Commanding respect

Darley Japan’s new recruit Commands was a tremendous racehorse and his stud record is shaping with equal promise

Commands' ongoing success in his homeland has seen him selected to shuttle to Japan, and there is every reason to believe that this super-consistent young stallion will prove as effective in getting good winners there as he has proved himself to be in Australia.

It is no surprise that Commands has proved himself to be such a good stallion because he was a very good racehorse – and it was no surprise that he proved himself to be a very good racehorse, because that is exactly what he was bred to be.  A son of the hugely influential Danehill, Commands is from the British-bred mare Cotehele House, a tremendous broodmare who hails from a family which has done extremely well in Europe and even better in Australasia.

Cotehele House is a daughter of Eight Carat who, although an undistinguished racehorse herself, was a half-sister to the European champion sprinter Habibti.  Furthermore, Klairessa, the dam of Eight Carat and Habibti, was a full-sister to the King’s Stand Stakes winner D’Urberville.  On the basis of this great pedigree, Eight Carat was exported down under while still a young mare and she enjoyed such immediate success that her daughter Cotehele House followed her.  All told, Eight Carat bred five Group One winners while residing in New Zealand (Octagonal, Mouawad, Kaapstad, Diamond Lover and Marquise) as well as becoming ancestress of the likes of the Group One winners Viscount, Tristalove, Viking Ruler, De Beers and Shower Of Roses.

Cotehele House’s breeding career in Australasia proved nearly as fruitful as that of her dam.  One of her early foals was the winning Imposing filly Theme Song, who would become the dam of the NZ Group One-winning Danehill filly Emerald Dream.  Before Emerald Dream was bred, though, Cotehele House herself visited Danehill in his first season and the result was the five-time Group One winner Danewin, champion three-year-old of Australia in 1994/’95.  Unsurprisingly Cotehele House went back to Danehill in 1995 – and Commands was the result.

Commands achieved the rare feat of winning at weight-for-age as a two-year-old, taking the Group Three Missile Stakes at Rosehill over 1100m in the last week of the season, which was his third win from four starts as a juvenile.  That preparation continued into the spring of his three-year-old season and a most rewarding preparation it was too, culminating in a close third in one of the greatest ever runnings of the Caulfield Guineas, in which he was narrowly beaten by Redoute’s Choice and Testa Rossa, with another future star sire, Pins, back in fifth.

In the autumn of his three-year-old season, Commands further emphasized his merit with an agonizingly narrow defeat in Sydney’s premier sprint, the Galaxy (Group One) over 1100m at Randwick, in which he was beaten a short half-head by Black Bean, with the likes of Padstow, Toledo, Guineas, Magic Music and Miss Pennymoney in his wake.

A powerful bay horse, Commands thus retired to stud as a very exciting prospect and he certainly has not disappointed.  To date he is the sire of four Group One winners.  His first scorer at the highest level was his first-crop son Undue, a top-class sprinter whose victories include the Doomben 10,000 (1350m) at Doomben and the Oakleigh Plate (1100m) at Caulfield.  From his second crop came Paratroopers, winner of the All-Aged Stakes (1400m) at Randwick.  Next in line came Russeting, winner last season of the Tattersall’s Winter Stakes (1400m) at Eagle Farm, while his next crop contained Purple, twice a winner last season at the highest level courtesy of her victories in the Storm Queen Stakes (2000m) at Rosehill and the Queensland Oaks (2400m) at Eagle Farm.

Impressive though this haul of Group One victories may be, it does not really quite do justice to Commands’ position in the Australian stallion ranks.  He is as much synonymous for the sheer volume of good winners which he sires as he is for the cream of any particular crop.  It is not an oversimplification to say that he just keeps coming up with city winners, week in and week out, all over Australia.  Last season he finished sixth in the General Sires’ Table with progeny earnings of over $6.7 million and seventh in terms of number of individual stakes winners sired (eight), but second by individual winners (124) and second by races won (222 – only just behind Encosta De Lago’s total of 227, and that despite being represented by 53 fewer individual runners than Encosta De Lago).

One could hardly ask for a more solid record of achievement than that posted by Commands since he retired to stud in 2000.  On that basis, and on the basis that his is a pedigree which could hold its head high anywhere in the world, Commands looks sure to succeed in Japan.