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world of breeding: Chorist hits top note to help sing praises of new-look Pattern.

Byline: Tony Morris

THIS season's European Pattern is strikingly different from all its 33 predecessors, incorporating radical revisions designed to provide more opportunities for older fillies and mares. Unlike North America, whose Graded Stakes scheme has always provided an extensive programme for females over the age of three, Europe offered few incentives to keep fillies in training, with the inevitable result that many crossed the Atlantic or took early retirement tothe paddocks.

Now, in a scheme that has grown overall from 347 races to 368, Europe has finally emulated America with a comprehensive filly-and-mare programme to accommodate runners over a variety of distances throughout the campaign. Along with numerous additions to the schedule, many races have been upgraded, including the promotion of England's Falmouth and Sun Chariot Stakes, Ireland's Pretty Polly and Matron Stakes, France's Prix d'Astarte and Italy's Premio Lydia Tesio to Group 1.

The first of those raised to the top level to be run was the Pretty Polly Stakes, at The Curragh last Saturday, and, appropriately, it was won by a five-year-old who had been kept in training specifically to take advantage of the new programme. No less significant, to counter any suggestions that the upgrade would just provide cheap prestige for the unworthy, she won it with a career-best performance.

Chorist was an admirably consistent runner at three and four, displaying smart form in virtually all her starts at a mile or ten furlongs. If she did not look Group 1 calibre when she tried her luck in the Yorkshire Oaks last August, it was less a want of class than inadequate stamina which found her out, as her subsequent distant third in the Princess Royal Stakes confirmed. A mile and a half is beyond her limit, but at ten furlongs she is a worthy opponent for any of her sex, and her front-running style, allied to dogged determination, makes her tough to peg back, as Alexander Goldrun found at The Curragh.

That was Chorist's second win at the home of Irish racing, where she completed a Group 3 double in the Blandford Stakes last September. Her sights are now set on a Group 1 double, with the Nassau Stakes at Goodwood her next objective. She may well meet keener competition there, but she has such a splendid attitude to racing that it would not be surprising if she were to raise her game again.

Chorist comes from the second crop of Cheveley Park's flagship stallion Pivotal, who earned his racing reputation as a

five-furlong star with victories in the King's Stand and the Nunthorpe, but has belied that one-dimensional image by getting stock who excel over a variety of distances.

Just a cursory glance at Pivotal's pedigree reveals he was not programmed to be a short runner. His sire, Polar Falcon, and broodmare sire, Cozzene, were both accomplished milers, and his maternal grand-dam, Stufida (by St Leger victor Bustino), was a Group 1 winner over ten furlongs in Italy. In light of that evidence, it is not so surprising that Pivotal has proved to be not just a sire of sprinters.

But what was less predictable is the class of the progeny he has sired from mares of little distinction. In his first two seasons, his fee was pounds 6,000, and for the most part his mates were modest types in search of a dose of precocious speed. The products included six Pattern or Graded winners from the first crop of 58 and four more from his second, which numbered only 35.

Among them, in addition to Chorist, were two daughters, Golden Apples and Megahertz, who registered multiple Grade 1 and Grade 2 victories over nine and ten furlongs, a

tip-top sprinter in Kyllachy, and Silvester Lady, winner of the German Oaks - the Preis der Diana - at 11 furlongs.

Pivotal's third crop, conceived at only pounds 5,000, included a French Group 3 winner over 101/2 furlongs in Humouresque, and Somnus, conqueror of Oasis Dream in last year's Group 1 Haydock Sprint Cup.

The stallion's current three- and two-year-olds were also products of pounds 5,000 matings, so we have yet to see what he can achieve from higher-calibre mares. Inevitably, the success he attained with those early runners has resulted in upward revisions of his fee. He stood at pounds 10,000 in 2002, pounds 25,000 in 2003, and this year he has covered at pounds 40,000; only Green Desert (pounds 85,000) and Singspiel (pounds 50,000) have higher advertised prices among British-based horses.

Of the 35 foals sired by Pivotal in his second crop, seven were bred by Cheveley Park. One of them was Megahertz, who was being carried by Heavenly Ray when she scored the second of her two minor wins at Goodwood, and another was Chorist, whose dam Choir Mistress was an unraced daughter of Chief Singer, a horse whose stud record - he sired only a single

Group 3 winner - contrasted sharply with his excellent achievements on the track.

However, Choir Mistress was a half-sister to Sacrament, a dual Group 2 winner at middle distances, also placed in the Irish St Leger, and she was the product of a good racemare, Blessed Event, who had been purchased by Cheveley Park during a season when she won the Listed Ballymacoll Stud Stakes and competed honourably at higher levels. Second in the Ribblesdale and Pretty Polly Stakes for her breeder, Robert Sangster, she ended her campaign with a third in the Sun Chariot and a fourth in the Champion Stakes in Cheveley Park's colours.

Blessed Event was much the best of the foals bred by Sangster out of Friedrichsruh, a mare he acquired from Germany, where she had finished second in the Schwarzgold Rennen (as the nation's 1,000 Guineas equivalent was then known) and won the German Oaks.

Friedrichsruh was not

a product of a

long-established German family, but rather the best runner developed from a female line that had arrived there only three generations earlier. Her third dam, Fairun, was one of the dozen winners produced by that grand mare Huntress, who began with a champion

two-year-old in Big Dipper and delivered another speedy youngster in Golden Dipper 16 years later.

Fairun was the least distinguished of her brood on the track, winning only a pounds 138 maiden at Catterick, but she did her bit for a family that flourishes now at Cheveley Park.

Sire: Pivotal

Bred by Cheveley Park Stud Ltd in England. Won 4 (5-6f) of 6 races, viz. 2 out of 3 at 2 years, 2 (King's Stand S.-Gr2, Nunthorpe S.-Gr1) out of 3 at 3 years. Earned pounds 148,023. Timeform 100P at 2, 124 at 3.

Powerfully built, attractive sort, 16.3hh, who always impressed in appearance and condition. High-class sprinter on fast ground (which he evidently needed). Best form at 5f, but probably capable of running to same mark at 6f.

By a high-class sprinter-miler who died young, having made a promising start at stud. Half-brother to Listed-placed winner Brave Revival (f by Dancing Brave; dam of Listed-placed winner Bravado).

Dam smart performer, 2-y-o winner, Gr3-placed. Grand-dam Gr1 winner over 10f in Italy, half-sister to 7 other winners. 3rd dam won twice at 2, daughter of Listed 2-y-o winner. Good, if not exciting, family.

Stands at Cheveley Park Stud, Newmarket, at a fee of pounds 40,000 (Oct 1). Sire of 5 crops of racing age, inc. notable winners: Golden Apples (Del Mar Oaks-Gr1, Beverly D S.-Gr1, Yellow Ribbon S.-Gr1), Kyllachy (Nunthorpe S.-Gr1), Low Pivot (Gr3), Needwood Blade (Gr3), Ratio (Gr3), Silvester Lady (Preis der Diana-Gr1), Captain Rio (Gr2), Chorist (Pretty Polly S.-Gr1), Megahertz (John C. Mabee H.-Gr1), Stolzing (Gr3), Humouresque (Gr3), Somnus (Haydock Sprint Cup-Gr1).

Dam: Choir Mistress

Bred by Cheveley Park Stud Ltd in England. Unraced.

Quite well bred. By a top-class sprinter-miler who became an indifferent sire, but got excellent broodmare Alidiva. Dam a high-class middle-distance performer (Listed winner, 2nd and 4th in Gr1) who produced 5 winners, inc. Sacrament (by Shirley Heights; Gr2, also Gr1-placed) and the dam of Icicle (Gr3).

Grand-dam won Preis der Diana, 2nd in Schwarzgold Rennen, produced 5 winners, plus the dam of Faberger (Gr1 in Italy, Gr3 in France).

Family of Derby winners Blue Peter, Blakeney and Morston.

To stud at 4 years and dam of: Operatic (1995 f by Goofalik; winner), Choirgirl (1996 f by Unfuwain; winner, Gr3-placed), Cuneythan (1997 c by Slip Anchor; Gr2 winner in Turkey), Choir School (1998 c by Unfuwain; unraced), Chorist (1999 f by Pivotal; Gr 1 winner), Cantoris (2000 g by Unfuwain; placed), Choir Leader (2001 f by Sadler's Wells; has run once), Choralist (2002 f by Danehill; unraced to date). Her yearling is a colt by King's Best, named Valiant, her foal is a filly by Pivotal, and she is in foal to Singspiel.


A typically game and talented daughter of her sire with the middle-distance aptitude of her family.


Chorist wins the Group 1 Pretty Polly Stakes, having been kept in training specifically to take advantage of the new European programme
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Jul 1, 2004
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