Once Upon a Time

Tara Madgwick - Thursday May 7

Once upon a time there was a stallion that could not get a good filly for love nor money.

Commands (1996 - 2014) - sire of 80 SW's.His name was Commands… and the win of Bella Vella last Saturday in the Group I SAJC Robert Sangster got me thinking about what an interesting stallion he was and how ironic it is that the two best horses from his last crop of foals would be New Zealand Horse of the Year Melody Belle and now Bella Vella, who are both mares.

As a Group III winning son of champion sire Danehill, Commands started his stud career at the lowly fee of $11,000 at Woodlands Stud before later ending as an elite Darley sire, who commanded a fee of $55,000 or $66,000 for the last seven seasons he stood at stud before his death in 2014.

In the early days, Commands quickly made people sit up and take note with string of handy stakes horses, but it quickly became apparent that his fillies were not as good.

His first three crops produced 16 stakes-winners of which just three were Listed winning fillies and his fourth crop produced seven stakes-winners, but only one filly, however she was Russeting, who won a G1 Tatts Winter Stakes as a four year-old in 2009.

His fifth crop proved the tide had turned with seven stakes-winners and five of them fillies headed by Purple, who won the 2009 Group ATC Storm Queen Stakes and Queensland Oaks.

10 time G1 winner Melody Belle is from the last crop sired by Commands and is also his most prolific G1 winner Commands retired to stud in 2000 and it was not until the latter part of that 2008 / 2009 season that he finally had serious success with some fillies to dispel the perception he was a sire of colts only with Purple and Russeting proving game changers.

His next four crops produced 29 stakes-winners of which 10 were fillies including Group I winners Appearance (a four time G1 winner) and Commanding Jewel.

In his last five crops he produced 21 stakes-winners, 11 of them fillies with Group I winners Melody Belle and Bella Vella providing him with a fitting finale.

For the record, the current overall statistics for Commands are 73.9% winners to runners and 80 stakes-winners with a 6.1% stakes-winner to runner strike rate.

The same statistics for colts are 78.8% winners to runners and 50 stakes-winners (seven G1 winners) at 7.3% stakes-winners to runners.

The same statistics for fillies are 68.5% winners to runners and 30 stakes-winners (six G1 winners) at 4.6% stakes-winners to runners.

The tally of Group I winners is probably the most interesting point with seven for colts and six for fillies showing that at the end of the day Commands was indeed a very good sire for both sexes.

G1 Colts and Geldings

G1 Fillies


Melody Belle






Commanding Jewel




Bella Vella




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