Moorestyle, Danehill, Lapierre, Green Desert, Mystiko, So Factual, Desert Prince, Indian Haven and Garswood are horses who used victory in the Listed European Free Handicap as a springboard to Group 1 success in the last 40 years, and although Anna Nerium may not be in their class, the manner of her victory in today's bet365-sponsored edition of that seven-furlong contest suggests that she is a high-class miler in the making.
The daughter of Dubawi (by Dubai Millennium) was only rated 100 after five starts as a two-year-old – and just 97 by Timeform – even though she had followed her narrow seven-furlong maiden success on Newmarket's July Course with a neck defeat of Eirene in the Group 3 Bathwick Tyres Dick Poole Fillies' Stakes over six at Salisbury.
Her final start resulted in nine-place finish in the Group 3 Oh So Sharp Stakes, crossing the line 10 lengths behind the winner, Altyn Orda, and so it was no surprise that she was sent off as one of the outsiders on her seasonal reappearance.
The farther she went, the better she was going, and she landed the spoils by three lengths from Finniston Farm. She holds entries in both the Group 1 Qipco 1000 Guineas and Group 1 Poule d'Essai des Pouliches (French 1000 Guineas), and although more improvement is needed to have a realistic chance of winning either of those classics, she is bred to be suited by a mile, and possibly even stay 10 furlongs.
The Richard Hannon-trained chestnut was bred by Stowell Hill Ltd, she was a buy-back at the Tattersalls October Yearling Sale, and she is fifth blacktype horse among racing-age offspring of dual German winner Anna Oleanda (by Old Vic).
Middle Club (by Fantastic Light) won the Group 3 Prix d'Aumale and was runner-up in the Group 2 Oaks d'Italia, Anna Mona (by Monsun) was third in the Group 3 Prix de Royaumont over 12 furlongs, and Anna Royal (by Royal Dragon) was listed-placed over that trip in Germany, but perhaps the most notable is Piping Rock.
A full-brother to Anna Nerium, he looked a potential star in the making after three starts as a juvenile, which he won by a total of eight lengths. His debut was on good ground, the other two were on heavy, and in that latter pair he beat Hartnell by four lengths over seven furlongs at Salisbury and Galiway easily in the Group 3 Horris Hill Stakes at Newbury. Timeform rated him 113, he was snapped up by Godolphin, but tragically lost a battle with colic that December.
Anna Oleanda, who is also notable as being the grandam of last year's Group 3 Prestige Stakes winner Billesdon Brook (by Champs Elysees), is out of the Group 2 Preis der Diana (German Oaks) champion Anna Paola (by Prince Ippi) and that makes her a sister to several mares of note.
Her full-sister Anno Luce is the pattern-winning dam of Grade 1 Champion Hurdle heroine Annie Power (by Shirocco), two-time scorer Anna Petrovna (by Wassl) is the dam of ill-fated classic-placed multiple pattern winner Annus Mirabilis (by Warning), and Anna Of Brunswick (by Rainbow Quest) is the grandam of a string of blacktype scorers, including German juvenile Group 2 winner and champion Smooth Operator (by Big Shuffle).
Most notable of the siblings, however, is Anna Matrushka (by Mill Reef).
In addition to being the dam of Group 2 Prix Hubert de Chaudenay winner Pozarica (by Rainbow Quest) and of Annaba (by In The Wings), who won the Group 2 Prix de Royallieu and Group 2 Prix du Conseil de Paris, she is the grandam of Group 1 stars Anna Monda (by Monsun), Epaulette (by Commands), and Helmet (by Exceed And Excel), the third dam of US Grade 1 scorer Ave (by Danehill Dancer), and fourth dam of Group 1 Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere-Grand Criterium winner National Defense (by Invincible Spirit).
The latter is, of course, standing his first season at the Irish National Stud, while both Helmet and Epaulette are reverse-shuttle stallions, with the former being responsible for international Group 1 star Thunder Snow, who pushed his earnings past the £6.3 million mark when running away with the Group 1 Dubai World Cup at Meydan last month.
It remains to be seen just how good Anna Nerium is, but she is on the upgrade and bred to improve further, especially when stepped up to the mile.