When exciting filly Miracles of Life put her stamp on the Listed MRC Blue Diamond Preview last Saturday, she achieved a lot of things for a lot of people, but one of the more notable was that she became the first Australian stakes-winner from a daughter of More Than Ready (USA). Courtesy of Breednet
The flagship stallion for Vinery Stud, More Than Ready (pictured) has proven an outstanding sire, his progeny excelling over all distances ranging from Golden Slipper and Breeder Cup winners Sebring, Phelan Ready and Pluck to Classic winners Benicio and Dreamaway with his best performer the champion mare More Joyous.
An American bred sprinter by a champion Argentinian sire in Southern Halo, More Than Ready carved out an impressive career on dirt winning seven of 17 starts including the Group I King’s Bishop Stakes over seven furlongs.
His credentials were impeccable, but few could have predicted his success in Australia which has far outstripped his achievements in the US.
More Than Ready first came to Australia in 2001 and kicked off at a fee of $22,000 and covered 108 mares, followed by subsequent books of 70 and 84 mares before his fee bottomed out at $16,500 in his fourth season when positive talk on his stock bolstered his numbers back to 146.
That first crop changed everything for More Than Ready as it produced 16 individual Australian winners including six stakes-winners led by Group I winner Carry on Cutie, their collective efforts delivering More Than Ready with the Champion First Season Sire title for 2004/2005.
From that point More Than Ready has never looked back, amassing a sizable tally of 107 stakes-winners worldwide, 11 of them Group I winners and nine of them Australian Group I winners.
Fast forward to 2013 and we see More Than Ready’s Golden Slipper winning son Sebring leading the first season sires list by winners after a weekend on which he posted his first stakes-winner Dissident in the Listed MRC Blue Diamond Preview, while the fillies division of the same race was won by Miracles of Life , who is of course from one of his daughters.
One of the keys to the success of More Than Ready in this part of the world has been his ability to nick with the Danehill / Danzig blood which dominates our breeding landscape and both Blue Diamond Preview winners highlight this affinity.
Dissident carries a 4 x 2 double cross of Danzig being from Anabaa (USA) mare Diana’s Secret, while Miracles of Life is by the speedy Redoute’s Choice sire Not a Single Doubt, so she too has a mix of Danehill and More Than Ready blood.
A near black stallion that owes much in type to his grand-sire Halo, More Than Ready is physically a very different type of thoroughbred to the Northern Dancer breed that has given us Danehill and it’s those differences that have strengthened his case.
The Australian breeding industry needs to find another More Than Ready and we need to find him fast!
Australian Studbook released covering statistics last week that showed 40% of the thoroughbred broodmare population was covered last year by stallion descendants of Danehill and one shudders to think at the other side of the equation and what percentage of thoroughbred mares also carry the Danehill blood.
Don’t get me wrong, Danehill has been wonderful and has changed our breeding industry in a variety of ways and all of them for the good, but continually breeding like to like can only weaken the breed long term and while the sale ring might make that practice profitable, the race track may eventually highlight its shortcomings.
It’s hard for a commercial stallion farm to ask breeders to experiment and try something new when it may well spell commercial suicide for them, but somewhere along the line will emerge another More Than Ready and for those who take a punt on him the rewards will be many.
The major farms Darley, Vinery, Coolmore, Arrowfield and Emirates are all dabbling in the experimental pool through sires such as Bernardini (USA), Congrats (USA), Dream Ahead (USA), Gio Ponti (USA), Medaglia D’Oro (USA), Uncle Mo (USA) and Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom (USA), who will join the Arrowfield roster this year.
They know that we need another sireline to improve our thoroughbreds and carry them forward for another generation, so full credit to them for persisting with horses that are often hard to market and are frequently regarded with distrust by broodmare owners and yearling buyers.
That said, somebody is going to hit the jackpot at some point and unearth the next stallion that nicks with and improves what we’ve already got and for them it will mean a licence to print money.