IT was certainly the end of an era last week when Cheveley Park Stud announced the passing, peacefully in his paddock, of the 28-year-old Pivotal. The son of Polar Falcon (Nureyev) was the horse who really put the hugely successful Newmarket farm on the map, and his influence will be felt for many years to come.
Not only was he a champion Cheveley Park-homebred, but he went on to excel both as a sire, as a notable sire of sires, and as a champion broodmare sire. He personified all that Cheveley Park’s owners, Patricia and the late David Thompson, aided by their managing director Chris Richardson, set out to achieve.
The recently published Weatherbys Return of Mares 2021 shows that his final small crop of foals includes the likes of His Highness the Aga Khan, Meon Valley Stud. Rabbah Bloodstock, Elite Racing Club and, naturally, Cheveley Park itself among the breeders. All had good reason to continue to use the stallion, even in his advanced years.
Pivotal, with no inbreeding for five generations, was a dream sire to consider for mating purposes. He was conceived on the first covering made by Polar Falcon, the Group 1 Haydock Sprint Cup winner who stretched to a mile and won what was then the Group 2 Lockinge Stakes. Pivotal was his outstanding offspring on the racecourse.
Trained by Sir Mark Prescott, Pivotal made just six starts, winning on four occasions. His two wins as a juvenile included setting a course record over five furlongs at Folkestone on his third and final juvenile start. He made his reappearance at three in the then Group 2 King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot, winning from Mind Games and Almaty. He stepped up to Group 1 status when, on his final career outing, he landed he Nunthorpe Stakes at York.
At stud he had a sensational start, and his first crop contained Kyllachy, winner like his father of the Nunthorpe Stakes and who later joined him at Cheveley Park where he became a multiple Group 1 sire, Silvester Lady and Golden Apples, that trio winning at the highest levels in England, Germany and the USA.
Pivotal took up stallion duties at an initial fee of £6,000, and immediately proved popular with commercial breeders. His fee reached a peak of £85,000 in 2007. Pivotal went on to quickly rise through the stallion ranks and was the leading British-based sire by individual winners on no less than eight occasions, and was twice crowned leading British-based stallion by earnings. He has sired 32 individual Group 1 winners, including the classic winners Sariska, Halfway To Heaven, Falco, Buzzword and Saoire, Dubai World Cup winner African Story, and Addeybb, who once again beat Verry Elleegant in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Randwick earlier this year.
Pivotal’s legacy is being felt, and will be for some years to come, through both his sons and daughters. He was crowned champion European broodmare sire from 2017 to 2019, and his daughters have produced 26 individual Group 1 winners to date, most recently with Tenebrism, appropriately in this season’s Cheveley Park Stakes.
Pivotal has made a huge impact as a sire of sires, with seven of his sons having sired Group 1 winners, most notably the reigning French champion sire Siyouni, who has already produced the champion colts St Mark’s Basilica and Sottsass.
Chris Richardson paid tribute to the stud’s flagbearer and said: “The story associated with the ‘mighty’ Pivotal is truly extraordinary, considering he was the result of the very first covering his sire, Polar Falcon, was given.
“Thankfully, as a yearling, it was decided to retain him to race, rather than offer him for sale, as we did with the other yearling colts by Polar Falcon that year. Whilst in the hands of trainer, Sir Mark Prescott, Pivotal truly put Cheveley Park Stud on the map, giving owners David and Patricia Thompson their first Group 1 winner in the stud’s famous red, white and blue colours.
“Having covered a relatively small book of mares in his first year, his resulting progeny excelled and inspired at all levels, which they have continued to do throughout his career, both domestically and internationally. On the world stage, Pivotal has excelled as a sire, a sire of sires and as a broodmare sire, to the highest level and all of us at Cheveley Park Stud have been so blessed to have been part of his life for 28 years.”