Almanzor set to make impact in Karaka debut

Almanzor set to make impact in Karaka debut6 Dec 2020

As one of the highest-profile new recruits among New Zealand’s stallion ranks, Cambridge Stud shuttler Almanzor is set to make waves with his first yearlings at Karaka next month.

The French, Irish and English Group One winner served 140 mares in his debut season at Cambridge in 2018. The catalogue for Book 1 of Karaka 2021 features 48 of those first progeny, with another two in Book 2.

Almanzor’s first yearlings have sold strongly in the northern hemisphere this year, reaching the equivalent of NZ$350,000 seven times during the Deauville, Goffs and Tattersalls sales.

Cambridge Stud chief executive Henry Plumptre is excited about the prospects of Almanzor’s first southern crop following that example at Karaka.

“He has very good representation in Book 1 at Karaka and considering the mares he served in his first season, we would have been disappointed if that hadn’t been the case,” he said. “He had a lovely book of mares with high-quality pedigrees. I’m expecting them to go well.

“Given the circumstances this year, we’ve been very pleased with Almanzor’s results in Europe. Covid-19 certainly had an impact on several of the sales. Deauville in particular appeared to be quite soft. But it was very encouraging to see the Almanzor yearlings sold well as individuals.

“We’re not quite sure what’s going to happen in terms of the buying bench in this part of the world this summer, but we have seen a lot of social media activity around potential buyers doing inspections, so we’ve all got our fingers crossed.

“Everyone who has a young sire is always very enthusiastic about the first foals, but Almanzor has certainly produced a lot of foals that are very good indeed.

“He’s an exceptional physical specimen himself and seems to cross pretty well with most mares. Just about every foal we’ve seen has been well above average.

“The first major test, of course, is the sales. His first weanlings in Europe sold very well last year and the yearlings have followed suit, and the results were good for the very few weanlings that have been sold in this part of the world too.

“Many might expect him to produce middle-distance three-year-old types, which will suit a lot of New Zealand breeders, but that line has also thrown up some very good two-year-olds. His sire Wootton Bassett was a champion two-year-old himself. So there’s a bit to suggest he might be able to produce good two-year-olds and quality older horses as well. We’re very hopeful.”

Almanzor has continued to enjoy strong support from breeders since that 140-strong introductory book in 2018.

“Because of the disastrous spring we had last year, losing Roaring Lion and with Tavistock unable to perform his duties, Nicolas (de Chambure, principal of Haras d’Etreham) was very accommodating and allowed Almanzor to serve a larger book of mares,” Plumptre said.

“He covered 155 mares last year, and he’s had 145 again in 2020. That tells us that he’s already got a good following with breeders.

“The third year is always a very tricky time for a stallion, but we’ve been in the lucky position of turning people away this year. That’s very unfortunate for those breeders, but it’s a good sign in terms of the horse’s popularity.”

Meanwhile, the highly successful spring of late stallion Tavistock continued on Saturday with his daughter She’s Alight winning the Listed Jungle Dawn Classic (1400m) in Perth.

Tavistock has sired 77 winners since August 1, four of them at stakes level including Johnny Get Angry in last month’s Gr.1 Victoria Derby (2500m) at Flemington.

Tavistock died in December of last year following complications from a paddock injury earlier in the spring.

“He’s been an elite stallion, and it’s such a tragedy that he’s no longer around – especially after siring yet another Derby winner this spring,” Plumptre said.

“We’d love to be able to identify a nice son that we could stand as a replacement. It would be fantastic to be able to continue that line. There are about 70 colts in those last two crops, so there might be a few possibilities.” - NZ Racing Desk