Montjeu Duo Go Long for European Classic Wins

Montjeu Duo Go Long for European Classic Wins
Photo: Trevor Jones
Montjeu's son Masked Marvel won the Ladbrokes St. Leger Stakes on Sept. 10.
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Montjeu never would have had a chance had he stood in North America. Bred for stamina top and bottom, with a turn of foot best displayed at 12 furlongs on grass, he was utterly unsuited to the speed-happy American market. But Europe is a different world in Thoroughbred breeding, and this was never better demonstrated than Sept. 10 when Montjeu once again demonstrated his quality as a sire of classic stamina by getting the winner of the Ladbrokes St. Leger Stakes (Eng-I), Masked Marvel, and the co-winner of the Irish Field St. Leger (Ire-I), Jukebox Jury.

A listed stakes winner at 2, Montjeu blossomed into a multiple champion at 3 and 4, scoring his most important wins in the Budweiser Irish Derby (Ire-I), the Emirates Airline Prix du Jockey Club (Fr-I), and the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe Lucien Barriere (Fr-I) at 3 and the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes (Eng-I) at 4. Overall, the colt won six group I events with only one, the Tattersalls Gold Cup (Ire-I), coming at less than 2,400 meters (about 12 furlongs). He retired to Coolmore having won 11 of 16 starts.

Although Montjeu's sire Sadler's Wells was American-bred and took his most prestigious wins in the one-mile Airlie Coolmore Irish Two Thousand Guineas (Ire-I) and the 10-furlong Coral-Eclipse Stakes (Eng-I), he stayed 12 furlongs well and earned fame at stud for siring horses that relished the European classic distance. His proclivities for throwing stamina were reinforced in Montjeu's dam, Floripedes. A good staying filly, she won the CIGA Prix de Lutece (Fr-III) at about 15 furlongs and ran second in the 15½-furlong Prix Royal Oak (Fr-I). She was sired by 1979 Prix du Jockey Club winner Top Ville from Toute Cy, whose sire Tennyson won the 1973 Grand Prix de Paris (Fr-I) over 3,100 meters. It is not until one reaches the third dam of Montjeu, Adele Toumignon, that one finds a significant source of speed: Her sire Zeddaan. a son of the noted speed sire Grey Sovereign, was a quick juvenile who trained on to win the 1968 Poule d'Essai des Poulains and Prix d'Ispahan.

As expected, Montjeu did not impress with his first crop of juveniles, but he rocketed to second on the European sire list and first on the French list in 2005 with only two crops running, thanks in no small part to 2005 European Horse of the Year Hurricane Run. Since then, he has never finished worse than fourth among European sires and is currently second on this year's list to the similarly sired Galileo. He has firmly established himself as a sire for the classics, having sired three winners of the Epsom Derby (Eng-I) (including this year's hero, Pour Moi), three winners of the Irish Derby, one winner of the Prix du Jockey Club, two winners of the St. Leger Stakes, and now one of the Irish St. Leger.

Masked Marvel, whose eager finish and strong gallop-out in the St. Leger suggest a colt with possibilities for next year's Cup races for older stayers, is out of the German-bred Waldmark, whose sire Mark of Esteem (by Darshaan) was the best 3-year-old miler of his year in England. While Waldmark had enough speed to finish second in the Stan James Falmouth Stakes (Eng-II) as a 3-year-old in 2003, she was more of a grinding type, and her dam Wurftaube (by five-time German leading sire Acatenango) was a good stayer who won the 1996 BMW Deutsches St. Leger (Ger-II).

5-year-old Jukebox Jury is a different kettle of fish. Speedy enough to win the one-mile Juddmonte Royal Lodge Stakes (Eng-II) as a juvenile, he has handled distances in the 12-15 furlong range well but has typically raced on or close to the lead in his best performances. He employed similar tactics in the Irish St. Leger and had just enough in the tank to finish on even terms after a hard stretch battle with Emirates Airline Yorkshire Cup (Eng-II) winner Duncan.

Jukebox Jury has a more speed-oriented distaff pedigree than does Masked Marvel, probably accounting for his high cruising speed. He is out of Mare Aux Fees, by French two-time leading sire Kenmare. A high-class miler who numbered the 1978 Prix Jacques Le Marois (Fr-I) among his conquests, Kenmare is a son of 1973 Poule d'Essai des Poulains (Fr-I) and Prix Jacques Le Marois winner Kalamoun, the best son of Zeddaan.

Mare Aux Fees was produced from Feerie Boreale, a daughter of Irish River who placed in the Prix d'Aumale (Fr-III) and the Prix Marcel Boussac (Fr-I) as a juvenile. The best French juvenile of his crop and the best miler in France as a 3-year-old, Irish River won the 1979 Poule d'Essai des Poulains, Prix Jacques Le Marois, Prix d’Ispahan, and Prix du Moulin de Longchamp (all Fr-I) before going on to a fine stud career in Kentucky. Skelda, the dam of Feerie Boreale, was among the most talented of his mates, as she was considered the French champion juvenile filly of 1970.

That Montjeu could sire a high-class stayer from a mare bred to be a pure miler says much for his prepotency in transmitting stamina, and indeed, this is his strong suit. It seems unlikely that any of his good sons will ever grace an American stud farm, even though Hurricane Run is currently second behind Holy Roman Emperor on the European second-crop sire list, boding well for his future and for that of his sire as a sire of sires. But Montjeu should be a power on the European classic scene for years to come, and perhaps in time his bloodlines will come full circle to the birthplace of his sire.

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