With a dominant performance at Trentham on Saturday, promising two-year-old filly Pignan became a fitting first winner for Novara Park stallion Staphanos.
A placegetter in both of her two previous appearances, the Lisa Latta-trained filly was a class above her four rivals in Saturday’s Kernow Construction 2YO (1100m). She produced an impressive turn of foot in the hands of jockey Joe Doyle, kicking clear to score by three and a half lengths.
Pignan is the first runner and first winner for Staphanos, who now holds a narrow lead over Embellish and Santos on New Zealand’s first-season sire standings.
“It was really exciting to see him sire his first winner on Saturday,” Novara Park principal Luigi Muollo said. “She was actually the very first Staphanos foal to be born.
“We’ve always known she was a good filly. She’d just missed the start in her previous race and then got a check, but she won well on Saturday and it was very exciting.”
Staphanos himself was a maiden winner at two but went on to far greater things as he matured. The son of Deep Impact won three races up to Group Three level as a three-year-old, then was a multiple Group One placegetter in Japan and Hong Kong at the ages of four, five and six.
“When you’re dealing with the Deep Impact breed, I’ve always believed that anything you get before April or May of the two-year-old season is a bonus,” Muollo said. “It’s all about getting them matured. The fact that this filly was the first Staphanos born may have helped her get there a little bit quicker.
“I think the three-year-old season is when most of them will get there. Staphanos himself was invited to the Cox Plate (2040m) at the end of his three-year-old season, and then he really carried on with it as a four, five and six-year-old.
“With most of his progeny that I’ve got, I would say they’re Guineas or classic types next season, so I’m taking that approach with them. I don’t want to push them too hard, too early.”
Staphanos sired almost 80 foals from his first two-year-old crop, and his progeny were snapped up by a number of reputable stables. At Karaka earlier this year, Chris Waller and David Ellis secured well-related Staphanos yearlings for $250,000 and $200,000 respectively.
“His first and second books were very big,” Muollo said. “He dropped a bit in his third year, but has popped up again this year.
“He served 109 mares in his first crop and produced 77 live foals, so he’s going to get every chance. One that I sold to Te Akau from my Explosive family was placed in a trial the other day. She’s gone out for a spell now and will be back to race in March or April.
“Chris Waller has one out of Extra Explosive, so they’re in very, very good hands. I tried to support the stallion with good numbers and quality mares, and hopefully that will pay off.”
Buyers will have access to a handful of yearlings by Staphanos at Karaka 2023, with eight of his progeny in the catalogue for Book 2.
Meanwhile, this spring has marked the arrival of the first foals by Novara Park newcomer King Of Comedy.
Runner-up in the prestigious Gr.1 St James’s Palace Stakes (1600m) at Royal Ascot, King Of Comedy is by the international sensation Kingman.
“I’m really happy with King Of Comedy’s first foals, which look very much like him,” Muollo said. “Day in and day out, Kingman just keeps stepping up. He was the second-fastest to 50 stakes winners, beaten only by Frankel.
“I think they’ll perform well in this part of the world. The Green Desert and Invincible Spirit line has had a lot of success here with horses like I Am Invincible, Showcasing, and Charm Spirit has popped up again lately, so I think the Australians will have a lot of recognition and respect for it.”
The third member of the Novara Park roster is Sweynesse, who has sired 45 winners including five at black-type level, and last weekend’s Hong Kong International Races left Muollo wondering what might have been.
“Sweynesse was very unlucky not to have a Group One performer with Lucky Sweynesse in the Hong Kong Sprint (1200m),” he said. “He just couldn’t get out, but probably would have gone close to winning the race if he did. That’s the breaks in racing sometimes.
“He’s only going to improve from here, and there’s another Group One sprint there at the beginning of February. He’ll only need a little bit of luck in the running to be a very big chance in that. I think he can probably get out to 1400m and maybe 1600m too, because he relaxes well and doesn’t have to lead, so that gives him a few more options in the future. It’s exciting.
“I’ve got his dam in foal to Sweynesse again now, and the dam’s half-sister is as well, so hopefully there’ll be plenty more to come with this family.”