Crowded House winning the Racing Post Trophy on October 25.

Crowded House winning the Racing Post Trophy on October 25.

John Crofts Photography

Crowded House a Euro Classic Hopeful

Crowded House will be a European classics contender to watch in 2009.

While the eyes of the world may have been focused on Santa Anita Oct. 25, the Breeders’ Cup World Championships did not hold a monopoly on good racing by any means. One of the important races elsewhere was England’s last major juvenile race of the season, the Racing Post Trophy (Eng-I) at Doncaster. The winner, Crowded House (GB), stamped himself as a major hopeful for next year’s European Classics in emphatic style, and he has the pedigree to go with his demonstrated talent.

Bred by Car Colston Hall Stud and owned by J. Paul Reddam, Carmen Burrell, and Jonathan Harvey, Crowded House is a son of the late Rainbow Quest, the best staying son of the excellent racehorse and sire Blushing Groom (FR). A Classic-placed group II winner at 3, Rainbow Quest was named the champion older male of 1985 in both England and France as a 4-year-old based on wins in the Coronation Cup (Eng-I) and Trusthouse Forte Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (Fr-I).

Rainbow Quest retired to Banstead Manor Stud in 1986 and enjoyed a long and honorable stud career, during which he sired at least 100 stakes winners around the world. His best include champions Fiji (GB) (1998 U.S. champion turf female) and Millenary (GB) (2000 European champion stayer) and European Classic winners Bright Generation (IRE) (1993 Oaks d’Italia (Ity-I)), Knight’s Baroness (GB) (1990 Kildangan Irish Oaks (Ire-I)), Nedawi (GB) (1998 Pertemps St. Leger (Eng-I)), Quest for Fame (GB) (1990 Ever Ready Epsom Derby (Eng-I)), Spectrum (IRE) (1995 First National Building Society Irish Two Thousand Guineas (Ire-I)), and Sunshack (GB) (1995 Prix Royal Oak (Fr-I)).

Rainbow Quest has also been successful as a broodmare sire, and may remain an influence on pedigrees through his daughters longer than his sons. His top progeny as a broodmare sire are the back-to-back Derby Stakes winners Kris Kin (2003) and North Light(IRE) (2004), 2002 Derby Italiano (Ity-I) winner Rakti (GB), and 2005 Two Thousand Guineas (Eng-I) winner Footstepsinthesand (GB). The leading English broodmare sire of 2003 and one of the more notable modern influences for stamina, Rainbow Quest was euthanized due to complications from colic surgery in 2007.

The female side of Crowded House’s pedigree is decidedly more speed-oriented. His dam, Wiener Wald, never won in five tries but is a daughter of Woodman, the Irish champion juvenile of 1985. A beautifully bred horse (by Mr. Prospector out of Playmate, a full sister to 1971 U.S. champion juvenile filly Numbered Account), Woodman had an uneven breeding career but at his best could sire a very good horse indeed, with most of his top runners scoring their biggest successes in the range of 8-10 furlongs. Most horsemen would probably rate three-time European champion filly Bosra Sham and the excellent miler Hawk Wing at the top of his progeny, but he was also responsible for champions Gay Gallanta, Hansel, Hector Protector, Hishi Akebono, Timber Country, Way of Light, and Woodcarver.

Wiener Wald is out of Chapel of Dreams, a multiple grade II winner and better than a half-sister to champion sire Storm Cat, as she is by Northern Dancer (sire of Storm Cat’s sire Storm Bird) out of the Secretariat mare Terlingua. She is also closely related to the good stallion Royal Academy, who is by another Northern Dancer son, Nijinsky II, and out of Terlingua’s dam, Crimson Saint. Should Crowded House go on to bigger and better things and then retire to stud, it does not take a rocket scientist to guess that many breeders will try sending him daughters and granddaughters of Storm Cat and Royal Academy in order to try to take advantage of these close relationships.

Unlike her staying sire, Terlingua had raw speed as her forte, a heritage from Crimson Saint. An extremely fast mare, Crimson Saint equaled the then existing world’s record for four furlongs as a juvenile and won several sprint stakes. She was bred for speed top and bottom, being by 1961 U.S. co-champion juvenile male Crimson Satan out of Bolero Rose, whose sire Bolero set a world record for seven furlongs in the 1951 San Carlos Handicap.

As a broodmare, Crimson Saint proved a dominant influence for speed; of her four stakes winners, none stayed better than a mile in graded company despite all four being by staying sires. Her daughters have had more success in throwing runners that could stay intermediate distances, but whether the influence of the staying Rainbow Quest will be enough to tip the balance to the European classic distance of 12 furlongs is an open question. Still, Crowded House has shown enough of a turn of foot that the Two Thousand Guineas or its Irish and French equivalents could certainly be possibilities, and the Prix du Jockey Club (Fr-I) over about 10 1/2 furlongs might also be a possibility should his connections come to believe that he is not a true 12-furlong horse.