Not all early season classic trials generate as much excitement after the event as they may have done before the off. Bubbles may be burst, bunch finishes, slow times and unexpected results may suggest a lack of reliability in the form, or perhaps the line-up did not look particularly strong anyway.
This could not be said about Monday's edition of the Group 3 Prix Djebel, which was run over seven furlongs on good ground at Maisons-Laffitte.
The seven runners featured last year's Group 1 Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere (Grand Criterium) star National Defense and also an Andre Fabre-trained colt whose reputation had been enhanced the previous day when Gold Luck won the Group 3 Prix Vanteaux.
On the second of his two juvenile starts, he beat that filly by one and three-quarter lengths in the Listed Prix Isonomy over a mile at Deauville, and that was just three weeks after a successful debut over seven fulongs at Saint-Cloud.
His name is Al Wukair and Al Shaqab Racing's mid-February born colt could be on the verge of a significant career.
The bare form says that he beat National Defense by a length, with recent listed scorer African Ride another two and a half lengths back in third, but it caught the eye that he came from last to first..
The runner-up was always prominent, led by halfway, and kept on well to the line, but Al Wukair, who was almost 10 lengths behind the leader around the halfway mark, made his move a furlong and a half out and went to the front with just over a half-furlong to go.
Al Wukair was bred by Ballylinch Stud at a time when his sire, Dream Ahead (by Diktat), stood at the Co Kilkenny base. He is now at Haras de Grandcamp in France and the best of seven stakes winners from his first two crops, aged three and up, is the Group 2-winning sprinter Donjuan Triumphant who was runner-up to Signs Of Blessing in the Group 1 Prix Maurice de Gheest last August.
Although a brilliant six-furlong performer by a Group 1-winning sprinter, it was always on the cards that this grandson of the outstanding miler Warning (by Known Fact) could get some high-class milers, and as Macheera (by Machiavellian) comes from a notable family of milers and middle-distance horses, that made her an ideal candidate to produce such a horse.
The stallion's other notable performers at a mile include the pattern-placed dual listed scorer Basileus and also the 102-rated Silent Attack who was narrowly beaten by Blond Me in the Group 2 Longines International Topkapi Trophy over that same trip at Veliefendi, Turkey, in September, a race for which he was odds-on favourite.
Al Wukair has already won over a mile and he is clearly a serious candidate for next month's Group 1 Qipco 2000 Guineas at Newmarket.
He is a half-brother to a stakes-placed seven to eight furlong filly – Witches Brew (by Duke Of Marmalade) - and his winning dam is a half-sister to La Nuit Rose (by Rainbow Quest) who was third in both the Group 1 Poule d'Essai des Pouliches (French 1000 Guineas) and Group 1 Irish 1000 Guineas in 1998.
That classic performer became the dam of one-mile Grade 2 Kelso Handicap winner Tam Lin (by Selkirk), who also won a listed contest over 11 furlongs at Hamilton, and of French 12-furlong listed scorer Blue Rambler (by Monsun), a gelding who has been placed in a three-mile novice hurdle in England.
Star Mie (by A.P. Indy), a winning half-sister to Macheera and La Nuit Rose, is the dam of Curren Mirotic (by Heart's Cry), who won the 10-furlong Group 2 Kinko Sho and has been Group 1-placed over two miles, and also of the Group 1-placed Japanese mile Group 3 scorer Hikaru Amaranthus (by Agnes Tachyon).
Might Al Wukair stay 10 and a half furlongs?
If he has inherited the stamina gene from his dam then it is possible. After all, his grandam Caerlina won the Group 1 Prix de Diane (French Oaks) over that trip and, as noted above, some of his other relations have stayed that far and more.
Yes, Caerlina is by the then 12-furlong Group 1 Prix du Jockey Club (French Derby) winner Caerleon (by Nijinsky) and out of a juvenile scorer - Dinalina (by Top Ville) – whose dam, Shahinaaz (by Venture), was runner-up in the Prix de Royallieu, but her sire managed to get some five- and six-furlong horses and her other Group 1 placings were in the Poule d'Essai des Pouliches and Prix Marcel Boussac, both over a mile.
Caerlina's full-sister Leonila, on the other hand, got a bit more stamina than speed and she was runner-up in the 12-furlong Group 2 Prix de Mallaret.
Time will tell just how good Al Wukair will be at his peak and how far he will stay. Right now he is an unbeaten thrice-raced Group 3 winner, but this as yet undefeated colt is one of the most exciting members of the three-year-old crop of 2017 seen out so far this year.