First-season sire focus: Rio de la Plata

Promising first runners suggest more is yet to come for this top-class perfomer

As a top-class juvenile in a vintage year for star performers, much could be expected of Rio de la Plata when his first crop debuted this year.

He himself had triumphed in the G1 Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere, having come within a whisker of breaking the juvenile track record at Newmarket’s July course, scored in the G2 Vintage Stakes and run New Approach close in the G1 National Stakes, before finishing fourth in a vintage renewal of the Dewhurst Stakes behind New Approach, Fast Company and Raven’s Pass, with Dark Angel among those in arrears.

Having trained on into a G1 performer at three, Rio de la Plata continued to improve with age, scoring a G1 double as a five-year-old, before adding three further G1-placed performances to his tally at six.

Therefore, it is reasonable to expect that the 11 first-crop winners Rio de la Plata celebrated last season were just the start of a flurry of success that will be consolidated as they continue in their training.

Aiming For Rio, who became her sire’s first runner when debuting at Chantilly in April, got Rio de la Plata off the mark in style when she made all to score by three and a half lengths over five and a half furlongs at Cagnes-Sur-Mer in early May.

The filly hacked up a month later in a conditions contest at Deauville, this time triumphing by five lengths and subsequently attracting the attention of Godolphin, who campaigned her sire. It was in the famous royal blue colours that she ran at Royal Ascot, beaten only four and a half lengths in the Chesham Stakes.

After Aiming For Rio’s flamboyant start, Rio de la Plata’s winners flowed regularly, if not quite in a flood. September was a particular high point with three eye-catching maiden winners including Maldonado at Epsom for Charlie Appleby, Do It In Rio for Eoghan O’Neill at Tours in France, and the filly Thais for Pascal Bary at Saint-Cloud.

Thais, a half-sister to the dual G3 winner Trixia, impressed connections so much that she was pitched straight into G1 company to contest the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere, won by her sire in 2007. Although the race proved a step too far for her, Thais went on to finish a close third in the G3 Prix Miesque at the beginning of November.

Other winners of note included Alcazar, a maiden winner at Newcastle for David Simcock in June, and Ocean Air who triumphed at Leicester in August for James Tate in the colours of Saeed Manana.

As befits their teak-tough sire who held his own top form for several seasons, there is much to look forward to with Rio de la Plata’s progeny, and with bigger crops to come there is every chance of the stallion building on his successful start.

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