IT was the end of an era.

Axion, a 10-year-old full horse, had run his last race, and was having his racing papers amended with the word ‘retired’ stamped boldly in red on the front.

Though a good racehorse, he counted two Group 3 victories among his seven JRA wins in a 34-race career, he was by no means exceptional, and would have been somewhat bemused by the enormous press interest in the simple retirement ceremony.

However, Axion boasted an illustrious parentage. In fact, he was the last offspring of Sunday Silence still running in Japan. He was the last man standing of the 1,386 different sons and daughters of Sunday Silence that have captivated and enthralled the Japanese nation for most of the last two decades.

Now that Axion was retired, the final chapter on his illustrious sire could be written.

It is almost impossible to overstate Sunday Silence’s legacy in Japan. He, on his own, has practically rewritten the Japanese stud book, and of the 476 lots offered at this year’s JRHA Sale, Japan’s flagship sale, no fewer than 410, or 86%, carried his genes.

His impact was almost immediate, and there were three individual group winners as two-year-olds from his first crop. However, it was to get much better, and from only 12 crops, his final tally was 148 individual group winners who won 331 group races. Of these, 76 were at Group 1 level and they amassed a whopping €820 million in prizemoney.

Champion sire

Sunday Silence was champion sire for 13 consecutive years, an honour that he shares with the great Sadler’s Wells. His best year was in 2005, posthumously, when his runners won a remarkable 38 group races and earned an incredible €94 million.

Of course, Sunday Silence’s legacy continues through his many sons at stud. Notable among these are Agnes Tachyon (champion sire), Manhattan Café (champion sire), Fuji Kiseki and Stay Gold, the sire of 2011 Horse of the Year, and Arc aspirant, Orfevre.

However, it is Deep Impact, from his sire’s penultimate crop, who looks the heir apparent. An incredible racehorse himself, winning seven Group 1 races, Deep Impact has made an outstanding start to his stud career.

Beauty Parlour

This year, he has sired 14 individual group race winners, including the Japanese Derby hero Deep Brillante, the Japanese 1000 Guineas and Oaks winner Gentildonna, and Beauty Parlour, winner of the Group 1 Poule d’Essai des Pouliches-French 1000 Guineas.

There are many Japanese breeders who are currently hoping that history can repeat itself.

Sunday Silence, winner of the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, made his way to Japan two decades ago as he was overlooked by American breeders who were not impressed with his pedigree.

Again this year, I’ll Have Another, who also won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, and was also overlooked by American breeders, has now made his way to Japan and will start his stud career next year at Big Red Farm.

[I’ll Have Another returned from Japan to stand in California for the 2019, and he covered this year at a fee of $10,000. His first US crop of two-year-olds number just 34 individuals. He is the sire of just a handful of blacktype winners, Group 3 winners Another Truth and Win Marvel, and dual stakes winners Meiner Yukitsubaki and Meiner Surpass]

This Raven is very hard to Pass


OPINIONS were divided on the quality of opposition Raven’s pass had dismissed at Yarmouth and Ascot, but any colt surging seven lengths clear at Group 3 level has to be taken seriously.

That was the winning margin in the Iveco Solario Stakes at Sandown on Saturday, and John Gosden’s son of Elusive Quality is now the 7/1 clear favourite with Coral for next year’s 2000 Guineas.

Maze, sweating freely, was too keen in the lead, and City Leader joined issue with two furlongs to travel. That minor struggle soon became irrelevant when Raven’s Pass and Jimmy Fortune swept past, soon opening up a clear lead as City Leader plugged on to hold Gasper Van Wittel for second.

Aidan O’Brien’s fair yardstick, Belgrave Square, was the next home. In keeping up the gallop for every yard of the seven furlongs, Raven’s Pass cracked Red Camellia’s 11-year-old juvenile course record.

Like a good many of Gosden’s quality horses, the winner is an American-bred, perhaps reflecting the time the trainer spent there.

However, the dam of Raven’s Pass, Ascutney, is by the Argentine sire, Lord At War. It is fascinating breeding, and Gosden has clear ideas about stamina potential, believing Raven’s Pass may well stay 10 furlongs eventually, but not 12.

“I think he’s a good horse, and I like him a lot,” he said. “He won his maiden at Yarmouth on a nice, sleepy evening, and went on to win a listed race at York in great style.”

Trainer-jockey arrangements have a considerable effect on the market, and Raven’s Pass had started at 20/1 in that Yarmouth race with David Kinsella on board, as Fortune partnered a shorter-priced stable companion. Backers came down firmly on his side last week, making him the 11/8 favourite, as one bet of £18,000 to £12,000 was noted on course.

Raven’s Pass is a taking chesnut, and his next appearance will be awaited with considerable interest. Gosden invariably announces a plan and sticks to it, so the Grand Criterium and the Dewhurst may well be on the agenda. The last horse to win the Solario and the Dewhurst was Alhaarth in 1995.

[Raven’s Pass made one more that that year, in the Group 1 Dewhurst Stakes, and finished third to New Approach,

As predicted by his trainer, Raven’s Pass stepped up and won at 10 furlongs on his racing swansong, the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita, beating Henrythenavigator. He also beat that colt in the mile Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, having finished runner-up to him in both the Group 1 Sussex Stakes and Group 1 St James’s Palace Stakes.

Raven’s Pass went to stud at Kildangan in 2009 at €40,000, and has just completed his 14th season covering there for just €7,500. He is the sire of 15 group winners and 38 blacktype winners in total, and four have won at the highest level – Romantic Proposal (Derrinstown Flying Five Stakes in Ireland), Matterhorn (Al Maktoum Challenge R3 in the UAE), Tower Of London (Sprinters Stakes in Japan), and Royal Marine (Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere in France).

He is also the broodmare sire of Mishriff and Saffron Beach]

A way of getting their man


THERE has been a scandal at the Saratoga meeting.

The venue has a clean record, but evildoers make their appearance, even at Saratoga. What care they of a meeting’s enviable record, if only they can get away with their dirty work?

A ‘sponger’ was active at the venue. On the morning of August 22nd, the trainer of Mr C le Roy King’s Panetian was told by one of his stable helpers that the lock on the stable of the horse had been forced off, and that the horse had been tampered with. He was an intended starter for the fourth race that day.

Dr C.R. Richards, the racecourse veterinarian, was called in. He located an obstruction in the horse’s right nostril. The object was placed so high up that it was necessary to force it through the throat and mouth before it could be removed. The ‘sponge’ had been pushed up with a hard object, for the lining of the nostril was severely torn and bleeding.

Bloodstained fingerprints were found along the ledge of the stall, and a Pinkerton detective photographed them. No arrests have been made so far, but several men of shady reputation, who have been seen about the racecourse, are being sought.

Pinkertons have a ‘line’ on the crooks who work the meetings, and their associates, and they have a way of getting the man or men they want.