A remarkable result for a young European sire was the provision in England on major tracks in a space of four hours late last month of three first crop 3-year-old winners by Dark Angel, the first son to go to stud of speed influence Acclamation, the source also of Equiano, the shuttling champion sprinter who made his Australian debut last season at Adam Sangster’s Swettenham Stud at Nagambie.
It was a trifecta of winners that pushed Dark Angel to the lead by winners in the European Second Crop Sire List and one that indicated again that he is a brilliant sire. He soared off to a spectacular start to his career as a sire last year with 33 individual 2-year-old winners, including 27 successful in 44 races in Great Britain – Ireland.
He shared with another newcomer, the England Group 1 winning Red Ransom sprinter Red Clubs, the distinction of being the leading GB-Ireland Juvenile sire by wins, outdoing his own sire Acclamation, in the region. One of the most prepotent forces for precocious youngsters of recent times in Europe, Acclamation, however, wracked up for the year 37 two-year-old winners of 55 races.
Showing the benefit of his quick upgrading of support, Acclamation in 2011, a year his oldest were six, all told supplied 96 winners (10 SWs) of 147 races, predominately at 1600m or less. His juvenile tally was his best yet, but he had opened up with 28 in his first crop and followed with16 in 2008, 19 in 2009 and 23 in 2010.
The best runner to date by Acclamation (Royal Applause – Princess Athena, by Ahonoora), a representative of the same branch of Northern Dancer as Last Tycoon, has been the Swettenham visitor Equiano, one of the rare winners twice of England’s premier five furlongs sprint, the King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot.
Dating back to the early 1800s, the King’s Stand had an unusual birth, replacing an event, the Royal Stand Plate over two miles. On the day the latter race was to be run in 1860, heavy conditions had left only a five furlongs section of the Ascot track useable, and so the event that was to become the King’s Stand took its place.
Part of an international race series and due to be run again at Royal Ascot tomorrow, the King’s Stand in the last decade has become a show window for visiting Australian sprinters. They won in 2003 (Choisir), 2006 (Takeover Target), 2007 (Miss Andretti) and 2009 (Scenic Blast) and were runners up in 2008 (Takeover Target behind Equiano) and 2011 (Star Witness).
Another Australian, Nicconi, was a good fourth when Equiano powerhoused his way to his second King’s Stand victory in 2010. Coincidentally, Nicconi, a champion Australian sprinter who is now a Widden Stud sire who has had books of 157 and 139, is by Bianconi, a Danzig product who is a leading Victorian sire from use at the Swettenham Stud.
A race review of Equiano’s second win in the King’s Stand said he almost blew it when he stumbled at the start, but he recovered very quickly and showed fine speed to challenge the leaders. He ran on strongly and won easily by 1 ½ lengths in fast time.
He backed up three weeks later to split two Aussies, Starspangledbanner and Alverta, in what is arguably Europe’s premier six furlongs race, the Newmarket July Cup. He showed blistering speed to lead some of the world’s best sprinters and in going down by a neck to Starspangledbanner emerged with any amount credit for this brave effort.”
A winner all told of eight races and over a million dollars, Equiano was named England’s Champion Older Sprinter at the end of 2010. At the same time Timeform ranked him the best European bred sprinter with a rating of 127. On 128, the only sprinters above him in the Timeform ratings were Black Caviar and Starspangledbanner.
Despite his sprinting class, Equiano can be accessed this year at Swettenham at an early bird fee of $13,000, one available for the first 50 bookings. He is the most expensive of the stud’s complement of seven sires, the others and their early bird fees being Group 1 winners Soldier’s Tale (USA) ($5,000), Host (CHI) ($5,000), Dash for Cash ($6,600) and newcomer Master of Design ($12,500) and the Danzero tough Melbourne sprinter Kaphero ($5,000) and established prolific winner getter Bianconi (USA) ($6,600).