As you’ve heard us say before more than once, wherever possible we prefer to send a young mare to a proven stallion for one or more of her first couple of matings, in order to give a breeder the best possible line on his mare’s ability as a producer (rather than breeding her to a succession of first-year sires that might all flop; if that’s the case and her foals don’t do much running, you wouldn’t know whether to attribute that to her contribution or to that of those failed stallions). In the case of the beautifully-bred former Juddmonte filly Paw Prints, she will visit Darley’s highly versatile and highly proven Midshipman for her “first mate” in 2023 (ha!).
Midshipman is one of the most underrated sires in the country currently — his 41 stakes winners from 694 foals aged 3 and up translates to an excellent rate of 6%, while his 1.35 AEI is well above his mates’ 1.18 CI, so he’s moving his mares way up in achieving those impressive stakes results. He also has a 17% black-type horses to runners ratio, and he had more black-type horses in 2022 than any stallion standing for under $100k. Those results were good enough to earn Midshipman a stud fee bump from $10,000 to $20,000 for 2023, and we believe he still represents excellent value at that price. An Eclipse Champion 2YO, Midshipman is just about the most successful sire son of Unbridled’s Song — which he might owe to being a much more average-sized horse than some of the other leggy, hulking sons of UBS whose brilliant speed didn’t always come through in the breeding shed.
Paw Prints herself is a half-sister to the black-type placed, 5x winner Vanbrugh by another son of UBS in First Defence (another who was physically distinct from the sire himself and most of his other sire sons), as well as to the black-type placed Wessex by UBS himself. For us, those two siblings combined with Midshipman’s own success are more meaningful than the “D” rating TrueNicks gives this match — especially given that the best horse bred on the UBS/El Prado nick is a G3 winner sired by Midshipman himself, among just 11 foals of racing age he has sired from mares by sons of El Prado, 10 of which have raced and 6 of which have won (and his lone foal out of a Kitten’s Joy mare is a winner of over $75k).
There is also plenty of versatility in Paw Prints’ female family, and Midshipman will lean right into that — he campaigned successfully on dirt and synthetic, and his best runners have succeeded on all three surfaces, from juvenile sprinters through older marathoners.
Physically, this is a pretty good case of like-to-like — Midshipman is a strongly-made, long-bodied horse with plenty of substance, and hopefully he’ll bulk up the similarly-shaped but more feminine Paw Prints a bit, while she might contribute a slightly straighter hind leg to their foal.
And that foal should be plenty fast and plenty versatile!