Polish-bred Age of Jape, as expected, won the 2400-meter Slovakian Derby at Bratislava today and established himself as the best 3-year-old in Central Europe. A winner of 8 of 9 starts — the last 8 consecutively — Age of Jape came to Bratislava with a big reputation as the winner of the Czech Derby and 2000 Guineas. The last top horse to race at Bratislava , in 2007 and 2008, was undefeated Hungarian sprinter Overdose, who used the backwater circuit of Europe, including Kincsem Park in Hungary and Magna Racino in Ebreichsdorf in Austria, to launch an international career.
Age of Jape is a son of the Alleged stallion Jape, a US-bred colt who was a Group 2 winner at 2 in Italy and a classic winner the following year when he won the Italian St. Leger, a Group 3 race. He is a champion sire in Poland. Age of Jape is from the French-bred mare Age of Gold, a daughter of the El Gran Senor stallion Belmez. The latter won the Group 1 King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes and was placed in the Irish Derby.
The next dam is an English-bred daughter of Mill Reef, who also won the King George, along with the Epsom Derby and the Arc. Jape’s sire, Alleged, won the Arc twice, so this pedigree — albeit unfashionable outside of Central Europe — is laden with classic stamina. Age of Jape also is inbred 4×4 to Northern Dancer.
The Poles are known for their Arabians, and for their ‘chasers and hurdlers — not so much their flat runners. They breed for stamina and soundness, and Age of Jape, judging by the photo and video, appears to be a big, rugged individual who stays the extreme European classic distances. His next target, in fact, is the Czech St. Leger.
The Polish thoroughbred breeding industry is not large — I read somewhere that there were only 900 mares in the country in 2004 — but there has been one major horse recently who’s made an impact in a major European racing country. That horse was Galileo (POL), also as it happens a son of Jape. He won the prestigious Group 1 Sun Alliance Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham over 2 miles and 5 furlongs and 10 hurdles in 2002, at age 6. Bred by S K Moszna, a leading stud in Poland, Galileo had taken the Polish St. Leger in 1999 as a 3-year-old. He’d shown great versatility in Poland on the flat by winning races from distances of 5 furlongs to 2 miles, and he was sold privately as a 6-year-old to English interests as a hurdler before he won at Cheltenham
The best older horse in Poland this year is another son of Jape named Merlini (POL). He recently won the most important race to date for older horses in Poland, the Prezesa Totalizatora Sportowego.
It’s probably unlikely that Age of Jape is another Overdose, but let’s not forget that a Greek horse won a Group race in England this year, a filly from Saudi Arabia won a black type event at the Dubai carnival, and a Singapore sprinter was second in an international Group 1 sprint.
And if Age of Jape isn’t of that quality, look for him at Cheltenham in few years.