarse mares sent his way. Ato’s offspring are said to have inherited plenty of their sires’ notable traits, including his athletic carriage and scope.
An interesting aspect of Ato’s stud prospects is his likely appeal to the Asian market –if the export of South African horses recommences following progress made by the veterinary and commercial bodies promoting the renewal of SA Exports, Ato’s familiarity is sure to make his offspring attractive to buyers from areas such as Hong Kong and Singapore.