Among the very good investments at 2005 Australian yearlings sales could be the offspring in the first crop of Val Royal, a galloper who laid claim to being the best miler in the world in 2001 although he ran only three times that year.

Two of those outings, however, were powerhouse wins on turf in America in the space of three weeks in two of their biggest races at a mile including the event considered as being the world’s top race each year at this distance, the Breeders’ Cup Mile.

In his tilt at this million dollar event, one run on this occasion at New York’s Belmont Park, Val Royal ran the fastest time in the history of the race, clocking 1:32.05 for the journey. The time was less than half a second outside the freakish track and world record of 1:31.63 set by the Darley Stud, Hunter Valley visitor and 2004 champion American sire Elusive Quality in1998.

His jockey claimed that Val Royal, a son of an earlier Breeders’ Cup Mile winner, Royal Academy, was only playing around at the finish. He had come from behind with an explosive burst that saw him cover the final two furlongs (400 metres) in 0:22, “extraordinary quick even given the firm turf.”

Val Royal had shown up as bright prospect for the Breeders’ Cup Mile three weeks earlier when he came back after a seven months spell owing to injuries sustained in finishing second in a $400,000 Group 2 event at Santa Anita and took out $219,000 Group 2 Oak Tree Breeders’ Cup Stakes on the same course in the good time of 1:33.21.

Then a five-year-old, he had probably been robbed of world champion miler glory by 19 months out of racing following some very good performances at three. Bred in France where he started his career, he had won his first three outings, an event at Longchamp at two, and then two classic prelims, before finding the English Derby beyond his stamina.

He bounced back from the Derby effort with a second in a Group 3 race and then two Group 2 wins, appearances at Deauville and then in the Del Mar Derby in America.

Through his impeded career, Val Royal ran 12 times for seven wins – six stakes, two stakes seconds and about $1.5million Australian.

Now in use at stud in Ireland and Australia, standing in the latter country at one of the most progressive breeding establishments seen in Victoria, Lee Fleming’s Kerrie district located Eliza Park, Val Royal has first crop yearlings booked into the Gold Coast, Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide sales. They are among over 50 potential runners in this crop, one which includes offspring out of six Danehill mares and others from daughters of such fashionable sires as Zabeel, Bluebird, Last Tycoon, Sir Tristram, Bletchingly, Hennessy, Marscay, Night Shift, Rory’s Jester, Woodman, Marauding, Chief’s Crown, Thunder Gulch and Seattle Slew.

Val Royal stands at Eliza Park with the crack Royal Academy Australian two-year-old and sprinter Bel Esprit, a sire who had 122 mares in his first season, 2003. Both are very much like their sire and also their grandsire Nijinsky.

Royal Academy was one of Nijinsky’s most brilliant racing sons and has been a top sire in both hemispheres. He has had over 100 stakes winners, at least a dozen of which have won at Group1 level, and his progeny have won over 1500 races and US$61million.

The 16.2 hands Val Royal is the result of the mating of Royal Academy with Vadlava, a stakes placed daughter of French Horse of the Year Bikala and Vadsa, a mare by Sunday Silence’s sire Halo.

© Brian Russell Bloodstock Media Service Published 21/12/04