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Dark Angel, the baby stallion that has become a classic

Breeding / 16.05.2022

When the commercial history of animal husbandry will be written, thirty years from now, DarkAngel (Cheer) will be entitled to his chapter. Sunday, Mangosteen offered his father a long-awaited first classic success… The stallion, who is 17 years old, lacked that for twelve generations on the track, 47 Group winners including eleven Gr1.

By Franco Raimondi

When the Commonwealth Cup didn’t exist

It was at the end of the 2007 season that the O’Callaghan family bought the best 2-year-old sprinter of his generation. He had run nine times, reaching his best level at the end of the season. In less than two weeks, he had won the Mill Reef Stakes (Gr2) and the Middle Park Stakes (Gr1). His trainer, Barry Hills, had then asked him to go longer in the Dewhurst (Gr1), but the colt had cracked after leading the debates…

The Commonwealth Cup (Gr1), a major objective for 3-year-old sprinters, did not exist at the time of Dark Angel. The market for pure speed stallions was not as strong as it is now. The O’Callaghans made a good offer, which the owners, Catherine Corbett and Chris Wright, accepted. Catherine Corbett then commented: “ We spoke with his trainer and my partner. He wouldn’t have run the classics anyway, because he’s a 1,200m horse. The year of 3 years, with a foal already winner of Gr1, is difficult. The decision to sell it made sense. »

A business choice

Dark Angel wasn’t the first stallion retired at the end of his 2-year-old season. The previous year, Holy Roman Emperor (Danehill), had left for stud at the end of March, when he had Guineas in his sights. The reason: he had to replace the unfortunate Coolmore george washington (Danehill), barren. In 1999, Fasliyev (Nureyev), undefeated winner of the Phoenix Stakes and the Prix Morny (Grs1), was withdrawn following a broken pastern and was offered at 25,000 Irish pounds by Coolmore. In the United States and further in history, in 1961, hail to reason (Turn-To) was injured after 18 outings at 2, and he became a great stallion. This is also what happened two years later to Raise a Native (Native Dancer), went to stud undefeated in four outings because a tendon had moved. Dark Angel, unlike the others, did not change jobs for health or marketing problems.

A start at €10,000

Dark Angel debuted at €10,000 and was well received by the market, with a first crop of 93 foals advancing to yearling sales in 2010. Dark Angel’s early foals fetched an average price of €35,419, for 57 sold. The two top prices, at 140,000 and 105,000 guineas, were Heeraat and Sovereign Debt and they won their Group later in their career. Almost 90% of the first Dark Angels went on sale, that is to say that the customers were breeders-sellers. The only winner in France of this first generation is Bulba d’Albenbred by Haras de Beauvoir, winner of a claim at 3 at Fontainebleau and who had been unearthed amicably at the breeding sale when she was a foal, for €3,000, by Bénédicte Ferry Abitbol.

The drop in demand

The first Dark Angels were successful. He had 31 2-year-old winners, but he finished third in the standings for first crop sires 2011 behind Dutch Art (Medicine) and RedClubs (Red Ransom), who tied with 33 winners. He had a black type winner, the filly Lily’s Angelbought £8,000 from Doncaster, who won the Empress Stakes (L) under the training of Richard Fahey: this is very important in the first generation.

Dark Angel, as is my custom for young stallions in his segment, experienced a market downturn. Its price dropped to €7,500 in the second season and €7,000 for the third and fourth. The second generation had only 62 products and the third 39… The correct sales results and the favorable training noises of his first juniors restored the confidence of the breeder-sellers and, for the first time, he had more than one hundred foals (119) in 2012.

Mangosteen designed at €85,000

Dark Angel’s first Group winner is Alhebayeb, out of his second generation, who won the July Stakes (Gr2) at 2, in 2012 for Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum who has supported the stallion since his debut. Dark Angel’s price rose to €12,500 in 2012 before rising to €27,500 in 2014 and €60,000 in 2016. The Mangoustine generation is the first designed at €85,000 and has three other Group winners, including Angel Blue, double Gr1 winner at 2 years old. The first six generations, designed at €12,500 or less, brought together 580 foals and provided more than half (26) of Dark Angel Group winners, while the next five, with more foals (801), gave 21. Dark Angel had 132 juniors and 117 yearlings conceived at €85,000, before his price was lowered to €60,000.

A turnover of 91 million in sales since 2015

Mangoustine’s victory is the first at the classic level and will offer his father, who is now in the second half of his career, other great opportunities. Since 2015, the average price of yearlings by Dark Angel has crossed €100,000 and the turnover posted by the 565 who have found takers is 91.36 million. He had his first millionaire in Guineas in Tattersalls book 2, in 2019, when Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum invested 1.05 million for Tarhib, winner of two races. The breeders who run have somewhat taken over from the breeder-sellers.

Speed… and a bit more

The production of Dark Angel is very marked by the attitudes of the stallion. Group winners over 1,600m and over represent just over a third (17 out of 47) of his production. Those who shone over 2,000m are the American Huntwinner of Gr1 over the mile but also of the Del Mar Handicap (Gr2) over 2,200m, and Valacwho won the Queen Cup (Gr3) over 2,500m in Australia.

And it is quite logical! The breeder who chooses to send a mare to Dark Angel is not looking for a Derby winner but to bring speed (not necessarily precocity) to a pedigree. Last thing on Dark Angel, author of a very rare fact… He has never shuttled in the southern hemisphere and has not a single product registered in the Australian stud book! He was never a stallion like the others…

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