December 4, 2014
When Will Farish announced that Noble Mission has been recruited to join the stallion roster at Lane’s End, he made the point that “many of the world’s best stallions are in Europe and we feel the need to revert to the days of importing top-class European horses to stand in America.
“We’re confident he can add to the long list of influential stallions like Nasrullah, Roberto, Nureyev, Lyphard, Kingmambo, etc., to become a successful stallion here.”
Lane’s End’s owner could also have mentioned numerous other top-notch European turf performers which made a sizable contribution to American bloodstock, such as Giant’s Causeway, El Prado, Storm Bird, Blushing Groom, Riverman, Alleged and Caro.
Noble Mission unquestionably represents the very best of today’s European bloodlines. His sire Galileo and his grandsires Sadler’s Wells and Danehill have collectively exercised a virtual monopoly of the title of champion sire in Britain and Ireland over the last 25 years. Sadler’s Wells – a breed-changing phenomenon – took the title 14 times in the space of 15 years. He was succeeded by Danehill, Noble Mission’s broodmare sire who achieved three consecutive Anglo-Irish titles to add to his nine Australian championships. Since then it has been the turn of Galileo, who is assured of the 2014 title – his sixth in the space of seven years. In other words, this trio of brilliant stallions has taken 23 of the last 25 championships, so Noble Mission’s pedigree truly represents the zenith of European bloodlines.
Galileo owes much of his success to his remarkable partnership with the Danzig male line in general and with the Danehill branch in particular. His 26 stakes winners from mares by Danehill represent 14% of the foals from this cross, with no fewer than ten of them achieving the status of G1 winner. Among them are a world superstar in Noble Mission’s brilliant brother Frankel, who is rated the best horse ever seen by Timeform in that organization’s long history. Frankel was a champion at two, three and four, and Galileo’s G1 winners out of Danehill mares also include another champion two-year-old colt in Teofilo and a champion two-year-old filly in Maybe. Then there are the European classic winners Intello, Golden Lilac, Roderic O’Connor and Cima de Triomphe. Some of the 2014 two-year-olds from this cross have also shown G1 potential, with the Group winners John F. Kennedy and Highland Reel figuring among the leading fancies for the 2015 2,000 Guineas.
I have always believed that the success of this cross owes a lot to conformation. Galileo’s Arc-winning dam, the blue hen Urban Sea, was described by Timeform as leggy and angular and even the most talented of Galileo’s progeny occasionally lack a little physical substance. This is where Danehill comes in. That impressive tome Great Thoroughbred Sires of the World had this to say:
“Danehill was an impressive individual, with a good head, broad forehead and strong, wide jowl. He had a strong forearm and gaskin, very good hindquarter and a great hindleg…Nor can any sire have moved more purposefully or been more dominant for ‘action.’ Danehill and his descendants move like panthers, relaxed and low-slung, loose in the elbow, with great thrust and over step behind. He was equally dominant for ‘soundness,’ both physical and mental.”
Kind, the Danehill mare responsible for Noble Mission and Frankel, was typical of her sire, and was described as a youngster as a very strong, powerful, good-walking filly with good quarters. All these virtues were apparent in both Frankel and Noble Mission as yearlings and one of Juddmonte’s managers also noted Noble Mission’s good hindleg.
Although Kind is out of Rainbow Lake, a wide-margin winner of the G3 Lancashire Oaks over nearly a mile and a half, Danehill’s speed proved totally dominant. Kind never tackled more than seven furlongs during her 13-race career and her finest moments came when she won Listed races over five furlongs at three years and six furlongs at four. Timeform rated her 112, just 1lb below her dam.
Kind is proving an exceptional broodmare, with Noble Mission being her third Group winner from her first five foals, which also include a Group-placed Listed winner.
Noble Mission always carried the burden of being the younger brother of arguably the best racehorse the world has ever seen, but he emerged from Frankel’s long shadow as a five-year-old, when his connections decided on a different strategy. Early in his career, because he tended to take a keen hold in his races, it had been considered necessary to try to hold him up for a late run. These tactics had worked well enough for Noble Mission to win three stakes races, but he proved a very different proposition when allowed to bowl along in the lead, using his magnificent stride to full advantage. His turn of foot was still apparent, as he usually quickened in style entering the straight, and he proved very hard to catch. In the six Group races where these forcing tactics were employed, he won five times. These victories also showed that, although he stayed a mile and a half, he was ideally suited by a mile and a quarter. Fittingly it was in the Qipco Champion Stakes, a race won two years earlier by Frankel, that Noble Mission produced an epic performance to record his third G1 victory of the year.
Timeform summarized Noble Mission’s Champion Stakes performance on its website as “one of the gamest displays of recent years, a 140 performance if guts were quantifiable.” They rated his performance 128.
When Lord Howard de Walden bred a pair of top-class brothers in Kris and Diesis, his solution was to stand the older brother in England, where Kris became champion sire, with the younger brother plying his trade in Kentucky, where Diesis sired the magnificent total of nearly 50 Graded/Group winners.
Noble Mission is qualified to make a similar impact in his new home, especially when other grandsons of Sadler’s Wells have already enjoyed considerable success in North America. Kitten’s Joy has been champion sire, champion turf sire and champion sire of two-year-olds, while Medaglia d’Oro is becoming a regular fixture among the top ten stallions, with G1 winners on all surfaces. He has Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra among his 11 G1 winners.
The record of Galileo’s eldest stallion sons also provides plenty of cause for optimism. They have already been responsible for winners of the 2,000 Guineas, the Oaks and the Irish Derby, as well as winners of such important G1 juvenile races as the Dewhurst Stakes (2), Phoenix Stakes, National Stakes and the Criterium International.
The career of Teofilo, who commands a fee of €50,000, could provide a few pointers to the lines which should work well with Noble Mission. He has sired a G1 winner from a daughter of Giant’s Causeway and this links to Galileo’s increasingly impressive record with daughters of Storm Cat. This collaboration has yielded the G1 winners Gleneagles, Marvellous and Misty For Me, as well as the American G2 and G3 winner Global View. Daughters of Storm Cat, Giant’s Causeway and Hennessy are also among the mares covered by Frankel in his first two seasons.
Although Galileo is out of a grand-daughter of Mr Prospector, by Miswaki, he has several high-class performers with Mr Prospector on their dam’s side. Mr Prospector sired the second dams of his high-class daughters Misty For Me and Tapestry, and of the very promising John F. Kennedy. Galileo also sired the Derby winner Ruler of the World from a Kingmambo mare, this mare being inbred 3 x 3 to Raise A Native. Breeders have been keen to send Kingmambo mares to Frankel, perhaps because their pedigrees also contain Sadler’s Wells’ close relative Nureyev. Noble Mission could be an option for daughters of Lemon Drop Kid, as another grandson of Sadler’s Wells has a G1 winner out of one. Galileo also sired the Breeders’ Cup Turf winner Red Rocks from a daughter of Machiavellian. Mares by Machiavellian’s son Street Cry are another likeable option.
Frankel’s first two books also include daughters of Machiavellian, Smart Strike, Woodman, Seeking The Gold and Distant View, so breeders have every confidence that he will suit grand-daughters of Mr Prospector. Other grandsons of Sadler’s Wells have G1 winners out of daughters of Seeking The Gold, Gone West and Fusaichi Pegasus. Mr Prospector’s great-grand-daughters should also suit, especially those from the speedy Gone West branch. Frankel’s visitors include top-class daughters of Mr Greeley and Zamindar. Mares by Speightstown, with their Storm Cat blood, should be especially interesting with Noble Mission, as well as mares by Elusive Quality and Grand Slam (which have done so well with Kitten’s Joy).
Breeders have also been keen to try Frankel with mares from the Fappiano line, sending him several Empire Maker mares, plus others by Unbridled and Unbridled’s Song. It will be a surprise if the Forty Niner branch doesn’t help bring out the best in Noble Mission. Medaglia d’Oro sired Rachel Alexandra from a grand-daughter and a G2 winner from a mare by Distorted Humor. As Distorted Humor has proved an excellent match for the Sadler’s Wells line, his daughters must take high rank among the possible visitors to Noble Mission.
Galileo sired the G1 winner Galikova from a mare by Blushing Groom, while Arazi and Rahy both appear among the sires of the second dams of Galileo’s important winners. Although Noble Mission has a second dam by another of Blushing Groom’s sons, Rainbow Quest, there is amply scope for sending him mares with more Blushing Groom blood.
Galileo has enjoyed widespread success with the Roberto line. He has been brilliantly successful with daughters of Silver Hawk, with his 11 foals featuring Nathaniel (King George and Eclipse S.), Great Heavens (Irish Oaks) and Seville (second in Irish Derby). Galileo also has Group winners from daughters of Dynaformer, Kris S. Lear Fan and Red Ransom. Frankel’s first two books include daughters of all four of these sons of Roberto. Noble Mission would also be very interesting with daughters of More Than Ready, a member of another branch of the Hail To Reason line. Noble Mission’s Danehill blood should combine well with More Than Ready.
Frankel has already been mated to a G1-winning daughter of Pulpit and to a sister to Tapit, as well as to a G1-winning daughter of Malibu Moon. Noble Mission will therefore be an interesting match for the many A.P. Indy line mares owned by Lane’s End clients. Medaglia d’Oro sired the Kentucky Oaks winner Plum Pretty from an A.P. Indy mare.
European breeders haven’t been afraid to inbreed to Sadler’s Wells via Frankel, so the door is open for Noble Mission to be used on daughters of Medaglia d’Oro and Kitten’s Joy, as these create only 3 x 4 to the 14-time champion sire. Adding a second line of Danzig could be another invaluable route to bringing out the best in Noble Mission. For example Distorted Humor mares would create 4 x 4 to Danzig, the basis of so much of Galileo’s success, while War Front and Exchange Rate produce 4 x 3.
Lastly, don’t forget mares by Diesis. Galileo enjoyed classic success with one and his son Teofilo has three stakes winners with Diesis dams.