One of the most interesting of the new sires going to stud in the coming spring is Inglewood Stud’s latest recruit WAR DECREE.
The North Canterbury farm obtained the stallion in conjunction with Kevin Hickman’s Valachi Downs as a replacement for the successful Zacinto, who has relocated to the latter at Matamata.
Studmaster Gus Wigley has repeated the tactic he successfully used to obtain Zacinto, again going for a horse of Group One quality and ability who never quite managed to get his head in front in an elite event.
The new horse is a good-sized, attractive bay with a star and one white fetlock, and he will prove a distinct asset for southern breeders.
He was raced in partnership between his Kentucky breeder Andrew Rosen, Mrs John Magnier and the Coolmore “lads” Smith and Tabor, and trained, of course, by Aidan O’Brien. Coolmore have used the sire War Front on a regular basis, and many of his best runners have been trained in Tipperary.
War Decree was sent out favourite on debut in early June over seven furlongs at Leopardstown and duly delivered the spoils by an easy four lengths. Connections resisted the temptation to back up at Royal Ascot in favour of the Gr. 2 Superlative Stakes at Newmarket, where he failed to peg back Boynton, the pair finishing a long way clear.
Seventeen days later he contested the Gr. 2 Vintage Stakes at Goodwood, where he won in good style from Godolphin star Thunder Snow, exacting sweet revenge on Boynton in third. The race was run in very fast time, the second quickest ever recorded in the event.
War Decree had shown at two that he was a colt with both acceleration and classic pretensions, and after seeming to need the run in the Gr. 3 Craven Stakes at Newmarket, he was aimed at the 2100-metre French Derby at Chantilly.
It may not have been one of champion jockey Ryan Moore’s most inspired rides, and he had problems extricating the colt from an inside position, getting hampered and unbalanced in the process. With the race virtually over, he got him running to finish best of all for fifth, just three lengths from the winner Brametot. He must be counted very unlucky not to have won.
He did not return to the races until the end of September, when he skated up by three lengths under a hands and heels ride in the Gr. 3 Diamond Stakes, as a prelude to a trip across the ocean to California for the Gr. 1 Breeders’ Cup Classic, where the opposition included such as Arrogate, Gun Runner, Collected and stablemate Churchill. War Decree got back in running, which is the kiss of death in America, and couldn’t come on. It was a similar story in the Gr. 1 Hong Kong Cup.
Earlier this year he again got stuck on the rails in the Gr. 1 Dubai Turf, but went a great race on the roundabout Chester track in the Gr. 2 Huxley Stakes for second behind Forest Ranger and in front of Eminent.
O’Brien commented (and it is very evident on his videos) that War Decree was a beautiful fluid mover, but his unlucky French Derby run counter-indicates that as he handled good to soft going well and stayed 10 and a half furlongs, at least against his age group.
Sire War Front has the phenotype of a real speed horse, much in the same mould as his sire Danzig, and he commenced stud duties without huge expectations in 2007.
He has now sired 71 stakes winners and almost 16 per cent stakes winners to starters. His 17 elite winners include Declaration of War (champion older European male – Juddmonte International Stakes, Queen Anne Stakes), The Factor (Malibu Stakes), champion European two-year-olds Air Force Blue and US Navy Flag (who returned to form when easily beating all-comers in last weekend’s July Cup) and champion European two-year-old filly Brave Anna, War Command and dual Group One victress Roly Poly.
War Front’s dam Starry Dreamer was a smart racemare with three Listed wins on major tracks and is dam of four stakes winners from seven winning foals including Teammate (Gr. 2 Shuvee Handicap) and Ecclesiastic (Gr. 3 Jaipur Stakes twice). Her sire is Rubiano, the American champion sprinter (33 stakes winners) who is balanced to Native Dancer and Rough ‘n Tumble.
War Decree’s damsire is one of the most important sires worldwide, Street Cry, who sadly died in 2014. The son of Machiavellian has 121 stakes winners (20 Group/Grade One) and is famed in Australia through his daughter Winx, also Shocking, Pride of Dubai and Whobegotyou; in America through equally great Zenyatta and Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense; and in South Africa through Oh Susanna. His daughters now have 45 stakes winners. He is a marvellous foil for all the male Northern Dancer blood.
Sire of the granddam is the leading British two-year-old and champion older European sprinter Royal Applause, whose 50 stakes winners include the good young sire Acclamation. His daughters’ 20 stakes winners received a nice boost when Blue Point won the Gr. 1 King’s Stand Stakes recently.
Next sire along the bottom line is Group winner Silver Hawk (70 stakes winners including Derby winner Benny The Dip) and whose daughters have done well including with Nathaniel. The good Mr. Prospector horse Woodman comes next, followed by Northern Dancer and Secretariat. Quite a star collection.
The female family is the Cherokee Rose branch of the Beeswing number 8 line that has been in America for about 120 years with great success. We pick it up with the superb racemare Terlingua (Secretariat), the sixth dam of War Decree, who is sister to elite winner Pancho Villa and half-sister to two other stakes winners including the great racehorse and sire Royal Academy. At stud her six winners include two stakes winners, including an even greater sire, Storm Cat, and Chapel of Dreams.
The latter won seven races (five stakes) including the Gr. 2 Palomar Handicap, placed in three Grade Ones and left six winners. Her daughters excelled at stud with a number of Group-winning descendants including Juniper Pass (San Juan Capistrano Handicap, San Luis Rey Stakes), Tale of A Champion and Postponed, also of stakes-winning and Group One-placed Zacinto colt Odeon, which augurs well for the cross of the two Inglewood sires.
Her non-winning daughter Wiener Wald, fourth dam of War Decree, was particularly successful with two stakes winners and three stakes placegetters among her nine winners. Her son Crowded House won the Gr. 1 Racing Post Trophy and was second in the Gr. 1 Pacific Classic, while among many stakes descendants it was the placed Argent du Bois who carried on this branch of the line.
This mare left seven winners, the first of which was dual elite winner Ticker Tape, while the Pivotal gelding Brando is a leading European sprinter, winning the Gr. 1 Prix Maurice de Gheest and placing in the July Cup and British Champions Sprint.
She also left stakes-placed Sant Elena, the dam of two stakes winners including Reckless Abandon (champion French two-year-old colt, champion European three-year-old sprinter).
A top racemare, Ticker Tape won eight times including the Gr. 1 American Oaks and Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup and four other stakes. She also placed in the Gr. 1 Del Mar Oaks and Matriarch Stakes, and it is her daughter Royal Decree who is the dam of two foals to date – stakes-placed Noble Quality and stakes winner War Decree.
War Front is constructed on a Northern Dancer – Petition (Fair Trial) cross over a mare by Rubiano, a straight Mr. Prospector – Northern Dancer nick. He is balanced to Native Dancer, Mahmoud and the siblings Hyperion and Pharamond.
The dam’s side of War Decree is more complex with a Mr. Prospector – Hail To Reason – Natalma crossed over Northern Dancer – Hail To Reason – Mr. Prospector – Northern Dancer. This is a nice mix of known successful nicks. Royal Decree is balanced to Native Dancer and to the related Fair Trial, Nasrullah, Royal Charger and Nearco (sire of the latter pair).
War Decree is himself sex-balanced inbred to Northern Dancer 3/6 x 6/6 and to his dam 4/7 x 6/7/7, also to male Mr. Prospectors 5 x 4/6. Sex-balanced linebreeding is to Nearco (19 lines), Native Dancer (8), Petition (5 x 6), Hyperion (11), Fair Trial (7), Nasrullah (9), Menow (4), Sir Gallahad (3), Bull Lea 92), Bull Dog (4), Teddy (12), Pharamond (5), Princequillo (5), and Lady Juror (8).
Matings that will add to the balance would be through sons of Halo, Native Dancer, Nijinsky, In Reality, Round Table, Riverman and Woodman, also daughters of Fappiano, Mr. Prospector, Never Bend and Roberto.