The Grey Panel PERUGINO


Bash one of Perugino’s Boys

The win of Bashboy in the Australian Grand National was a truly great racing occasion, not only for the fact that the champion steeplechaser was winning the race for the third time and doing so under a bigger weight than had been carried to victory in the race for over half a century, but also for the fact that the champion Irish jockey Ruby Walsh was on his back. This latter aspect turned what would otherwise have a local occasion into an international event. This dual-hemisphere link-up was very appropriate as Bashboy is a son of the Sadler’s Wells’ half-brother , who has made a notable contribution to racing - both on the Flat and over jumps – in both the British Isles and the antipodes, writes John Berry.

In an era in which the stallion market has become ever more selective (largely on account of the fact that the massively increased size of sires’ books and the advent of shuttling have combined to reduce job opportunities for stallions) fewer and fewer horses with unimpressive racing records have been given a chance at stud. Perugino, who raced only once and who never contested a stakes race, came along after the practice of shuttling had been established and after the time-honoured convention of limiting stallions’ books had gone out of the window, yet was still given a place on the Coolmore roster. There was one, and only one reason, for his opportunity: he is a son of , dam of the mighty Sadler’s Wells.

Fairy Bridge had been a high-class filly herself. Furthermore, she possessed an excellent pedigree, being a half-sister to the top-class miler and stallion , out of a full-sister to the champion miler and excellent stallion , and a great-grand-daughter of the legendary matron . The latter was exported from Britain to the USA after winning a minor race at Bogside in Scotland in 1947, and then went on to be the matriarch of a family which continues to throw out champions.

, winner of the Irish Champion Stakes, Eclipse Stakes and Irish Champion Stakes as a three-year-old in 1984, had been trained for Robert Sangster by Vincent O’Brien. He was not the best colt in O’Brien’s Ballydoyle stable in 1984, but that turned out to have been a stroke of luck because it meant that he retired to Coolmore Stud in Ireland (at the jaw-dropping fee of 125,000 Irish pounds) while his superior stablemate (winner that year of the 2,000 Guineas and Irish Derby) headed across the Atlantic to the richer market in Kentucky, where he kicked off his second career at a fee of $200,000. El Gran Senor turned out to be an excellent sire but was dogged by substandard fertility – while Sadler’s Wells rewrote the record books. He had already begun his long reign as champion sire of Great Britain and Ireland by the time that Perugino came out of training in the autumn of 1994 – which made Perugino an interesting stallion prospect. Not only were Sadler’s Wells and Perugino both sons of Fairy Bridge, but Perugino’s sire was a son of Sadler’s Wells’ sire . Furthermore, the fact that Danzig’s reputation as a sire of sires – cemented largely by the burgeoning stud career of , but helped also by the likes of , sire of the 1994 Derby winner – was an extra bonus.

Sadler’s Wells had been racing from Ballydoyle after Lester Piggott had quit his position as Vincent O’Brien’s jockey, opting instead to stay at home in Newmarket to ride for Henry Cecil. Piggott had been replaced by Peter Walwyn’s jockey Pat Eddery, who had thus ridden Sadler’s Wells in most of his races (but not the Irish 2,000 Guineas, in which Eddery had – bizarrely, so this seems in retrospect – opted to ride Capture Him, leaving the veteran George McGrath to wear Robert Sangster’s second colours on board Sadler’s Wells). By the time that Perugino was racing, though, the merry-go-round had turned some more. Eddery had left Ballydoyle to ride for Prince Khalid Abdullah (to be replaced firstly by Cash Asmussen and then by John Reid) while Lester Piggott had retired from the saddle, set up as a trainer and then gone to jail for tax evasion.

In a turn of events which no novelist would have dared to invent, though, Piggott had come out of jail shortly before John Reid broke his collar bone at Longchamp on Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe Day in October 1990 – which accident led to Piggott renewing his jockey’s license in order to step into the breach to partner (who had been ridden by Reid to win that summer’s July Cup) in the Breeders’ Cup Mile for O’Brien in New York. That horse’s famous win at Belmont Park left not a dry eye in the house, and also ensured that Piggott and O’Brien enjoyed a few more years of glory together. , winner of the Cork And Orrery Stakes at Royal Ascot in June 1993 when his trainer was aged 76 and his jockey 57, ranks as the best horse to enflame the embers of this final shared chapter of their magnificent careers, but Perugino was potentially one of the most talented.

Bred by Robert Sangster’s Swettenham Stud along with various partners, Perugino was born in February 1991. He went to Ballydoyle as a yearling towards the end of 1992, and showed so much ability in training as a two-year-old through the summer of 1993 that when he headed to Leopardstown that Septmber to carry Sangster’s colours on his debut in a six-furlong maiden, he was sent off the odds-on favourite. He duly obliged, Piggott bringing him home the winner by a head from the Moyglare Stud-owned and –bred filly . The latter went on to give substance to this form, beating a big field in a maiden race at Naas on her next start before winning at the Curragh as a three-year-old. Ultimately she found her greatest fame as a terrific broodmare, most notably as the dam of 2,000 Guineas and Eclipse winner and of 2002 Melbourne Cup winner .

Sadly, though, that was that: Perugino was not able to build on his highly promising winning debut because injuries intervened, and he never ran again. At the end of 1994 O’Brien called it a day with him. Although his slender racing record did not justify a place at stud, his pedigree did: there were so many breeders keen to use Sadler’s Wells but unable to pay the king’s ransom required to buy one of his nominations, that there was plenty of work for the other sons of Fairy Bridge.

There had, in fact, already been, over and above Sadler’s Wells, two other sons of Fairy Bridge keeping themselves busy at stud in Ireland. and Fairy King were full-brothers to Sadler’s Wells. Tate Gallery had won the Group One National Stakes at the Curragh as a two-year-old in 1985 and he sired a champion (the brilliant two-year-old filly Lyric Fantasy, an odds-on Group One winner at weight-for-age as a juvenile in 1992) but sadly he had died in an accident in 1990, aged only seven.

was one year younger than Sadler’s Wells and one year older than Tate Gallery. Disappointingly, he had been unable to match them in Group One victory. In fact, his racing record was even less impressive than that compiled (if one can compile a list which contains merely one solitary item) by Perugino. Fairy King had made his debut in a Listed race at Phoenix Park. He finished last in it, and never ran again. Even so, such was the reception given to his older full-brother Sadler’s Wells at a fee of IR 125,000 gns that Fairy King was given a place at Ballysheehan Stud in Co. Tipperary in 1986, at a fee of IR 6,000 gns. This price proved unsustainable in the short term and it had halved by the time that he started to have runners in 1989. However, it then began to rocket up, as he covered for IR 20,000 gns in 1990. His first two-year-olds contained the Royal Ascot- and Group One-winning juvenile Pharaoh’s Delight, and he never looked back. Having joined the Coolmore roster, he ended up as sire of numerous top-liners including the brilliant 1996 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe winner , 1999 Derby winner , multiple Group One winner , 1994 Irish 2,000 Guineas winner , and the excellent , a Group One winner in Melbourne as a three-year-old in the spring of 1996 en route to an outstanding stud career.

Hence by the time of Perugino’s retirement from (rarely) racing, Sadler’s Wells was established as the dominant sire in Europe and Fairy King was flying high alongside him on the Coolmore roster – and Tate Gallery was dead. It was thus easy to see why a place was found at Coolmore for Perugino in 1995, when he could be seen as the perfect solution to the dilemma faced by numerous small breeders in Ireland who wished to use Sadler’s Wells or Fairy King, but who could not afford to do so.

Perugino has enjoyed a useful, productive and varied career as a sire, producing good winners in both hemispheres, both on the Flat and over jumps. During his early years he shuttled to Australia; and as far as Europe is concerned, he has been at three studs in Ireland and one in Germany. He started off at a fee of IR 3,000 guineas; and he did well enough to be commanding a higher price (5,000 euros) a decade later, by which time he had enjoyed a stint at Gestut Rheinberg in Germany before returning to Ireland, where he had taken up residence at Bracklynn Stud. He moved thence to Longford House Stud in 2008, where he remains to this day.

Perugino’s best son on the Flat in Europe has been , who was conceived at Gestut Rheinberg in 2002. It’s Gino was a prolific winner in his native Germany up to Group Two level, and he was also Group One-placed there, including finishing third in the country’s biggest race, the Grosser Preis von Baden, in 2008. However, his finest hour came four weeks after that excellent run when he finished third of 16 behind Zarkava and Youmzain in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp. Otherwise, Perugino’s European offspring have the 2003 German Oaks winner , the Irish-bred multiple German Group winner Banyumanki and the Irish-bred trouper . The last-named, as tough as they come, finished in the first three 71 times. His five black-type sprinting wins included victory in the King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot in 2004, and he recorded the last of his 18 victories when taking a handicap over five furlongs at Wolverhampton in December 2012 at the age of 14.

In Australia Perugino sired two top-class sprinters. His brightest star was , who became notable for his battles against , whom he chased home in both the Blue Diamond and the Caulfield Guineas (with in third, in fifth, and subsequent Caulfield Cup hero Diatribe in seventh) in 1999. Over and above those magnificent minor placings, Testa Rossa landed five Group One victories. As a three-year-old he took the VATC Vic Health (formerly Show Day) Cup over 1400m at Caulfield (when he and Redoute’s Choice were the only two three-year-olds in an 18-runner field, with him winning and Redoute’s Choice finishing third), the VRC Lightning Stakes over 1000m at Flemington (at the expense of dual HK Sprint hero Falvelon), and the VATC Futurity Stakes over 1400m at Caulfield (beating Miss Pennymoney and Redoute’s Choice); at four he landed the Vic Health Cup again (beating Camarena and Porto Roca) and the VRC Emirates Stakes over 1600m on the Final Day of the VRC Carnival at Flemington. At stud in Australia Testa Rossa has sired plenty of winners headed by the admirable Group One-winning sprinting mare , and the excellent , who finally landed a well-deserved (and appropriate) Group One victory when taking the SAJC Robert Sangster Stakes at Morphettville in March 2010; while in a brief stint of shuttling to France Testa Rossa left several good winners including the Listed winner .

Perugino’s other top-class son in Australia has been , who was trained at Flemington by Brian Mayfield-Smith for his owner/breeder Barry Taylor to win two Group One sprints: the VRC Salinger Stakes over 1200m at Flemington in November 2001 and the VATC Oakleigh Plate over 1100m at Caulfield three months later. Sudurka, whose dam was a stakes-winning sister to 1992 AJC Oaks heroine My Brilliant Star, also retired to stud, but without registering the level of success achieved in this role by Testa Rossa. His best offspring has been , a Group One-placed Listed winner in New Zealand.

Among Perugino’s stakes winners in Australia have been the good fillies and . The former landed the Group Two AJC Emancipation Stakes over 1600m at Randwick in 2009, while the latter took the Group Three MRC Eclipse Stakes over 1800m at Sandown later that year. Less successful on the Flat was Bashful Girl’s full-brother Bashboy – but his exploits over jumps, most recently under Ruby Walsh at Ballarat, have ensured that his place in the history books is secure.

Similarly secure in the annals of National Hunt folklore in the British Isles is the remarkable Irish-bred Perugino gelding , a five-time Grade winner over hurdles who is widely regarded as one of the best hurdlers in history never to win a Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham (a race in which he was the controversial and narrow runner-up behind in 2005).

Overall, Perugino has not left anything like the legacy of his siblings Sadler’s Wells and Fairy King. However, by producing four such legendary (and different) horses as Testa Rossa, The Tatling, Harchibald and Bashboy, he has carved himself a permanent place in bloodstock history.

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Stakes performances by surface

98.9% Turf
1.1% Dirt
0% All Weather

Distance

Stakes Performers of PERUGINO

Sire of 30 stakes performers since 2003

Horses by individual place achieved

Gr1 Gr2 Gr3 L/R
2018 0 0 2 0
2017 0 2 0 0
2013 0 0 0 1
2012 0 0 0 1
2011 0 0 1 0
2010 0 1 1 1
2009 0 2 3 3
2008 4 3 4 2
2007 2 0 4 1
2006 1 1 3 3
2005 6 2 2 2
2004 7 2 4 6
2003 3 5 2 7

Performer
Br.Sire
Gr1 Gr2 Gr3 L/R
HARCHIBALD 11 1 1 0
QUEST FOR FAME
THE TATLING 7 4 7 1
AHONOORA
IT'S GINO 3 2 0 1
LOMITAS
FRESH BOY - LIM'S PASSION 1 2 1 1
NISHAPOUR
NEXT GINA 1 0 1 1
PETOSKI
AMBERINO 0 3 2 0
RUSTIC AMBER
GINO TRAIL 0 2 2 0
WOODBOROUGH
TICKLE MY 0 2 0 0
NOALCOHOLIC
BASHFUL GIRL 0 1 1 0
PRE EMPTIVE STRIKE
ADAWAR 0 1 0 0
DARSHAAN
LUCKY DIVA 0 0 5 4
VOODOO RHYTHM
PERIDUKI 0 0 1 3
SNIPPETS
ZUM SEE 0 0 1 1
DOUBLE SCHWARTZ
MCFLY 0 0 1 0
BLUEBIRD
FIDEMUS 0 0 1 0
DOLPHIN STREET
DARK ARTIST 0 0 1 0
SIR IVOR
GINA LOLLAWITCHA 0 0 1 0
VOODOO RHYTHM
BLUE COLLAR JACK 0 0 0 2
NORTHERN CHATEAU
PERUGINOS FLYER 0 0 0 2
REFERENCE POINT
ESROH 0 0 0 1
CENTURY
NEO 0 0 0 1
CRESTED WAVE
KAWAGINO 0 0 0 1
DARSHAAN
FLEUR 0 0 0 1
DASHING BLADE
LADIES IN LUCK 0 0 0 1
DEHERE
MORE PERIGNON 0 0 0 1
FAR NORTH
KEMPISKA 0 0 0 1
LOVE THE GROOM
AMANDA LOUISE 0 0 0 1
PERSIAN BOLD
ROSARINO 0 0 0 1
RORY'S JESTER
CHITABE 0 0 0 1
RUBITON
ALOZAINA 0 0 0 1
THATCHING