28 Aug

Philip Sale | Friday August 28 2020, 6:24pm | Racing Comment 

It’s all too easy to forget that our best National Hunt stallions were, invariably, high-class racehorses in their own right. Whilst we revel in the successes of their progeny, the sires’ exploits are increasingly lost in the midst of time.

When The Beeches Stud pensioned Flemensfirth from active service last week, it signalled the end of a glorious era. Not only for Flemensfirth himself, but for a generation of jump sires plucked directly from the flat’s middle-distance and staying fraternity.

In a relatively short period - April 1990 to March 1994 - Beneficial, King’s Theatre, Presenting, Flemensfirth, Oscar, and Kayf Tara were each foaled. As symbols of class, toughness and longevity, what a remarkably successful and influential group they became.

First came their flat exploits and a collective 33 wins from 76 races. Flemensfirth, King’s Theatre and Kayf Tara of course scored at Group 1 level, with the last-named boasting the highest-flat-rating of 122 (Flemensfirth himself peaked at 120).

Alas, at the age of 28, Flemensfirth is the last of his peers is to be retired. National Hunt stallions may hail from far and wide, but this has nevertheless proved to be a prolific sextet whose 25-year influence on the sport has been immeasurable.

The chart below displays the highest rated-progeny of Flemensfirth to date. In the case of those still in-training, such as exciting eight-year-old Lostintranslation, there is ample time to improve yet further on an already lofty rating:

Cheltenham Gold Cup winners War Of Attrition (2006) and Denman (2008) would be career-highlights for Presenting, whilst Oscar would get in on the action with Lord Windermere (2014). In between these feats, it would be the turn of Flemensfirth himself, thanks to 2010 winner Imperial Commander - a horse who would surely be yet more popular had he not broken the hearts of fan-favourites Kauto Star and Denman.

With King's Theatre producing the likes of Cue Card and The New One, Beneficial siring Cooldine and More Of That and Kayf Tara's progeny including Thistlecrack and Special Tiara, this was doubtless a very special generation, a seemingly never-ending conveyor belt of jumps talent.

Happily, we will continue to enjoy Flemensfirth's influence in years to come. Indeed, it was only at last week's Tattersalls Ireland Derby Sale that a filly and gelding were sold at £155,000 and £150,000 respectively. Lest we forget this is a two-times champion sire we are talking about, not to mention the most expensive stallion at Coolmore's County Waterford division.

A son of dual Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe winner Alleged, Flemensfirth did former-owner Sheikh Mohammed and trainer John Gosden proud. He would win on debut as a two-year-old, go on to win the Group 1 Prix Lupin at three and would again win at the highest-level - in the Premio Roma - aged four. 

At stud, he has been nothing if not exceptional, both as sire and damsire (featuring on the page of Identity Thief, Roksana, Next Destination and Us And Them, to name but a few). It will be some time yet before Flemensfirth disappears from our racecards. 

But time soon marches on and, sadly, we have already said our last goodbyes to Beneficial, King's Theatre and Presenting. What a crying shame. Let us therefore hope Flemensfirth enjoys the long and happy retirement he so deserves. Like his fabulous peers, he will certainly leave a lasting legacy in both codes. 

Thank you Flemensfirth. Long may you run.

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