GROWING INFLUENCE OF TOP CAPE RACE
With his success in Saturday’s Gr1 L’Omarins Queen’s Plate, Variety Club has joined the ranks of the true greats. He joins the likes of Politician, Sea Cottage, Sledgehammer, Royal Affair, Jet Master, Empress Club and Pocket Power to name but a few of the legends who landed the Queen’s Plate.
Variety Club is one of ten horses to complete the Queen’s Plate/Cape Guineas double.
However, the Queen’s Plate has become more than just a race which identifies the country greatest racehorses.
There are also a growing number of important stallions featured in the lists of past Queen’s Plate winners.
Before Jet Master, the greatest stallion to have won the Queen’s Plate was Foveros. The son of Averof headed the general sires list on eight occasions – with his progeny including 83 stakes winners. Sons and daughters of Foveros earned over R48 million, and included 17 Gr1 winners. While he failed to leave behind a successful sire son, Foveros became a great broodmare sire, with his daughters producing over 40 stakes winners.
Another top-class sire who won the Queen’s Plate was the brilliant, but unsound, Royal Affair. Winner of the race back in 1959, Royal Affair sired 26 stakes winners – from just 181 foals (ie 14% of his foals were stakes winners). Not only did Royal Affair sire such talented stock as War Ribbon (Computaform Sprint), King’s Rhapsody (Smirnoff Plate), and Macheath (Somerset Plate), his sons and daughters also left their mark on the South African thoroughbred.
However, the Queen’s Plate winner who had the best strike rate was the fertility troubled William Penn. From nine foals, William Penn had eight winners – and three stakes winners!
Flaming Rock, in 1990, died early, but left his mark through his daughters, who produced the likes of Gr1 winner Little Miss Magic and Horse of the Year, Irish Flame.
The influence of Queen’s Plate winners is now being felt throughout the world. The late Wolf Power, who won the race in 1983/84, sired over 40 stakes winners during his stint at Gainesway Farm in Kentucky. His tally included the Gr1 winner Freedom Cry and Ask Anita – dam of dual Gr1 Santa Anita Handicap winner Milwaukee Brew. The latter has since become a useful stallion, siring champion Canadian fillies Ginger Brew and Milwaukee Appeal, and US Gr1 winner, Dr Zic.
However Wolf Power really hit the headlines in 2012, when his maternal grandson, Wise Dan, made strong claims to being the best horse in the USA. From six starts Wise Dan won five, culminating in a superb win over a world class field in the G1 Breeders Cup Mile. Wise Dan’s five wins this year included three at G1 level – and he is strong favourite to be named Horse of the Year for 2012.
Wise Dan’s dam, Lisa Danielle, has produced three stakes winners to date – and all three are sired by different sires.
The great racehorse and sire Jet Master, a dual Queen’s Plate winner himself, currently has five sires titles to his credit and has dominated South Africa breeding over the past six years. Remarkably, Jet Master’s progeny won five J&B Mets in a row – a feat which is unparalleled.
The sire of such champions as Pocket Power, Past Master, Ebony Flyer and Mythical Flight, Jet Master is the best stallion ever bred in South Africa.
Jet Master’s influence, however, has not been restricted to local success.
His son, J J The Jet Plane, won the 2010 Gr1 Hong Kong Sprint, defeating a stellar field of sprinters in the process. Another son of Jet Master, Lizarre, ran second in the Singapore Gold Cup, while the gutsy mare, River Jetez, won Dubai’s Gr2 Balanchine Stakes and was second in both the G1 Dubai Duty Free and G1 Singapore Airlines International Cup.
With an overseas campaign in the pipeline, prior to his eventual stud career, it is safe to say the sky is the limit for the brilliant Variety Club and one hopes he will follow in the footsteps of other South African greats with his influence being seen at stud for years to come.