The freakishly wet conditions which bedeviled this year’s July Meeting at Newmarket did not suit many horses. One, though, who appeared to relish them was the tough juvenile Sendmylovetorose, a filly who had already won a Listed race on a very wet track in Ireland and who took the Group Two Cherry Hinton Stakes in gritty style. However, such conditions certainly aren’t usually required for the stock of her sire Bahamian Bounty, who was formerly a Group One-winning two-year-old sprinter himself and who had previously tasted July Meeting Group race glory under more normal conditions courtesy of his July Cup-winning son Pastoral Pursuits, writes John Berry.
It is a curiosity that sprinting stallions have not been regarded as mainstream by the bloodstock establishment in Europe for several decades. This is in sharp contrast to the situation elsewhere, and probably explains why sprinters bred in Europe (where the best mares generally visit only stallions who had raced over a mile or farther, and where the fastest horses, for example Frankel, are rarely trained for, or raced in, sprints) tend to struggle internationally. However, good sprinting stallions are always an asset, irrespective of whether or not they are fully appreciated, and Bahamian Bounty definitely comes into this category. And, furthermore, he should be appreciated particularly because of the link which he maintains to past glories.
For several decades, the sire-line descending from the 1933 Derby winner Hyperion was considered the best line all over the world. Hyperion had it all: he was a precocious two-year-old sprinter, winning the New (now Norfolk) Stakes over five furlongs at Royal Ascot in June of his two-year-old season in 1932, and he won both the Derby and the St Leger the next season. It is also probably fair to say that only the fact that England enjoyed a very hot, dry summer in 1934 prevented him from winning the Ascot Gold Cup over two and a half miles too.
Hyperion became recognized as an influence for class rather than for specialization over any particular distance. Even so, high-class stamina was often a hallmark of Hyperion’s descendants – even if not many of them matched the achievement of Anglo (who was by the Hyperion stallion Greek Star out of a grand-daughter of Hyperion) in winning the Grand National (in 1966) over four and a half miles and 30 big fences. Ironically, nowadays Hyperion’s line persists almost exclusively through sprinters. In Australia it survives still through a few descendants of the great Star Kingdom, the highlight of whose racing career (when he was called Star King) before his export to Australia was his excellent short-head second behind Hyperion's brilliantly fast grandson Abernant in the National Breeders’ Produce Stakes at Sandown (GB) in 1948. The best proven Star Kingdom-line stallions at stud in Australia nowadays include the 1990 Golden Slipper winner Canny Lad as well as Show A Heart, winner in 2002 of Queensland’s premier sprint, the Stradbroke Handicap, after having been awarded the previous season’s Caulfield Guineas on the disqualification (because of a failed dope test) of another Star Kingdom-line colt, Skalato.
In Europe the Hyperion line too is now largely perpetuated by sprinters. Of these, Bahamian Bounty is now the most distinguished, following the death last year of his sire, the 1989 July Cup winner Cadeaux Genereux.
During his lifetime, Cadeaux Genereux did sterling work in keeping Hyperion’s flag flying. His sire Young Generation, a place-getter behind Tap On Wood and Kris in the 1979 2,000 Guineas, had done similar service although sadly over a much shorter period: while Cadeaux Genereux lived to the age of 26, Young Generation had died young. In his distinguished career, Cadeaux Genereux did sire some good stayers (including the 1998 Yorkshire Cup runner-up Largesse as well as last year’s Melbourne Cup runner-up Red Cadeaux, who has more recently won this year’s Yorkshire Cup) but generally his stock did best over short distances. This was no surprise as he himself had been a sprinter, as had his dam Smarten Up, a very fast filly from a family of top sprinters. And of the many good sprinters sired by Cadeaux Genereux, Bahamian Bounty was arguably the most talented.
It is no surprise that Bahamian Bounty showed his best form in short races because he was bred to sprint. Not only is he a son of Cadeaux Genereux, but he is from a mare who raced almost exclusively over five furlongs. His dam Clarentia posted her best performance when placed in the Group Three Cornwallis Stakes over five furlongs at Ascot as a two-year-old, a distance over which she ran on 24 of her 25 starts. (Her only other race was, as one might have guessed, over six furlongs). Clarentia’s sire Ballad Rock was one of the very best of the many good sprinters sired by Bold Lad, proving himself the best sprinter in Ireland at a time when the Rockingham Handicap at the Curragh (then a Listed race) was Ireland’s premier sprint and when winning it under a big weight (which he did when he carried 9 stone 12lb to victory by two lengths in 1978) was as a top-class achievement. In a solid stud career, Ballad Rock sired the 1984 July Cup winner Chief Singer and the 1990 July Cup place-getter Rock City, as well as a solid tier of better-class sprinters such as Clarentia.
Another high-class sprinter related to Bahamian Bounty was Stilvi, winner of the King George Stakes over five furlongs at Goodwood in 1972: her dam Djerella ranks as Bahamian Bounty’s fourth dam. Stilvi added further glory to the family by breeding several high-class horses including the 1978 Dewhurst Stakes winner Tromos, Tachypous (winner of the Group One Middle Park Stakes over six furlongs at Newmarket as a two-year-old in 1976) and Tyrnavos, who showed the benefit of the stamina which he had inherited from his sire Blakeney (who remains the most recent Derby winner to have followed Hyperion’s example of contesting the Ascot Gold Cup as a four-year-old) by winning the Irish Derby in 1980. A more recent descendant of Stilvi to have shone is "the Greek freak" Ialysos, a Listed winner for Luca Cumani's stable over five furlongs at Haydock in 2009.
Bahamian Bounty was, therefore, clearly bred to be a high-class sprinter. A good-looking horse, he duly attracted plenty of interest as a yearling – but, being sprint-bred, he didn’t catch the attention of the really big spenders, instead being snapped up for 45,000 gns as a yearling in 1995 by Lucayan Stud, the nom de course of Edward St George, who had taken over the racing interests of his late brother Charles. He was duly put into training in Newmarket with David Loder, who was training out of Sefton Lodge in Newmarket, the Bury Road stable which Charles St George had bought in the 1980s from Jim Joel and from which so many of St George’s best Newmarket-trained horses had raced.
Bahamian Bounty proved to be a real money-spinner for Lucayan Stud. Surprisingly, Loder elected not to let him make his debut over five furlongs, instead starting him off over six furlongs at the July Meeting at Newmarket in 1996. He ran well there, finishing second to the Luca Cumani-trained Grapeshot with the also-rans including the subsequent Dewhurst Stakes runner-up Musical Pursuit. Dropped back to five furlongs, Bahamian Bounty made no mistake second time out, winning a maiden race at Yarmouth 12 days later as the 1/11 favourite. A rapid rise in class followed, but this was justified: the next month, Loder sent him to Deauville for the Group One Prix Morny over 1200m and the mission was successful, Bahamian Bounty winning under Frankie Dettori, beating Zamindar and Pas De Reponse. This form ensured that he would start favourite for England’s premier two-year-old sprint, the Middle Park Stakes (which his relative Tachypous had won 20 years previously) at Newmarket six weeks later. He won that too, although in different colours, Lucayan Stud having topped off its remunerative relationship with the colt by selling him privately to Sheikh Mohammed shortly before the race, reportedly for a million pounds.
Sadly, the Middle Park Stakes proved to be Bahamian Bounty’s final victory. He ran well in the Dewhurst two weeks later, finishing fourth behind In Command, Musical Pursuit and Air Express, even if clearly seeming less suited by the longer distance. He had worked hard throughout his two-year-old career and had been in a stable which specialized in getting the best out of horses in their first season, so it should not be held against him that his second season was unproductive: having been transferred to Godolphin at the end of his juvenile campaign, he only ran twice in 1997 and failed to finish in the first three both times. Bizarrely, having shown himself to be best suited by sprint distances, Bahamian Bounty was asked to tackle the 1600m of the Poule d’Essai des Poulains first up at three. One could hardly have expected him to run well in that race, but even so his run was disappointing: he finished tailed off last behind Daylami, 10 lengths behind the second last horse. The six furlongs of the July Cup two months later was much more to his liking, but even so a creditable fourth place behind Compton Place was the best which he could manage. And that, unfortunately, was all, folks.
Since retiring to the National Stud in Newmarket in 1998, Bahamian Bounty has done all that could be asked of a sprinting stallion who has rarely been allowed to cover particularly distinguished mares. He has inevitably never been in contention for championship honours, but the overall conclusion is that he has made a really good job of his stud career. He has just completed his 15th season at the National Stud, during which his fee was nearly double the level at which it started (8,500 GBP, from 4,500 GBP). Precious few stallions do well enough to remain at their initial base for 15 years, and fewer still are able to command their initial fee, never mind significantly more than it, after that time.
Bahamian Bounty’s best year came in 2005 when he was represented by two individual Group One winners. It was not surprising that both came in sprints with Pastoral Pursuits winning the July Cup and Goodricke taking the Haydock Park Sprint Cup; it would have been surprising had these victories not been in sprints, but what was remarkable was that the two horses are full-brothers, each being a son of the Most Welcome mare Star. This was yet another example of Bahamian Bounty upgrading his mates: this was a family which had been churning out adequate sprinters for ages but which generally did not provide stakes performers. The fact that Goodricke had cost 110,000 gns as a yearling (bought by Sheikh Mohammed) does not belie this, because by the time of that sale his older full-brother Pastoral Pursuits (who had realized 24,000 gns at the same age) was already a Group-winning juvenile.
Other good sons and daughters of Bahamian Bounty have also proved a bargain for their connections. Naahy, a Group Three winner in Ireland over seven furlongs, cost 36,000 gns as a yearling; while Topatoo, a Group Three winner at York, proved a real gem for her owner/breeders, having been conceived from a seemingly ordinary mare with a 4,500-pound service fee. Mr Napper Tandy, a Grade Two winner over a mile in California after having been stakes-placed in the UK, originally cost 22,000 gns as a foal, while the Listed-winning juvenile Bahamian Babe was unsold at 5,500 gns at the same age. Coconut Squeak, winner of a Listed sprint at Newmarket, had cost 7,000 GBP as a yearling, while Babodana, a terrific horse (who now stands at stud in the west country) who finished in the first three in 21 of his 61 starts and passed the post first in two Listed races at Newmarket, was sold for 3,000 gns as a foal. Not all of Bahamian Bounty’s good winners have been inexpensive, though: Fareer, a Listed winner at York, fetched even more than Goodricke as a yearling, bought by Sheikh Hamdan for 160,000 gns.
Coconut Squeak, incidentally, is now dam of one of the two Group winners so far produced by daughters of Bahamian Bounty, her daughter Angels Will Fall having won the Princess Margaret Stakes over six furlongs at Ascot last year. The other such Group winner, Able Speed (hk) - Prolific, had landed the Richmond Stakes over six furlongs at Goodwood in 2008.
Bahamian Bounty shuttled to Australia at one stage, with his several nice horses there including the Group Three-winning miler Life's A Bounty. Overall, though, he has principally been a good friend to British breeders and British owners, especially those who concentrate on two-year-olds and sprinter/milers. His two-year-old results have been particularly good recently. Last year he was represented very well by Bogart, a 32,000-pound yearling who earned over 250,000 pounds last year with his wins including a very valuable Listed race at Redcar and a high-value sales race at York. This year Bahamian Bounty’s juveniles include the aforementioned Group Two winner Sendmylovetorose (who cost 5,000 pounds as a yearling) as well as the Listed winner Cay Verde (a 27,000-pound yearling who was presumably re-sold for a lot more than that when purchased privately by Qatar Racing after winning a maiden race at Ascot in the spring) and, most recently, Baileys Jubilee, a 19,000-pound yearling and now winner of a 1000m Listed race in France on 17th July.
Bahamian Bounty deserves respect for being the best Hyperion-line stallion at stud in Europe today. Aside from that, though, he deserves respect simply for being what he is: a good stallion.