Stallion History at Burgage Stud

The most significant stallion to have stood at Burgage Stud was Sovereign Path (Gr.H.1956 Grey Sovereign Mountain Path) who stood his entire stud career from 1961 1977. Sovereign Path was bred at Theakston Stud in Yorkshire. Initially, he was trained in Ireland by the retired leading jumps jockey Aubrey Brabazon who trained the 3yo colt to win the Tetrarch Stakes. Later that year the horse moved to his owner Ron Mason’s Northampton stables. Mason trained Sovereign Path to become one of the top milers of his generation winning the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes and the Lockinge Stakes (ridden by Lester Piggott) in 1960.

Retired to Burgage Stud for the 1961 season, Sovereign Path instantly made his mark as a sire. He was the Leading First Season Sire of 1964 establishing what was then a record by siring nine individual winners. These included Spanish Express who won the Middle Park Stakes. At that time stallions were restricted to covering 45 mares per season.

Indeed, so successful was the start Sovereign Path made as a stallion that he soon became the subject of interest from Japan. The enormous purchasing power of the yen offered £120,000 to the Sovereign Path Syndicate at the end of the 1968 covering season. Even though this was a multiple of the £48,000 that he was originally syndicated for the offer was turned down.

In 1970 Sovereign Path was the leading European based sire. His chief earner was the Frank Tuthill (Owenstown Stud) bred filly Humble Duty who won the 1,000 Guineas, Coronation Stakes, and the Sussex Stakes. She was trainer Peter Walwyn’s first classic winner. Humble Duty had also won the Lowther Stakes and the Cheveley Park Stakes as a 2yo.

Unfortunately, her second career as a broodmare was short as she died, aged 8, in 1975 from a rupture. Her owner Jean, Lady Ashcombe had already died in a plane crash in 1973. Even though Sovereign Path was judged to be straight in front, a conformation weakness that he passed onto many of his progeny, he was continually a prolific sire of highclass winners. Consequently, he was a highly commercial sire in the sales ring.

For a while Sovereign Path looked as though he might establish his name as a longlasting influential sire of successful sires. His son Wolver Hollow (who also won the 1969 Eclipse Stakes for first season trainer Henry Cecil) became the Champion Sire of 1976. This was mainly due to his son Wollow who was victorious in the 2,000 Guineas Gr.1 (ridden by Gianfranco Dettori, father of Frankie), Sussex Stakes Gr.1, and the Benson & Hedges Gold Cup Gr.1. Wollow was not a success at stud, neither in Britain or Japan. Wolver Hollow also sired Furry Glen (1974 Irish 2,000 Guineas Gr.1 and who later became a leading NH sire) and Charlie Bubbles (1974 Hardwicke Stakes Gr.2).

Another stallion son of Sovereign Path was the badtempered Supreme Sovereign (winner of the Lockinge Stakes) and who sired the Irishtrained Nocturnal Spree who won the 1975 1,000 Guineas Gr.1. A further notable stallion son was Town Crier (winner of the Queen Anne Stakes) who was sire of Cry of Truth, the Champion 2yo Filly of 1974. However, since the mid 1980’s this male line has gradually faded. Sovereign Path died in his stable aged 21 in December 1977 of a heart attack.

The first stallion to stand at Burgage Stud was Ramtapa (Rustom Pasha Sultan Ramee) bred by the Aga Khan and a winner of the New Stakes, a prestigious 2yo race. The conversion of Burgage from a stock farm to a public stud entailed considerable work preparing stabling and paddocks for visiting mares. The foundation of the stud was laid. A trip to Italy by Tel Vigors and Commander Peter Fitzgerald (Mondelihy Stud, Co. Limerick) resulted in the purchase of Nicolaus (Br.H 1939 Solario Nogara). This was a very well related horse bred by Federico Tesio and a halfbrother to Nearco. He stood at Burgage Stud from 195053. Nicolaus later found fame as the sire of the grey Nicolaus Silver winner of the 1961 Aintree Grand National whilst he was also sire of a Royal Ascot winner the previous year (Small Slam Royal Hunt Cup).

Other stallions that stood at Burgage Stud at that time included Liberator III (B.H. 1948 Djebel Liberation) and later exported to Australia, the French Derby winner Rapace (B.H 1952 Djefou Rahnee) who was later sold to stud in Japan. The huge Americanbred Black Tarquin (Br.H 1945 Rhodes Scholar Vagrancy) winner of the 1948 St.Leger as well as the St.James Palace Stakes and the Gimcrack Stakes retired back to America to stand at Claiborne Stud, Kentucky. He was reimported to stand at Burgage Stud in 1954, later transferring to Coolmore Stud,  Co.Tipperary. He died in 1965. He never sired anything of his own ability but was sire of the  Cambridgeshire winner Tarqogan who later became a successful NH sire.

Our Babu (B.H. 1952 My Babu Glen Line) won the 1955 2,000 Guineas having triumphed in the Champagne Stakes and the Middle Park Stakes as a 2yo. After retirement from racing, he was sold to a syndicate of American breeders for $600,000. In 1963 he was reimported to stand at Burgage Stud before he was sold again to Japan in 1967 and where he died in 1977. He was a moderate success.

In 2001 Bob Back (Br.H 1981 Roberto Carry Back) came to Burgage Stud having transferred from nearby Ballylinch Stud. The Americanbred was trained by Michael Jarvis in Newmarket to win six races including the Princess of Wales’s Stakes Gr.2 where he defeated Pebbles and Commanche Run. Bob Back was the sire of highclass performers under both codes. As a Flat stallion he sired a Classic winner when Bob’s Return won the 1993 St. Leger. Another son, Big Bad Bob won the Furstenberg Rennen Gr.3 in Germany for John Dunlop. Both colts got the opportunity to stand as stallions and both were successful sires of Gr. 1 performers.

Bob Back was a greater influence as a jumps sire and quickly achieved top level success. His stock relished the challenge of the uphill climb to the finish line at Cheltenham and thus his record as a sire of Cheltenham Festival winners is impressive. This includes Bacchanal, Back in Focus, Back in Front, Cousin Vinny, Putty Road, Thisthatandtother and 2011 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Bob’s Worth (who won at three Cheltenham Festivals). The Burgage Studbred fourtime Gr. 1 winner Boston Bob was another high earner for Bob Back. Even though he did not win at the Cheltenham Festival Boston Bob fell at the last when leading in the 2013 Sun Alliance Novices Chase Gr.1 from subsequent Gold Cup winner Lord Windermere.

Bob Back was consistently a leading NH sire who sired 12 individual Gr.1 winners. He was broodmare sire of Synchronised (2012 Cheltenham Gold Cup) and Many Clouds (2015 Aintree Grand National). Bob Back was most unusual in that his pedigree contained no Northern Dancer or Mr.Prospector blood and so was the ultimate outcross. Bob Back died in January 2011, aged 30.

Shantou arrived at Burgage Stud in November 2004 from Paolo Crespi’s Societa Agricola di Besnate in Italy. Bred in Kentucky by his racing owner Sheikh Mohammed, Shantou was the highest rated racehorse sired by Alleged, the dual ‘Arc winner for Vincent O’Brien and Robert Sangster. The grandam of Shantou was the 1985 Fillies Triple Crown heroine Oh So Sharp.

As a young 2yo Shantou was diagnosed as a ‘wobbler’ (a horse with a pinched spinal cord which leads to incoordination in the hind quarters). This was successfully treated but consequently Shantou did not run at 2 years. He made a placed debut at Newmarket’s Craven meeting midApril. He was an unconsidered 25/1 chance for the 1996 Epsom Derby but finished a good third to Shaamit. Shantou later won the 220th running of the St.Leger where he courageously defeated the favourite Dushyantor by a hard fought neck. Two more Gr.1 successes at San Siro in Italy followed with #824,000 earnings and a Timeform rating of 125. He was trainer John Gosden’s first British Classic winner. In Gosden’s words the sometimestoughminded Shantou was a ‘totally unique character having to be trained on his own with his own dedicated rider Bob Herrick who had learned to sit tight.

Shantou retired to stud in Italy. He sired an average of 30 live foals in each of his five seasons. From this relatively small number of opportunities Shantou sired five Gr.1 performers including Sweet Stream, winner of the 2004 Prix Vermeille Gr.1 and Park Hill Stakes Gr.2. The promise of his early successes and the fact his sire Alleged was establishing himself as a sire of NH sires led to a syndicate purchase of Shantou to Ireland.

The first Irishbreds by Shantou quickly made an impression with a strike rate of 52% winners/runners from his first 5yo crop. His stock were willing and tough, trainers liked them and the impressive winners continued. The Burgage Studbred Briar Hill who won the Weatherbys Champion Bumper at Cheltenham in 2013 was an early Gr.1 winner. Other winners at the highest level included Death Duty, Morning Assembly, Shan Blue, The Storyteller with Cheltenham Festival winners Ballynagour, Polly Peachum , Tully East and Beware The Bear. In his sixteen seasons at Burgage Stud Shantou’s stud fee rose steadily and he became increasingly in demand in the sale ring. His stud career never faltered, and he was as commercial by the end of his life as he was during it. Shantou died on August 30th, 2021, aged 28.

Boston Bob

10 wins. UKPounds 421,414

  • Won Navan Novice Hurdle (Gr.1)
  • Won Dr.J.P.Moriarty Novice Chase (Gr.1), Leopardstown
  • Won Betfred Melling Chase (Gr.1), Aintree
  • Won Bibby Financial Services Ireland Punchestown Gold Cup (Gr.1)

Back in Focus

5 wins , UKPounds 136,244

  • Won Topaz Novice Chase (Gr.1), Leopardstown
  • Won Florida Pearl Novice Chase (Gr.2), Punchestown
  • Won John Oaksey National Hunt Chase, Cheltenham

Briar Hill

6 wins. UKPounds 114,396

  • Won Weatherbys Champion Bumper (Gr.1), Cheltenham
  • Won Navan Hovice Hurdle (Gr.1)
  • Won Slaney Novice Hurdle (Gr.2), Naas

Dun Belle

5 wins, UKPounds 41,306

  • Won Murphy’s Stout Novice Chase (Gr.3), Limerick (Greenpark)
  • 2nd Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup (Gr.1), Leopardstown
  • 3rd Scalp Novice Chase (Gr.2), Leopardstown