European Champion juvenile Teofilo’s racing career was cut short due to injury before he had the chance to prove his greatness. Retired to Kildangan Stud, it did not take him long to become a valuable asset to the Darley roster.
His first-crop son Parish Hall emulated his sire when landing the G1 Dewhurst Stakes in his initial season to race. The following year, Light Heavy ran an excellent third in the Irish Derby, while his second-crop sons Loch Garman, Trading Leather and Havana Gold were all winning juvenile Group races.
On the back of this start, Ballygallon Stud made the decisions to send the Mark Of Esteem mare Contrary to visit Teofilo in 2013.
The resultant progeny was named Irishcorrespondent and things didn’t go always to plan for the strapping colt.
Belinda Strudwick, owner of Ballygallon Stud said “As a two-year-old, Irishcorrespondent took time to come to hand and then picked up a virus so had to come back from France to our farm”
“He looked awful, it was such a shame as he had been a total athlete from a very early stage. He recuperated on the farm, where we got him back riding and pre-training before sending him to Mick Halford in County Kildare.”
Irishcorrespondent soon became one of the leaders of his crop, winning on debut in April at Leopardstown by three and a half lengths and then at the Curragh by four and a half lengths in mid-May. Upped in class less than two weeks later in the G1 Irish 2,000 Guineas, he ran an excellent race for such an inexperienced colt to finish third behind Churchill and Thunder Snow.
After a trip to Royal Ascot, Irishcorrespondent’s career changed tack and he was sold to race in Hong Kong in a deal brokered by John McCormack.
“It was a difficult decision, selling Irishcorrespondent”, Belinda remembered, “but for a small breeding operation it was the right thing to do. To do well in Hong Kong you have to be both sound and have a brilliant mentality, both of which described Irishcorrespondent”
Renamed Exultant and sent to the stable of Tony Cruz, he has proved to be one of the best performers in Hong Kong, winning and placing in a further 14 Group races.
Winning his third start for new connections in December 2017, Exultant finished his first season with a brace of G3 triumphs in the Queen Mother Memorial Cup and Premier Plate, with a G1 second to Pakistan Star (Shamardal) separating the two.
It was in the following 2018/19 season that he reached the very top, winning the G1 Hong Kong Vase in December, the G1 Hong Kong Gold Cup the following February, and the G1 Champions & Chater Cup in May.
Given a 120 rating in the World’s Best Racehorse Rankings for his 2019 exploits, Exultant was crowned both Champion middle distance and Champion stayer in Hong Kong. Timeform awarded him a rating of 126, the best mark for a runner sired by Teofilo.
Exultant lines up in this Sunday’s G1 Queen Elizabeth II Cup at Sha Tin, a race in which he was second last year, looking to add to his impressive tally of over €6 million in prize money. In a vintage crop for Irish breeders, Exultant sits second only to Thunder Snow by career money earned, ahead of superb performers Blue Point, Stradivarius, Churchill and Battaash.
Belinda Strudwick concluded “He has been every breeder's dream and hugely exciting for our farm”
“I originally bought his third dam Jumilla in Keeneland, and she has proved to be amazing for the stud. Her unraced Rainbow Quest daughter Crystal Gaze, despite having a middle-distance pedigree, has produced two top-class five-furlong performers in Caspian Prince and Spirit Quartz as well the very promising 2019 maiden winner Tuscan Gaze”
“Crystal Gaze’s Mark Of Esteem foal Contrary could also have been up to that level but she suffered a serious tendon injury after winning well in France. We retired her to the farm and her first four foals have all won, including Exultant. We also have a Churchill yearling filly out of her, a filly foal by Sea The Stars and she has just been covered by exciting young stallion Blue Point”
“We also had Chilli Spice, a Manduro half-sister to Exultant, who we sold last November at Goffs to Horizon Bloodstock. We have kept her two-year-old daughter by Raven’s Pass, she is in training with Joseph O’Brien”