Monday, February 25, 2013

Stallion Feature: Commands

Often, a large portion of a horse’s success can be traced back to an ancestor within its dam line. Stallions typically receive the spotlight in the breeding industry, but the mares are very much deserving of respect and recognition, as noted in my article dated July 3, 2012, “Recent Remarkable Broodmares.”

The presence of such a mare – especially one denoted as a Reine de Course mare, or a superior female that has left an undeniable effect on the Thoroughbred – in a horse’s pedigree is certainly an advantage. Commands, Australia’s leading sire, is a grandson of one of the most legendary mares of all time, Eight Carat – a feature in his pedigree that has surely led him to his success in the breeding shed.

Eight Carat, a mare bred in Great Britain, has had an unbelievable effect on the bloodlines of the Thoroughbred racehorse. Born in 1975, the black mare produced an outstanding five group one winners: two-time Australian Horse of the Year Octagonal and the additional group one winners Diamond Lover, Kaapstad, (Our) Marquise, and Mouawad. As if her progeny record of racehorses was not magnificent enough, her offspring also proved to be top producers. She is the granddam of many group one victors, including Danewin, Don Eduardo, Shower of Roses, and Tristalove. The four aforementioned Thoroughbreds are just offspring of Eight Carat’s daughters. Her sons produced the likes of the group one winners Golden Sword, Niello, and Lonhro.

Commands is a son of an unraced daughter of Eight Carat, Cothele House. Bred in Great Britain and exported to Australia, Cothele House yielded not only Commands, but the multiple group one-winning champion Danewin and the stakes winners Jetso (In House) and Prospect Tower.

As a son of the great sire Danehill, Commands is a full brother to his champion brother, Danewin. Danehill, though successful as a racehorse, found his true calling as a sire. The son of Danzig was the leading sire in multiple countries, including France, Ireland, Great Britain, and Australia, the latter in which he was the leading sire for an astounding nine consecutive years. The initial prominent shuttling sire, Danehill produced an astronomical amount of grade/group one winners, including many champions, such as Duke of Marmalade, Dylan Thomas, Peeping Fawn, and Rock of Gibraltar. He has also proven to be an outstanding sire of sires, yielding the likes of the exceptional stallions Flying Spur and Redoute’s Choice, as well as the rather successful sires Desert King and North Light.

Danehill possesses a Rasmussen Factor, being inbred to the Reine de Course mare Natalma 3 X 3, as the daughter of Native Dancer is not only his third dam, but the dam of his grandsire, Northern Dancer. Commands thus descends from the Northern Dancer sire line, which is certainly among the most influential ones of the breed. In the 1970s, the Canadian-bred champion was the leading sire once in North America and four times in the United Kingdom, as well as the twentieth century’s most successful sire. Northern Dancer’s stud record was astounding, as the son of Canadian Hall of Famer Nearctic was an incredible producer of successful racehorses, sires, sires of sires, and broodmares. Among his best sons were the champions Nijinsky and Sadler’s Wells, both of which became leading sires, the latter of which was the leading sire in the United Kingdom for an astonishing thirteen consecutive years and for a total of fourteen years.

Command's pedigree
Commands’ royal breeding was surely a helping factor in his successful racing career. Victorious in four of his fifteen outings, Commands achieved earnings of $417,231 in Australian dollars. Losing just one start as a juvenile, Commands attained his greatest triumph as a two-year-old, capturing the Missile Stakes (GIII), a race that has been won by many a talented racehorse, including Dance Hero and Lonhro.

As a three-year-old, the dark bay made eleven starts, winning the Concept Sports Stakes at Flemington Racecourse, which served as the longest stakes-winning distance of his career at 1417 meters, or a mere shade over seven furlongs. In a remarkable effort, Commands finished second – beaten a nose in The Galaxy (GI) at Caulfield, which was one of two in-the-money finishes in group one company. Commands also finished third in the Caulfield Guineas (GI), beaten by the outstanding Redoute’s Choice.

Commands now stands stud at Darley Australia’s Kelvinside division. For the past three seasons, he has been the leading sire of winners in Australia and in 2011, the son of Danehill eclipsed Encosta De Lago’s record for number of winners in a single season, setting the record on July 22, 2011 with his 148th winner of the season. The stallion has sired nine group one winners, excelling primarily with sprinters and milers like himself, though his daughter Purple was a group one winner at 2000 meters (approximately 10 furlongs) and 2400 meters (nearly 12 furlongs) and his son Erewhon was a group one winner at 2000 meters.

Commands has chiefly found success with mares that, like him, descend from the Nearco sire line, especially flourishing with mares who have the presence of Northern Dancer in their sire lines, thus producing a line-bred foal. Seven of Commands’ nine group one winners have descended from the Nearco sire line, three of them being from the Northern Dancer sire line. Commands has also crossed well with mares from the Star Kingdom (a grandson of Hyperion) sire line, producing the group one victors Paratroopers and Undue.

Breeding to Commands provides a foal with the luxury of tracing back to one of the most prodigious international dam lines of all-time. A proven, exceptional sire, Commands will surely only continue to find success, serving as a stallion breeders should strive to breed their mares to. 

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