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TONY MORRIS WORLD OF BREEDING: Tout Seul proof that poor sires can get Classic prospects.

Byline: TONY MORRIS

THERE is nothing new about competition between major public studs, nor in the use of race sponsorship as a promotion vehicle. When Tom Gee founded the Dewhurst Stakes in 1875, it was a direct response to the successful introduction of the Middle Park Stakes by his rival, William Blenkiron, nine years earlier.

Blenkiron had achieved valuable publicity for his Middle Park Stud in Eltham when two of the early winners, Pero Gomez and Prince Charlie, went on to Classic glory, and Gee hoped that the Sussex-based Dewhurst Stud would achieve something similar with his innovation. What happened exceeded his wildest dreams.

The first four Dewhurst Stakes winners all progressed to win Classics; indeed, nine of the first 14 collected 15 Classics between them. Gee's little marketing ploy established what was indisputably the best guide to top three-year-old form.

That reputation has not persisted throughout the Dewhurst's history, but since the revival instituted by the increase in added money - from pounds 2,000 to pounds 7,000 - in 1966, the race has almost invariably been the target of the season's top two-year-olds, its winner has regularly been acclaimed as champion juvenile, and the roll-call of winners who have gone on to excel at three is impressive, including Derby heroes Nijinsky, Mill Reef, Grundy, The Minstrel, Generous and Dr Devious.

This year's Dewhurst produced the biggest field in its history, and one of the more surprising results. The official handicappers are going to find it hard to name Tout Seul as champion juvenile, for all that he appeared to win entirely on merit, while bookmakers are content to lay him for the Guineas at longer prices than some of those he beat.

None of that should bother his connections. After all, The Minstrel was rated 8lb below the best of his generation at two, and Generous only 1lb closer in his year. The Dewhurst is always a key race, and we ignore its message at our peril.

Tout Seul has not done much wrong. Five wins and two seconds from seven starts amounts to a wholly admirable record. If he came to the Dewhurst by an unconventional route, so what? What he did when he got there was emphatic enough. We cannot just assume that Somnus, the Pivotal gelding who gave him 6lb and a head beating at Redcar, would have run away with the Dewhurst if he had been there.

If we leave the tricky problem of how to rate Tout Seul to the handicappers, and turn to an assessment of his pedigree, that is a bit of a poser as well. He is assuredly better than he could have been predicted to be, based on our knowledge of his immediate antecedents, and on the judgements pronounced by the markets where he was sold, both as a foal and as a yearling.

His sire, Ali-Royal, was a good horse, a decent Listed winner at three, and altogether better at four, when he finished second in the Lockinge Stakes and earned a notable victory in the Sussex Stakes. The Goodwood form was by some way the best he ever achieved, and unfortunately he picked up an injury shortly afterwards and never raced again.

As a brother to 1,000 Guineas heroine Sleepytime and half-brother to another Group 1 winner in Taipan, he obviously had a fair bit to commend him for stud, though that did not warrant his acquiring the company of 122 mares, many of them with modest qualifications, in his first season.

Nijinsky was an `iffy' sire of sires, and Royal Academy's record at stud is nothing like so impressive as it is frequently made out to be. But breeders are notoriously susceptible to clever marketing until their errors hit them in the pocket; sending poor mares to a dubious sire was bound to end in tears in many cases.

Ali-Royal died on the eve of what should have been his fourth stud season, before his first runners appeared. He was already less than a commercial success, ten of the 15 foals from his second crop having realised less than the cost of their conception at auction, and he was set to cover at half his original fee.

Ali-Royal - or rather, his genetic heritage - might be blamed for the fact that he did not get `lookers'. The lack of quality mares might be cited as the principal reason for the generally poor performance of his runners. Inevitably, he has got winners, but there have been few above plating class.

Not to put too fine point on it, Ali-Royal is a failure, albeit neither more nor less so than 95 per cent of stallions, many of whom record their only successes as gatherers of income from unwary breeders. But there are plenty of examples of poor sires who get the odd good horse, and for all we know, others may yet follow Tout Seul to put a bit of gloss on Ali-Royal's record.

Full marks to Eve Johnson Houghton for having identified the one star to date. When he appeared in the Fairyhouse ring as a yearling, Tout Seul owned respectable paper qualifications, being the product of a winning mare whose only runner to date had scored as a two-year-old. If Group 1 distinction would have been hard to discern, his price (Irpounds 12,500) was substantially higher than that of most Ali-Royals in 2001, suggesting that others recognised a measure of potential.

Like the Champion Stakes victor Storming Home, the Dewhurst winner was produced by a mare bred by, and sold cheaply by, Gainsborough Stud. Total Aloof, just a useful sprint winner for William Haggas, was adjudged surplus to requirements and allowed to go for only 6,400gns at the 1996 December Sales. Her own dam Bashoosh, a leggy little thing who had shown no form on the racecourse, had been sent to Japan two years earlier, culled for 65,000gns.

The Japanese had reason to fancy Bashoosh, as she was a full-sister to Biko Pegasus, a sprinter-miler with a Grade 3 win and a Grade 1 place to his credit that season. He was, and he has remained, the best product of Condessa, who finished second in the Irish Oaks for Jim Bolger in 1981.

The bookmakers may not fancy Tout Seul's Classic chances, but there is precedent in the family.

Sire: Ali-Royal

Bred by C.H. Wacker III in Ireland. Won 7 (7-9f) of 16 races, viz 1 out of 2 at 2 years, 3 (inc. 2 Listed) out of 8 at 3 years, 3 (inc. Earl of Sefton S.-Gr3, Sussex S.-Gr1) out of 6 at 4 years. Also 2nd in Lockinge S.-Gr1. Earned pounds 202,530. Timeform 87p at 2, 118 at 3, 127 at 4.

Leggy, workmanlike sort. Genuine, consistent performer, with a good turn of foot, well suited by a strongly run mile. Appeared not to stay on only start at 10f. Untested on really soft, but effective on any other ground.

Brother to 1,000 Guineas winner Sleepytime, half-brother to Gr1 winner Taipan, and to three lesser winners. By a high-class sprinter-miler and respectable sire. Dam Listed winner at Goodwood, half-sister to six other winners, inc. Croco Rouge (Gr1, Classic-placed), Persianalli (Listed, Gr3-placed), Lurina (Gr2-placed) and Tom Waller (Listed-placed), and to dam of Gr2 winner Great Dane.

Grand-dam placed in Fillies' Mile. Excellent US family.

Died January 2001. Stood at Castlehyde Stud, County Tipperary, last advertised fee Ir3,000gns (Oct 1).

Sire of 2 crops of racing age, inc. notable winner: Tout Seul (Dewhurst Stakes-Gr1).

Dam: Total Aloof

Bred by Gainsborough Stud Management in England. Won 2 (5f) of 8 races, viz. 0 out of 2 at 2 years, 2 out of 6 at 3 years. Earned pounds 8,905. Timeform 60p at 2, 72 at 3. Sold out of training 6,400gns Tattersalls 1996 December Sales.

Lightly made type. Modest sprinter, just useful in her class. Tended to race prominently. Never ran on soft surface. Unraced after mid-July at 3.

Half-sister to a minor winner in Japan. By a Gr1 winner and respectable sire. Dam poor performer, full-sister to Biko Pegasus (Gr3 winner, Gr1-placed in Japan), half-sister to dam of Listed-placed winner and top-class hurdler Valiramix.

Grand-dam won Yorkshire Oaks, 2nd in Irish Oaks. From formerly well-known and successful Brownstown Stud family.

To stud at 4 years and dam of: unnamed (1998 f by Namaqualand; unraced), Soaring Eagle (1999 c by Eagle Eyed; winner), Tout Seul (2000 c by Ali-Royal; Gr1 winner). Her yearling filly by Desert Sun made EUR40,000 at Tattersalls (Ireland) last month.

Conclusion

Group 1 victory appeared to be no fluke. Unfashionably

bred, but a genuine and consistent performer who promises

to train on.

TOUT SEUL (b c, 4-2-2000)

Ali-Royal (b 1993)

Total Aloof

(b 1993)

Royal Academy

Alidiva

Groom Dancer

Bashoosh

Nijinsky

Crimson Saint

Chief Singer

Alligatrix

Blushing Groom

Featherhill

Danzig

Condessa

Northern Dancer

Flaming Page

Crimson Satan

Bolero Rose

Ballad Rock

Principia

Alleged

Shore

Red God

Runaway Bride

Lyphard

Lady Berry

Northern Dancer

Pas de Nom

Condorcet

Varinessa

Nearctic

Natalma

Bull Page

Flaring Top

Spy Song

Papila

Bolero

First Rose

Bold Lad

True Rocket

Le Fabuleux

Pia

Hoist The Flag

Princess Pout

Round Table

Delta

Nasrullah

Spring Run

Wild Risk

Aimee

Northern Dancer

Goofed

Violon d'Ingres

Moss Rose

Nearctic

Natalma

Admiral's Voyage

Petitioner

Luthier

Pan American

Varano

Silken Princess

Bred by G. Johnston King in Ireland. Irpounds 6,800 Goffs November foal, Irpounds 12,500 Tattersalls (Ireland) September yearling.

CAPTION(S):

Tout Seul gives a massive boost to his unfashionable sire Ali-Royal in the Dewhurst
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Oct 24, 2002
Words:1594
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