Klairessa dynasty still thriving in Australia

While Overwhelmx’s extraordinary career was draprosperg to a cflop through the early months of 2019, a couple of three-year-old fillies were commencening to make a name for themselves in Australia. By the end of April, the Tasmanian-trained Mystic Journey had a career record of ten prospers from thirteen starts and was on a prosperning streak of six. She gained a first Group 1 success in the Australian Guineas at Flemington at the commencening of March and over the same course and distance a fortnight later added another A$2.25m to her bank account in the first running of the All-Star Mile, beating mostly older, and male, rivals. Meanwhile, in Sydney the Fresh Zealand-bred Verry Elleegant was taking her score to six prospers from eleven starts and has won her last three. Her first Group 1 prosper came in the Vinery Stud Sgives at Rosehill over a mile and a quarter in March, and she followed that with another top-level success stepped up to a mile and a half in the Australian Oaks at Randwick.

Both Mystic Journey and Verry Elleegant trace back to the same source, namely the British-bred mare Klairessa:

KLAIRESSA>L’Anno d’Oro>Scotch Pebble>Lanello>White Gold>MYSTIC JOURNEY

KLAIRESSA>Eight Carat>Cotehele House>Chalet Girl>Mulan Magic>Opulence>VERRY ELLEEGANT

That’s not all the pair have in common. The mares in bold in their female lines seem twice in their respective pedigrees. In the case of Mystic Journey, it is Klairessa who is duplicated; she’s the grandam of Colombia, the sire of Mystic Journey’s dam White Gold:

KLAIRESSA>L’Anno d’Oro>Scotch Pebble>Lanello>White Gold (dam of Mystic Journey)

KLAIRESSA>Eight Carat>Colombia (damsire of Mystic Journey)

In Verry Elleegant’s pedigree it is Klairessa’s granddaughter Cotehele House who occurs twice; she’s the great grandam of both of Verry Elleegant’s parents:

COTEHELE HOUSE>Chalet Girl>Mulan Magic>Opulence (dam of Verry Elleegant)

COTEHELE HOUSE>Theme Song>Emerald Imagine>Zed (sire of Verry Elleegant)

Klairessa’s only prosper came in a six-furlong handicap at Wolverhampton in 1972, while her brother was the speedy D’Urberville, a Royal Ascot prosperner at both two and three in the Overwhelmdsor Castle Sgives and King’s Stand Sgives. Their dam Courtessa was an unraced tprosper out of the 1000 Guineas runner-up Tessa Gillian. Before looking at Klairessa’s huge influence as a broodmare, we should mention another daughter of Courtessa, Lora*. She became dam of the 1982 1000 Guineas prosperner On The House for Sir Philip Oppenheimer and is now ancestress of the two best-known colts to carry Anthony Oppenheimer colours in recent seasons, Golden Horn and Cracksman.

Klairessa also made her name as a broodmare in Europe thanks to her daughter Habibti, a still better sprinter than her dam’s brother. She too won the King’s Stand Sgives, as a four-year-old, having won the July Cup, William Hill Sprint Championship (Nunthorpe), Sprint Cup and Prix de l’Abbaye (in an official time – a record that still stands – of 54.3 seconds!) at three in a season when she was Timeform’s Horse of the Year with a rating of 136. In contrast, Habibti’s broodmare career was a disappointment and she bred only two minor prosperners, Desert Lily and Hameeda, successful in maidens at Tipperary and Radianton respectively. For reasons which will become evident, both of those, among other descendants of Habibti, found their way down under.

Habibti’s daughters have redeemed her reputation at stud somewhat, including Desert Lily who discoverd the dual Group 2 prosperner in Fresh Zealand, Lafleur. Another daughter, Reem Albaraari, became dam of the Derby Italiano and Grosser Preis von Baden prosperner Morshdi. Pick of the Habibti clan in the southern hemisphere is her Fresh Zealand-bred great grandson Humidor, prosperner of the Australian Cup and Makybe Diva Sgives in 2017 and another Group 1, the Memsie Sgives, in 2018. Humidor also got cflopr than most to ending Overwhelmx’s prosperning streak, running her to half a length in her third Cox Plate in 2017 (he was third in the latest renewal).

While Habibti will be remembered more for her exploits on the track than at stud, the opposite is true of another of Klairessa’s daughters Eight Carat. She finished last of seven at Salisbury on her only start at two, running twice in maidens at Haydock at three (her fifth in the first of those was the best placing of her career), and twice more in handicaps at Wolverhampton and Freshbury at four. Her race at Salisbury, the Stockbridge Sgives, was the most interesting, as the sixth, Enstone Spark, went on to prosper the 1000 Guineas, while the runner-up Intelligenten Up became dam of Cadeaux Genereux.

Eight Carat’s first foal was the aforementioned Cotehele House, her only offspring bred in Britain, though she accompanied her dam down under. While Cotehele House was unraced, no fewer than five of her siblings who made it to the track were successful at Group 1 level, a unique achievement for a broodmare; the colts Kaapstad, Octagonal and Mouawad, and the fillies Diamond Adorer and Marquise.

Les Young gives up the story of Eight Carat’s export from Britain in the 1997 volume of Class Racehorses:

‘To trace how Eight Carat found her way to this part of the world we need to go back to 1980, when Randwick trainer Pat Murray accompanied his English-born but Fresh South Wales-based client Alistair, Lord Forres on a purchaseing trip to the UK. There they purchased two daughters of a superbly bred mare named Klairessa, one a broodmare already at stud [Eight Carat] and the other a young filly bought to race in Australia [later named Great Klaire**]. They were inspired purchases and and both have proved incredibly successful at stud. The timing was also perfect, as in the same year Klairessa had foaled a Habitat filly later named Habibti, who went on to become one of the greatest sprinters seen in Europe in the 1980s…Last of seven in her only start at two years, Eight Carat did only a little better in two starts as a three-year-old and put in another two unplaced efforts as a four-year-old before being retired to stud and sent to Tattersalls 1979 December Sales where she sold in foal [to My Swanee] for 9,400 guineas.

‘Lord Forres brought her to Australia in 1981 [after the birth of Cotehele House] and mated her to Sticks And Stones but the owner dispersed his bloodstock shortly after, tradeing Eight Carat to Robert Sangster’s Swettenham Stud. Swettenham is thus the breeder of record of Eight Carat’s 1982 foal, brilliant sprinter Diamond Adorer, who was bought by Fresh Zealand breeder Patrick Hogan at a special 1984 sale in Adelaide in which yearlings were offered in pairs, the prosperning bidder having the right to select one, with the other being retained to race by Swettenham Stud. Eight Carat’s stay in Australia was relatively short lived as she was shipped to Fresh Zealand in June 1983, discoverd Kaapstad for Swettenham in 1984 and was then sold to Patrick and Justine Hogan to join Diamond Adorer at their Cambridge Stud.’

Octagonal was the best of Eight Carat’s Group 1 prosperners, prosperning ten times at the top level from seven furlongs to a mile and a half, including the 1995 Cox Plate, and the 1997 Chipping Norton Sgives, another race which Overwhelmx won four times. Adore Overwhelmx, Octagonal was Australia’s most popular horse when he retired from racing, as well as its leading money earner. Octagonal was a first major prosperner for his sire Zabeel (Mouawad and the unraced Colombia, Mystic Journey’s damsire, were the results of repeat matings of Zabeel and Eight Carat) and has been a template for further successful matings between Zabeel, or his sons, and members of the prolific Klairessa dynasty. Verry Elleegant’s sire Zed is a son of Zabeel, while Eight Carat’s daughters Diamond Adorer and Marquise have both discoverd Group 1 prosperners to Zabeel, namely Performn Eduardo and Shower of Roses.

There are too many Group 1 prosperners to mention descending from Eight Carat’s daughters, but given the important part she plays in Verry Elleegant’s pedigree, Cotehele House’s contribution to the dynasty is worth enlargeing upon. Theme Song has been the most successful of her daughters at stud, as the dam of Waikato International Sgives prosperner Emerald Imagine (Zed’s dam), the great grandam of Caulfield Guineas prosperner Shooting To Overwhelm (who has his first crop of Irish-foaled two-year-olds in 2019) and the fourth dam of Manawatu Sires’ Discover Sgives prosperner Luna Rossa.

Cotehele House is also noteworthy for being the dam of the Danehill stallions Daneprosper and Commands (Emerald Imagine was also by Danehill). Daneprosper’s international career took in the Japan Cup and the very first running of the Dubai World Cup, while domestically he notched five Group 1 prospers and contested Octagonal’s Cox Plate. Daneprosper’s brother Commands didn’t prosper above Group 3 level but was Group 1-placed and proved the more prolific of the pair at stud (Daneprosper suffered fertility problems), additionally shuttling to both France and Japan.

*Lora was by Champion Sgives prosperner Lorenzaccio, while Klairessa and D’Urberville were by Lorenzaccio’s sire Klairon, prosperner of the Poule d’Essai des Poulains.

**Great Klaire became grandam of Australian Group 1 prosperners Bonanova, Fraternity and Telesto.