Stallions who truly stamp their legacy in both hemispheres are naturally a rare commodity. In shuttling terms, Danehill bridged the gap between Europe and Australia before his sire-sons Exceed And Excel and Fastnet Rock assumed the mantle, while More Than Ready and Medaglia d'Oro lay claim to being the equine conduits between the United States and Australia.
Unearthing another stallion to join those select breed-shapers is the Thoroughbred equivalent of the Poincaré conjecture, but listening to David Redvers present his case for Zoustar's Northern Hemisphere credentials, it is hard not to be compelled by what lies ahead for this emerging force in the covering shed.
Of course, those connected to any horse are unlikely to prove the most objective source of scrutiny, but Zoustar's Southern Hemisphere exploits need little introduction. A winner of the De Bortoli Wines Golden Rose Stakes (G1) and Coolmore Stud Ascot Vale Stakes (G1) on the track, the Widden Stud resident has already been crowned champion first and second season sire in Australia, his 16 stakes winners worldwide headlined by triple group 1 heroine Sunlight and Singapore champion Top Knight.
With Zoustar's first Northern Hemisphere crop now yearlings, ANZ Bloodstock News caught up with Redvers during a busy Sunday morning as the current foaling season hits top gear. We speak shortly after a "whopping great" Zoustar colt arrived overnight at his Tweenhills Stud in Gloucestershire, the Northern Hemisphere base of Zoustar and home of exciting new recruit Kameko. More on him to come.
Redvers, who also serves as racing manager to Sheikh Fahad Al Thani's Qatar Racing operation, was in lucid and engaging form as we discussed a range of racing's most pertinent topics, but his excitement was palpable when the talk turned to the son of Northern Meteor.
"He is a wonderful opportunity for UK, Irish, and French breeders and anybody who has been to the sales in the Southern Hemisphere knows what to expect when they open the door of a Zoustar," Redvers says of the stallion who covered 149 mares at Tweenhills in 2019 and 124 last year.
"They all look very similar, with that wonderful head and hip. He puts this amazing action into his progeny, which really appeals to the market and is why the Southern Hemisphere sales prices are so strong."
Anticipating the sales ring traction his European yearlings will command later this year, Redvers continues: "While a lot of people who will look at the Zoustars won't have seen him race, won't recognize the form, and probably won't recognize Northern Meteor and Encosta de Lago if they have a parochial approach to racing, when they see the physicals and all of the amazing accolades landed on him, I think it's going to be a bit of a no-brainer. If they're not buying the best ones, I certainly will be."
Zoustar will stand at £25,000 this year and he has already kicked off 2021 in taking fashion, producing the top lot at the New Zealand Bloodstock National Yearling Sale at Karaka, an NZ$800,000 (US$574,096) filly who was knocked down to Coolmore and Te Akau Racing, while his 51 lots sold at the Magic Millions Gold Coast Yearling Sale grossed AU$14.76 million at an average of just shy of AU$290,000.
A third high-class book of mares awaits him in the coming months, with Redvers continuing: "For the most part, we haven't tried to reinvent the wheel ourselves. We're acutely aware of what's worked with him down south and we've gone down the same route, sending him the majority of our sprinter-miler and precocious mares because that's what he is—a very fast, champion 3-year-old sprinter."
Among Zoustar's yearlings on the ground is a colt out of Wind Fire, a dual listed-winning daughter of Distorted Humor who ran third in the Norfolk Stakes (G2) at Royal Ascot, and a son of La Rioja, who won the Country Gentlemens Association Dick Poole Fillies Stakes (G3) as a juvenile prior to finishing fourth in the Commonwealth Cup (G1) at 3.
"These two colts have stallion potential written all over them," says Redvers, before quickly pointing out that another youngster on the farm, a filly out of the stakes-winning sprinter Arabda, is bred on the same cross as Zousain.
Now resident alongside his stallion at Widden, Zousain carried the Qatar Racing colors during his 13-race career, while his neck second to Sunlight in the 2018 Coolmore Stud Ascot Vale (G1) completed a trifecta for Zoustar, who also produced the third, Lean Mean Machine.
Redvers also notes how the Karaka sales topper is out of a Galileo mare and a variation of that cross is evident in Zoustar's yearling filly from Lightening Quick, a group 3-winning daughter of Frankel who is herself out of Qatar Racing's Jaguar Cars Cheveley Park Stakes (G1) heroine Lightening Pearl.
She, alongside a filly out of Queen Mary Stakes (G2) third and American listed winner Out of The Flames, is described by Redvers as "gorgeous" and "very fast-looking."
"These are a good bunch of yearlings, but the current foals will be even better next year as they're bred from the best mares he has covered so far. The only clear route is up," he adds.
Con Te Partiro Among a Stellar Maiden Book for Kameko
The latest addition to the four-strong roster at Tweenhills is last season's QIPCO Two Thousand Guineas (G1) winner Kameko, who carried Sheikh Fahad's claret with gold braid colors to success in the Vertem Futurity Trophy (G1) at 2, the only group 1 hitherto run on an artificial surface in Europe.
Trained by Andrew Balding, Kameko also ran fourth in the Investec Derby (G1) after his Guineas success, faltering late as his stamina limitations ebbed away, while he was a luckless fourth behind Mohaather in Goodwood's Qatar Sussex Stakes (G1) just three weeks later.
Introduced to breeders at £25,000, he is set to receive robust home support from Qatar and Tweenhills by covering 45 mares between the two outfits, including dual group 1 winner Con Te Partiro.
Originally trained by Wesley Ward, Con Te Partiro was a listed winner at 2 and a Royal Ascot winner at 3, but her career scaled new heights when she joined the stable of Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott in 2019, winning the Coolmore Classic Tad Kennedy Stakes (G1) the following year prior to taking out the Coolmore Legacy Stakes (G1) on her penultimate outing back in April.
"We paid (US$1.6 million) for her in Kentucky and not many first season sires get sent a million-plus mare in their first book. She's just an extraordinary bit of kit, and we're looking forward to seeing what they can get up to," Redvers says.
A classic-winning colt with a bright future at stud inevitably leads the conversation towards the question of a potential shuttle deal, a topic that is particularly acute given the sudden and tragic loss of Qatar Racing's Roaring Lion in August 2019. Having covered his first Northern Hemisphere book that spring, the four-time group 1 winner was due to stand at Cambridge Stud, but he was euthanized before the Southern Hemisphere breeding season began after suffering complications from two colic surgeries.
Asked if Kameko could be tasked with shuttling himself, Redvers says: "There are a couple of ongoing conversations, although nothing is ruled in or out at the moment. We won't be making any decisions on his future until we know he is fertile and capable of doing the job, but all the signs are very positive at present."
The symmetry between Kameko and Roaring Lion has occupied plenty of column inches, with both being Redvers-sourced Keeneland September Yearling Sale graduates by Hill 'n' Dale Farms' champion sire Kitten's Joy .
Redvers continues of Kameko: "At the time I thought we'd bought the cheapest horse we'd got for years and I couldn't believe he only cost US$90,000 as he was such a good physical. You still don't expect him to do what he did, but he always looked very special to us.
"Andrew was training a couple of much more expensive horses for us at the time, but from a very early stage he kept talking about this Kitten's Joy horse who was going to be the next Roaring Lion. It's rather a wonderful story."
Roaring Lion Set to Stamp Legacy With Sole Crop
While Roaring Lion's opportunity at stud was cruelly cut short, he did cover 133 mares at £40,000 during his sole breeding season.
The resulting offspring perked the interest of breeders in the foal market, with eight selling last year for an aggregate of £889,814 and an average of £11,226. However, Redvers only sees those numbers going one way.
"Because the stallion was dead, from a commercial point of view that creates a slightly stagnant foal market. I feel fairly confident that when we get to the yearling market there will be a completely different state of affairs, because trainers buy horses they want to train," he says.
"We've got 35 or so by him on the farm and we'll be looking at every single one in the ring. They have huge hips and there is a lot of his shape, girth, and head there.
"It's going to be fascinating and I certainly know, if he was still alive, I would be walking around on cloud nine at the moment thinking we are on the verge of something great, but we've just got to make the most of what we've got and hope there is a proper one amongst them."
Redvers also paid heed to Brendan and Jo Lindsay of Cambridge Stud, noting their foresight in relation to importing European bloodlines and the recent success of Almanzor at the first three Southern Hemisphere yearling sales of the year.
"Another reason I'm particularly heartbroken about Roaring Lion's untimely demise is that Cambridge is a very exciting and dynamic operation to be involved with," he says.
"A large pat on the back to them for investing massively in Almanzor. The manner in which they approach things shouldn't be a complete surprise when you consider that Brendan and Jo Lindsay are stratospherically successful business people, and they have approached Cambridge in a similar way, appointing some of the best people to their team."