One star does not make a horse a top sire, but it can be the catalyst he needed to boost his support, thereby improving his prospects of making a real impact. There are many stallions who have just that one Group 1 winner standing out among a handful of career stakes winners, but sometimes that initial one-hit-wonder makes the most of his better mares and goes on to become a sire of real note.
It is too early to know into which group Haras d'Etreham's Wootton Bassett (by Iffraaj) will ultimately fall, but his third-crop son Wootton has shown a lot of promise in his first three starts and could be the next Group 1 winner for him.
Right now the stallion has only three stakes winners to his name, from three crops of racing age, plus three others who have been blacktype placed, but his first crop to benefit from the 'Almanzor effect' are only foals so it could be 2020 and 2021 before we start to see what he can really do. And before then, his blacktype tally will have increased and could include some notable individuals.
The Henri-Alex Pantall-trained Wootton was bred by Ecurie Haras de Quetieville, in whose colours he ran when taking a mile newcomers' race on good ground at Deauville by six lengths in late August, and he now runs in the Godolphin blue. His second race was the Listed Isonomy over the same course and distance two months later, and despite the very soft ground, he won it by five lengths.
Today's race was more challenging, easily the strongest opposition he has faced so far, but he extended his unbeaten record to three with a head defeat of last year's top-rated French-trained juvenile colt Olmedo in the Group 3 Prix de Fontainebleau at ParisLongchamp. The ground was heavy, and this colt's ability to perform on a variety of surfaces should serve him well in the coming months.
He holds an entry in next month's Group 1 Qipco 2000 Guineas at Newmarket and, as you might expect of a colt of such potential, he is also engaged in the Group 1 Poule d'Essai des Poulains (French 2000 Guineas), Group 1 Prix du Jockey Club (French Derby) and Group 1 Grand Prix de Paris.
Wootton is the best of the first four foals out of American Nizzy (by American Post), a juvenile winner who earned her blacktype with placings in the Group 3 Prix du Calvados, Listed Prix Roland de Chambure, and Listed Prix Finlande. Her dam, Quietude (by Woodman), was placed in Belgium, and the next dam is Listed Prix Isola Bella winner Quittance (by Riverman), a daughter of dual US three-year-old scorer Quarrel Over Halo (by Halo).
Those are the highlights of the first four generations of the pedigree, which suggests that much of the credit for the talent and potential shown by this colt can be given to his sire. Wootton Bassett has upgraded the mare.
There are two main reasons why we usually only look at the first three or four generations of a horse's pedigree when trying to analyse its strengths and weaknesses and to highlight its owner's future potential. One is that there is usually more than enough to say about the good horses in those early generations, the other is that any ancestor farther back makes little meaningful contribution.
Each ancestor in the fifth generation only contributes 3.125% of the genetic makeup, each one in the sixth is responsible for only 1.5625% – and that's the direct ancestors. Their offspring and descendants make zero contribution. What they do provide, however, is academic interest and indications of the strength or weakness of that distant part of the pedigree, the roots from which the current horse eventually developed.
In the case of Wootton, an examination of the fifth generation of the pedigree shows us that he comes from a weak branch of what was a successful blacktype family, one that even yielded classic horses.
His fifth dam, Quarrel Over (by One For All), won five times, was runner-up in the Grade 2 Alcibiades Stakes at Keeneland and fourth in the Grade 1 Arlington-Washington Lassie Stakes, a placing that counted for blacktype in those days.
She produced 10 winners from 14 foals, of whom Grade 2 Del Mar Oaks winner and Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup Stakes runner-up Suivi (by Diesis) was best, and the stakes winners who descend from her include multiple graded sprint scorer Mr Nightlinger (by Indian Charlie) and the smart Waterway Run (by Arch), who won a Grade 3 at Belmont Park as well as the Group 3 Oh So Sharp Stakes at Newmarket as a juvenile.
Sixth dam Quarrel (by Raise a Native), who was out of the track record-setting, stakes-winning sprinter-miler Rhubarb (by Barbizon), was a half-sister to the Grade 1-placed juvenile Grade 3 winner Bottle Top (by Topsider) – the dam of dual classic-placed colt Strodes Creek (by Halo) – and her own siblings included ill-fated Grade 1 Arlington-Washington Futurity star Lets Dont Fight (by Drone), classic-placed Grade 3 scorer Fight Over (by Grey Dawn II) and Group 3 Desmond Stakes winner Wise Counsellor (by Alleged).
These horses have no bearing on the talent or potential of Wootton but there is value in noting their presence in the family history. He represents a weak branch on a tree that has strong roots, and if he becomes a Group 1 star and so earns a good berth at stud, then this son of Wootton Bassett could be the seed from which a new sapling sprouts.