New-born hope in heirs of Zafonic

Sue Montgomery reports on the first foals of an outstanding miler

This bonny little foal, just a week old, carries in his gangly baby frame the hopes of a mighty dynasty of racehorses. He is one of the first-born of Zafonic, whose lightning burst of speed to win the 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket will live long in the memory.

Zafonic is now in the second season of his new career, that of a stallion. He stands at Banstead Manor Stud, a few miles from the scene of his most brilliant racecourse triumph and could not have made a better start in the paternity stakes, boasting 100 per cent fertility last year, with all 55 of the mares he covered sent away pregnant.

The names on the list of his brides were impressive, with five Group One winners among them. His owner, Khalid Abdullah, supported him with some of the best from his Juddmonte Farms broodmare band, notably Aryenne, dam of the Derby winner Quest For Fame, the French 1,000 Guineas winner Houseproud, the 1,000 Guineas-placed Interval and her Cambridgeshire-winning dam Intermission. Visitors from outside included the Irish 1,000 Guineas heroine Al Bahathri, Red Route's dam One Way Street and Marwell's half- sister Ghanimah.

Welsh Daylight, pictured here with her colt foal at the Juddmonte's Wargrave-on-Thames nursery, won twice and is a grand-daughter of Pelting, one of the stud book's most distinguished and influential matriarchs.

The little colt, chestnut like his mother, is one of 18 young Zafonics who have arrived to date, and so far they look a likely bunch. Philip Mitchell, Juddmonte general manager, said: "We are very pleased with what we have seen. And Welsh Daylight's colt is particularly nice, a strong, active foal."

Zafonic was an imposing individual in training and has developed into a magnificent- looking stallion with great depth and strength. The French- trained colt's talent was immense - he was Europe's champion two-year- old and had Barathea floundering in his wake in his record-breaking Classic triumph - but it was ultimately a flawed brilliance. He lasted for only one more race and retired due to a tendency to bleed after the Sussex Stakes.

Superiority as a runner is no guarantee of success as a sire, and it is a fact that only five per cent of stallions make the grade. But the uncertainty of the generation game is what keeps the breeding industry alive. Zafonic is one of the most exciting young sire prospects in the world, and will be given every opportunity to succeed in terms of the quality of his mates. It is three years since he powered home at Newmarket and it will be another two before the crunch comes for him as a stallion as his sons and daughters begin to show their paces on the track. Until then, dream on.

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