Rich Selene family not forgotten in Magna Grecia

The 2,000 Guineas winner is a member of the Fiddlededee branch that stems from All Moonshine’s first foal Eyewash

Magna Grecia crosses the winning line after an impressive success in the Group 1 QIPCO 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket – Photo: George Selwyn

The importance of Pharos, in his role as the sire of Nearco, would in itself be sufficient to illustrate the immense contribution to the breed by the 17th Earl of Derby. Yet such was the depth of his breeder’s success over the early part of the 20th century that the same could also be said of various others including Hyperion, Lord Derby’s diminutive Derby winner of 1933 who went on to lead the British champion sires’ list on six occasions.

Hyperion’s own background was typical of the rich nature of those established families associated with Lord Derby. For starters, the Gainsborough colt was a son of his accomplished Chaucer mare Selene, the 1921 Cheveley Park Stakes winner and a close relation to the owner’s 1924 Derby hero Sansovino. And by the time Hyperion was foaled in 1930, Selene had already proven to be a producer of great worth, having foaled the 2,000 Guineas third Sickle, Middle Park Stakes winner Pharamond and Derby fourth Hunter’s Moon in her first three seasons at stud. Sickle and Pharamond both ultimately wound up at stud in the US where they became important influences; Sickle as the great-grandsire of Native Dancer and Pharamond primarily as the sire of Menow, in turn the grandsire of Buckpasser.

Thus Selene’s primary legacy to the breed is as the dam of three highly important sire sons. But as a true blue hen, her reach also extends further than that through a handful of productive daughters, one of whom – All Moonshine – is the ancestress of Saturday’s 2,000 Guineas victor Magna Grecia via a mare, Fiddlededee, who was inbred to Selene.

All Moonshine, by the Gainsborough stallion Bobsleigh and therefore a three-parts sister to Hyperion, initially did her bit for the family as the dam of Churchill Stakes winner Mossborough, today probably best remembered as the sire of Vincent O’Brien’s first major Flat runner Ballymoss. Since then, the line has done nothing but thrive.

Magna Grecia is the first Classic winner for Invincible Spirit

One daughter, French Polish, in time became the source of the noted Cheveley Park family of 2,000 Guineas winner Entrepreneur and his Group 1-winning half-sister Exclusive, herself the dam of another Group 1 scorer in Echelon.

Magna Grecia, however, is a member of the Fiddlededee branch that stems from All Moonshine’s first foal Eyewash, the 1946 Lancashire Oaks winner. One offshoot of the Eyewash family came to yield the likes of Australian champion Might And Power and French Classic winner Beauty Parlour.

Yet Lord Halifax’s Fiddlededee deserves to be regarded of equal importance as the dam of Mountain Lodge, who made her own contribution to the family as the third dam of Lady Bamford’s Oaks winner Sariska, and Fiddle-Faddle, in turn the ancestress of Prix Vermeille heroine Pearly Shells in addition to Magna Grecia.

In previous generations, this was a family endowed with its share of stamina. Fiddle-Faddle, for instance, threw two black-type runners in the classy stayer El Conquistador and the Lomond filly Fife, who ran a close third in the Lupe Stakes for Sheikh Mohammed.

However, Fife’s sole black-type runner, Witch Of Fife, showed her best form when third in the Sweet Solera Stakes over 7f as a two-year-old (and nothing when tried up to 1m6f), even though she was a daughter of stamina influence Lear Fan. And in later years, she went on to foal three high-class two-year-olds – latterly for Denis Brosnan’s Croom House Stud – in Drumfire, winner of the Solario Stakes for Mark Johnston, Ho Choi, the 2001 Gimcrack Stakes runner-up, and Cabaret, now finding fame as the dam of Magna Grecia.

Magna Grecia has the look of a true miler, even if he is the product of a Galileo mare. In that respect, it is tempting to look towards the role played by his leading sire Invincible Spirit. But that would be to dismiss the speed shown by some of the better family members of recent years.

Invincible Spirit is now deservedly regarded as one of the most potent sire of sires of his time

Cabaret, as winner of the Silver Flash Stakes over 7f, falls neatly into that category.

Bought for €300,000 as a yearling by John Magnier and turned over to Aidan O’Brien, Cabaret looked a filly of immense promise when the easy winner of the 2009 Silver Flash. Unfortunately, that was as good as it got as her next start, the Prix Marcel Boussac, turned into a non-event when her saddle slipped and she showed little the following year, including when down the field in the Oaks.

Cabaret was sold at the end of her racing career for 600,000gns to the BBA Ireland, acting on behalf of Bob Scarborough’s Woodnook Farm. She was also slated to sell at last year’s Tattersalls December Sale but that entry was confirmed before Magna Grecia struck in the Group 1 Vertem Futurity Trophy and she was duly withdrawn.

One of the highlights of the 2016 Tattersalls December Foal Sale when bought by connections for 340,000gns, Magna Grecia is the fifth foal and best of three winners out of Cabaret. The mare also has a two-year-old filly by Kodiac and a colt foal by Siyouni.

Magna Grecia’s victory in the 2,000 Guineas saw him become the first Classic winner for Invincible Spirit, who was represented later in the day at Churchill Downs by the Grade 2 American Turf Stakes winner Divine Age.

Invincible Spirit has been a remarkable stallion at the Irish National Stud. Overall, he has sired 18 Group/Grade 1 winners but more importantly is now deservedly regarded as one of the most potent sire of sires of his time; think Kingman, who seemingly has an array of notable three-year-old talent within his first crop, Australian sire sensation I Am Invincible and the promising Charm Spirit. Another young son, Cable Bay, is already the sire of three winners out of his first crop of two-year-olds.

It doesn’t take too much imagination to envisage Magna Grecia joining that group when the time comes.

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