Thoroughbred breeding fashion can become fickle and at times overly commercial in its operation. Many breeders and buyers of bloodstock tend to become far too narrowly focused on one or two sire lines when looking for the next star to race in their colours. Consequently, when emerging sire lines from total outcrosses of the in vogue bloodlines begin to produce top level stakes winners, and then bred to the existing “fashionable bloodlines”, these lines develop into legitimate options for breeders to patronise. A fine example of this phenomenon is the great German bred sire Monsun.
German breeding has always emphasised soundness and stamina. Two year old races are not the more lucrative nor are they highly regarded races in the German pattern racing system. Races from one mile up to over two miles for three year olds and older are considered as the prime tests for thoroughbreds in Germany. Many of these stoutly bred horses have ventured away from the homeland to test their mettle against the elite thoroughbreds in major racing jurisdictions, with an increasing amount of success. What began as a trickle of success in the 1960’s and 70’s, has become a flood of major stakes winners around the world in the past twenty-five years.
A fine product of the strict and rigorous breeding program of the German thoroughbred industry, Monsun was bred in 1990 by Gestut Isarland. Monsun was by Konigsstuhl – Mosella by Surumu. His sire Konigsstuhl was the first, and still only, winner of the German Triple Crown. Konigsstuhl would become a three time leading sire in Germany and therefore became the prime conduit to carry on the potent line of Dschingis Khan, the sire of Konigsstuhl. This tail male line of generational German breeding was the prime source of speed to enhance the stout staying ability of German bred thoroughbreds. This tail male line descends from the great sire Swynford, through Blandford to English Triple Crown winner Bahram, followed by Persian Gulf, Tamerlane to Dschingis Khan.
As the dam of Monsun, Mosella brings in another of the finest German sire lines in existence. Her sire Surumu is a six time leading sire in Germany and has established a strong tail male line of his own through his sons Acatenango, Mondrian and Osorio. Surumu is also a leading broodmare sire and has had a significant influence with his daughters. Mosella is a sixth generation mare of productive German breeding from the imported Morning Breeze, a daughter of Cameronian, who came to Germany in 1938.
Monsun raced successfully in the colours of Baron Georg von Ullmann, winning twelve of twenty-four races which included double victories in the Preis von Europa and Gerling Preis, as well as the Aral-Pokal, Grosser Preis von Deutschland and the Hansa Preis. He was however only second best to the great Lando, a son of Acatenango, whenever the two met on the track. Monsun was a tenacious, sound and very honest competitor who was at his best at 2400 meters (twelve furlongs), which is the optimum distance for a classic contender. He could handle most surface conditions, with the exception of a very hard ground. Monsun did not start as a two year old, but did race from three to five, and in keeping with German racing policy, he never ran with any medication. Monsun was trained by Germany’s legendary trainer Heinz Jentzsch.
Retired following his five year old season, Monsun took up stud duty at the famous Gestut Schlenderhan, established in 1869 by Eduard von Oppenheim, which was now owned by von Ullmann. There have been many legendary thoroughbreds to come from this historic stud such as the great Oleander and Black Gold. Monsun would contribute immensely to the storied history of this great breeding establishment.
The first crop of foals sired by Monsun consisted of thirty-four named offspring, seven of which became stakes winners. This initial crop contained Samum, winner of the 2000 Deutsches Derby as well as the runner up Subiaco. Both of these stars came from Northern Dancer line mares, and so began a beautiful relationship between Monsun and mares from the world’s predominant sire line. There have been over fifty stakes winners from this particular breeding nick.
Samum would also win the group one Grosser Preis von Baden before going off to stud at Gestut Karlshof, where he would sire another German Derby winner in Kamsin, who added the Gran Preis von Baden and Rheinland-Pokal to his group one winning list. Samum was the leading sire in Germany in 2008 and has also got group one stakes winners Be Fabulous (Prix Royal Oak) and Baila Me (Preis von Europa) to his credit. Samum has two full siblings by Monsun in his brother Schiaparelli (German Derby, Deutschland Preis, Preis von Europa, Gran Premio del Jockey Club d’Oro) and his sister Salve Regina (Preis der Diana).
Subiaco had a full brother by Monsun bred in 2001 by the name of Shirocco. This very fast and game horse became one of the first Monsun offspring to display to the world the emerging brilliance of not only German bred horses but of Monsun sired horses in particular. Shirocco won the Deutsches Derby in his home country, the Gran Premio del Jockey Club in Italy, the Prix Foy twice in France, the Breeder’s Cup Turf in North America and the Coronation Cup and Jockey Club Stakes in England. Shirocco was the horse of the year in Germany in 2005. The word was spreading, Monsun can sire superior runners that can cover the classic distances against the very best.
Monsun sired top class fillies and colts in equal numbers. He crossed very well with broodmares from a wide variety of sire lines from around the world. His get tended to show their true potential as three year olds or older, in keeping with his own pedigree and racing career, but he also had a few top two year olds as well. Where most of the get of Monsun were similar was in the fact that they were sound animals that had an inherent ability to compete and stay sound for productive racing careers.
The list of world class sons of Monsun has been both impressive and prestigious. Manduro raced in the colours of von Ullmann to win the group one Prix d’Ispahan, Prince of Wales Stakes and Prix Jacques le Marois, on route top being the top ranked horse in 2007 in the world. He currently is standing at Haras du Logis in France, a division of the huge Darley Stud Group, and is off to a good start as a sire. Manduro is the sire of group one winners Charity Line (Premio Lydia Tesio, Oaks d’Italia), Ribbons (Prix Jean Romanet, Mandaean (Criterium de Saint-Cloud), and Braco Forte (Jockey Club Brasileiro, Grand Prix Presidente).
As well as the aforementioned sons of Monsun there is also Le Miracle winner of the Prix du Cadran. Gentlewave took the Derby Italiano and was second to Dylan Thomas in the Irish Derby, while Getaway from the same crop won the Jockey Club Stakes in England. Irish bred Camill was a champion in the Czech Republic. Fiorente was a world traveller who had his biggest moments in Australia when he won the Melbourne Cup and the Australian Cup as well as group stakes wins in England.
Fiorente was the first of back to back winners of the prestigious Melbourne Cup sired by Monsun, the second of which was Protectionist. Protectionist had previously won group races in Germany and France before his convincing four and a half length winning performance in the Melbourne Cup.
Maxios was bred in England by the Niarchos family and raced predominantly in France. He won the Prix Thomas Bryon as a two year old, did not win in four attempts at three, and then captured three stakes victories as a four year old. Maxios blossomed at five winning the group two Prix d’Harcourt and then a pair of group one races the Prix d’Ispahan and the Prix du Moulin de Longchamps. He is currently standing in Germany at Gestut Fahrhof to large books of quality mares. Eager breeders are awaiting his first crop of foals which will come to the races in 2017.
Novellist won group one races in England, France, Germany and Italy. He was bred in Ireland by Dr. Christoph Berglar and won nine of his eleven races, with one second placing thrown in. Novellist won the Gran Premio del Jockey Club in Italy, Oppenhiem-Union Rennen and Fruhjahrs-Preis in Germany as a three year old. At four, Novellist made the world stand up and take notice when he captured the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes in course record time at Ascot, the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud in France, and the Grosser Preis von Baden and the Grosser Preis der Badischen Unternehmer in Germany. He was retired to begin stud duty in 2014 at the Shadai Stallion Station in Hokkaido Japan.
Other sons of Monsun to make a splash in racing have been Lauro (Sky Classic Stakes, second in the United Nations Handicap), Speedmaster (Prix Vicomtesse Vigier), Axxos (Union-Rennen, second in the Grand Prix de Paris), Network (Union-Rennen), Ocovango (Prix Greffulhe), Almandin (Grosser Preis der Badischen Unterehmer) and Arcadio (Grosser Preis Mercedes-Benz, Pferdewetten de-Trophy).
A look at the daughters of Monsun will find a wonderful collection of top class racers. Guadalupe won the Oaks d’Italia, Salve Regina is a full sister to both Samum and Schiaparelli. Salve Regina would become the third group one stakes winner in the family when she captured the Preis der Diana, which is commonly referred to as the German Oaks. Amarette won the same race two years later, while Anna Monda scored in the Premio Vittorio di Capua and German 1000 Guineas the year later, giving Monsun more classic winning daughters.
From the 2002 crop of Monsun foals came two more grade/group one stakes winning fillies. Floriot won the Premio Lydia Tesio, and Royal Highness took the Beverly D Stakes and the Prix de Malleret.
Quelle Amore won the Schwarzgold-Rennen. Silasol was victorious in the Prix Marcel Boussac at two and the Prix Saint-Alary at three. Silasol was also third to the great Treve in the Prix de Diane, the French Oaks. La Luna De Miel won the Orchid Stakes, Kalla annexed the Prix Minerve, and Arganta was the horse of the year in both Slovakia and the Czech Republic.
Stacelita is an almost black daughter of Monsun who would win six group one races in a very productive racing career in the top echelon of the world. As a three year old, Stacelita won the Prix Saint-Alary, Prix de Diane and the Prix Vermeille in France. She followed up this with victory in the group one Prix Jean Romanet and second place finishes in the Nassau Stakes and Prix de l’Opera. At five Stacelita came to the USA and won the Beverly D Stakes and the Flower Bowl Invitational. She was named as the champion turf older female for 2011.
Estimate was gifted to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II by the Aga Khan IV for her eightieth birthday, and would turn out to be a truly wonderful birthday present for the monarch. Estimate made only one start as two year old finishing far back. However in her three year old debut, Estimate won a maiden race at twelve furlongs and then captured the Queen’s Vase at Royal Ascot against colts. A year later the daughter of Monsun then won the Sagaro Stakes and the prestigious Ascot Gold Cup, earning her the 2013 Cartier Champion Stayer Award. Estimate returned for a campaign as a five year old winning the Doncaster Cup.
Monsun has had an impact on the breeding scene as a sire of stakes producing broodmares. The returns on this aspect of his stud career are still in the early stages, but there is great optimism based on what has been seen from his daughters as broodmares so far. Sea The Moon won the Deutsches Derby last year as well as three other stakes races from five lifetime starts. He finished second in the Grosser Preis von Baden sustaining an injury which necessitated his retirement to stand at Lanwades Stud in England. Sea The Moon was considered as one of, if not the best three year old of the year. His sire is Cartier Horse of the Year Sea The Stars, a current hot sire in breeding today, while his dam Sanwa is a full sister to Samum, Schiaparelli and Salve Regina.
Pastorius, by Soldier Hollow – Princess Li by Monsun, would also win the Deutsches Derby and add the group one Grosser Dallmayr-Preis as a three year old and the Prix Ganay at four. Pastorius has a full brother named Point Blank who is a graded stakes winner himself. Colour Vision by Rainbow Quest – Give Me Five by Monsun is the winner of 2012 Ascot Gold Cup, the year before Estimate’s famous victory. Other top stakes winners from Monsun sired broodmares so far are Night Magic (Grosser Preis von Baden, Preis der Diana), Lucky Speed (Deutsches Derby) and Sortilege (Premio Lydia Tesio).
The success of the get of Monsun forced the world of Thoroughbred breeding to stand up and take notice. His stud fee would rise consistently throughout his stud career and as it did so, higher quality mares were then sent to him. He led the German sire list four times, but as the word of his pre-potent abilities spread, so did his offspring around to various racing jurisdictions. He had many of his top performing sons and daughters scattered worldwide, which would make for Monsun to be on many top twenty sire lists, with fewer numbers than the leading sires within the various lists, but not enough to capture leading sire crowns.
Monsun’s eyesight became poor as he aged, eventually resulting in him to become totally blind when he was nineteen. He lived until he was twenty-two, dying from an acute neurological disease. Monsun had a regal presence about about him, and he was a kind, proud and engaging horse who trusted his handlers with the utmost faith and respect. Respect was returned to the great stallion from all who had the pleasure to know him.
As of today, Monsun has sired well over 15% stakes winners from total born foals. This outstanding achievement and beyond is only attained by a select few in history, and is certainly greater than the district of most of the stallions today that are acclaimed as superior. The 15% number can actually rise as there are many sons and daughters of Monsun still to come, his final crop being two year olds this year. With the recent group/graded stakes victories of Triple Threat, Shimrano, Manatee, Bathyrhon, Excess Knowledge, Arab Spring and more, as well as the inconclusive fact that Monsun’s progeny tend to get better as they age, we are likely to see more stakes winners by this remarkable sire still to come.
I have a personal appreciation for Monsun and would dearly like to see his influence represented in North America on a larger scale. His ability to infuse soundness, durability and stamina is sorely needed. He has proven beyond any doubt that he crosses very well with North American bloodlines. His blood would be a shot in the arm to breeders looking to breed classic horses. His sons are becoming good stallions, although he has not had a true heir to his crown, and his daughters are proving to be excellent producers of runners. Only time will tell if he does get an heir or two to continue the male line or grandsons and granddaughters to produce sires as well.
Monsun is greatly missed. He is a shining light to the world of what the German breeding industry is capable of producing. This industry is very small in numbers, as compared to the America, England, Australia, Ireland, France etc. However one cannot escape from the fact that Monsun is a genuine equine superstar in the breeding world.
Monsun was a very special horse. Let us hope his legacy continues.
(Photo courtesy of Gestut Schlenderhan)