‘Pretty amazing’: Golden Horn as a jump sire, from Good Morning Bloodstock

‘Pretty amazing’: Golden Horn as a jump sire, from Good Morning Bloodstock

By Martin Stevens

2nd November 2022

Success really should be measured by strike rates in the bloodstock industry, rather than by bare numbers of winners or lumps of prize money that don’t take into account opportunity. The only trouble with strike rates, though, is that as soon as a high one is identified and comes to wider recognition, it is almost certainly doomed to drop. A sparsely used sire who gets a phenomenal percentage of winners to runners from small early crops will likely struggle to sustain that figure when he has more and more representatives on the track, not all of them out of the best or most suitable mares. Similarly, the winners-to-runners ratio of a ‘nick’ between sire and broodmare sire that looks so impressive at the outset will soon drop as soon as everyone else jumps on the bandwagon.

For that reason, I was pleasantly surprised when I checked out the stats of Golden Horn after his son Nusret, a fairly smart performer on the flat, scored so easily on his jumps debut for Joseph O’Brien in a Punchestown three-year-old hurdle on Sunday. The brilliant Derby and Arc winner, but somewhat less brilliant source of flat superstars, has now supplied 17 winners from 27 runners in the National Hunt sphere in Britain and Ireland for a strike rate of 63 per cent, according to Racing Post statistics.

It was this time last year when I first wrote in this space about Golden Horn’s eye-catching start with jumps runners, and at that point he had fielded seven winners from 10 starters – including Stag Horn, who went on to take the Leamington Novices’ Hurdle, and First Street, subsequently a close second in the County Hurdle. For his proportion of winners to runners to have dropped by only seven percentage points, despite having been represented by another 17 horses in the intervening period, is pretty amazing. Granted, a lot of those runners will still be very well bred – and indeed the still-entire Nusret is a half-brother to Musidora Stakes winner Liber Nauticus – but bear in mind, too, that his early results might have encouraged trainers of his more disappointing horses to chance their arm over hurdles; just the sort of thing that usually ruins a rip-roaring strike rate.

Nusret, who is as low as 12-1 in ante-post lists for the Triumph Hurdle, is not the only exciting prospect for his sire to have emerged recently in this discipline, either. Nemean Lion, a five-year-old gelding out of Ninfea, a Listed-placed Selkirk half-sister to Magical Lagoon and Novellist, looked to have bags of talent when hosing up in a Hereford maiden hurdle on his first start over jumps last Tuesday. He had run second in Group 2 company at three for André Fabre and Godolphin, but was sold into Kerry Lee’s stable for just £18,000 at a Tattersalls Ascot sale.

Kutaiba, a three-year-old filly out of an unraced Dansili half-sister to Taghrooda bought by Rae Guest for a mere 10,000gns from the Shadwell part-dispersal at last year’s Tattersalls December Mares Sale, is another name to note by the sire. She expended little energy in seeing off her nine rivals on debut in a Huntingdon bumper for the trainer earlier in the month, and could have a fruitful dual-purpose career in front of her.

Look out also for what could be Golden Horn’s 28th National Hunt runner in Britain and Ireland, if the four-year-old filly Golden Ace takes up her entry in a mares’ bumper at Ffos Las on Friday. She was bred by Meon Valley Stud out of their Listed-winning Dubawi mare Deuce Again, but never raced for that operation and was instead sold to current owner Ian Gosden for 12,000gns at last year’s Tattersalls July Sale. She is now trained by Jeremy Scott.

Golden Horn’s continued success as a jumps sire will be music to the ears of his new owner and custodian, Jayne McGivern of Dash Grange Stud and Simon Sweeting at Overbury Stud respectively. He can be expected to cover a strong book of National Hunt mares at the Gloucestershire operation next year, when his fee has been set at a very reasonable £8,000. The resultant offspring won’t be his first bred for jumping, though, as he received a large number of National Hunt mares among the 156 he covered at Dalham Hall Stud this year, including useful sorts Buildmeupbuttercup, Free Thinking, Golden Sunbird, Happy Diva, L’Unique and My Petra as well as the dams of Black Tears, Elle Est Belle, Llandinabo Lad, Redemption Day and Santini.

Golden Horn was already an exceptional middle-distance horse with size and scope, not to mention those splendid progeny stats, but the knowledge that so many well-bred jumpers are in the pipeline might make him an even more attractive play for National Hunt breeders in his new home of Overbury Stud in the coming years.

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