Champions Series Stars to stud: Twilight Son
7 Dec 2016
In the latest of our weekly series, we look at the past, present and future of the leading sprinter
Twilight Son’s finest hour came in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes, where rivals were left with admiring glances. Picture: Racingfotos.com
Twilight Son raced ten times, exclusively over six furlongs. He won on six occasions, including twice at Group 1 level, and accumulated his connections £725,000 in prize money.
A son of champion sprinter Kyllachy, he was not unfancied for his only his start as a two-year-old in mid-August and scored with a degree of comfort at Salisbury.
He began his campaign as a three-year-old in handicap company – winning off marks of 77, 83 and 94 at Thirsk, Newmarket and York. Having been raised to a mark of 104, he was elevated to Group 1 company for the Sprint Cup at Haydock and preserved his unbeaten record with a short-head victory over Strath Burn.
Twilight Son met with defeat for the first time in his career next time out in the QIPCO British Champions Sprint at Ascot on Champions Day – but in beating all bar champion sprinter Muhaarar, who was winning his fourth successive Group 1 race, had probably never run better.
Circumstances mostly contrived against Twilight Son in his final season, as a four-year-old, in 2016.
His stable was out of sorts when he was below par on his return at York, while conditions were faster than ideal for him when he was well held in the Darley July Cup and QIPCO British Champions Sprint. Also, on the latter occasion, he got upset in the stalls and raced too freely.
However, it was not all doom and gloom – Twilight Son beating top-class from all over the world when landing the Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot in June. He had an official rating of 117 at his peak.
His Diamond Jubilee Stakes victory under Ryan Moore at Royal Ascot in 2016. The race drew runners from around the world and, not run at an end-to-end gallop on tacky ground, produced an exciting blanket finish.
Twilight Son took a keen grip, was never far from the leaders and hit the front 50 yards from the line. He prevailed narrowly by a neck from Gold-Fun, trained in Hong Kong, with Signs Of Blessing, from France, a further short head away in third.
Magical Memory, a familiar rival of his throughout his career, was another head behind in fourth, with Suedois a short head further back in fifth.
For Henry Candy the success was extra sweet – it was his first Royal Ascot winner since 1979.
What they said
Henry Candy said after Twilight Son had been retired: “He was brilliant. Not many horses win two Group One races and he was a pleasure to have. He was the most lovely horse and at Cheveley Park he will enjoy himself for the rest of his life. He was by Kyllachy, who I trained, and I would very much love to train some of his offspring.”
He added: “I used to think he was a better horse when the race perhaps didn’t go his way and he had to get out of trouble. His last race at Ascot obviously didn’t go to plan, when unfortunately the horse drawn next to him had a complete and utter wobbly and was withdrawn. Twilight Son ended up in the stalls a long time and got hot and bothered. Then he raced far too free early and never settled. It wasn’t him at all and I was very disappointed.”
Where he will stand
Cheveley Park in Newmarket. It is the oldest stud in existence, with evidence of horse breeding on the site for more than a thousand years. Several monarchs have owned Cheveley Park, including King Athelstan, King Canute, Edward the Confessor, William the Conqueror, Edward I and Edward II. David and Patricia Thompson purchased it in 1975 when it was in receivership and had dwindled down to 270 acres. Against industry advice, they stood their Gimcrack winner, Music Boy at the stud in 1977. He became leading first season sire and a life size bronze of him stands in a stud that is thriving again and now comprises just under 1000 acres. Cheveley Park bought into Twilight Son as a three-year-old before he had claimed either of his Group 1 prizes. His fee for 2017 is £10,000
What should we expect from his offspring?
Speed, speed and more speed. Twilight Son raced exclusively over six furlongs and his sire, Kyllachy, was champion sprinter in 2002. His grandsire is Pivotal, winner of the King’s Stand Stakes and Nunthorpe in 1996.
A fine stamp of a horse, his offspring will not lack for substance if they take after him. Twilight Son raced only once as a two-year-old but that is not to say he will help produce plenty of sharp juveniles. He had winning form on fast going but was well served by some give underfoot.