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Soft going perfect for Turtle Island jumps offspring; TRADING POST Sire in focus Nancy Sexton on a stallion whose first crop included a Classic winner.

Byline: Nancy Sexton

WHEN Island Sands emerged out of Turtle Island's first crop to land the 2,000 Guineas ten years ago, it looked as if the stallion's stud career was firmly in the ascendant.

However, while Turtle Island has remained a useful Flat sire in the years since, it is for his progeny's exploits over jumps that he is now better known.

One of the first jumpers to bring his sire to the fore as a dual-purpose sire was Scolardy, who captured the 2002 Triumph Hurdle. Since then, the son of Fairy King has produced a further nine black-type jumps performers including Galway Hurdle scorer Mirpour and River Don Novices' Hurdle winner Rum Pointer.

Accordingly, Turtle Island was switched to one of Coolmore's National Hunt studs, The Beeches, in 2005, where he now stands for 3,000.

What is striking about the records of many of Turtle Island's progeny is their ability to act on soft and heavy ground, which isn't surprising given that the stallion showed all his best form on a soft surface for trainer Peter Chapple-Hyam.

Turtle Island wasted little time in demonstrating his ability, taking his first two races including the Group 3 Norfolk Stakes at Royal Ascot on soft ground. Although well beaten on his next start on good to firm, he bounced back to take the Group 1 Phoenix Stakes and Group 2 Gimcrack Stakes on good going.

Despite his abundant precocity, he was even better as a three-year-old, routing both the fields for the Irish 2,000 Guineas (on bottomless ground) and Group 3 Greenham Stakes (on good to soft).

Although Turtle Island returns a nine per cent strike-rate on good to firm, good and good to soft going, many of his higherrated performers, such as Bensalem, Turtle Soup, Don't Be Bitin and Island Faith have won on heavy. In addition, 12 of his 15 runners rated RPR 130+ earned their highest figure on good to soft or softer.

Several of Turtle Island's progeny have won at 3m and beyond but his statistics drop off over distances further than 2m5f, which again is not surprising given that he was happiest over 1m himself.

Another striking feature of Turtle Island's statistics is his progeny's seeming improvement over fences; he returns 41 per cent winners to runners over fences compared to 25 per cent over hurdles.

Key progeny characteristics

Overall winners-to-runners strike-rate of 25 per cent, which is broken down into 25 per cent over hurdles and an impressive 41 per cent over fences

Registers overall ground strikerate of nine per cent on good to soft, good and good to firm ground. However, that changes to 15 per cent on heavy over fences.

Only three of his 15 runners rated RPR 130+ achieved their highest figure on ground firmer than good to soft

Turtle Island was a miler and recorded several of his most notable wins over 5-6f. Therefore it is not surprising to see the statistics show that he has only sired three winners beyond 3m.

In addition, 11 of his 15 runners with an RPR of 130 or higher scored their highest rating over 2m5f or less


Turtle Soup: one of Turtle Island's many heavy-ground winners
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Feb 17, 2009
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