Featured Stallion: Vale Of York
From that eye-catching beginning, Invincible Spirit has continued to deliver high-class horses year after year, including two of this season’s best juveniles, Zebedee, and Cartier Two-Year-Old Filly of the Year, Hooray. Last year, of course, he enjoyed his first Breeders’ Cup winner, Godolphin’s Vale Of York, who joins the Darley roster and will stand at Kildangan Stud in Ireland in 2011.
Vale Of York announced his brilliance on his very first racecourse appearance when romping home in a York maiden over seven furlongs to win by two and a quarter lengths last July. He entered many notebooks as a smart juvenile prospect for the year and thus he proved to be, gaining his first black type win by landing the Listed Peter Willett Stakes, also run at seven furlongs but this time at Goodwood, on only his third start.
Later that month, Vale Of York was tried in Group company for the first time in Ascot’s Royal Lodge Stakes, finishing third to Joshua Tree, just a head behind the runner-up Waseet. A trip to Italy was to follow for a tilt at the G1 Gran Criterium at San Siro.
Just a fortnight after his previous outing, Vale Of York proved that he was among the best juvenile colts in Europe and went agonisingly close to securing his first Group One triumph when just headed by the tough and admirable Hearts Of Fire, who would go on to top this year’s Horses in Training sale at Tattersalls when fetching 550,000gns.
But better was yet to come from the good-looking Vale Of York, who, despite a busy later part of the season, put some colts with pretty smart reputations in the shade in winning the G1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile over eight and a half furlongs of the Santa Anita Pro-Ride surface. In behind him were five Group or Grade One winners, including the subsequent Preakness and Haskell Invitational winner Lookin At Lucky, that year’s Dewhurst winner Beethoven, and Eskendereya, one of the talking horses on the 2010 Triple Crown trail with three consecutive victories following the Breeders’ Cup until he was forced into retirement by injury.
Vale Of York, who finished his juvenile season with a Timeform rating of 117, is out of the Halling mare Red Vale and hails from the immediate family of Tattersalls Gold Cup and Prince of Wales’s Stakes winner Batshoof. Other stallions from the family include the 2,000 Guineas winner King Of Kings and General Monash. He is inbred 4x4 to Northern Dancer, and also to Sharpen Up and the outstanding broodmare Doubly Sure via the full-brothers Kris and Diesis.
With the breeding season now in full swing he is being well supported and had his first mare scanned in foal on 28 February, the group winner and producer Always Friendly. Owned by Ringfort Stud, any offspring would be a half to the G2 winning pair of Allied Forces and Dane Friendly. Other mares to have already been covered include the G3 winning sprint winner Kiris World and young Darley maiden Spinning Maid, a close relation to Johannesburg, Minardi and Tale Of The Cat.
Lawman, the first son of Invincible Spirit to retire to stud, has been one of the great freshman success stories at this season’s yearling sales and, with Invincible Spirit’s star still firmly in the ascendant, it’s not difficult to imagine that the offspring of Vale Of York, his best juvenile colt to date, will be similarly popular when it is their turn in the spotlight. And, at €5,000, Vale Of York gives breeders every chance of commercial success.