There was a sense of deja vu at Newmarket’s July course earlier in the year when John Gosden unleashed yet another promising newcomer for Prince Khalid Abdullah.
Those Newmarket maidens are invariably among the most informative of the year. So, when the dogs are barking the name of a confirmed entrant, it usually pays to sit up and take notice. And onwatchers were duly treated to a performance of outstanding potential, as the Gosden colt in question produced a big turn of foot to take him clear of his rivals.
That narrative just about sums up Kingman’s debut back in late June 2013, when he spreadeagled a 7f maiden on debut under Ryan Moore. Or does it define the moment, five years on, when his first ever runner, Calyx, turned in a similarly powerful debut performance?
Kingman followed that debut win with an easy victory in the Solario Stakes at Sandown en route to a G1 3yo campaign. Calyx, meanwhile, was turned out relatively quickly ten days later in the Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot, in which he once again produced a striking change of gear to take apart the field despite racing away from the main action on the stands side (see video below). Subsequent G1 Phoenix Stakes winner Advertise was no match for him in second, adding fuel to the belief that Calyx, who is currently sidelined, is a G1 winner in waiting.
At that stage, Calyx was one of only two representatives of Kingman in action. It was a big start for Juddmonte Farm’s homebred son of Invincible Spirit and the momentum has continued since then thanks to a series of promising winners in Europe and Japan. They include a pair of other stakes performers in Look Around, winner of the Star Stakes at Sandown, and Sicilia, who ran third in the Prix du Calvados. Then there is King Of Comedy, another trained by Gosden, who had a subsequent G3 winner behind him at Sandown, alongside Juddmonte’s Sangarious, who justified the weight of market expectation when successful on his debut at Newmarket.
And at Chantilly on Saturday, there was a 1-2 for sons of Kingman in the mile maiden with Persian King, owned by Ballymore Thoroughbreds and trained by Andre Fabre, an impressive six-length winner from the highly-thought-of Juddmonte-owned Boardman, trained by Pascal Bary.
“Right from the off there was a great deal of positivity from trainers in respect of Kingman’s progeny, which was encouraging,” says Simon Mockridge, stud director of Juddmonte Farms in the UK. “However, given his profile, there was always going to be a great deal of expectancy and scrutiny once they reached the track, so Calyx’s sensational win in the Coventry settled a considerable amount of nervous tension. His explosive turn of foot took him seven lengths clear of the stand side and the form of the race has been enhanced by the runner-up Advertise winning the Phoenix Stakes.
“As all stallion managers will appreciate, to win a race of this importance with a first-crop sire certainly calms the nerves and sends out a very positive signal.”
He adds: “Look Around’s win in the Star Stakes and Sicilia’s promising third in the Prix du Calvados have given further indication that his progeny have inherited his speed and class to be competitive at the highest level.
“Two winners from two runners in Japan also demonstrates that he could well have an influence on the global stage.”
In a game where luck assumes a significant role, it is never wise to predict how a stallion’s career might unfold. But, in Kingman, Juddmonte certainly had a horse with plenty to recommend him.
As a racehorse, he was a miler of the highest class, one in possession of a high cruising speed and big turn of foot. After running second to Night Of Thunder in a 2000 Guineas where the protagonists were split by the width of the track, he made light of unsuitably soft ground to win the Irish 2000 Guineas before turning the tables on his Newmarket conqueror in the St. James’s Palace Stakes. As impressive as that performance was, however, many remember Kingman for his win in the Sussex Stakes, in which he clocked an extraordinary time of 10.22 seconds between the two and the one furlong pole to run down Toronado.
Another dominant win followed in the Prix Jacques le Marois to close a career that would ultimately secure Cartier Horse of the Year honours.
Then there is his pedigree. A member of Juddmonte’s deep Bahamian family, he is out of Poule d’Essai des Pouliches heroine Zenda, a half-sister to Juddmonte stalwart Oasis Dream, himself in the midst of a big summer thanks to the G1 winners Pretty Pollyanna and Polydream. With that kind of profile, not to mention the level of support that it attracts, there were always going to be hopes that Kingman might be capable of following Oasis Dream’s example at stud, especially as he shares his sire, Invincible Spirit, with the likes of I Am Invincible and Lawman.
Installed at £55,000 for the 2015 season, Kingman understandably attracted the attention of Europe’s elite breeders. Between them, they sent him 143 mares that year, among them the Oaks and King George heroine Taghrooda (from Shadwell) and the dams of fellow G1 winners Al Kazeem (Oakgrove Stud), Reckless Abandon (Car Colston Hall) and Star Of Seville (Lady Bamford). Another elite mare, Ballymacoll’s Justlookdontouch, produced a filly who would go on to realise 1.7 million guineas at the Tattersalls October Sale to Moyglare Stud; now named All Our Tomorrows, she is with Dermot Weld.
And, as they are renowned for doing, Juddmonte also threw their weight behind him, in his case by sending 17 mares. While Kind, the dam of Frankel, didn’t get in foal, Juddmonte had better luck with the likes of Soviet Moon (dam of Workforce) and the G1 winners Passage Of Time, Promising Lead, Proportional and African Rose. Such support gifted Kingman a head start over most of his contemporaries, and indeed it is African Rose’s G3-winning sister, Helleborine, who is the dam of Calyx.
Overall, Juddmonte have 38 progeny on the ground by Kingman and sent the horse another 18 mares this season.
“Certainly many of the sire’s attributes can be seen in his progeny, which is encouraging but not essential,” says Mockridge. “Like many of the leading sires from the Green Desert line, he is largely colour dominant, which is a positive. Overall his stock tend to have quality heads with great strength through the body and quarters, if a little light limbed.
“From a breeders’ perspective, they are very much of a type and easily identified.”
One breeder who has already enjoyed success with the stallion is George Strawbridge.
Strawbridge sent his High Yield mare Magic America, the Prix Morny runner-up of 2006, to Kingman in 2015 and was rewarded with Look Around, winner of the Star Stakes for Andrew Balding. Although later disappointing in the Prestige Stakes, she still holds several big race entries.
“Look Around was always an attractive filly,” says Strawbridge’s advisor James Wigan, “and is the best runner the mare has produced.
“I’ve always liked Invincible Spirit - he’s a horse that we’ve done well with. And I knew Kingman well from his time at John Gosden’s. He has a lovely temperament - we’ve had a few through our hands and they’ve all had his good character.”
It doesn’t take too much imagination to envisage either King Of Comedy, Sangarious or Debza holding their own in Pattern company in due course as well.
Waiting in the wings
King Of Comedy, a half-brother to Star Of Seville, had the Acomb Stakes first and third, Phoenix Of Spain and Persian Comedy, behind when shooting clear to win his debut over 7f at Sandown in July. Evidently well regarded, he holds an early entry in the Dewhurst Stakes, as does Sangarious, the recent winner of his debut at Newmarket for Sir Michael Stoute. Well backed on the day, Sangarious showed a bright turn of foot to overwhelm runner-up Bangkok, with the pair six lengths clear of the third.
His win came on the same afternoon that Kingman was represented at Deauville by another impressive winner in Debza. Meanwhile, the winning debuts of Danon Justice, who struck at Niigata on August 19, and York Tesoro, successful at Fukushima in mid-July, will no doubt have piqued the attention of Japanese buyers.
It’s a promising foundation for a horse who himself thrived as a 3-year-old. As such, there are a number of well regarded types still waiting in the wings.
Juddmonte, for starters, nominate several unraced youngsters to follow, namely Glaciate (a half-sister to Snow Sky and Ice Breeze with Pascal Bary), Headman (a half-brother to Projected with Roger Charlton), Clerisy (a half-sister to Expert Eye with Sir Michael Stoute) and Racine (a filly out of Proportional with Dermot Weld).
Juddmonte is well used to housing stalwarts of the British breeding industry, ranging from the likes of Rainbow Quest to Dansili and Frankel. In Kingman, they might just have another horse capable of following suit.