Written 2001

It seems to be that every season, the Denise’s Joy family throws up another good horse.  That this alone is worth remarking upon is true, but there are inner workings that make the family worth further scrutiny.

A grand daughter of the taproot mare Holiday Scene (family 16C), Denise’s Joy was by the good (French bred) English miler, Seventh Hussar out of the stakeswinning racemare, Fun For All.

Under the guidance of T.J. Smith, Denise’s Joy was the consummate racehorse, possessing the precociousness to win the 1000m Widden Stakes and the stamina to claim the 1976 VRC Oaks over 2500 m.  In total she won thirteen races and nearly $300,000, which was big prize money in the 70’s.   In the Golden Slipper she was beaten by only one horse, her stablemate Toy Show.  The worthy 5/2 favourite, Toy Show was a brilliant two year old, however Denise’s Joy was able to turn the tables on her rival at three years by defeating her (the hot favourite) in the 1600 m Moonee Valley Stakes at the generous odds of 15 to 1.

Denise’s Joy’s pedigree is very intense, being inbred to middle distance /stayer Owen Tudor 4m x 4f and to the top miler, Fair Trial 5m, 5f x 5f, 4m.  These delightfully well sex-balanced patterns are probably responsible for Denise’s Joy’s precocity.

Owen Tudor and Fair Trial also complimented each other in that Fair Trial’s sire Fairway was a full brother to Pharos, Owen Tudor’s damsire.

At stud, Denise’s Joy repeated a pattern not uncommon in great race mares – she produced nothing remotely as good as herself, however her daughters have gone on to reboot the genes.

Pretty Polly, the darling of the English Turf at the turn of the century, is another example, having produced four fillies and six colts, all very ordinary racehorses.  Her daughters produced another 24 fillies and set her up as the foundation of another strong dynasty. 

Mumtaz Mahal, the ‘flying filly’ of the ‘20’s in England went a similar way, having produced several acceptable racehorses but none within coo-ee of her ability.  Her line is now one of  the best known in the world. 

Pebbles, who included the One Thousand Guineas Stakes in Newmarket and in the following year, the Breeder’s Turf Cup at Aqueduct amongst her long list of good race wins, was also an ordinary broodmare.  Having only gone to stud in the late eighties, the jury is still out on whether her daughters can bring her great genes back with a flourish.

Closer to home, the champion racemare Flight was an ordinary producer, with four to race for one winner. Her daughter, the imaginatively named Flight’s Daughter, was however an outstanding broodmare, producing the multiple Group winners Sky High (29 wins including the Golden Slipper, VRC Derby AJC Epsom etc) and Sky Line (Golden Slipper, AJC Derby etc) from three foals before dying prematurely.

Champion Australian 2 Year Old Wenona Girl (a regular opponent of Flight’s grandson Sky High) was another to follow this pattern with a lone stakeswinner (Special Girl) amongst her brood. One of her other daughters however, produced the top notch performer, Kinjite.

Emancipation only produced one stakes winner, Royal Pardon. Two of her daughters have however produced stakes performers in Magneto and Masterful Lad. 

Canny Lass has at this stage produced only one stakes winner, Astute Angel and an above average performer in D’Cash from eight foals of racing age (including the current 2yo season).

Of course there have also been champion race mares who have gone on to broodmare greatness – Let’s Elope is shaping up into one example.  Diamond Lover, a Group One winning daughter of  the non-winner Eight Carat, has produced three stakes winners to-date.  A flip through the pages of the current Stallions book will unearth several more mares who appear as dams of great performers-turned stallions and who were great racemares themselves.

Back to Denise’s Joy – she was the dam of ten named foals, six raced for three winners – Western Fantasy (one win), Formidable Force (one win in South Africa) and the talented Joie Denise, who went some way towards emulating the talent shown by her mother by winning the QTC Oaks (Group 1), the Listed AJC Toy Show Quality and three stakes placings.

It is Denise’s Joy’s daughters that have made a fantastic racemare into the founder of one of Australia’s premier families.  

Joy and Fun (unraced) produced the dual Group 1 winner Euphoria (dam of stakeswinner Fleet); the Group 2 winner Christmas Tree and the Listed winner Jewel in the Crown.  Jewel in the Crown’s daughter Crowning Jewel has produced So Gorgeous, a dual Group 2 winner.

Bolt of Lightning (unraced) is dam of the Group 3 winner Jolly, in turn dam of the stakes placed Master Jolly.  She has also produced Eastern Star, a Listed winner, Record Dash (Group 1 placed) and Jewel of Night, Listed placed.

Clifton Gardens (placed) is dam of the Listed winner, Miss Minden who is dam of Miss Danehill who, like her great granddam Denise’s Joy, won the QTC Oaks.

Joyfulness (unraced) is dam of Sandridge Bay (Group 3 placed).

Joie de Vivre (unplaced) is dam of Joie de Grise, Champion 3 YO Filly of South Africa.

Joie Denise (Group 1 winner) is dam of the smart filly Joie  and the yet-to-race two-year-old Sunday Joy, a high priced yearling by Sunday Silence.

Belle Denise (unraced) has not produced a winner to-date, but as an eight year old, has plenty of time to atone for that situation.

So they are Denise’s Joy’s seven daughters – what of her three sons? Western Fantasy won one race in Sydney, Derby Haven was second in Adelaide and Formidable Force won a race in South Africa.  It appears that none went to stud.  It is interesting that of Denise’s Joy’s daughters’ stakes performed offspring only Christmas Tree, Eastern Star and Record Dash are male.

All of these three are or have been at stud, although Record Dash, who went to stud in ’91 only served 25 mares in total to produce four live foals (two of which subsequently died).  Eastern Star went to stud in 2000, serving only four mares. 

Christmas Tree, who started his stud career in Australia in 1988, was exported to New Zealand in 1993.  Without setting the decorations on fire, Christmas Tree has been a handy sire with a very respectable winners to runners rate of 67.1%.  While not producing a really top notch runner, he did get five stakes winners and eight stakes placed runners.   These days the seventeen year-old’s book numbers only a couple of mares.

What to me really ties Christmas Tree to the apparently greater prepotency of the tail-female line of his family is that, as a broodmare sire, Christmas Tree has come up in flashing lights.

To-date damsire of Catnipped, Celestial Show, the talented New Zealand mare Butterscotch and Malaysian runner Seaside Bank, Christmas Tree’s daughters also have five stakes placed runners.   Has he be able to resource the maternal strengths of the family again?

It will be interesting to see if more sires come out of this family and if so, whether they can come anywhere near close to emulating the deeds of the Denise’s Joy family’s broodmare talents.  While they may or may not turn out to be good sires, my bet is that they will make great broodmare sires.

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