The phrase “timing is everything” is a truism not only in life in general, but also in all sports, and none more so than in the breeding game.
There is not a shadow of doubt that Windsor Park Stud have timed their introduction of TURN ME LOOSE to perfection. Just as the season’s matings are being arranged, the new horse’s sire Iffraaj has scored goal after goal with individual winners of the most important Derbies in New Zealand and Australia (Gingernuts and Jon Snow), but also arguably the world’s best miler Ribchester, who has, as I write, just scored a runaway victory in the Gr. 1 Queen Anne Stakes to open Royal Ascot 2017. Unsurprisingly, Iffraaj has quickly filled his 2017 book at $25,000, which makes his premier speed son great value at not much more than half that fee.
If Ribchester is the best miler in the north, then Turn Me Loose’s three Group One successes give him claims to similar status in southern climes. He was champion sprinter and middle-distance horse in New Zealand 2015-16.
Racing for the Cambridge stable of Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman, he ran twice as a juvenile with a debut second at Te Rapa and an easy win at New Plymouth.
In his second season, Turn Me Loose scored in the 1400-metre Gr. 2 Hawke’s Bay Guineas second up, and after a good third in the Gr. 2 Sarten Memorial he impressed with a facile success in the Gr. 1 New Zealand 2000 Guineas.
His four-year-old campaign was moulded for Australia, and after a sighter in the Makfi Challenge Stakes at Hastings, he was second in a Flemington Listed race before easily winning the Listed Seymour Cup and the Gr. 2 Crystal Mile at Moonee Valley.
Turn Me Loose made it to the big time with his third win in under three weeks in the Gr. 1 Emirates Stakes at Flemington, quickly finding the lead and holding off all challenges.
He returned to Australia for the autumn, running a close fourth first up in the Gr. 1 CF Orr Stakes at Caulfield and then putting up one of his best performances to win the very competitive Gr. 1 Futurity Stakes. He was no match for Winx in the George Ryder Stakes and the Doncaster Handicap under 57 kilograms, which is hardly a disgrace.
This season the five-year-old entire didn’t really fire in two sprints in the spring, but returned to his best in February with a fine effort for second to Black Heart Bart in the CF Orr Stakes. He retired as winner of seven races from 1200 to 1600 metres and almost A$1.6 million. At one time or another he had defeated most of the best sprinter-milers around.
His sire Iffraaj, who shuttles between Darley’s Irish operation at Kildangan Stud in County Kildare and Haunui Farm, won seven races to seven furlongs including the Gr. 2 Lennox Stakes and Park Stakes (twice). He was also second in the Gr. 1 July Cup, earning him a Timeform rating of 127. His sire Zafonic was European champion two-year-old and three-year-old with four elite wins including the 2000 Guineas. His dam is the Nureyev mare Pastorale, a close sibling to four stakes winners including the major sire Cape Cross.
Iffraaj went to stud in Ireland in 2007, but missed shuttling until the following season. He made an instant impression as champion European first crop sire with a record number of two-year-old winners including the champion French colt Wootton Bassett (Gr. 1 Longchamp Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere), who has since found fame as a sire including of 2016 European champion Almanzor.
Iffraaj has sired 49 stakes winners (18 New Zealand-bred) including elite winners Rizeena (Coronation Stakes, Moyglare Stud Stakes), Chriselliam (Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies’ Turf, Fillies’ Mile), Gingernuts (New Zealand Derby, Rosehill Guineas), Jon Snow (Australian Derby), Benvenue (Gran Premio di Milano), Ribchester and Wootton Bassett, also New Zealand Filly of the Year Fix.
A number of his stakes winners are out of mares either by Danehill or his sons, including Fix and Chriselliam.
Turn Me Loose’s damsire and granddam sire are Danehill and Sadler’s Wells – suffice to say that with 347 and 291 stakes winners respectively, they do not get any better, and that as broodmare sires they are just as good!
Shirley Heights (Mill Reef) is sire of the third dam and he measures up too, whilst Vienna (sire of Vaguely Noble), Borealis and Nasrullah follow on in similar style.
The female line is the 14 family of Silver Mist. Turn Me Loose’s dam Indomitable was half-sister to three winners including the Singapore Gold Cup placegetter Martial Art.
Third dam Commanche Belle proved a good broodmare with three stakes winners among her nine successful get. These included Fairy Heights (Fairy King) (Gr. 1 Fillies’ Mile), the two-miler Persian Brave (Gr. 3 Newbury St. Simon Stakes) and Puerto Rico (Sadler’s Wells) (Gr. 3 Gallinule Stakes).
Commanche Belle was half-sister to 11 winners including stakes winners Band (Gr. 2 Yorkshire Cup, Gr. 3 Cumberland Lodge Stakes; 2nd Gr. 1 Irish St. Leger, French St. Leger) and Zimbalon (Gr. 3 Ormonde Stakes).
The chart of Turn Me Loose reveals four male lines of Northern Dancer, one of which is Danehill, inbred to Northern Dancer’s dam Natalma providing the necessary balance. He also has a third-generation nick of Mr. Prospector with Northern Dancer in Iffraaj and a 2 x 3 similar nick of the same pair in the latter’s sire Zafonic. It will be noted also that the three-quarter brothers Nureyev and Sadler’s Wells are 3 x 3 to two daughters.
On the male line grandparents, Zafonic and Pastorale are balanced line-bred to Native Dancer and the speedy miler Fair Trial respectively, whilst Iffraaj himself is similarly endowed to Hyperion, Native Dancer, and to speedster Gold Bridge and the great miler Tudor Minstrel, to whom there is some resemblance both in Iffraaj and Turn Me Loose.
However, the fact that struck me most forcibly looking back down the damline was the preponderance of the sex-balanced blood of the great Oaks winner and sensational matron Pilgrimage, and every one of Turn Me Loose’s first six dams are balanced line-bred to her.
Hyperion himself carries two balanced lines of the mare, and he appears as a sex-balanced cross in damsire Danehill and in the first three dams of Turn Me Loose.
Turn Me Loose is sex-balanced line-bred to the mares Special (4 x 5) and Natalma (6/5 x 5/5/5), Native Dancer (6 lines), Nasrullah (6), Hyperion (12), Fair Trial (4), Gold Bridge (3) and Pilgrimage.
So what sires of broodmares will suit? There are plenty of options here to double up on the patterns on the chart – Northern Dancer with Mr. Prospector, Hail To Reason, Ribot, Klairon or Mill Reef, even better Sadler’s Wells with Shirley Heights.
Extra sex balance can be obtained with sons of The Minstrel, Sadler’s Wells, Shirley Heights and Nureyev, or daughters of Mr. Prospector, Gone West, Northern Dancer, Danzig, Klairon, Ribot and Mill Reef.
Stud clients will be heartened by the fact that Falkirk, Thorn Park, High Chaparral, Pour Moi and Rip Van Winkle all blend very well with the new horse. I also especially liked Pentire, Patapan, Shinko King and Sir Percy mares, whilst a watching brief should be held for daughters of Showcasing and Power.