Sea The Moon was simply sensational when scoring by 11 lengths in the Deutsches Derby of 2014, and he has been strongly supported by Germany’s leading breeders in his stallion career at Lanwades Stud in Newmarket, but he kept hitting the crossbar in the Hamburg Classic with his first four crops of three-year-olds.
Quest The Moon ran a close fourth after racing too keenly in 2019, Wonderful Moon kept on into fifth in a blanket finish in 2020 and So Moonstruck was beaten two short-heads into third last year, one place ahead of his high-class paternal half-brother Assistent.
Fifth-crop son Fantastic Moon set the record straight on Sunday, in no uncertain terms. The Sarah Steinberg-trained colt, previously a dual Group 3 winner, did a fair impression of his sire by tracking over to the stands’ side rail and leaving his rivals for dead.
The two and a quarter-length winner was bred by Philipp Stauffenberg, a familiar face in Britain and Ireland as one of the boldest pinhookers in the game, and wife Marion, who helps select the foals he trades, from a family especially close to their hearts.
It was through Fantastic Moon’s third dam Fraulein Tobin that the couple first met, as the 1982-foaled winning daughter of J O Tobin and Poule d’Essai des Pouliches runner-up Fruhlingstag was owned by Marion, who on the recommendation of her trainer sent her to board at Gestüt Karlshof when it was managed by Philipp.
Fraulein Tobin produced ten winners in total, although her best offspring – namely Rockfel Stakes heroine Germane (later dam of Hollywood Derby third Lucky Chappy and ancestress of stakes winners Connect, Kilmah and Perfect Star) and German Listed scorer and Deutsches Derby fifth Fabriano – were bred by previous owner Kessly Bloodstock.
Philipp and Marion, accomplished former riders in show jumping and dressage respectively, did however land a good few touches by selling the progeny of Fraulein Tobin, originally a $225,000 Kentucky yearling purchase by Sheikh Mohammed who was sent out by Barry Hills to win a mile maiden at Ayr in her racing pomp.
They received FFr950,000 from Teruya Yoshida for an Acatenango colt who was the first foal they bred from her, and sold her next offspring, a colt from the first and only European crop of Lammtarra, to Japanese interests as a five-day-old foal.
Fraulein Tobin’s daughters also served the Stauffenbergs well at paddocks, not least the unraced Four Roses, whose own daughter Four Sins, by Sinndar, became the first yearling bought by the Aga Khan Studs at public auction since Blushing Groom 30 years earlier when signed for by Gilltown Stud for €120,000 at Goffs in 2005.
Four Sins went on to win the Blue Wind and Blandford Stakes, and to finish fourth behind Light Shift in the Oaks, before being sold for €620,000 to become a broodmare in Japan.
Hero of the hour Fantastic Moon is from a cosmopolitan side of the family. He is the second foal but first winner out of the Jukebox Jury mare Frangipani, who in turn was one of eight winners of 36 races – in Belgium, Britain, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy and Norway – out of Firedance, a winning daughter of Lomitas and Fraulein Tobin. Frangipani’s best siblings were Norwegian Group 3 winner Fearless Hunter and Listed runner-up Fil Rouge.
Frangipani has a two-year-old filly by Starspangledbanner named Fang Mich – she was withdrawn from last year’s BBAG Yearling Sale – and a yearling filly by Masar named Fire And Ice. The Stauffenbergs might be tempted to retain either or both of those, as they don’t have all that many mares from their foundation family.
Philip Stauffenberg’s influence is felt on both the top and bottom halves of Fantastic Moon’s pedigree, as he bought the remarkable blue hen mare Sacarina for Gestüt Karlshof as an unraced two-year-old in Baden-Baden in 1994 for the equivalent of around €4,000.
Sacarina, an Old Vic half-sister to Jersey Stakes runner-up Brave Owen and Prix de Psyche third Lady Member, clicked spectacularly with Monsun to produce three German Classic winners for Karlshof in Samum, Salve Regina and Schiaparelli. The Faust family's stud bred two of this year’s Deutsches Derby entrants from this distaff line, although both Sirjan and Straight were not at their best on Sunday, coming tenth and 15th.
It was Sanwa, an unraced daughter of Monsun and Sacarina, who produced the exceptional talent Sea The Moon for owner and breeder Gestüt Görlsdorf.
Fantastic Moon not only lays to rest the young sire's Deutsches Derby hoodoo but becomes his third top-level winner after Alpine Star in the Coronation Stakes and Durston in the Caulfield Cup.
The stallion also has to his credit four Group 2 winners – Deutsches Derby near misses Assistent, Quest The Moon and Wonderful Moon, plus Prix Eugene Adam victor and Prix Ganay runner-up Pretty Tiger – as well as a further seven Group 3 scorers.
Sea The Moon, who has 29 black-type winners in total, was red hot this weekend. Also at Hamburg, Assistent beat a classy field to land the Group 2 Hansa-Preis, Muskoka took the Group 3 Stuten-Meile and Kassada finished a neck second in the Group 3 Hamburger Stutenpreis. Further east in Warsaw, Westminster Moon scored in the Polish Derby.
The sire is in fact in good form generally. Last month Selenaia was an easy winner of the Grade 3 Honeymoon Stakes at Santa Anita, Empress Wu ran second in Listed company at Goodwood, Alpina Princess completed a hat-trick of handicap successes by scoring at Windsor by a widening five lengths and Sea Singer became a first domestic winner from his sixth two-year-old crop when scoring in a valuable auction race at Leopardstown.
Gagarin’s Moon even became a social media sensation when his rivals unwisely allowed him to go clear in a Longchamp conditions race, only for him not to come back to the pack and instead win by a distance.
Sea The Moon also passed a significant milestone in recent weeks when Snellen, a filly out of Illumined, became his first black-type winner as broodmare sire in the Chesham Stakes at Royal Ascot. She is one of four maternal grandchildren of the sire, whose oldest crop are only seven, to have made it on the Racing Post database so far.
In all, Weatherbys credits Sea The Moon with five per cent black-type winners to foals of racing age, which stands up well against other mid-market middle-distance and stamina sources like Australia (also five per cent) and Nathaniel (four per cent).
He is just the sort of stallion that the industry should embrace, as he generally produces good-looking stock in his own image, he gets a decent ratio of talented performers and, crucially in light of wider conversations about distance breeding, his colts and geldings have resale value into international markets and the jumps sphere.
Thankfully he has always proved popular at Lanwades Stud, and covered 172 mares in 2021 and 152 last season.