Fatherhood Agrees With Imported Stallion

13 01 2009

Gordon Yorke

Story by Nathan Exelby

(BRSIBANE, AUSTRALIA) – Set Alight, an imported US-bred son of Hennessy, notched one of racing’s rare feats on Sunday, when winning the Open handicap at Coffs Harbour.

Nothing out of the ordinary about that – but the fact the now six-year-old stallion has live foals on the ground from an ill-fated season at stud in 2007, puts him in rarefied company.

Set Alight arrived in Australia in 2007 following a career that netted a Group 3 win as a juvenile in France.

The stallion was also a Listed runner-up in France.

Boasting a rock solid pedigree to back up his race performance, Set Alight was brought to Australia and a deal was done to stand him at Queensland’s Willowbend Stud, where he would stand for a fee of $5500.

But the timing could not have been worse, as it coincided with the equine influenza outbreak, with Willowbend being one of the most severely affected farms.

Set Alight was afforded only a handful of mares, from which came six live foals.

The decision was taken to put him back into work in mid-2008.

The early signs were not encouraging, with two rank failures, but a switch of stables to Gordon Yorke has sparked vast improvement at his latest two outings.

Sunday’s win came in the slick time of 1:9.45 for the 1200m and the astute Yorke has told connections he expects the entire to now measure up to stronger races.

Set Alight’s dam, the stakes placed Proflare, has been an outstanding producer, with her 11 individual winners including six stakes winners.

These are headed by the US Grade 2 winning G1 placed True Flare (by Capote), who in turn is the dam of three individual Graded Stakes winners, headed by the Santa Anita G1 winner Latent Heat (Maria’s Mon).

Proflare’s other stakes winners are G2 winner Apple Of Kent (Kris S), G3 winners Capital Secret (Capote) and War Zone (Danzig) and Listed winner River Flare (Riverman).

Set Alight’s win on Sunday puts him in rare company as an Open handicap winner with progeny already on the ground.

A recent example of a horse going to stud and then being put back into work was Platinum Scissors, who won a G2 Hollindale Cup in 2005 after serving 41 mares in the 2004 breeding season.

However, at the time of his win, no Platinum Scissors foals were on the ground.

From that crop came just eight live foals and Redoute’s Choice’s full-brother has been limited to small books ever since in the hope of increasing his fertility.

To date, the dual G1 winner has 47 live foals in four crops and he covered another 16 mares during the 2008 breeding season.