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Vinnie Roe is the Definite Article

by Nigel Pullen

The year 1995 was to prove a triumphant one for the Irish-trained three-year old-filly Ridgewood Pearl. Her catalogue of success in the Group 1 mile races began at The Curragh, where she gained a four lengths win in the Irish 1,000 Guineas. Victories in the Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot and in Longchamp's Prix du Moulin followed, before her year climaxed with a thrilling two lengths success in the Breeders' Cup Mile at Belmont Park.

Ridgewood Pearl was also to highlight a potential nick between the stallions Indian Ridge and Tap On Wood, her respective sire and maternal grandsire. The seeds for this nick had literally been sown a few years earlier, and came to fruition when Ridgewood Pearl's full brother, Ridgewood Ben, won the Gladness Stakes (G3) in 1994. Then, in 1998, the filly St Clair Ridge (by Indian Ridge out of a mare by Tap On Wood's sire Sallust) gave further food for thought by scoring in the Futurity Stakes (G3).

Now, in 2001, the Indian Ridge/Tap On Wood combination has returned to the fore again. First there were the listed winners Cool Clarity (by Indian ridge - Tapolite by Tap On Wood) and Ethelinda (by Indian Ridge - Royal Touch by Tap On Wood), and now Vinnie Roe (by Indian Ridge's son Definite Article out of the unraced Tap On Wood mare Kayu) has gained Group 1 victories in both Irish and French St. Legers. However, as we shall see, there is a lot more to Vinnie Roe's pedigree than this potential Indian Ridge/Tap On Wood nick, for it contains a series of fascinating genetic relationships.

Success in the Irish St. Leger was nothing new to this family, for Vinnie Roe's third dam Supreme Lady, bred the 1978 winner M-Lolshan, a son of Ascot Gold Cup and Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe hero Levmoss. In complete contrast, Supreme Lady was a speedy filly who raced just four times, winning once over five furlongs, and finishing fifth in Royal Ascot's Queen Mary Stakes. She traced back tail female to another speedy individual in the July Cup winner Amore.

A look at Supreme Lady's pedigree shows that she was 5x4x6x5 to the half brothers Phalaris and Hainault, and 4x5 to the half sisters Mumtaz Mahal and Lady Juror. Her cross of Grey Sovereign and Big Game meant she was bred on similar lines to two other speedy horses of her era, namely the Middle Park Stakes winner Gustav, and Jersey Stakes and Duke of York Stakes heroine Fluke.

At stud, Supreme Lady's seven winners generally took after their sire for stamina; ranging from the previously mentioned M-Lolshan to the six furlongs winner and Cherry Hinton Stakes third Chemin, who was by the sprinter Steel Heart. Ironically, two of Supreme Lady's non-winners were perhaps equally as important; one of her daughters, Nekhbet (by Artaius) producing the G3 winner Right Wing (by In The Wings) and another, Salabella (by Sallust), becoming granddam of Ribblesdale Stakes (G2) and Prix de Royallieu (G2) scorer Fairy Queen (by Fairy King).

In 1980, Supreme Lady produced a chestnut filly by English Prince named Ladytown. Her sire, a relentless galloper, had been winner of the Irish Derby; and Ladytown faithfully took after him for stamina, scoring in a couple of minor events over ten furlongs as a three-year-old. Remembering that Ladytown's dam was 4x5 to the half-sisters Mumtaz Mahal and Lady Juror via Mumtaz Begum and Riot, it is instructive to compare her pedigree with that of English Prince. Firstly, his sire Petingo was 2x4 to Lady Juror's sons Fair Trial and The Recorder; Fair Trial in fact being a 7/8th sister to Riot. Meanwhile English Prince's dam provided a strain of Badruddin, himself a three-quarter brother to Mumtaz Begum.

Equally as important for the future was the fact that English Prince was 3x3 to the very close relatives Alycidon and Perfume II. Both horses traced tail male to Blandford, and their respective granddams, Rose Red and Sweet Lavender, were full sisters.

Our interest centres on Ladytown's first foal, the unraced filly Kayu. She was a daughter of English 2,000 Guineas winner Tap on Wood, whose half a length defeat of Kris in that race made him the only horse to defeat the champion miler in eight races that season. His victory also provided jockey Steve Cauthen with his first English Classic winner, barely a month after arriving from America to begin a new and highly successful riding career in England.

Turning now to the pedigree of Kayu, we find that Tap On Wood introduced a further strain of Fair Trial, and this was balanced to some extent by the mare Interval (granddam of Tap On Wood's sire Sallust). A comparison between the pedigrees of Fair Trial and Interval showed that they were 11/16th genetic relatives, sharing strains of Phalaris, Chaucer, Love Wisely and Son-In-Law. Interval's dam Second Act was of interest too, for his background of Achtoi, The Tetrarch, Chaucer, Kendal and Galopin closely matched that of the stallion Baytown, himself maternal grandsire of Supreme Lady's sire Grey Sovereign. Ladytown's previously mentioned combination of Alycidon and Perfume II was further reinforced by Tap On Wood's strain of Ambiorix II, for the latter was a half brother to Perfume II.

Finally, Tap on Wood traced tail female to the mare Bayora (by Bayardo - Honora), whose close relative Artist's Proof (by a son of Bayardo out of a daughter of Honora) appeared in Ladytown's background as the maternal grandsire of Petition. In fact this relationship was even closer because Artist's Proof's sire Gainsborough had a similar Galicia, St Frusquin, Bend Or combination to the mare False Piety, who just happened to be the dam of Mr Jinks, the sire of Tap On Wood's third dam Miss Honor out of the aforementioned Bayora. Miss Honor actually being 3x2 to the half brothers Lemberg and Bayardo.

Hopes were probably not very high when Kayu was retired the paddocks, and she consequently visited a series of unfashionable stallions. However, she soon confounded the doubters for her first six foals have all won races. She had the perfect start when her first foal, the colt Rich Victim (by Lapierre), won a six furlongs maiden on his debut in England. He was then sold to race in Hong Kong, and trading there under the name of Mazal won the Centenary Vase, and back-to-back runnings of the prestigious Queen Elizabeth Cup. Kayu's next foal, Vincitore, won twice on the flat and over hurdles, but the interest in him focuses on his sire Petorius, whose significance will become clear later. Three more winners followed before the birth of Vinnie Roe, namely Acquaiura (by Astronef) a three times winner in Italy; Khartoum (by Common Grounds) who scored a trio of wins in the UAE; and finally Divine Prospect (by Namaqualand) the winner of a seven furlongs nursery handicap as a juvenile in England.

A 50,000 Irish guineas purchase as a yearling, Vinnie Roe showed progressive form as a juvenile, winning a Leopardstown maiden over seven furlongs and a listed nine furlongs event over the same course from Rebelline. In between those efforts he finished a four lengths third to Turnberry Island in the Beresford Stakes (G3).

His first race as a three-year-old spawned an interesting piece of turf trivia - when was the last time future Classic winners filled the first three places in a listed event? The answer - the Ballysax Stakes, which saw Vinnie Roe finish third to Galileo and Milan. Vinnie Roe then finished fourth and seventh in the Italian and Irish Derby respectively, before being stepped up in distance to a mile and three quarters. He then really came into his own, taking the listed Challenge and Ballycullen Stakes, before his Irish/French St. Leger double.

Vinnie Roe was a son of Definite Article, the winner of the National Stakes (G1) at two and Tattersalls Gold Cup (G2) at four. He would have been a classic winner too, but for being caught in the dying strides by Winged Love in the Irish Derby (G1).

Although a middle distance performer himself Definite Article was sired by the sprinter Indian Ridge, winner of the Jersey Stakes (G3) and Duke Of York Stakes (G3) in his racing days. However, predictability was not something one could attribute to this sire line, and Indian Ridge's sire Ahonoora was certainly the master of the unexpected. On the racetrack this sprinter won the six furlongs Stewards Cup Handicap at odds of 50-1, and then at stud went on to sire an Epsom Derby winner in Dr Devious.

Oddly enough, Definite Article's dam, Summer Fashion, was 4x4 to Hard Sauce, another rare example of a sprinter who sired an Epsom Derby winner in Hard Ridden.

In order to gain an appreciation of the strains at work in Vinnie Roe's pedigree it is necessary to begin with Indian Ridge. The following factors seem especially important when analysing his most successful offspring. To begin with Indian Ridge was 4x4 to the Court Martial mare Discipliner, whose granddam Louise was herself 4x3 to the mare Fascination (by Royal Hampton -Charm). This was further reinforced by the appearance (in Indian Ridge) of Farthing Damages and Ballyogan, both bred on very similar lines to Court Martial.

Secondly, Indian Ridge was 5x6 to Bull Lea, himself by Bull Dog, a grandson of the mare Concertina. Thirdly, Phoenissa, the dam of Indian Ridge's grandsire Lorenzaccio was 4x4 to Friar's Daughter via The Phoenix (who adds a further strain of the mare Charm) and Bahram. Indian Ridge also carried a further line of Bahram, via Queen Of Baghdad, and it should be noted that Friar's Daughter was in fact a granddaughter of the aforementioned Concertina. Finally Ahonoora was 3x4 to the three quarter siblings Kalmia and Borealis.

Turning now to Definite Article, the most obvious feature of his pedigree was the 3x3 cross of Lorenzaccio via a son and daughter; and with Lorenzaccio's dam being 4x4 to Friar's Daughter, and his sire providing Kalmia, we immediately have a further build-up of these important broodmares. Moorestyle, the maternal grandsire of Definite Article, is of interest, especially his own sire Manacle. The latter's granddam Boodley was by Borealis (present in Indian Ridge) out of Estrellita, and Estrellita just happened to be another granddaughter of Friar's Daughter, as well as being a close relative to Bahram. Manacle also had the stallion Portlaw, whose maternal grandsire Stefan The Great traced tail female to the previously mentioned mare Fascination. So Definite Article has a build up of Friar's Daughter, along with reinforcement of the Charm family, together with doubles of both the three quarter siblings Borealis and Kalmia. As a model pedigree it most certainly was 'The Definite Article'.

Let us see how all this relates to Vinnie Roe's dam Kayu. Perhaps the most significant feature of Vinnie Roe's pedigree is the strong build up of the Marchetta family, via her daughters, the full sisters Rose Red and Sweet Lavender. There are two sons (Alycidon and Borealis) of Rose Red's daughter Aurora, Borealis actually appearing twice; a double of Sweet Lavender's daughter Kalmia via Lorenzaccio's sire Klairon; and a son and daughter (Ambiorix II and Perfume II) of Sweet Lavender's daughter Lavendula II. This made a total of seven lines of Marchetta in all, many via intricately related individuals.

Remembering that Definite Article was 3x3 to Lorenzaccio it is instructive to compare his pedigree with that of English Miss, the dam of Kayu's maternal grandsire English Prince; both sharing strains of Sweet Lavender, Concertina, Blandford and Pharos.

Another 'hot spot' in Definite Article's pedigree was the 5x5x5x5 cross of the close genetic relatives Court Martial, Farthing Damages and Ballyogan, and this was further reinforced by the appearance in Kayu of the stallion Petition, yet another close genetic relative to this trio. Other duplications found in Vinnie Roe are 6x6 to Golden Cloud and 6x4 to Grey Sovereign, but perhaps the most fascinating genetic relationship in his pedigree is that between Sing Sing (grandsire of Definite Article's maternal grandsire Moorestyle) and Pall Mall (grandsire of Vinnie Roe's maternal grandsire Tap On Wood), who appeared 5x4. A look at their pedigrees shows that they were perfect foils for one another; sharing strains of Lady Juror, Portlaw and Sansovino, together with either Pharos or his full brother Fairway.

This is certainly not the first time that Sing Sing and Pall Mall have cropped up together in pedigrees. Two horses with this combination close up are the Group winning sprinters, and subsequent stallions, Petorius and Precocious. Both were by Sing Sing's son Mummy's Pet, and their maternal grandsires were respectively the full brothers Club House and Reform, both by Pall Mall out of Country House.

The similarities between Petorius, Precocious and Vinnie Roe do not end there. Petorius and Vinnie Roe also shared Grey Sovereign, Farthing Damages, Mieuxce, Martial and Djebel; while common strains between Precocious and Vinnie Roe were Grey Sovereign, Mieuxce, Whistler, Big Game and Goldbridge. Strangely enough, Petorius and Precocious were sprinters and Vinnie Roe is a stayer.

Amazingly one of Petorius's best offspring, the G3 winner Kill The Crab, was out of a mare by Tap On Wood, thus intensifying the Sing Sing/Pall Mall pattern still further.

Meanwhile Precocious's full sister Putupon was to become dam of Pole Position, a G3 winner himself who in turn took up stud duties in South Africa where he sired the G1 winner Alpha Omega. Putupon was also the dam of Sun Chariot Stakes (G2) heroine Danceabout, while her granddaughter Palanca, interesting enough by Ahonoora's son Inchinor, was a Group 3 winner in Italy.

Two other Group winners to have the Sing Sing/Pall Mall cross close up are Chummy's Favourite and Soft Currency, but to conclude perhaps the most fascinating example is that of the filly Two Seats. She was easily the best offspring of the poor stallion Hays (by Wolver Hollow - Sing a Song by Sing Sing), and a look at her pedigree is most enlightening, for her dam Salt was sired by none other than Pall Mall's son Sallust. Thus Two Seats had almost that same Sing Sing, Pall Mall, Grey Sovereign pattern as Petorius, Precocious and Vinnie Roe.

Compare the pedigrees of this quartet for yourself. A coincidence perhaps - I think not.

So Vinnie Roe's pedigree, which began in our analysis as a potential Indian Ridge/Tap On Wood nick, could in fact draw its strength from the more distant Sing Sing/Pall Mall cross, in addition to the build-up of the Marchetta clan. These examples illustrate that even with limited resources available to the breeder it is still possible to improve ones chance of success with judicious and carefully planned matings, utilising patterns which have worked in the past.

November 18, 2001. Copyright by Nigel Pullen 2001.