I would like a dollar for every time my wife, who is an excellent judge of horseflesh, when watching Australian racing, says, “That’s a nice horse – what’s it by?” The answer more often than not is Lonhro.
It is a fact that the prolific sire of winners is one of those horses who really stamps his stock in his own image – most being strong, handsome sorts with good conformation and strongly coloured with his trademark dark brown, almost black colouring. And so it is with Novara Park’s new stallion SWEYNESSE, who was one of the best three-year-old colts in Australia last season with a Timeform rating of 122, and who will be the highest-rated horse from the Zabeel sire line at stud in New Zealand since Savabeel.
Trained by John O’Shea for Godolphin, Sweynesse made a successful debut in mid-May over 1450 metres at Illawarra on his only juvenile start. When he returned at the end of August he made a quantum leap in class over the same trip at Rosehill, where he defeated First Seal and Hampton Court (both going on to Group One success).
His next task was the Gr. 3 Newcastle Spring Stakes over the metric mile, where he opened his Group-winning account, and then back at Rosehill he tackled the Gr. 3 Gloaming Stakes. He settled last of all in the small field, but when Kerrin McEvoy asked the question he responded with a devastating turn of foot to record his fourth consecutive win and preserve his unbeaten status.
His last two starts that spring were a question of what could have been. In the Gr. 1 Spring Champion Stakes he had to make his run wide on the track, looked the winner as he reached the lead 200 out before fading close home. In the Cox Plate he was a long last at the end of the back straight and elected to make his run straight through the middle. This he did to such good effect that he was right in a heap behind Adelaide, and although only eighth was less than two lengths from the winner in a championship field. The rides in both cases may have left something to be desired.
In the autumn he resumed in the Gr. 2 Hobartville Stakes over 1400 metres at Rosehill, where he again showed his pace and courage in dividing Hallowed Crown and Kermadec in a very tight finish. In the Gr. 1 Randwick Guineas he put up a good performance for a close second to Hallowed Crown with Shooting To Win third. In the Gr. 1 Rosehill Guineas he was fourth to Volkstok’n’barrell, Preferment and Hallowed Crown. Thereafter his form tailed off in four autumn and spring starts, albeit in the best company. At his best he was a very superior racehorse, well deserving his World Rating of 115.
His sire Lonhro was Australian Horse of the Year in 2003-2004 and champion three-year-old the previous season, also topping the 2004 world rankings over a mile. His 26 wins, 11 at elite level, extended out to 2000 metres.
At stud he was champion Australian sire in 2010-11, also champion sire of two-year-olds, three-year-olds and twice leading sire of individual winners. His son the Golden Slipper winner Pierro was rated the best juvenile for almost 40 years with five elite victories.
Lonhro has currently 60 stakes winners, seven at elite level including Denman, Exosphere and Bounding. His influence is as a sire of sprinter/milers.
The damsire Singspiel, although useful at two and three years, improved greatly later to win the Canadian International, Japan Cup, Dubai World Cup, Coronation Cup and York International Stakes. He proved a high-class sire with 98 stakes winners (14 Group One) including the remarkable Solow (joint world champion miler 2015), champion British older mare Dar Re Mi, Lahudood (champion American turf mare), Dubai World Cup winner Moon Ballad and Sir Rupert Clarke victress Rewaaya.
As a damsire Singspiel is increasing in importance with 47 stakes winners, his daughters producing such as Gr. 1 Arlington Million winner Debussy and major Darley stars Helmet and Epaulette.
The sire of the granddam is Nashwan (Derby, 2000 Guineas, Eclipse Stakes, King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes), who died relatively young but left 38 stakes winners including Bago (Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe) and Swain (twice world champion stayer). He is proving very successful as a broodmare sire with 69 stakes winners. His influence, like Singspiel, tends towards middle staying distances.
The next three sires along the damline are mighty Secretariat, Riva Ridge (Kentucky Derby, Belmont Stakes) and Tom Fool.
The female family is the 8 family descending from Summit, a daughter of the 2 x 2 (to Domino) balanced inbred Ultimus, and who is ancestress of Nijinsky and The Minstrel. Her daughter Apogee became champion American two-year-old of 1936 and went on to have 13 foals, although only four of them raced, three of them stakes winners. She was, however, also ancestress of a huge number of stakes winners including three at elite level.
Apogee’s daughter Sofarsosgood, the sixth dam of Sweynesse, won the Gr. 3 Belmont Fashion Stakes and left 11 winners including the Gr. 1 Sussex Stakes winner Ace of Aces, whom we recall at Waikato Stud in Bunker Hunt’s time.
The Tom Fool daughter of Sofarsogood was Lady of Elegance, who won twice and bred four winners (two stakes winners) including Fantastic Girl, seven wins including Del Mar Rancho Bernardo Handicap.
The latter proved a sensational broodmare, her six winners including Fantastic Look (Gr. 1 Oaklawn Fantasy Stakes; dam of three stakes winners including Gr. 1 Hollywood Shoemaker Mile winner Designed For Luck) and Fantastic Ways (Santa Anita Providencia Stakes), who carried on the tradition with six winners, three of them stakes winners.
Her unraced Nashwan daughter River Swan left two winners from three foals, one of which was Swansea, the dam of Sweynesse. Swansea, who has left two winners, won up to 2400 metres in Sydney and was second in the Lord Mayor’s Cup.
On the pedigree chart we note Zabeel as a Sir Ivor / Nureyev cross, with his son Octagonal adding Eight Carat, which mare, whose third dam is a sister to Royal Charger, nicks so well with Sir Tristram. Lonhro’s dam Shadea is by a son of Mr. Prospector out of a mare by a son of Forli (who is also damsire of Nureyev).
The female family is that of My Tricia, whose dam is by Le Filou whose female line is the same one as Zabeel. Lonhro’s parents both have Nearco in balance, but he has Native Dancer, Hyperion and Princequillo as well.
On the distaff side Singspiel is by In The Wings, a Sadler’s Wells (3/4 to Nureyev) / Shirley Heights staying nick, out of a Halo mare from a Herbager mare. Halo is a Hail To Reason relative to Northern Dancer and the French champion Herbager has been seen to advantage in Tavistock’s recent successes. Singspiel is balanced to Mahmoud and Herbager. The bottom quartile is a strong Nasrullah (2) / Princequillo nick with balance to Menow and Hyperion.
Sweynesse has a beautifully sex-balanced chart with a 4 x 4 to Sadler’s Wells and Nureyev, plus Never Bend (5 x 7), Forli (7/5 x 7), Bold Ruler (6 x 5), Special (6 x 6), Native Dancer (3 lines), Princequillo (4), Nearco (16), Royal Charger (5+his full sister), Hyperion (10) and Mahmoud (6).
In looking to add to this balance sons of Nureyev, Shirley Heights, Halo and Tom Fool offer plenty of scope, also daughters of Sir Gaylord, Hail To Reason, Turn-to, Sir Ivor, Sir Tristram, Zabeel, Relic, Mr. Prospector, Northern Dancer, Sadler’s Wells, Blushing Groom, Red God and Bold Ruler.
I believe there is a wide choice of mares that will be found to suit Sweynesse, and that is often the hallmark of a very successful sire. I very much like the idea of Tavistock mares for him combining as it does the Zabeel and Herbager putative nicks.
One could also play games with stallions carrying Sir Tristram x Eight Carat, like Don Eduardo, Zed, Colombia etc. I especially like the look of No Excuse Needed mares, whilst Bachelor Duke, Bahhare, Captain Rio, Chinese Dragon, Duelled, Edenwold, Elusive City, Cape Cross, High Chaparral, Le Bec Fin, Postponed, Sakhee’s Secret, Shinko King, Stravinsky and Thorn Park all held some appeal.
A good racehorse, best at a stiff mile and a bit better than his bare record might suggest, he has grand looks, attitude, strength and size, and an interesting pedigree to match, he should appeal as great value to most New Zealand breeders.