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Another cracker for America Nova

THERE was a feeling that America Nova could develop into a broodmare of note when she managed to produce a pair of stakes winners by Astronomer Royal.

A Classic-winning miler by Danzig, Astronomer Royal had an appealing profile and was duly well supported at Haras de la Reboursiere et de Montaigu in Normandy. Yet his first four crops contained just three stakes winners and by 2016 he had been quietly moved on to China.

Two of those stakes winners were the siblings Sir Patrick Moore and Stellar Path; indeed, to date they are the only Group/Graded stakes winners sired worldwide by Astronomer Royal. Sir Patrick Moore was also his sire’s first winner when successful at Newbury in May 2012.

Sir Patrick Moore, America Nova’s first foal, wound up being a smart colt for Harry Dunlop, running second to Olympic Glory in the Greenham Stakes and fourth behind Moonlight Cloud in the Prix de la Porte Maillot before his sale to Australia. There he joined Chris Waller, and racing under the name Weary, provided a swift return on investment when taking the Group 3 Doncaster Prelude Handicap at Rosehill on his third Australian start. Several months later, he also added the Group 2 Expressway Stakes.

Stellar Path, his year younger sister, was similarly tough and talented. Initially trained in France, she won the Prix des Reservoirs and Grand Criterium de Bordeaux as a two-year-old for Xavier Thomas-Demeaulte and wasn’t beaten far by Avenir Certain when fifth in the following year’s Poule d’Essai des Pouliches. She was later sold to Trevor Stewart and sent to America, where she won the Grade 3 Athenia Stakes and Listed Plenty Of Grace Stakes. Well covered since then, she has a Muhaarar yearling foal on the ground.

Both siblings were bred by SF Bloodstock, whose numerous stallion interests once included Astronomer Royal. And they are also the breeders of the mare’s latest star Nyaleti, a filly from the penultimate crop of former Claiborne Farm stalwart Arch who ran out the resounding winner of the German 1,000 Guineas at Dusseldorf.

Like so many from Mark Johnston’s yard, Nyaleti is a streetwise performer, a tough filly who likes to race prominently and is hard to pass once in front. She has mixed it with the best of her generation since making a winning debut at Salisbury last June, after which she landed the Princess Margaret Stakes at Ascot. and has stepped up each time, firstly when running second to September in the Chesham Stakes before filling the same spot behind Clemmie in the Duchess Of Cambridge Stakes.

The 14-year-old America Nova now boasts a record of three Group winners from just six runners – a nice update for the China Horse Club who paid 200,000gns for the mare at Tattersalls in December 2016. She is also the dam of War Story, a Myboycharlie colt who reached a rating of 89 for Luca Cumani before switching to Australia.

The immediate generations of this family has held its own in France from relatively limited opportunities but America Nova’s fifth dam is Dryad, whose daughter Glad Rags founded another dynasty of her own.

America Nova was bred by Francois and Martine Mell when her sire Verglas stood inexpensively in France. She was obviously a nice yearling given she commanded €40,000 by MAB Agency on behalf of Skymarc Farm although by that time Verglas was also well established as a popular addition to the Irish National Stud off the back of an eye-catching start with his early runners. America Nova did her bit to confirm that favourable impression by breaking her maiden for Richard Gibson in the Listed Grand Criterium de Bordeaux Prix de Sauternes in October 2006.

America Nova’s dam, the Linamix mare Las Americas, was a tough five-time winner at up to 1m5f in France who later bred Cat Nova, a French Listed winner over 1m4f. In turn, she was out of the Listed-placed Chouchounova, another filly effective at around 1m4f who was a Lomond half-sister to South African Group 1 winner Devon Air.

There is plenty of stamina within this branch of Dryad’s family. That wasn’t always the case, however, since Chouchounova’s granddam Victorina was one of the best sprinters of 1962 who racked up wins in the Stewards’ Cup and Goldene-Peitsche and a placing behind Marsolve in the July Cup.

Unfortunately, none of her 11 foals exhibited the same sort of talent – the Listed-placed Albertina was the best of her seven foals – but the same can’t be said of her half-sister Glad Rags, Vincent O’Brien’s sole 1,000 Guineas who later bred Gorytus and the 1979 Grade 2 Sheepshead Bay Handicap winner Terpsichorist for Alice du Pont Mills; today she features as the second dam of Belmont Stakes winner Union Rags and the third dam of Declaration Of War.

Nyaleti is one of 37 Group/Graded stakes winner by Arch. The list is an eclectic one. Arch is probably best known as the sire of Blame, who memorably defeated Zenyatta in the Breeders’ Cup Classic before taking up stud duties alongside his sire at Claiborne Farm, and the ill-fated top American filly Pine Island. But South African sprinter Overrarching was another star as was the Golden Jubilee Stakes and July Cup winner Les Arcs.

Arch’s stud career represents a fine illustration of the pitfalls in writing off a stallion too soon. At the time of his death aged 21 in January 2016, he was a highly respected member of the Claiborne roster at $40,000. But that hadn’t always been the case.

Arch sired just four two-year-old winners in 2002, not an encouraging performance from the first crop of a Grade 1 winner who had stood for $20,000. In addition, a first Graded stakes winner didn’t come his way until Chilly Rooster won the Grade 3 Fort Marcy Handicap as a four-year-old in April 2004, by which time Arch’s fee had plummeted to $5,000.

Luckily matters improved dramatically to the point that he went on to become regarded an influential cog in the survival of the Roberto sire line.

Blame may yet inherit that mantle but it would seem that Arch will end up exerting most influence through his daughters, who are already responsible for Uncle Mo alongside other Grade 1 winners such as I’ll Have Another, Contested and Celestine.

Arch’s progeny invariably inherited an element of ruggedness often associated with Roberto and Kris S but with it came a soundness and durability not always seen in today’s American Thoroughbred. In Nyaleti, he appears to have another representative with a share of those attributes.

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