Clash of the Titans Citation and Shannon that Wasn’t

 The Race

The prospect of a clash between the champions Citation and Shannon was mouth watering. Shannon an Australian import and Citation the latest American Triple Crown winner and both were in town. The time was December 1948 and both Citation and Shannon  were to compete in the Tanforan Handicap over 9f.  Tanforan is just outside San Francisco and, at the time, best known for its race track. The track was the home to both Phar Lap and Seabiscuit at one time during their careers. The race itself was one of the most important and richest races around.

 Contender 1: Citation (Bull Lea-Hydroplane)


His breeding showed Carbine as a distant relative and the 3yo was sweeping all before him. He was the winner of the Triple Crown (Kentucky Derby (10f), Preakness Stakes (9f) and the Belmont Stakes (11/2 miles)). Just to show what he could do; he won the Jockey Club Gold Cup over 2 miles beating the best of the older horses by 7 lengths.

He was going into the Tanforan with the record of his 3yo season to date as 18 starts with 17 wins; the last 12 in succession.  A rare walkover in the Pimlico Special (now a G3) did nothing to help  his preparation if he needed it. . For more riches and fame, he went west.

 Contender 2: Shannon (Midstream-Blandford)

Shannon was a top-class racehorse in Australia. He had his major wins in the Sire’s Produce Stakes, Hobartville, Epsom, Theo Marks, and George Main. In the George Main, carrying 9st 3lbs, he set an Australasian record for a mile at 1.341/2


American, Mr N S McCarthy, purchased Shannon and he did his future racing in  California. He got off to a slow start but at the time of the Tanforan he was in the best form of his life. His last 4 starts were 3 wins and 1 third (beaten by nk, h).  In the three wins he equaled the world record for 9f (1.473/5), and a week later equaled the world record for 10f (1.594/5). This was the first time any horse had broken 2 minutes in America. In his last start he set a track record in the 9f San Francisco Hcp of 1.504/5 at Tanforan. Even as a rising 8yo, he was certainly rearing to go.

So, What Happened?

Behind the scenes his owner was negotiating sale of the horse to Spendthrift Farms. The deal was finalized at $300,000 (about $7.5m today). There was, however a clause which said the McCarthy could withdraw Shannon if he felt the weights allotted to Citation and Shannon were unfair to his horse. The handicapper allotted Citation 8st 11lbs (3lb> wfa) and Shannon 9st 1 lb (1lb>wfa). McCarthy thought the difference not enough and scratched the horse. Disappointment was universal. Californians though it was another East Coast trick to prevent their horse form beating an East Coast upstart. Just like the obstacles put in the way Seabiscuit v War Admiral some years earlierThe race went ahead, Citation won  and Shannon went off to Spendthrift Farms to begin his new career.


Well, what could have happened? Firstly, Citation went on to record the most money won in America that year; Shannon was second. So in one sense evenly matched.  Most critics believe the young colt on the way up would beat the old champion presumably on the way down. However, those in the Shannon cheer squad would remind those critics of the result of the T J Smith Stakes (6f) in 2009. A champion, Takeover Target, then a 9yo blitzed a G1 field which contained 6 G1 winners by 23/4 L and broke the race record. Never under rate champions -even against other champions.

Inglis Classic Yearling Sales 2021


Inglis Classic Yearling Sales 2021

The Inglis Classic Yearling Sales heralds the start of the Inglis selling season. There are 803 lots on offer from 109 sires. In 2020, I set down some hints on how to find a good stayer at this venue. This year I have concentrated on looking at the progeny on offer from two of the best available. Savabeel and Tavistock have the highest current credentials to take on the mantle of best local sire of stayers. Other sires may produce a good stayer but the data is rather sparse to find one from a pedigree examination.. The information about the Savabeel and Tavistock colts in the Inglis Classic Yearling Sales is more complete.

Savabeel (Zabeel-Savannah Express)

This horse already has 102 SW with 21 G1 on the sires’ side of the pedigree. His SW are evenly split; 50 males and 52 females. Savabeel’s credentials are confirmed through Sangster (Savabeel – Quinta Special) with wins in the Victoria Derby (2500m) and Auckland Cup (3200m). There are four lots on offer all with PRI rankings between 77 to 100. As the broodmare sire (Redwood) of the lowest ranked PRI, Lot 517, has no SW so we shall concentrate on the other three.

Savabeel -super sire

Lot 69 (Savabeel – Kansas), and Lot 343 (Savabeel – Starry) both have O’Reilly as their broodmare sire. The cross Savabeel x O’Reilly has to be one of the hottest in town. 19 SW with four G1 winners including Savaria (NZ Oaks) and Costume (Kelt Capital) are two of these.

Lot 14 (Savabeel – Got It) with Pins as the broodmare sire is another excellent cross producing 13 SW. Brambles (Queensland Derby) is one of three G1 winners.

These horse score highly enough to be considered as potential SW.

Tavistock (Montjeu – Upstage)   

Tavistock has started his stud career well. He has 23 SW with 7 G1. There appears to be some sex bias towards males with 17 and 6 females. There are three Lots on offer, all colts. His G1 winners include two Victorian Derby winners Tarzino and Johnny Get Angry.

Tavistock-young sire on the way up

The cross of Tavistock x Thorn Park (Lot 7) and Tavistock x Flying Spur (Lot 148) have not yet produced a SW. Therefor we shall look closely at Lot 384 (Tavistock – Tipilk) with Volksraad the broodmare sire. Tavistock x Volksraad  produced the G1 winner Volkstok’n’barrell. He won three G1 which included the Rosehill Guineas. Lot 384 has a PRI Score of 92.3%. Whereas this is an excellent rating, the result of an examination of the six generation female line (6GFI) is something to get excited about. The index rates 5.03% which is about average for a city class field. However, the quality of some of her ancestors is exceptional as shown in the Table.

So with a female line like this there is always a chance of a champion showing up – but your odds are just over 50/1.


MM Yearling Sales Catalogue 2021

MM Yearling Sales Catalogue 2021

The MM Yearling Sales Catalogue lists 1273 yearlings. It It will soon be underway with a plethora of young unproven sires, some sires on their way up and some on their way down. I won’t attempt to review them all, even if I had the space. I have carried out a pedigree analysis of a number of interesting horses and set down four that I believe will be superior race horses.

Lot 245 (b f Fastnet Rock-Dreams and Wishes)

Fastnet Rock 19th in World Sires 

Fastnet Rock is rated 19 in the world sires’ premiership, and Galileo is 12 in broodmare sires (by earnings). The combination has produced international winners in America, Europe and Australasia. The score is 20 SW with 8xG1 (5f ,3c) and their offspring have won the Epsom, AJC and Victorian Oaks.  There is no reason to suppose that this filly could not add to the list. The PRI analysis shows an excellent meshing of sires and certainly points to a SW. Her female line goes right back to Rainbird the winner of the 1945 Melbourne Cup

Lot 461 (b c Lord Kanaloa – Laguna Azzurra)

Lord Kanaloa breaks track record at Nakayama

Whenever you see a horse sired by the world’s number 2 sire its useful to take notice. This horse is a three-quarter brother to Tagaloa who won the G1 2020 Blue Diamond Stakes. Unfortunately, he broke down in the spring before he could really show what he was capable of. Lord Kanaloa was a 6xG1 winner himself and was a sprinter-miler. However, his progeny has excelled over more distance. Almond Eye, his best horse, has 8xG1 and the tag of world champion 3yo filly to her credit in addition to two Japan Cups (2400m).

Lot 518 (b f No Nay Never-Ma Mara)

No Nay Never wins G1 in France

Twelve months ago, I expected No Nay Never to do big things. Well, he has been a little slow getting off the mark in Australia although he has increased his SW from 18 to 25 internationally. He has SW winners in USA, UK, Ireland, France, Italy and NZ. These horses have won in the range 1000 -1600m. So, if you are looking for a sprinter this could be your go. No Nay Never’s best horse is Ten Sovereigns who added the July Cup (probably Europe’s most prestigious sprint race) to his SW collection last year. His dam, Seeking Solace, is by Exceed and Excel which makes Lot 518 a three-quarter sister to Ten Sovereigns. With a PRI rating of 95.8%, he is well into Black type territory

Lot 911 (ch c Written Tycoon – Tuscan Sling)

      Written Tycoon-11 G1 winners

Written Tycoon has gone from almost obscurity to a super sire in a few years. His progeny like winning the big races and there have been 11 individual G1 SW. Essentially a sire of sprinters, none of his G1 winners has won beyond 1600m. Tusan Sling is a daughter of Danehill Dancer, ranked number 20 in the list of the world’s leading broodmare sires. His female progeny are very versatile and love throwing classic winners. Epsom Oaks, English Derby, Irish Derby, and Hong Kong Derby -the list goes on. Dosage suggests Lot 911 to be a fast sprinter.

However, I believe that although he may be able to win such races as a young horse, his career could extend into the classic distances, that is until he runs out of puff. The cross of Written Tycoon with Danehill Dancer mares has produced three SWMusic Magnate won the G1 Doomben 10,000, Written Beauty won the G3 Red Roses Stakes and It is Written won three listed races all over 1200m. PRI of 92.1% suggest the mating is genetically sound

There are plenty of excellent yearlings In the MM Sales Catalogue 2021. The task is finding the right ones at the right price.