Sunday 18 February 2018

Dazzling new stud adds more diamonds to Coolmore crown

American Pharoah meets three mares a day and makes more than €500k before bedtime, writes Jerome Reilly

BREEDING MACHINE: Hopes are high that American Pharoah’s progeny will be just as successful
BREEDING MACHINE: Hopes are high that American Pharoah’s progeny will be just as successful
John Magnier. Photo: Tom Burke
Jerome Reilly

Jerome Reilly

John Magnier's horsebreeding empire has a new super fertile star who is earning the Tipperary powerhouse an astonishing €500,000 a day.

American Pharoah was a horse in a million on the racetrack but in retirement as a stallion he's surpassed all expectations, reaping more than $20m since February.

He's apparently "a natural" and has frolicked with more than 100 mares since he started his second act as a stud on February 15 at Coolmore's US outpost of Ashford Stud which bought his breeding rights last year.

American Pharoah's fee is $200,000 for every healthy foal and he can cover three mares a day. That's about twice the fee expected when American Pharoah was retired from racing.

That means he has earned $20m as a stallion - far surpassing the $8.7m achieved during his career on the track where he won nine of 11 races, including the mythical Triple Crown in the US, the first time it was achieved in 37 years.

American Pharoah's own genetic background is solid rather than spectacular and his name was misspelled as a foal and the incorrect spelling of pharaoh stuck.

Now he basks in considerable comfort in the 2,000-acre estate set in the heart of the Bluegrass country of Kentucky.

He was brought to Ashford Stud two days after winning the Breeders' Cup Classic in his final race at nearby Keeneland on November 1.

Hopes are high that his progeny can emulate his own stellar feats as a racehorse who captured the imagination of the American public as the first horse to win the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes since Affirmed in 1978, and just the 12th in history.

"He's still as sweet and cuddly as he's always been," owner Ahmed Zayat who sold the breeding rights to his champion to Coolmore said.

Breeding sessions are scheduled in the morning, afternoon and evening. "He's a pro in the breeding shed," stallion manager Richard Barry said. "Everything has gone smoothly."

"He's a champ, so nice. The girls love him," Zayat added. "He's as fertile as you can get at this point." The reach of Coolmore, headquartered in Fethard, is truly global.

And while American Pharoah is hitting the headlines, John Magnier's empire is also growing stronger in the southern hemisphere with a number of new stallions at his Australian outpost.

The 2016 fees for its 12 stallions in Australia have just been announced, with champion sire Fastnet Rock again listed with a private fee. "A private fee" means megabucks and is reserved for the best of the best.

"We've got three very exciting new horses for the coming season. Pride of Dubai is already here on the farm and looks a million dollars, while Vancouver is thrilling Aidan O'Brien at Ballydoyle. We're really looking forward to seeing him running - most likely at Royal Ascot - before he returns here for the breeding season," said John's son Tom Magnier, who oversees the Australian business.

Supremo John (68), a native of Fermoy, left school (Glenstal Abbey) at the age of 15 following the death of his father. He has fashioned Coolmore into a billion euro international business.

John began his association with Coolmore in partnership with his father-in-law and champion racehorse trainer, Vincent O'Brien, and Vernon's Pools magnate Robert Sangster.

He and his wife Susan have five children.

He also served a term as a senator in the Upper House and as well as horse breeding and racing, has expanded his business interests, which at one time included a profitable investment in Manchester United.

Sunday Independent

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