Darley freshman firing in Europe

Darley stallion Iffraaj has extended his lead over Coolmore freshman Holy Roman Emperor in the first-season winners’ premiership in Europe.  Iffraaj fillies Espirita (Deauville) and Askaud (Thirsk) took his tally to 22 individual winners on Sunday and Monday.  

Iffraaj is based at Darley’s Kildangan Stud and shuttles to Haunui Farm in New Zealand.  He’s now seven clear of his Coolmore counterpart.

Iffraaj filly Espirita posted an eye-catching victory in the Prix Tanit at Deauville on Sunday.  She was racing second-up following a close second to Living Art (Trippi) at Chantilly last month.

Espirita (2f Iffraaj-Belle Esprit by Warning) is trained by Elie Lellouche for owner Bruno Mettoudi and was a 37,000 euros buy at the 2009 Arqana August yearling sale.  She is from an unraced sister to Torch Rouge who was a G3 winner of the 2004 Jersey Stakes at Royal Ascot.

Iffraaj filly Askaud was just as impressive in the Brown Crofts Maiden Stakes at Thirsk on Monday.  She had been runner-up at Wolverhampton on debut in June.

Askaud (2f  Iffraaj – Tarabaya by Warning) is owned by Paul Dixon and was a 15,000 euros buy at the 2009 Goffs October yearling sale.  She is a half-sister to three winners from 2400m to 3200m.

Coolmore’s John Magnier created headlines when he retired Holy Roman Emperor as an early season three year-old in 2007.  He was sent to the breeding barn at short notice to replace George Washington who had encountered fertility problems.

Iffraaj (Zafonic) was more active starting 13 times for 7 wins and was Timeform’s highest rated sprinter of Europe in 2006.  He scored Group 2 wins in the Lennox Stakes at Goodwood and Park Stakes at York.  He was also beaten a head when runner-up to Les Arcs in the G1 July Cup at Newmarket.

Holy Roman Emperor jumped the blocks with Europe’s first juvenile winner of the year when High Award was successful at the Curragh on March 21.  He had already sired four winners before Iffraaj opened his account on May 17.

Iffraaj has left his rivals standing during the northern summer and, at his current strike-rate, will go very close to breaking the existing record held by Invincible Spirit who sired 35 winners in 2006.  Darley stallion Dubawi sired 34 winners last year and would have equalled the record but for one of his winners being disqualified.

Iffraaf owns a world class pedigree through his dam Pastorale who is a half-sister to Cape Cross, sire of Sea The Stars and Ouija Board, out of the champion juvenile Park Appeal.  He will stand his third southern season at Haunui Farm in 2010 at a $10,000 (+ gst) service fee.