The talk of War - War Front
Friday 23 August 2013
There’s been talk of War since Royal Ascot, when a certain stallion from Claiborne Farm did some trading on the European stock market. War Front, an 11-year-old bay son of Danzig, barnstormed the Royal meeting on opening day with two huge winners – first Declaration Of War in the Queen Anne, then War Command in the Coventry. This a few months after another sprog, Lines Of Battle, took out the UAE Derby in Meydan. And there was more to come. Declaration Of War pressed for placings in both the Coral-Eclipse and Sussex Stakes before sweeping, unexpectedly, the Juddmonte International a few nights ago (step aside Al Kazeem and Toronado). This Claiborne stallion was snatching and grabbing all over the place. But who the hell was he?
Aside from a son of Danzig, War Front was a pretty smart dirt horse in the US before his retirement. For 13 starts he had four wins and six placings, and though he didn’t notch a Gr1 in three seasons, he was second in two attempts, his best victory arriving in the 2006 Gr2 Alfred Vanderbilt Breeders’ Cup Handicap at Saratoga. On paper, he’s not a bad prospect. His dam, Starry Dreamer, has produced three other black-type winners in America, and his progeny are carving impressive family trees. For example, Declaration Of War is out of a half-sister to no less than Union Rags. At the time of writing, all this bodes well for War Front. The Danzig stallion sits equal fifth (within a swig of Megaglio d’Oro and Giant’s Causeway) on the American Graded Stakes standings, and eighth overall on earnings.
As a story alone, War Front is not much more interesting than any young gun staking his claim in the market (though he be doing it quickly). It’s his moves in Europe that have made everyone sit up and pay attention. Though a dirt horse himself, the stallion has had no problems producing turf smarts Declaration Of War and War Command. The former cemented his standing in the Juddmonte (a start in the Breeders’ Cup anyone?), while the latter is a close watch for the next 2000 Guineas. And these two, along with Lines Of Battle and a string of up-and-comers, have something else in common – the Coolmore colours.
Magnier, Tabor and Smith have done a Northern Dancer manoeuvre here and invested heavily in what looks like a goldmine sireline. War Front was bred by American Joseph Allen, raced and retired by him, but Allen has jumped squarely into the Tipperary camp, saying, ‘to stay ahead you need great partners, and these guys have been in the game a long time, and add so much to it’. Reportedly, Coolmore have a battalion of great mares earmarked for the European War Front invasion – Together, Misty For Me, Kissed – but I couldn’t help asking myself after the Juddmonte... could this stallion work in Australia?
Well, we’ve had lesser American stallions come to our shores. Animal Kingdom and Big Brown were top racehorses, sure, but they are young, unproven stallions. War Front could shuttle on a reputation similar to that of Bernadini or Medaglia d’Oro – proven at 11 years old. And, like Street Cry you might say, War Front has no allegiance to turf or dirt in the covering shed. With the alliance to Coolmore also, Joseph Allen (the Claiborne part aside) has a strong, experienced ally in the shuttling world. The only question is would Australian breeders come to the trough? After the Juddmonte, I’d be inclined to say they would.
All this aside, War Front is a fascinating horse to watch. He’s probably the most prolific US stallion to emerge from that nation in a long time, and that’s saying something because it hasn’t been easy for American stallions to peg their stake in Europe. But pegging it, he is. Beginning at a modest $12,500, War Front’s fee climbed to $15,000, then $60,000 and is currently $80,000 a serve. What’s it good for? Absolutely something you’d have to say!