A new chapter in Runnymede’s extensive history began to unfold on February 18 in France when the farm’s Group 1 producer Palace Weekend foaled a fabulous bay filly by record-breaking European sire Invincible Spirit.
Palace Weekend, a half sister to millionaire, Grade 2 winner and Kentucky Derby (G1) runner-up Tejano Run, delivered the filly at Hubert Honoré’s Haras d’Ommeel in Normandy, thus producing Runnymede’s first French-bred as the farm seeks to diversify.
“The French Racing and Breeding Committee’s program encouraging breeders to foal their mares in France, making those foals eligible for generous premiums paid to successful French-bred racehorses, has been enormously successful,” noted Runnymede General Manager Martin O’Dowd.
“Now French-bred horses are in strong demand—it was clearly evident when I was at the Deauville yearling sale last year how the French-bred horses brought a premium in the ring,” he added. “So, since we are mostly commercial breeders, we thought it would be an ideal time to expand our European breeding program into France.”
The filly by Invincible Spirit, who stands at the Irish National Stud and who set a European/North American record by siring 42 juvenile winners in 2010, is full of quality and promise.
“She is correct, beautifully conformed and has a lovely hip and shoulder,” O’Dowd said. “Even thought she is just days old, she already loves to run and has wonderful action.”
For years, Runnymede has boarded mares in Ireland and England in order to breed them to European-based stallions and produce foals that would appeal to different segments of the international marketplace.
To begin the French phase of Runnymede’s European program, the farm sent both Palace Weekend and winner Lady of Akita to Haras d’Ommeel. Both mares will be bred this season to King’s Best, who was the world’s leading sire by progeny earnings in 2010, excluding those stallions based in Japan, where purses are the highest in the world.
King’s Best—a son of Kingmambo who won the English Two Thousand Guineas (G1) and who is a half brother to Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (G1) winner Urban Sea, the dam of phenomenal champion Sea The Stars and outstanding sire Galileo—stands at Haras du Logis in Normandy under an agreement with Darley.
Palace Weekend is from the well established Runnymede family of Kazadancoa, a French-bred daughter of Green Dancer who produced graded stakes winners Jacodra’s Devil, Jacodra, Changing Ways and Pays to Dream as well as stakes winner Pumpkin Shell.
Unraced, Palace Weekend is carrying on Kazadancoa’s family tradition. Palace Weekend has produced English Group 1 winner Palace Episode and multiple winner Adventure, a daughter of Unbridled’s Song owned by Runnymede whose second foal is Laughing Lashes, a Group 2 winner in Ireland last year as a juvenile and second in the Moyglare Stud Stakes (G1). Laughing Lashes is being pointed to the 2011 Irish filly classic races.
Palace Weekend has a yearling colt from the first crop by European champion two- and three-year-old and Epsom Derby (G1) winner New Approach.
Lady of Akita, a four-year-old by Fantastic Light who won as a juvenile in Britain, also possesses an outstanding pedigree. Owned in partnership with Runnymede’s longtime friend and client, Peter Callahan, Lady of Akita is a half-sister to Japanese champion and $8,095,160-earner Agnes Digital and stakes winners Jalisco Light and Shell Game, each of whom earned more than $700,000.
The second dam of Lady of Akita is the Alleged mare Allicance, a group stakes winner in France and a half sister to European champion, French classic winner and sire Blushing Groom.
Lady of Akita will be bred for the first time when she visits King’s Best, who made his mark around the world in 2010.
King’s Best’s son Workforce, bred by Prince Khalid Abdullah’s Juddmonte Farms, ruled Europe as champion male by following up his record Epsom Derby victory with a determined win over older Japanese rival Nakayama Festa in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.
At the same time, Eishin Flash, a King’s Best colt bred by Shadai Farm, won the Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby) (G1) to rank among the best of his generation in Asia.