The small number of Frankel (by Galileo) yearlings that turned up at the sales in 2015 met with a mixed response. They did not look how some had expected, prices varied widely, and there were even some mutterings about how he might not make it as a sire.
This was something of a surprise to see and hear. Here was a regally-related supreme athlete whose offspring came from the cream of the broodmare population and who would probably not even have a runner until the following summer.
His racing and pedigree profile suggested that it could be mid-summer or autumn before his early representatives would begin to show their worth, and that any stakes or pattern horses he might get that first season would tend to come from among the seven and eight-furlong events.
What Frankel has actually achieved with his first juveniles has been unexpected. His strike-rate of winners to runners is remarkably high, he already had two pattern scorers on the books before the end of August, and some of those early ones are precocious, and very quick.
Although there is a lot of middle-distance stamina in his family, there has always been the chance that Frankel could get some sprinters, with the right mares. He gave the impression that he could have won over seven or even six furlongs if asked, and both his dam, Kind (by Danehill), and half-sister, Joyeuse (by Oasis Dream), were talented sprinters who stayed seven furlongs.
But getting sprinters and getting early-season juveniles are not the same thing, because many good sprinters are horses who improve with time and maturity.
Frankel was off the mark in mid-May, and it was on 3rd June that his daughter Queen Kindly made her racing debut. The appearance of such a beautifully bred filly that early was eye-catching, and if there was any disappointment that this debut run was only in a five-furlong event at Catterick, that dissipated after she showed a nice turn of foot to score by five lengths.
The Group 3 Albany Stakes was her Royal Ascot target a fortnight later, and third place, beaten by just a short-head and half-length by Brave Anna and Bletchley, confirmed that this was a filly of plentiful potential. The following month she had little more than an exercise gallop to thrash a small field in a novice event back over the minimum trip at Catterick, giving 7lbs to each of her four outclassed rivals.
A return to six furlongs was on the cards and it came in the recent Group 2 Sky Bet Lowther Stakes at York. Unbeaten Group 3 scorer Fair Eva, who was Frankel's first pattern winner, was sent off at odds-on but ran as already needing a bit further. Queen Kindly landed the spoils by three-parts of a length from Group 2 scorer Roly Poly (gave 3lbs), with Fair Eva the same margin back in third.
The trio pulled four and a half lengths clear of the Group 3 Sweet Solera Stakes winner Nations Alexander, with Group 2 Queen Mary Stakes third Clem Fandango finishing sixth. Kilmah, who chased home Fair Eva in the Group 3 Princess Margaret Stakes on her previous start, and who won the Group 3 Prestige Stakes at Goodwood yesterday, was only seventh on this occasion, with the Group 2-placed Magical Fire disappointing in last.
The form looks solid, the time was fast, Fair Eva will be seen to better effect when she steps up in trip, and Queen Kindly now has a crack at the Group 1 Connolly's Red Mills Cheveley Park Stakes in her sights.
There is still so much of 2016 to go, but it is hard not to look ahead with these juveniles and wonder about their prospects in 2017. Will Queen Kindly follow in her father's hoof-prints and become a miler and Guineas contender, or will she take after her dam and so become a potential Commonwealth Cup and July Cup runner, or even a Nunthorpe candidate?
Before she ever stepped foot on a racecourse one could even have speculated as to her prospects of staying 10 furlongs at three, because she is, after all, a daughter of Frankel and related to the Group 1 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe hero Dylan Thomas (by Danehill).
That sort of trip seems unlikely given the speed and precocity she has shown so far, and a mile still remains possible, but those two five-furlong wins may turn out to be the most important clue.
Queen Kindly is trained by Richard Fahey, she was bred by Rabbah Bloodstock Ltd, and she is the first foal out of their excellent sprinter Lady Of The Desert (by Rahy). That mare could have been expected to be a miler, and it is true that she was only beaten by about a length when fifth in the Group 1 Poule d'Essai des Pouliches (French 1000 Guineas), but it was over five and six furlongs that she excelled.
Her winning debut over the minimum trip at Leicester in late May was followed by a sixth-place finish in the Group 2 Queen Mary Stakes, but she bounced back to take the Group 3 Princess Margaret Stakes and Group 2 Lowther Stakes before finishing third behind Special Duty in the Group 1 Cheveley Park Stakes. That filly is the incredibly lucky one who got not one but two classics in the stewards' room as a three-year-old.
Lady Of The Desert was placed over seven furlongs first time out at three, but after disappointing in the Group 1 Coronation Stakes at Ascot, dropped back to six for the Group 1 Sprint Cup at Haydock. Having chased home Markab there, she went on to score a two and a quarter-length success in the Group 2 Diadem Stakes at Ascot before chasing home one-length scorer Gilt Edge Girl in the Group 1 Prix de l'Abbaye de Longchamp on her final start.
Lady Of The Desert is the best of the progeny of 2001's juvenile filly champion Queen's Logic (by Grand Lodge) and that star is one of three Group 1 winners out of a placed mare called Lagrion (by Diesis).
Her debut was on soft ground at Newbury in mid May, when she beat the subsequent pattern-winning sprinter Lady Dominatrix by three-parts of a length and the pair finished 10 lengths clear of their closest pursuer.
She then beat Sophisticat three times, first by half a length in the Group 3 Queen Mary Stakes, then by one and a quarter lengths in the Group 2 Lowther Stakes and finally by seven lengths on soft ground in the Group 1 Cheveley Park Stakes. Although that rival went on to take the Group 1 Coronation Stakes at Ascot the following summer, Queen's Logic's career had already come to an end by that point.
Her sole outing at three was an odds-on success in the Group 3 Fred Darling Stakes over seven furlongs on fast ground at Newbury.
Queen's Logic has four blacktype siblings and the best of her sisters is the runaway Group 1 1000 Guineas heroine Homecoming Queen (by Holy Roman Emperor), whose first foal is the unbeaten French juvenile First Of Spring (by Galileo). Her sisters also include Group 2 Blandford Stakes third Love To Dance (by Sadler's Wells) and Group 1 Oaks runner-up Remember When (by Danehill Dancer), neither of whom actually won a race.
Remember When, who was beaten just a neck by Snow Fairy at Epsom and by a total of half a length when fourth to Bethrah in the Group 1 Irish 1000 Guineas, has made an outstanding start to her broodmare career as her first two progeny are Wedding Vow (by Galileo) and Beacon Rock (by Galileo).
The former won last year's Group 2 Kilboy Estate Stakes shortly before chasing home Legatissimo in the Group 1 Nassau Stakes at Goodwood, and the latter won the Group 3 Gallinule Stakes in May before chasing home Across The Stars in the Group 2 King Edward VII Stakes at Ascot.
The best of Queen's Logic's brothers is the aforementioned Group 1 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe hero Dylan Thomas. His 10 wins from 20 starts netted him over £3.3 million in prize money and his Group 1 tally also included the Irish Derby, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes, Prix Ganay, and two editions of the Irish Champion Stakes.
Dylan Thomas is a Coolmore stallion, and although he is standing as a dual-purpose sire, his progeny include the Group/Grade 1 scorers Pether's Moon, Dylan Mouth, Nymphea, Tannery and Blazing Speed, the latter a Hong Kong star whose earnings surpass those of his sire.
It is these first two generations of the pedigree that are making the greatest contribution to the talent and potential of Queen Kindly, and although there is talent in the third and fourth too, it is not in the same league.
Lagrion, her third dam, is a full-sister to the Group 1 Middle Park Stakes runner-up Pure Genius (by Diesis), and fourth dam Wrap It Up (by Mount Hagen), a daughter of the blacktype-placed 10-times scorer Doc Nan (by Francis S.), was responsible for the Group 3 Oaks Trial Stakes winner Gift Wrapped (by Wolver Hollow).
That filly became the dam of the Group 2 Royal Lodge Stakes winner Reach (by Kris) and of Wrapping (by Kris), the Group 1 Oaks d'Italia runner-up who gave us the Group 1-placed middle-distance Group 2 scorer Papering (by Shaadi).
Amatrice (by Appiani), a half-sister to Gift Wrapped, did her part for the family by coming up with Soluce (by Junius), the Group 3 scorer from whom Scandinavian champion Entangle (by Pivotal) and notable speedsters such as Splice (by Sharpo), Soar (by Danzero), and Feet So Fast (by Pivotal) descend, among others of note.
Those horses are remotely connected to Queen Kindly and it is her immediate genetic history that will determine her ultimate distance range. Whether that will be in sprints or over a mile, or a combination of both, remains to be seen, but whichever way she goes there is every reason to hope that this first-crop daughter of Frankel could be a Group 1 filly in the making.
As for Frankel, there remains the very real prospect that he can become an important sire of milers and middle-distance horses, a potential classic sire who could become a leading international stallion.