South Africa lost one of her greatest ever home bred stallions with the death of Captain Al.
The Klawervlei flagbearer died at the age of 20 on Wednesday after laminitis related surgery- he was just short of his 21st birthday at the time.
Bred by the Kosters, and trained by Vaughan Marshall (who also handled so many of his top runners), Captain Al was a son of Roberto’s champion sire son Al Mufti, whose 50 plus stakes winners winners also included champions Arabian Lass and Victory Moon, and Met winner Alastor.
He was one of three graded winners produced by his dam, former Broodmare Of The Year Off To War, whose daughter Shadow Dancing (subsequently dam of dual G1 winner Thunder Dance) won the G1 Cape Fillies Guineas and G1 Klawervlei Majorca Stakes in 2004-2005.
Captain Al won 10 of 17 outings, with his crowning victory coming with a length win over subsequent G1 SA Classic winner Glamour Boy in the 2000 Cape Guineas (a race won this season by his now Klawervlei based son William Longsword). (Other notables beaten by Captain Al in the Guineas included Met winner Badger’s Coast and dual G1 winner The Sheik –like Captain Al, a son of Al Mufti).
The gallant bay, who had triumphed in the G3 Matchem Stakes prior to his Guineas success, returned at four to win both the G2 Diadem Stakes and G2 Merchants-where he defeated G1 winners Ethno Centric, The Sheik and champion Laisserfaire.
Beginning his stud career with a less than stellar book of mares, Captain Al made an instant impression –with his first crop including 12 stakes horses headed by the graded stakes winners Captain In Command, Captain Cook, and Captain Corageous.
Graded winners flew thick and fast for Captain Al after his auspicious start, and at the time of writing, he has a total of more than 40 graded winners (and a total of 79 black type winners in all).
The bay went on to garner a Champion Sires title (2014) and eight consecutive 2yo sires titles and is one of the most prolific sires of 2yo stakes winners ever to stand at stud in South Africa.
His Equus Champions included All Is Secret (2YO Filly), Always In Charge (2YO Colt), Captain Of All (Sprinter), Cloth Of Cloud (2YO Filly) and Captain’s Lover (3YO Female Miler). The latter, winner of the G1 Avontuur Estate Cape Fillies Guineas in 2007, carried her sire’s name with aplomb abroad –with Captain’s Lover winning the G3 Prix du Pin in France and the Matchmaker Stakes in North America.
Other notable performers sired by Captain Al included recent G1 Rising Sun Gold Challenge winner Captain America, star 3yo William Longsword –winner of both the G1 Grand Parade Cape Guineas and CTS Mile this season, G1 J&B Met winner Hill Fifty Four, G1 SA Oaks winner Pine Princess, and five time G1 winner Carry On Alice. The latter is a leading contender for the Equus Award of Champion Sprinter this year.
Understandably, Captain Al also proved a smash hit in the sales ring –with a filly by him fetching R5.25 million at the 2016 Cape Premier Yearling Sale, and two colts by the champion making R4.5 million apiece at this year’s Premier Sale.
Captain Al’s legacy, however, will hopefully be felt for years to come with his sons Captain Of All and William Longsword both standing at Klawervlei, and his plethora of high class daughters having already produced the likes of G1 Gunner, Potent Power, and Same Jurisdiction, as well as this season’s KZN Yearling Sale Million winner Al Mariachi.
He was a once in a lifetime stallion and won’t be forgotten by all who knew and loved him.