There has been an increasing tendency to view pattern-winning juvenile colts as prospective stallions and many of them have plenty of positives about their pedigree that could be used to promote their claims. But every now and then you get one who is less fashionably bred and whose speed and precocity come as something of a surprise.
This year's Group 2 Al Basti Equiworld Gimcrack Stakes winner Sands Of Mali is a half-brother to last year's Timeform 112-rated Shergar Cup Sprint winner Kadrizzi (by Hurricane Cat), and his multiple stakes-placed grandam won a dozen times.
That might sound promising, but before he came along the only stakes winner in the first four generations of his family was one remotely connected to him both in genetics and aptitude – a winner of the Lonsdale Stakes descended from his fourth dam.
The Richard Fahey-trained juvenile was bred in France by Simon Urizzi and his Kheleyf (by Green Desert) half-sister is catalogued as Lot 15 in next Wednesday's opening session of the Osarus September Yearling Sale, the event at which Sands Of Mali made €20,000 last year.
He was bought that day by Con Marnane who sold him on for £75,000 at the Tattersalls Ireland Ascot Breeze-Up Sale in early April. He was unplaced on his debut at York three months later and trounced subsequent listed scorer Eirene by three and three-quarter lengths on soft ground at Nottingham nearly three weeks after that.
The Gimcrack was his third start and he made all to beat Invincible Army by two and three-quarter lengths, with the dead-heaters Cardsharp (gave 3lbs) and Headway another length back in third.
This makes the humbly bred bay a leading contender for next month's Group 1 Juddmonte Middle Park Stakes at Newmarket and, potentially, for next year's Group 1 Commonwealth Cup at Ascot.
His unraced dam Kadiania (by Indian Rocket) is out of the aforementioned Kapi Creek (by Sicyos), which makes her a half-sister to the multiple winners Majik Charly (by Soave) and Such A Maj (by Soave).
Kirigane (by Vitiges), his third dam, won once and finished third in a listed contest, and that half-sister to Mexican blacktype earner Ladakh (by Sir Gaylord) was also a half-sister to Kumari (by Luthier), the one-time winning dam of Listed Lonsdale Stakes winner and Group 3 Prix de Lutece third Angel City (by Carwhite).
The fifth dam is the listed race winner and 1967 Cheshire Oaks fourth All Hail (by Alcide), who has had some notable descendants in South America, but there is nothing in the first few generations of the family to suggest why Sands Of Mali could have become a Group 2-winner with the potential to perform well at the highest level.
His sire has, obviously, played an important part and that horse is the dual pattern-winning miler Panis (by Miswaki), an Haras des Faunes stallion with just a handful of stakes winners to his name – two of whom are the Group 3-winning sprinters Myasun and Out Of Time – plus the Group 1 Poule d'Essai des Poulains (French 2000 Guineas) runner-up Veneto (renamed Californiavitality in Hong Kong).
This not the sort of pedigree background that one expects to find on a talented juvenile sprinter with Group 1 potential, but should he go on to merit a place at stud some day then he could be an interesting addition to the ranks.
That's because Sands Of Mali shows no inbreeding within the first five generations of his pedigree, has no Danzig or Sadler's Wells anywhere on his page, and so he would represent an outcross to many of the increasing number of sprint mares who are descended from or inbred to one or more representatives of those two dynasty-making sires.
There has been a growing trend of retiring colts to stud before their third birthday and so before they have had the chance to prove themselves against open competition. These horses include Zebedee whose final of seven starts was on September 10th of his two-year-old season.
He made a winning debut at Windsor in mid-April, followed-up at Ascot two weeks later and then finished only fifth behind Approve in the Group 2 Norfolk Stakes at that same venue, his only defeat.
Listed success at Sandown followed, then a narrow victory in the Group 3 Molecomb Stakes, another one in a valuable sales race at Newmarket, and then a neck defeat of Dinkum Diamond in the Group 2 Flying Childers Stakes at Doncaster. Both Timeform and the official handicappers rated him 113.
The son of Invincible Spirit (by Green Desert) stands at Tally Ho Stud in Ireland and his first crop features both the Group 2-winning sprinter Magical Memory (Timeform-rated 123) and classic-placed Group 2 scorer Ivawood (Timeform-rated 118), who is a Coolmore stallion.
Zebedee's fourth crop also features a Group 2 winner and that is the Brian Meehan-trained Barraquero who earned a Timeform rating of 110p when taking the Qatar Richmond Stakes over six furlongs at Goodwood recently, beating Nebo and Group 2 July Stakes winner Cardsharp (gave 3lbs) by one and a quarter lengths and two and a quarter lengths on soft ground.
He had been third to subsequent Group 2 star Expert Eye on their debut over a half-furlong farther at Newbury in mid-June, then justified favouritism with a six-length score at Chepstow in early July – both of those races run on good ground.
Barraquero was bred by Helen Smith and Sally Mullen. He holds entries in the Group 2 Dubai Duty Free Mill Reef Stakes, Group 1 Juddmonte Middle Park Stakes, and Group 1 Darley Dewhurst Stakes.
It will be interesting to see how far he stays because his dam, who won over seven furlongs and was placed at a mile, is Chica Whopa (by Oasis Dream), which makes him inbred 3x3 to Green Desert (by Danzig).
Her half-sister Jezebel, who represented the sole crop of sprint star Owington (by Green Desert), was a Group 3-placed and stakes-winning sprinter but has been producing offspring who are effective at a mile. Those include the six-furlong listed scorer Ancient Goddess (by Iffraaj) and also Pearl Ice (by Iffraaj) who won thrice at six furlongs, once at a mile, and earned a peak handicap mark of 98.
Just Ice (by Polar Falcon), the grandam of Barraquero, won a French listed race over six furlongs on soft ground as a juvenile. Although she did not race at three, it is possible that she may have stayed a mile as her siblings included Always On A Sunday (by Star Appeal), who lost out by a short-head and the same to Tessla and Roseate Tern in the Group 3 May Hill Stakes over a mile at two and won the Listed Pretty Polly Stakes over 10 furlongs at Newmarket the following May.
Their half-brother Palmetto Express (by Glint Of Gold) stayed even farther as that listed scorer was Group 3-placed over two miles in Germany.
It is true that both he and Always On A Sunday were by stallions more associated with stamina than speed whereas Just Ice is by one noted for sprinters and milers. And their siblings also include the multiple blacktype-placed middle-distance Sunday Sport Star – a full-sister to Always On A Sunday.
She became the dam of the five-furlong juvenile stakes winner Signs (by Risk Me), a filly that you might have expected, on breeding, would stay a mile. And when that grand-daughter of Sharpo (by Sharpen Up) went to stud it seems that it was stamina rather than speed that she passed on to her best son as he, Knavesmire Omen (by Robellino) got his listed success over two miles and made all when a five-length winner of a handicap over four and a half furlong farther at Goodwood four weeks later.
There is a chance that six and seven furlongs may prove to be Barraquero's best distances, but there is enough in the distaff side of his family to suggest that will get a mile, in which case it is possible that the early-season European classics may become primary targets on his radar rather than the Group 1 Commonwealth Cup.
Group 1-winning sprinter Society Rock (by Rock Of Gibraltar) was among the most popular new additions to the stallion ranks in 2014 and the Tally-Ho Stud-based horse sired 111 foals in his first crop. Sadly, he died in May of last year.
Those first progeny are two-year-olds and, although there is still a long way to go yet before the end of their first season, the late stallion already has a likely future stallion son in action. That colt is the Karl Burke-trained Unfortunately, winner of the Group 1 Darley Prix Morny at Deauville on Sunday.
This was his third win from six starts, it came a month after his half-length defeat of Frozen Angel in the Group 2 Prix Robert Papin over a half-furlong less at Maisons-Laffitte, and his three loses feature a head second to Ardenode in the Prix La Fleche over five at that same venue in June.
His margin of victory on Sunday, over Group 3-winning stable companion Havana Grey, was a length and a quarter, with the previously undefeated pattern-winning fillies Different League and Zonza a short-head and short-neck back in third and fourth.
Unfortunately was bred by Tally-Ho Stud, he is a €24,000 graduate of the Tattersalls Ireland September Yearling Sale in Fairyhouse, and his entries include the Group 1 Juddmonte Middle Park Stakes and Group 2 Dubai Duty Free Mill Reef Stakes.
Timeform now rate him 117, which is a world away from what his dam achieved on the track. She was a plater who won two sellers – one of them at 40/1 – from 22 starts, achieving a peak official handicap mark of 53 and finishing her career with a well-beaten fourth over seven furlongs at Wolverhampton, off a mark of 43.
Despite this limited talent, Unfortunate (by Komaite) has done well as a broodmare and, in addition to her star son, she is the dam of the prolific fillies Red Roar (by Chineur; 5 wins), The City Kid (by Danetime; 8 wins), and Look Busy (by Danetime).
The last-named won a dozen times, including the Group 2 Temple Stakes, Group 3 Flying Five Stakes, and three listed contests, and her two-year-old Looks A Million (by Kyllachy) has been a winner from four starts this year.
Neither Honour And Glory (by Hotfoot) nor Cheb's Honour (by Cheb's Lad) – the second and third dams of Unfortunately – showed much either. Unfortunate is the only winner among seven foals for the former, but Cheb's Honour came up with six winners from 13 foals, one of whom was a talented sprinter.
Singing Steven (by Balliol) won the Group 3 Cornwallis Stakes and Listed Harry Rosebery Challenge Trophy as a juvenile, went on to add the Group 3 King George Stakes at Goodwood, and sired some winners from somewhat limited opportunities at stud.
Unfortunately, however, looks likely to receive large books whenever he takes up stallion duties. Before then, of course, it is to be hoped that he can go on to become a high-class sprinter and, at this stage, he would have to be considered as a potential Group 1 Commonwealth Cup contender for 2018.
As for Society Rock, he has three crops to represent him and, although no longer with us, he has gone into the record books as the first freshman sire of 2017 to supply a Group 1 winner.
There is still one classic still to go in 2017 (applying the traditional criteria that they are for three-year-olds only) – next month’s Group 1 William Hill St Leger at Doncaster – but attentions have already been drawn towards next year’s series.
Many who feature prominently in the ante-post markets this far in advance of the events have faded from memory or interest by the time those races are ready to run but it seems unlikely that recent Goodwood winner Expert Eye will be among those horses.
He made his debut over an extended six furlongs at Newbury in mid-June, which is earlier than often expected for a Sir Michael Stoute-trained juvenile, and he won that good-ground event by one and a half lengths.
That was a promising start, but when he ran away from nine rivals to take the Group 2 Qatar Vintage Stakes at Goodwood just under seven weeks later, he shot to the head of the rankings – 114p with Timeform – and the market for the Group 1 Qipco 2000 Guineas of 2018.
He beat Zaman and Mildenberger by four and a half lengths and three-parts of a length, the time was decent rather than spectacular, but what really grabbed the attention was the way he quickened clear and had the race won well before the line. He looked every inch a potential future Group 1 star.
If Expert Eye is going to be a classic hero in 2018 then it will be in one or more of the mile events. It remains to be seen if he will have the stamina to stay 10 furlongs, but that is likely to be either too far or at the outer limit of his distance range.
The colt is a son of high-class sprinter and veteran Rathbarry Stud stallion Acclamation (by Royal Applause), the horse who has given us the Group 1-winning sprinters Dark Angel, Equiano and Marsha, among others of note. The first-named pair are, of course, now the sires of Group 1 winning offspring, while Marsha is still in training and has the potential to make an impact as a broodmare.
Exemplify (by Dansili), the dam of Expert Eye, won over a mile in France as a two-year-old, her first foal – Divisionist (by Oasis Dream) – has been placed twice over eight and a half furlongs at Wolverhampton, her yearling is a first-crop daughter of Kingman (by Invincible Spirit), and she had a Dark Angel (by Acclamation) colt in late February.
The mare is out of the unplaced Quest To Peak (by Distant View) and that makes her a half-sister to Special Duty (by Hennessy), a leading two-year-old of 2009 who retired to the paddocks a dual classic heroine despite failing to pass the post in front in any of her six starts at the age of three.
Runner-up in the Listed Prix Yacowlef on her racecourse debut, the Criquette Head-trained chestnut beat Siyouni in the Group 2 Prix Robert Papin, failed narrowly against Arcano in the Group 1 Prix Morny and then beat Misheer by two and three-quarter lengths to take the Group 1 Cheveley Park Stakes in style at Newmarket.
Special Duty was only third to Joanna when odds-on for the Group 3 Prix Imprudence on her reappearance on very soft ground at Maisons-Laffitte and she was then pipped in photo finishes for both the Group 1 1000 Guineas and Group 1 Poule d’Essai des Pouliches (French 1000 Guineas). However, Jacqueline Quest was dropped to second at Newmarket, Liliside to sixth at Longchamp, and Juddmonte’s filly got both races.
She is not the only horse to pick up two Group 1 races in this way: Vahorimix was awarded both the Poule d’Essai des Poulains (French 2000 Guineas) and Prix Jacques le Marois in 2001. In his case, Noverre failed the post-race test at Longchamp and Proudwings was thrown out at Deauville for interference caused.
But back to Expert Eye.
Quest For Peak’s contribution at stud is no surprise as she is out of the pattern-placed dual stakes winner Viviana (by Nureyev) and so is a full-sister to seven-time Grade 1 heroine Sightseek and half-sister to dual Grade 1 scorer Tates Creek (by Rahy), a pair of Bobby Frankel-trained Juddmonte-bred standouts.
Sightseek’s blacktype-placed son Raison D’Etat (by A.P. Indy) stands at Calumet Farm in Kentucky and has his first two-year-olds now.
Viviana’s winning full-sister Willstar has produced two blacktype winners and is the grandam of several blacktype earners – the latter group featuing Group 3 Prix de Fontainbleau winner Glaswegian (by Selkirk) and dual listed scorer Preferential (by Dansili) – but the standout among them all is her excellent daughter Etoile Montante (by Miswaki).
Runner-up in the Group 1 Prix Marcel Boussac as a juvenile, she was third in the Group 1 Poule d’Essai des Pouliches, took second in the Group 1 Prix Maurice de Gheest and then won the Group 1 Prix de la Foret before crossing the atlantic where, at the age of four, she added the Grade 2 Palomar Handicap and Grade 3 Las Cienegas Handicap and finished runner-up in the Grade 1 Matriarch Stakes.
Etoile Montante, another Juddmonte homebred, died at the age of 15, but her offspring include Starformer (by Dynaformer), who was Group 3-placed at Longchamp before going to the USA where she won the Grade 2 New York Stakes over 10 furlongs at Belmont Park and a trio of Grade 3 contests at 11-12 furlongs.
Viviana and Willstar are half-sisters to Grade 1-placed Grade 2 scorer Revasser (by Riverman) and to Grade 1-placed stakes winner Hometown Queen (by Pleasant Colony), the latter being the dam of Grade 2 winner and successful sire Bowman’s Band (by Dixieland Band).
They are out of Nijinsky Star (by Nijinsky), an unraced daughter of triple Grade 1-winning standout Chris Evert (by Swoons Son) and so related to a host of talented horses, including Grade/Group 1 stars Chief’s Crown (by Danzig), Classic Crown (by Mr Prospector), Excellent Art (by Pivotal) and Winning Colors (by Caro).
With family connections like these, there is every reason to hope that Expert Eye can fulfil his promise and succeed at the highest level. Should he do so then he will also have plenty of appeal as a future stallion, especially as he is by the sire of Dark Angel and Equiano.
There is an odd misconception by many that being a top-notch sprinter somehow means that progeny will be precocious juveniles. Many top sprinters were not early sorts but, instead, horses who progressed throughout their career, hitting their peak at four or older.
Bated Breath (by Dansili) was such a horse, and that makes the string of winners and blacktype horses, from his first two crops, a promising start.
As a racehorse, he won each of his first three starts, all over six furlongs and all in the spring and early summer of his three-year-old sesason. He got his first blacktype success at four – several weeks before being a half-length runner-up to Dream Ahead in the Group 1 July Cup, and his top win came in the Group 2 Temple Stakes at the age of five, a race in which he beat Sole Power and Spirit Quartz.
Bated Breath stands alongside his sire at Banstead Manor Stud, his first crop includes dual Group 2-placed filly Al Johrah, and his second is headed by Beckford, the Gordon Elliott-trained colt who kept his perfect record intact with victory in the Group 2 GAIN Railway Stakes over six furlongs at the Curragh last month, beating Verbal Dexterity by a length and earning a Timeform rating of 113p.
He failed to make it three in a row in this afternoon's Group 1 Keeneland Phoenix Stakes at the Curragh, but lost nothing in defeat in finishing a close second to Sioux Nation.
This €55,000 Goffs Orby Sale graduate was bred by Joyce Wallsgrove. He also went through the ring as a foal, making 58,000gns in Newmarket, and was sold privately, to Newtown Anner Stud, after his winning debut at the Curragh.
At first glance, the most striking thing about his pedigree is that he is inbred 3x3 to Danehill (by Danzig) and 4x3 to Nashwan (by Blushing Groom), which may be significant or could be irrelevant to his ability and potential.
Then you notice that he is out of a winning half-sister to dual Group 3 scorer Malabar (by Raven’s Pass) and to recent 12-furlong Group 3 scorer Poet’s Word (by Poet’s Voice), and his stakes-placed grandam, Whirly Bird (by Nashwan), is a grand-daughter of the Group 2 Child Stakes winner and Group 1 Coronation Stakes runner-up Inchmurrin (by Lomond).
That small filly was tough, popular and prolific, she is the dam of the dual pattern winner and Group 1 sire Inchinor (by Ahonoora) and of Ingozi (by Warning), the stakes-winning dam of Grade 1 E P Taylor Stakes heroine Miss Keller (by Montjeu) and grandam of last year’s Group 1 St Leger star Harbour Law (by Lawman).
Inchmurrin was also the dam of Listed Ballymacoll Stakes winner Incheni (by Nashwan), she is the grandam of juvenile listed scorer Ingeburg (by Hector Protector), and it is her one-time winner Inchyre (by Shirley Heights) who is the third dam of Beckford.
In addition to the aforementioned Whirly Bird, that mare is responsible for the 14-furlong Group 3 scorer Ursa Major (by Galileo) and Listed Galtres Stakes winner Inchiri (by Sadler’s Wells) – dam of South African 10-furlong Grade 3 victor Hawk’s Eye (by Hawk Wing).
There are many other blacktype horses in the family, including Inchmurrin’s Group 2 Mill Reef Stakes-winning half-brother Welney (by Habitat), and also Group 1 Coronation Stakes heroine Balisada (by Kris), a daughter of Inchmurrin’s full-sister Balnaha.
It remains to be seen just how good Beckford will be at his peak, but he has made a promising start to his career, he has obvious Group 1 potential, and as a Danehill-line horse from the family of Inchinor it is easy to imagine that he could be a popular addition to the stallion ranks whenever his racing days come to an end.
Before then, of course, he has more to do on the track. The speed he has shown so far suggests that he could follow in his father’s hoofprints by becoming a notable sprinter, but what is present in the distaff side of his family gives him the potential to stay a mile.
The premature loss of Ashford Stud stallion and outstanding sire Scat Daddy (by Johannesburg) has been a considerable one and it is to be hoped that some of his sons and daughters carry on his name with distinction at stud.
He has got his top-level winners at pretty much every distance from five furlongs to a mile and a half, something that may surprise European fans who associate him only with sprint stars like Acapulco, Caravaggio, Lady Aurelia, and No Nay Never.
His most recent major home win came with Dacita in the Beverly D Stakes over nine and a half furlongs at Arlington Park last night, a fifth Grade 1 score for the Chilean-born six-year-old.
The stallion’s growing number of notable European winners includes Sioux Nation, the Aidan O’Brien-trained and Fethard Bloodstock-bred juvenile who won the Group 2 Norfolk Stakes over five furlongs at Royal Ascot in June and then followed up with victory in this afternoon’s Group 1 Keeneland Phoenix Stakes over a furlong farther at the Curragh, chased home by Beckford and Actress.
He made his debut over the minimum trip at Naas in early April, finishing third, then chased home Brother Bear over a few yards short of six and a half furlongs at Leopardstown before winning his maiden, by three and three-quarter lengths, over six at the Curragh.
He was then well-beaten behind Brother Bear in the Listed Marble HIll Stakes over the same course and distance, so has won three of his six starts, showing his best form on good and fast ground and beaten when it was on the easy side.
Sioux Nation is the second foal out of a one-time scorer named Dream The Blues and, like this year’s other juvenile pattern winners Barraquero and Zonza, he is out of a daughter of Banstead Manor Stud stallion Oasis Dream (by Green Desert).
His dam won over six furlongs at Redcar in mid-October of her three-year-old season – her only start – and she is among seven winners out of the talented sprinter Catch The Blues (by Bluebird), the Group 3 Ballyogan Stakes heroine who was placed in the Group 1 Sprint Cup, the Group 3 Flying Five, and in two editions of both the Group 3 Greenlands Stakes and Group 3 Cork and Orrery Stakes.
That mare’s offspring include the dual listed-placed filly Colour Blue (by Holy Roman Emperor), she is the grandam of the Group 3 Prix de Cabourg winner My Catch (by Camacho) and of Group 1-placed juvenile listed race scorer Vladimir (by Kheleyf), and her siblings include the Group 3 Ballyogan Stakes third Sharp Catch (by Common Grounds).
These are the highlights of the first three generations of Sioux Nation’s pedigree.
If you go back another couple of generations, however, then you find that his fifth dam is Betty Lorraine (by Prince John), and that half-sister to Kentucky Derby hero Majestic Prince (by Raise a Native) was the dam of Group 1 Prix du Jockey-Club star Caracolero (by Graustark) and grandam of Secreto (by Northern Dancer) – who won the Group 1 Derby at Epsom in 1984 – and his multiple Grade 1 Champion Hurdle-winning three-parts brother Istabraq (by Sadler’s Wells).
Those stars are remotely connected to Sioux Nation, a promising colt whose early form suggests that sprinting is more likely to be his game than running a mile.