Tom Harris talks to Richard Kent, whose Mickley Stud stands Heeraat, a son of Donny success story Dark Angel
Published in the Racing Post Yearling Supplement on 18th August 2017
Teak-tough Sprinter Carrying On a Rich Family Tradition
ELEVEN years ago a yearling colt by Acclamation was led through the sales ring at Doncaster. Nobody could know, when he was sold to BBA Ireland for £61,000, that this was the beginning of an extraordinary success story – or how Doncaster would become its defining motif.
In recent years Battaash, Harry Angel, Markaz, Easton Angel, Estidhkaar, Gabriel, Bronze Angel and Log Out Island have all followed their sire through the same ring where Dark Angel began his brief exile – a single season’s racing for Barry Hills – from Yeomanstown Stud.
Last year all 17 of his yearlings offered at the Goffs UK Premier Yearling Sale were sold for an average of just over £115,000, with six figuring among the top nine lots. Prix Robert Papin runner-up Frozen Angel was among them, at £165,000; while the sale’s top lot, a £280,000 colt since named Yafta, has twice finished second in the colours of Sheikh Hamdan. This time round Dark Angel has no fewer than 30 yearlings catalogued, but the sale is also notable for the next turn of the carousel – with his sons Alhebayeb and Heeraat both represented by their first yearlings.
They have a promising precedent. Last year, as the first son of Dark Angel to have yearlings presented here, Lethal Force found new homes for all 22 of his lots across both sessions for up to £102,000. A typically precocious Richard Hannon juvenile, Alhebayeb finished second in the Windsor Castle before rallying to win the Group 2 July Stakes. The Tara Stud charge – who stands alongside another son of Dark Angel, Estidhkaar, at the County Meath nursery – has a dozen yearlings catalogued at Doncaster.
Heeraat, who helped to advertise Dark Angel’s first crop with an 11-length maiden success at two, proved a game and hardy sprinter in 22 starts across four seasons for trainer William Haggas. Bred on a similar cross to Lethal Force – who is out of a mare by a son of his own damsire, Green Desert, in Desert Style – he proved a progressive handicapper at three before making his Pattern breakthrough at four. Sixth in the King’s Stand, he achieved a RPR of 114 in winning the Group 3 Hackwood Stakes before replicating that peak rating in the same race 12 months later when beaten a neck by Music Master in what proved to be his final start.
A 50,000gns Tattersalls foal, bred by John McEnery, Heeraat was pinhooked in the same ring as a yearling by Liam Cashman of Rathbarry Stud, selling to Shadwell for 40,000gns out of Book 2. There is plenty of commercial speed in his pedigree, his unraced dam Thawrah being a half-sister to Malhub, who won the Golden Jubilee Stakes in 2002 and was beaten in a photo by Invincible Spirit in the Haydock Sprint Cup. Thawrah, herself out of a Listed winner by Ahonoora, has since produced the stakes-winning juvenile Ambiance, who finished fourth in the Norfolk.
It was this fast and precocious pedigree that persuaded Richard Kent to stand Heeraat at Mickley Stud in Shropshire, at an advertised fee of £4,000. Here he joined a similar type in Captain Gerrard, along with a couple of other young sires, Proconsul and Yorgunnabelucky, both of whom owe their place at stud primarily to the glamour of their full brothers: Frankel and Shamardal, respectively.
“Everyone who has ever had anything to do with Heeraat throughout his career has become very attached to him,”
says Kent, who founded Mickley Stud with his partner Clare Lloyd in 2005. “He has just a fantastic temperament and William Haggas always gives him a big hug whenever he comes to see him. You don’t often get that with those speed-line horses.” Jockey Paul Hanagan was equally impressed with his attitude, commenting after one of his victories that “he nearly had his head on the floor, he was trying so hard”.
HEERAAT received 97 and 94 mates in his first couple of seasons, five and six being black-type performers. "And this year, because of the popularity of his foals, he covered 116,” Kent says. “To get these black-type mares is good for a stallion yet to have a runner at that kind of price. Around 70 per cent of those were client mares.”
Paul McCartan, whose Ballyphilip Stud has struck gold this summer through Harry Angel and Battaash, has also been impressed by the rookie’s progeny. According to Kent, he acquired Heeraat foals privately both last year and this – and has also bought into the stallion himself.
Himself the breeder of Havana Grey – sure enough, out of a daughter of Dark Angel – Kent knows what it takes to get an early runner. And he consigns three of Heeraat’s first crop to the Doncaster sale, picking out lot 289 as the standout. A daughter of Ripon Two-Year-Old Trophy runner-up Skylla, she is from the family of Hillstar and Poule d’Essai des Pouliches winner Rose Gypsy. “She’s a beautiful filly,” Kent enthuses. “She’ll come early and is very quick-moving.”
Of the 17 Heeraat foals sold at auction last year, for an average of just under £12,000, the top price of 38,000gns was achieved at the Tattersalls December Sale by a son of Mickley Stud’s Exceed And Excel mare Piranha, a dual juvenile winner at 5f. His purchasers, Yeomanstown Stud, offer him back at Doncaster as lot 214.