Commands sires trans-Tasman G1 double

Memories of Darley’s former great revived by Manuel and Melody Belle

A second successive weekend Stakes treble in Sydney and Melbourne had Godolphin’s Australian team pondering the coming autumn carnivals with renewed hope and confidence on Saturday.

Group One targets of Blue Diamonds and Golden Slippers for the two-year-olds Lyre, and Bivouac, an Australian Cup for Avilius, a Doncaster for the honourably-beaten Best Of Days and a Canterbury Stakes for Kementari who racked up another G1 Caulfield second.

But as autumn schedules took shape, a pair of G1 winners prompted reflection on one of the finest Darley stallions to have stood in Australia.

Manuel, the winner of Saturday’s G1 CF Orr Stakes at Caulfield, and Melody Belle, who claimed a fourth G1 in the Waikato Sprint at Te Rapa in New Zealand are both by Commands, as is Badajoz who won at Warwick Farm on the same day.

Bred by Arrowfield Stud, Commands was a brother to champion three-year-old Danewin, being a son of Danehill out of the imported My Swanee mare Cotehele House, a daughter of the inimitable Eight Carat. 

Regarded in his time as the best value sire in the country, and a stallion who, over a decade, became Australia’s greatest supplier of winners, Commands died prematurely in July, 2014, having been acquired by Darley with the purchase in 2008 of the racing and breeding interests of his owners Jack and Bob Ingham.  

Commands retired with a record of four wins, the best of them at G3 level, and five placings from 15 starts, and as a result, he had to become a champion stallion the hard way – by siring winners.

He stood his first season at the Ingham’s Woodlands Stud in 2000 at $10,000.

From the 90 live foals, he sired in that first crop, 66 won races.

His first two crops also produced the G1 winners Undue and Paratroopers and as a result his service fee had risen to $30,000 by 2004, doubling again three years later.

For nine successive seasons, Commands ranked in the top 10 for number of wins on the Australian general sires list, maintaining a place in the top 50 for three years after his death.

His most recent winners took Commands overall record to 966 winners, at an excellent ratio of 73.4 per cent, with 78 stakes winners, 12 of them at G1, led by the star filly Appearance and Melody Belle who have won four each.

Commands is represented at Darley’s Australian studs by his sons, the G1 winners, Epaulette and Holler.

Among Saturday’s Godolphin winners, meanwhile, is a pair of two-year-olds who appear to have the talent to match their pedigrees.

Bivouac, who won the Listed Darley Lonhro Plate at Warwick Farm is out of the More Than Ready mare Dazzler, making him a three-quarter brother to the dual-G1 winner Guelph (Exceed And Excel).

Dazzler’s dam Camarilla won the G1 AJC Sires’ Produce Stakes and also produced the G2 winner Ghibellines (Shamardal).

Her dam Camarena achieved the rare G1 double of the Queensland Derby and Oaks and has produced seven foals to race, all of them winners.

Lyre is by Lonhro from Erato, a half-sister by Street Cry to the G1 winner and Darley stallion Impending and to the good filly Epidemic who are also by Lonhro.