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Picture: A life-size statue of Captain Al stands at Klawervlei Stud 

Sarah Whitelaw

The late Captain Al achieved some mighty numbers during his stud career. The 2000 G1 Cape Argus Guineas winner, who won ten of 17 starts, became the first South African bred stallion to sire 100 stakes winners, with Captain Al leaving behind a total of 105 black type winners. (The bay was also responsible for a further 92 stakes placed performers).

According to the esteemed website, Captain Al was Champion Sire twice in South Africa, with the son of Al Mufti heading that premiership in both 2014-2015 and 2017-2018. (Ed – pfficially he was only champion sire in 2014-2015).

A prolific source of two-year-old talent, Captain Al was South Africa’s Leading Sire of 2YOs on no fewer than eight occasions, with the half-brother to dual G1 winner Shadow Dancing topping that South African premiership in 2008-2009,2009-2010, 2010-2011, 2011-2012, 2012-2013, 2013-2014, 2014-2015, and 2015-2016.

He was the sire of a host of stars (Captain Al sired 25 G1 winners in total), including the Equus Champions Captain’s Ransom, Carry On Alice, Captain Of All, One World, Celtic Sea, Kasimir, All Is Secret, Captain’s Lover, Always In Charge and Cloth Of Cloud.

Other notable performers sired by Captain Al included Triple Crown winner Malmoos, triple G1 winner Captain America (who earned more than R6 000 000 in prize money), the Cape Guineas winners Tap O’ Noth and William Longsword, Met victor Hill Fifty Four, and Cape Fillies Guineas winners Missisippi Burning and Snowdance (his champion daughters Captain’s Ransom and Captain’s Lover also both won the Cape Fillies Guineas of their respective years).

John Freeman, who managed Captain Al throughout his remarkable career, explained the reason for the Guineas winner’s great success. “He had a very broad-based syndicate with just about all of the best breeders on board. The shareholders were passionate about him and created a wonderful vibe. Our syndicate meetings were legendary. A really superb syndicate of people and easy to work with. Captain Al was a big strong horse and very well made with good legs which he passed on to his progeny – that’s also why he is doing so well as a damsire

We called him Doctor Fix-it because most of the time when he covered mares with bad legs he was able to fix them in his foals. He was extremely fertile and had excellent libido – people don’t realise how important that is until you have a sub-fertile sire or one who cant cope with a proper book of mares

Although he started his career from a very low base his rise to fame was steady and then exploded to the point where breeders were queuing up to get to him. shares that initially were R12,000 each started selling for R700,000.

I did a comparison of the mares he covered in his fist three years compared to Jet Master, who as the winner of 7 Gr1 races was much more popular so Jet Master had a sizeable head start. He improved those early mares stud book value 10 fold and as he started getting stakes winners from those early crops breeders sent him better mares with better pedigrees.His pedigree helped a lot too. He was one of the very few sires in SA that was free of Northern Dancer blood. This made him a natural. He was inbred 3×4 to Buckpasser and his half sister Oak Cluster which was an ideal match for many of the mares in our stud book so “nick” started to appear quickly.”

No one knew Captain Al better than John Koster, who had the following to say about his great sire, “For me he was the perfect stallion in everyway. Amongst a host of other positive characteristics, he was prepotent in ….

Upgrading his mares (started off with very mediocre mares at R4 000 per service.)
He produced a stunning type that were easy to prepare for sale.
He produced soundness.
His progeny were incredibly versatile and could race over any distant. He had great fillies and great colts. Everyone in the industry across the world loved a horse by Captain Al. To cap it all, his story is one written and sent by the universe.”

Captain Al also achieved a new milestone, albeit posthumously, in 2022-2023, when he was crowned South Africa’s Leading Broodmare Sire by stakes. During the 2022-2023 season, Captain Al mares were responsible for 11 individual stakes winners who claimed 20 black type races between them. Star of the show was the mighty Princess Calla, who is dam is the Captain Al sired G2 Sceptre Stakes winner Princess Royal.South Africa’s Horse Of The Year and Champion Older Female of 2022-2023, Princess Calla won six graded races during the 2022-2023 season, with her tally headed by wins in the G1 South African Fillies Sprint, G1 Ridgemont Garden Province Stakes and G1 HKJC Champions Cup.
Captain Al also ranks as the broodmare sire of young stallions, and G1 winners, Eden Roc and Kommetdieding, Equus Champion Sandringham Summit and fellow top-level winners Gunner, Potent Power, Vernichey and Same Jurisdiction.

The latter, winner of the 2014 G1 Thekwini Stakes (beating Captain Al’s champion daughter Carry On Alice into second) and 2015 G1 Garden Province Stakes, is the dam of useful Nathaniel filly Grand Providence (winner of the 2023 Turners Cesarewitch Trial Handicap) and promising filly Clifton Bay. The latter caught the eye when winning impressively at Newbury on debut in 2023.

The influence of this wonderful stallion looks set to be felt for years to come. Not only is Captain Al the sire of proven stallions Captain Of All (whose progeny include dual G1 winner Linebacker) and William Longsword (sire of impressive recent G3 New Turf Carriers Merchants winner Dyce among others) (as well as broodmare sire of the aforementiond pair of Eden Roc and G1 Vodacom Durban July/G1 WSB Cape Town Met winner Kommetdieding), he also has a host of young stallion sons who look set to continue their sire’s legacy.

The Captain Al sired G1 Sun Met winner, and Equus Champion Older Male of 2019-2020, has gotten off to a fine start with his very early first two-year-olds having already caught the eye. Of One World’s first four runners, three have finished in the money, and, with plenty of well bred two-year-olds in the wings (not to mention the fact his progeny should only get better with age and a step up in trip), the future looks bright for Captain Al’s Met winning champion.

Captain Al also has two very exciting young sire sons in the form of Erik The Red and the latter’s very close relative Malmoos. Bred on the same Captain Al/Western Winter cross as champion Carry On Alice and Guineas winner Tap O’ Noth, Erik The Red, whose first yearlings go through the ring in 2024, was a graded stakes winner at both two and three, with the speedy son of Captain Al accounting for champion Rio Querari when victorious in the 2020 Cape Thoroughbred Sales Cape Merchants.

Out of a stakes winning half-sister to the successful sire Master Of My Fate, Malmoos, bred on the same Captain Al/Fort Wood cross as fellow G1 winners Captain America and William Longsword, won the South African Triple Crown in 2021, and was also victorious in both the G2 Avontuur Estate Concorde Cup and G3 Live Games Graham Beck Stakes. His first foals have arrived to rave reviews and the future looks bright for Malmoos.

As further testimony to Captain Al’s lasting influence, inbreeding to the former Klawervlei resident is now taking place. A One World yearling out of Greendale was sold at the November Two Year Old Sale, with this colt in question sired by a son of Captain Al out of a daughter of Captain Al!