It is almost unimaginable to think that this year’s Yorkshire Cup, Ascot Gold Cup, Goodwood Cup or Lonsdale Cup will be run without Stradivarius (Ire). His appearance in those races had become a near constant occurrence for the past number of years and in an industry where retiring a stallion prospect at two is not out of the question we should count ourselves lucky that we were able to witness the striking son of Sea The Stars (Ire)’s prowess on the racecourse for so long. Having now swapped Newmarket Heath for the green pastures of The National Stud, as he begins his stallion career, the draw of Bjorn Neilson’s superstar has not been lost.
“Everybody across the world knew about Stradivarius,” says Joe Bradley, the recently appointed Head of Bloodstock Operations at the stud. “But here in Newmarket in particular, he was a huge personality on the heath and he’s a very important horse to a lot of people.” It may seem a daunting task to take on a celebrity of the racing ranks and maybe even more so when a horse whose career like Stradivarius’s may not necessarily be what every breeder is after but the team at The National Stud are confident in the horse, allowing his credentials to speak for themselves.
“We don’t shy away from what he achieved,” said Bradley when reminiscing on Stradivarius’s racing career. “We’re proud of it. He finished races in a way that most horses couldn’t. People understood the quality he has. He’s by an amazing stallion, he’s got a fantastic pedigree. He’s got the race performance, and physically he’s an exceptional animal.”
By allowing the facts to do the talking Stradivarius has been well received so far with “a range of breeders that provide mares from a range of distance, from six furlongs right up to a mile and a half,” booking a nomination. Given the mix of owner-breeders and commercial breeders that have expressed interest in Stradivarius, the team behind the horse have every reason to be optimistic for his future at stud with a book of over 100 mares coming together nicely.
“It’s been such an interesting process and it’s been great seeing the confidence that breeders have for Stradivarius,” Bradley added.
There is no doubt that launching a new stallion brings fresh enthusiasm and excitement, but it is hard to imagine that The National Stud has been lacking in those departments given the other stallions on their roster. Time Test (GB)’s first crop made a huge impression on the track and “he covered 160 mares in 2021.” There were a few key performers for the stallion last year with one of note in particular.
“He’s got some leading horses for the big races in the summertime,” said Bradley. “What we’re really looking forward to is Crypto Force (GB), who is with John Gosden now, making his seasonal return.”
Another on the roster who impressed with his first, albeit small, crop was Rajasinghe (Ire).
“He has been an amazing horse for Phil Cunningham,” said Bradley. “He won the G2 Coventry [S.] in the fastest time. And now, I think people are starting to connect those dots because he’s had an amazing first crop with 80% winners to runners with horses that have really shown a good turn of foot.”
Rounding off the quartet is Lope Y Fernandez (Ire) who has his first crop of foals this year. Of course, that is not the only interesting fact about the son of Lope De Vega (Ire).
“Lope Y Fernandez is a horse that we’re hugely excited by,” said Bradley. “We are in a great partnership with Nick Bradley and Whitsbury Manor. And what we’re doing is combining what we have, to give him every chance to be a very successful stallion.”
Of his first-born foals, so far, Bradley remarked, “They are exactly what we thought they would be. We’ve been telling breeders that Lope Y Fernandez will put plenty of bone and quality into your mare and into the progeny and that’s exactly what we’ve got.”
Like the stallions around him, Bradley seems very at ease in his new role which “incorporates a variety of things that are directly related to the farm and also dealing with clients, sales and nominations.”
Starting at a time with the promise of so much growth is not lost of the Irish native who cited it as “very poignant” to be working alongside the likes of Stradivarius. As both embark on what should hopefully be a long and fruitful career, perhaps going the distance isn’t such a bad thing after all.