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Invincible Spirit Lives On Through Top Australian Son

Invincible Spirit Lives On Through Top Australian Son

17th Jan 2017

The gulf nowadays between the opportunities afforded to the fashionable stallions and those given to the less obvious sires is so massive that one sometimes feels that it has become all too hard for a horse to pull himself up by his bootstraps. Happily, it is still feasible for a stallion, if he is good enough, to emerge from relative obscurity and end up recognised as one of the best sires in the land. There have been a few who have been doing so in Australia in recent seasons, with Not A Single Doubt (Aus) (Redoute’s Choice {Aus}) and Written Tycoon (Aus) (Iglesia {Aus}) being two of those who spring most readily to mind. Another is I Am Invincible (Aus) (Invincible Spirit {Ire}), whose upward trajectory through the ranks has just been re-emphasised at the Gold Coast, both on the racecourse and in the Magic Millions sale ring.

I Am Invincible’s surge through the sires’ ranks marks him down as being very much his father’s son. Invincible Spirit (Ire) (Green Desert) was a very good racehorse, but he was not an outstanding one. He raced for four seasons, but only at an average of just over four starts per year. He won seven of his 17 starts, but it was only on his final start that he managed to snare a top-level victory, taking the G1 Haydock Park Sprint Cup as an autumn 5-year-old. He came from a very good family, but one more associated with stayers than sprinters, which obviously was not necessarily an advantage for a horse whom most would have been viewing as a potential source of relatively inexpensive speed.

However, Invincible Spirit has done far better than even his most ardent fans could have predicted, to the extent that his fee at the Irish National Stud in 2017 (€120,000) is 12 times higher than his first-season fee of 2003. He was Europe’s leading first-season sire of 2006, setting a new record for European individual first-crop juvenile winners, surpassing the mark of 34 posted by Fasliyev (Nureyev) three years previously. Fasliyev failed to progress beyond his good start, but Invincible Spirit has continued to thrive. His first crop of 3-year-olds yielded a Classic winner in 2007 when Lawman (Ire) landed the G1 Prix du Jockey-Club. Since then we have seen the likes of Kingman (GB), Moonlight Cloud (GB), Charm Spirit (Ire), Fleeting Spirit (Ire), Mayson (GB), Shalaa (Ire), Territories (Ire), Hooray (GB), Born To Sea (Ire), Vale Of York (Ire), Profitable (Ire), National Defense (GB) and Rosdhu Queen (Ire).

Invincible Spirit no longer shuttles, but he did so for the first four seasons of his stud career. He certainly wasn’t the most vaunted horse being sent Down Under at the time, but he had won the same Group 1 sprint in which Danehill had recorded his biggest success, and he came from the same Danzig sire-line, albeit being a grandson (via Green Desert) of that patriarch rather than a son. Green Desert himself acted as a recommendation, already respected as a sire of sires in the antipodes thanks to his sons Volksraad (GB) and Desert Sun (GB). The former had been a multiple champion sire in New Zealand and the latter had produced the outstanding champion Sunline (NZ), heroine of 13 Group 1 races including two Cox Plates.

Invincible Spirit’s four seasons at Chatswood Stud in Victoria mirrored his achievements in Ireland, as he regularly upgraded the mares sent to him. The best horse he produced there was Yosei (Aus), a diminutive filly whose modest stature belied both her class and her determination, as she showed by taking three Group 1 races. She came from his fourth and final Australian crop, as did the multiple stakes winner Spirit Song (Aus). I Am Invincible, a member of his first crop, can be regarded as the best colt he sired there.

While Invincible Spirit had come from a family which was accustomed regularly to producing stakes winners, I Am Invincible did not, even though he is related to several very good and tough sprinters. He and his father, though, were very similar as racehorses: each raced for four seasons, intermittently showing very good sprinting form. I Am Invincible started off at Warwick Farm in Sydney’s outer suburbs with Toby Edmonds and ended up near Whittlesea, north of Melbourne, under the care of Peter Morgan. For the former he won twice in town and was placed behind subsequent G1 Golden Slipper S. heroine Forensics (Aus) (Flying Spur {Aus}) in the G3 Kindergarten S. at Warwick Farm as a juvenile. For the latter he won three sprints, including the G3 D. C. Mackay S. at Morphettville and the Sir John Monash S. at Caulfield, as well as failing by only a length to defeat the champion Takeover Target (Aus) (Celtic Swing {GB}) when runner-up in the G1 Goodwood H. at the same track as a 4-year-old.

The similarity did not end there. Just as Invincible Spirit had quickly showed himself to be an over-achiever in his second career, so did I Am Invincible. Having retired to Yarraman Park Stud (NSW) as a 6-year-old in 2010 at a fee of A$11,000, I Am Invincible proved the surprise star of a strong crop of freshman sires in the 2013/’14 season. He was Australia’s champion first-season sire and also topped the standings by both winners and stakes-winners, despite the fact that two of his best juveniles, Vinnie Eagle (Aus) and Leeds (Aus), were racing in New Zealand. Fittingly, the first of his five first-crop juvenile stakes winners, Bassillique (Aus), was trained by Toby Edmonds, who had by now relocated to the Gold Coast.

Star of that first crop was Brazen Beau (Aus), successful in the G2 Champagne Classic in Brisbane in the autumn. Brazen Beau went on to greater things, taking two Group 1 races as a 3-year-old, and I Am Invincible has done likewise. He began this year as sire of two individual Group 1 winners in Australia, I Am A Star (Aus) having become his second top-level scorer when saluting the judge during the VRC Carnival at Flemington in the spring. She and Brazen Beau ranked as two of his 13 black-type winners, eight of whom had won at group level. I Am Invincible has become synonymous with upgrading his mares and producing fast, tough horses capable of showing both precocity and durability. Again he was echoing his sire Invincible Spirit, whose first winner Spoof Master (Ire), winner of the Brocklesby S. at England’s first turf fixture of the year in March 2006, ended up racing for eight seasons.

Now I Am Invincible’s status is even higher than it was at the start of the month. Things were looking good for him going into the Magic Millions. The reports were encouraging about his yearlings entered in the sale; and he looked set to have two horses, the Toby Edmonds-trained Houtzen (Aus) and Waterhouse and Bott-trained Invincible Star (Aus), going off at single-figure odds in the A$2,000,000 MM 2-Year-Olds Classic, and the recent listed winner Eckstein (Aus) lining up as one of the major chances for the A$2,000,000 Gold Coast MM 3-Year-Olds Guineas.

Last week certainly did not disappoint for I Am Invincible. His first 37 yearlings to go the through the Magic Millions ring last week all fetched six-figure sums, with eight of these fetching at least half a million dollars, headed by the son of Admirelle (Aus) (General Nediym {Aus}), for whom McEvoy Mitchell Racing Pty Ltd paid A$900,000. At the Gold Coast racecourse on Saturday things got even better: Houtzen defied her barrier 16 to defeat her 15 rivals with a scintillating all-the-way victory in the MM 2-Year-Olds Classic, while Eckstein finished third in the Gold Coast MM Guineas. The icing on the cake for Yarraman Park Stud was that the winner of that latter race, Flying Jess (Aus), is a daughter of the stud’s other stallion, Hinchinbrook (Aus) (Fastnet Rock {Aus}).

Who knows why Invincible Spirit has turned out to be such a good sire? Who knows why I Am Invincible has done the same? We could hazard any amount of guesses, even resorting to pointing out that I Am Invincible is bred on the same cross as the multiple champion sire Redoute’s Choice (Aus), being produced by the Danzig sire-line from a daughter of Canny Lad (Aus) (Bletchingly {Aus}). We just don’t know. What we do know is that I Am Invincible’s current popularity is deserved, and that his paternal half-brother Zebedee (Ire) and his son Brazen Beau (Aus), who stood their first Australian seasons in 2015 at Cornerstone Stud (SA) and Northwood Park (Vic) respectively, might just be two young stallions of interest to Australian breeders if they find that I Am Invincible’s fee has gone beyond their reach. Having stood for A$11,000 at the outset, I Am Invincible was priced at A$55,000 in 2016. Currently standing atop Australia’s General Sires’ Table with, at time of writing, 81 individual winners of 128 races and progeny earnings of A$6,504,031, he is likely to be subject to a further, and justified, rise in advance of next spring.

By John Berry for the Thoroughbred Daily News

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