A string of maiden, conditions and nursery winners is a promising start for a freshman sire but it is still a long way short of being awesome, spectacular or any of those other often misused superlatives. It's just something that various stallions achieve each year - nothing out of the ordinary - so hardly enough to get the pulse racing. It is, after all, what many of them are supposed to be doing.
A string of stakes winners in the major racing countries? Well, now that is a different matter entirely. That is the point at which we can start to get excited.
It is still too early to heap on the superlatives and make bold predictions of greatness, but it is the early sign that a young stallion may be on the verge of establishing himself as a future industry leader, and that maybe, just maybe, he might be on his way to stardom.
Frankel (by Galileo) has reached that point.
Banstead Manor Stud's Timeform 147-rated superstar has notched-up a double-digit tally of first-crop juvenile winners, which is noteworthy, but it is the three pattern winners and one listed scorer among them that are seeing him begin to pull away from his cohorts.
Fair Eva started the ball rolling when impressive in the Group 3 Princess Margaret Stakes at Ascot in July and her third-place finish in the Group 2 Lowther Stakes at York, which was won by the Frankel filly Queen Kindly, gave the impression that she already wants a bit farther.
Frankuus created that impression when finishing third and fourth in seven-furlong listed contests at Ascot and Newbury and confirmed it when taking the one-mile Listed 32Red Casino Stakes (registered as the Ascendant Stakes) on soft ground at Haydock on Saturday. Cunco, who gave their sire his first-ever winner, finished third there.
The outstanding French trainer Jean-Claude Rouget introduced an exciting filly in early July and, still undefeated, she is the fourth stakes winner for her sire.
She beat nine rivals in that seven-furlong debut outing at Clairefontaine, followed-up with an odds-on success over a half-furlong farther on the all-weather track at Deauville last month, and then showed her appreciation for a step up to the mile when beating Normandel and Asidious Alexander to take the Group 3 Prix d'Aumale at Chantilly this afternoon.
Toulifaut was bred in Ireland by the famous Barronstown Stud and her pattern success completed an international double for that team as the Ralph Beckett-trained Simple Verse (by Duke Of Marmalade) won the Group 2 DFS Park Hill Stakes at Doncaster about 75 minutes later.
That older filly, who made €240,000 in Goffs as a yearling, won the Group 1 St Leger and Group 1 Qipco British Champions Filly & Mare Stakes in 2015, and is a half-sister to Even Song (by Mastercraftsman), who won the Group 2 Ribblesdale Stakes at Royal Ascot in June.
Toulifaut was Lot 113 at last year's Tattersalls October Yearling Sale in Newmarket, but she was led out unsold at 285,000gns. Her full-sister is catalogued as Lot 522 in next month's edition of that famous auction and likely to attract a lot of attention.
The Group 1 Prix Marcel Boussac looks like an obvious end-of-year target for this promising filly and, next year, if she's still a classic prospect, either the Group 1 Poule d'Essai des Pouliches (French 1000 Guineas) or Group 1 Prix Saint-Alary before the Group 1 Prix de Diane (French Oaks). It remains to be seen if she is good enough for those top events, but right now there is every reason to hope that she will be up to competing at that level.
It will be interesting to see just how far she stays. Handling a mile at this point of a juvenile's season often indicates middle-distance potential.
Frankel was never asked to go beyond the extended 10 furlongs of the Group 1 Juddmonte International Stakes at York, and there was neither reason to do so nor to think that 12 furlongs would have been beyond him. He is, after all, a son of Galileo (by Sadler's Wells) and his full-brother Noble Mission won the Group 1 Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud over the distance.
Cassydora (by Darshaan), the dam of Toulifaut, was well-beaten behind Eswarah in the Group 1 Oaks at Epsom, her only attempt at 12, but she ran away with the Listed Oaks Trial over a half-furlong less at Lingfield on her previous start.
Her subsequent form included chasing home Alexander Goldrun in the Group 1 Nassau Stakes over 10 furlongs at Goodwood and, at the age of five, she gave My Typhoon 6lbs and a one and three-quarter-length beating in the Grade 3 Hillsborough Stakes over nine furlongs at Tampa Bay Downs.
Her second foal, Ernest Hemingway (by Galileo), could be described as being a three-parts brother to Toulifaut. He did not run at two but was sent off favourite for the Group 2 Dante Stakes – in which he finished last – following a 10-length winning debut at Dundalk a month before.
He was also tailed off on his third start – when 150/1 for the Group 1 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe – but came back at four to take both the Group 3 Curragh Cup and Group 3 Ballyroan Stakes, and he notched-up a repeat success in the former on the second of his two starts as a five-year-old.
Cassydora is a half-sister to four blacktype horses, including the 10-furlong listed scorer Classic Remark (by Dr Fong) and the potential Betfred Cesarewitch candidate Yorkidding (by Dalakhani). That Mark Johnston-trained four-year-old has won six times to date, she picked up some valuable blacktype when third in a 14-furlong listed contest at Baden-Baden on Saturday, and her entries include this Saturday's Listed Betway Stand Cup over an extended 12 furlongs at Chester.
Claxon, the grandam of Toulifaut, got her best win in the 10-furlong Group 2 Premio Lydia Tesio, she was also a dual listed scorer over that trip, and won a listed contest over a mile. Despite being a daughter of Caerleon (by Nijinsky) and out of a Bustino (by Busted) mare, she appeared to run out of stamina when fading to fifth behind Ramruma in the Group 1 Oaks at Epsom.
Her half-brother Bulwark (by Montjeu) certainly had no such stamina doubts as he was runner-up in the Group 3 Jockey Club Cup and third in both the Group 2 Henry II Stakes and Group 2 Yorkshire Cup.
But the family is not all about stamina, and the sire can be influential in determining how much speed is evident.
Injaad (by Machiavellian), for example, is a half-sister to Claxon but is the dam of the stakes-winning sprinter Mutamarres (by Green Desert). Their dam, Bulaxie, won the Group 3 Fred Darling Stakes over seven furlongs but stayed 10, and that mare has two half-sisters by the Group 1 Prix du Jockey Club and Group 1 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe star Suave Dancer (by Green Dancer) who have some interesting descendants.
Dust Flicker is one of pair, and although her daughter Sweepstake (by Acclamation) stayed a mile at three, her listed success came in the five-furlong National Stakes as a two-year-old. The other one is Dust Dancer, who won the Group 3 Prix de la Nonette over 10 furlongs and stayed 12.
Her daughter Spotlight (by Dr Fong) was a Grade 2 scorer over nine furlongs but narrowly beaten in a similar contest over a mile and a half, and her grand-daughter Counterclaim (by Pivotal) was runner-up in the Group 2 Oaks d'Italia. But she is also the grandam of Zoffany (by Dansili) and Wilshire Boulevard (by Holy Roman Emperor).
The latter won the Group 3 Anglesey Stakes and was runner-up in the Group 2 Gimcrack Stakes, and the former is, of course, the juvenile six-furlong Group 1 star who was runner-up to Frankel in the Group 1 St James's Palace Stakes at three before going on to become a leading young stallion for the Coolmore team.
Toulifaut, however, has already won over a mile and the indications are that she will stay middle-distances as a three-year-old. There are no guarantees, of course, and right now she is just a thrice-raced Group 3-winning juvenile, but if she does reach the top and become a leading French classic filly in 2017 then, given the distance ranges shown by some of her relations, the Prix Vermeille and Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe could be targets.
As for Frankel, it looks long odds-on that he will have at least one Group 1 winner to his name by the time his first three-year-olds are finished their 2017 campaigns, and increasingly likely that the initial one could happen within the next few months.