Dark Angel's (by Acclamation) rise in the stallion ranks has been remarkable and in 2016 he finished in fourth place in the combined Ireland and UK sires' championship title race.
His plethora of stakes performers during the season included Harry Angel, a £44,000 Doncaster Premier Yearling Sale graduate who was bred by Cbs Bloodstock and who earned a 110 rating in the recently published Longines World's Best Racehorse Rankings.
The Clive Cox-trained colt lost out by a nose in a five-furlong Ascot maiden in early May 2016 and was only seen out once more after that, when beating Perfect Angel by two and a half lengths in the Group 2 Dubai Duty Free Mill Reef Stakes over a furlong farther at Newbury four months later.
Timeform rated the performance 113p and he is an intriguing prospect for 2017.
Whether he will be a sprinter, a miler, or one of those horses capable of performing with credit in both divisions, remains to be seen. He has shown plenty of pace in his first two starts, but his pedigree suggests that a mile will be within his range.
Dark Angel has proved his ability to get both sprinters and milers and this young son is out of a mare who was placed at both six furlongs and a mile. Beatrix Potter (by Cadeaux Genereux) has also produced the 10-furlong winner Golden Journey (by Nayef), she is by a sprint champion who stayed a mile, and she is out of the stakes-placed seven-furlong winner Great Joy (by Grand Lodge).
That older mare is also the dam of the dual Group 1-winning miler Xtension (by Xaar), who won the Group 2 Vintage Stakes and was placed in both the Group 2 Coventry Stakes and Group 1 Dewhurst Stakes before going on to star in Hong Kong. He stands at Rathbarry Stud in Ireland and his oldest progeny are yearlings.
Great Joy is a half-sister to the mile listed scorer A La Carte (by Caerleon) and to Bally Souza (by Alzao), who is the dam of the Listed Round Tower Stakes winner and Group 1 National Stakes runner-up Wathab (by Cadeaux Genereux), and their dam is an unraced daughter of the mighty Spectacular Bid (by Bold Bidder).
There are plenty of blacktype horses to be found under the fourth generation of the family, starting with fourth dam Avum (by Umbrella Fella), and it is her Grade 3-winning daughter Baroness Direct (by Blushing Groom) who is the grandam of Grade 1 star and successful sire Stephen Got Even (by A.P. Indy), and third dam of multiple Grade 1-winning filly Artemis Agrotera (by Roman Ruler).
Avum's best son was the US Grade 2 scorer Minneapple (by Riverman) and she was also the dam of the pattern-placed French stakes winner Lyphard's Princess (by Lyphard), who was in turn, the dam of the Grade 2 Ohio Derby scorer Private Man (by Private Account).
As a pattern-winning son of Dark Angel, it is likely that Harry Angel has already caught the interest of some of those looking for a future new stallion recruit and, of course, any additional success for him in 2017 will also serve as an advertisement for his Group 1-winning 'uncle' Xtension.
The 2016 Longines World's Best Racehorse Rankings were published this week and of the 47 European juveniles who reached or surpassed the 110 mark required for inclusion, many have already been reviewed here, or will be reviewed in the coming weeks.
Reports on each year's figures tends to focus on the ones mostly highly ranked, but there is a colt among those at the lower end of the list that caught the eye last season and his name kept popping up because of what those he beat on his final start went on to do afterwards.
There are many reasons why those defeated one day may go on to achieve greater things while their earlier conqueror fails to progress, but the colt is a classic-entered and thrice-raced member of the Richard Hannon team and he has a pedigree that suggests he could be a high-class seven to nine furlong horse in the making.
Larchmont Lad was bred by Domenico Fonzo and he is a €110,000 graduate of the Tattersalls Ireland September Yearling Sale, an eye-catching amount for a son of Coolmore Stud's classic star and somewhat underrated stallion Footstepsinthesand (by Giant's Causeway).
The colt has only run over seven furlongs, so far. He beat 11 rivals by three and a quarter lengths and more at Sandown at the start of July, came off worst in a three-way photo for the Listed Weatherbys Stallion Book Flying Scotsman Stakes at Doncaster in September, and then won the Group 3 Tattersalls Stakes at Newmarket 13 days later.
The times of those two blacktype events were unremarkable, which suggests that the form may need to be treated with caution.
He won the Newmarket race by three-parts of a length from Whitecliffsofdover and with Sir Dancealot a short-head back in third. The former is an Aidan O'Brien-trained colt who finished third to National Defense in the Group 1 Qatar Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere on his only subsequent start, and the latter is the David Elsworth-trained colt who then won the Listed Rockingham Stakes at York shortly before finishing a four and a quarter-length sixth to Rivet in the Group 1 Racing Post Trophy.
Best Solution was fourth in the Newmarket race, finishing a half-length behind Sir Dancealot. The Godolphin colt is trained by Saeed bin Suroor, he won the Group 3 Dubai 100 Autumn Stakes on his next start and then chased home Waldgeist in the Group 1 Criterium de Saint-Cloud. He finished only fourth over seven furlongs on dirt at Meydan on Thursday but can be expected to improve on that when returning to turf.
Fifth place at Newmarket went to Law And Order, and although that James Tate-trained colt was well-beaten behind Best Solution over the mile next time out, he dropped back to seven furlongs for his final start and finished third to Pleaseletmewin in a Group 3 contest at Newbury.
Larchmont Lad is the fourth foal out of an unraced mare called Fotini (by King's Best) and his siblings include the capable filly Peticoatgovernment (by Holy Roman Emperor).
She has run 13 times for the Willie McCreery stable, winning a seven-furlong Dundalk maiden and a five-furlong Cork handicap, she was sixth of 19 in the prestigious Scurry Handicap at the Curragh in July and has achieved a peak handicap rating of 88.
Fotini is a half-sister to several multiple winners, most notably the Group 1 Gran Criterium runner-up Spirit Of Desert (by Desert Prince) whose tally of six wins featured the Group 2 Premio Parioli (Italian 2000 Guineas) and three listed events.
Their dam, Nomothetis (by Law Society), is a half-sister to nine winners and, in addition to the notable middle-distance horse Posidonas (by Slip Anchor), they include the Listed Singapore Gold Cup scorer Carry The Flag (by Tenby), pattern-placed stakes winner Final Verse (by Mark Of Esteem), two flat blacktype-placed winners, and a broodmare of note.
The latter is Thermopylae (by Tenby) who, although herself just placed a few times, is the dam of Unsung Heroine (by High Chaparral), the Tommy Stack-trained Group 3 Give Thanks Stakes heroine who chased home Conduit in the Group 1 St Leger at Doncaster and was beaten just a head by Crystal Capella in the Group 2 Pride Stakes at Newmarket from a four-start career.
Posidonas won the Group 1 Gran Premio d'Italia, Group 2 Princess of Wales's Stakes, Group 2 Hardwicke Stakes, Group 3 John Porter Stakes and the Listed Arc Trial Stakes and the races in which he was placed included the Group 1 Gran Premio del Jockey Club and Group 1 Deutschlandpreis.
Footstepsinthesand is a 2000 Guineas winner whose best progeny tend to excel in the six to nine furlong range, although some, for example last year's Group 2 Prix Eugene Adam scorer Heshem and 2014's Peruvian Grade 1 winner Sand Bijou, are just as effective over 10 furlongs.
This combined with having a dam who is a King's Best (by Kingmambo) half-sister to an Italian mile classic winner suggests that Larchmont Lad is another who is likely to show the typical distance range of his sire's progeny, despite the stamina farther back on the page.
He is available at around 40/1 for the Group 1 Qipco 2000 Guineas at Newmarket and although he has plenty of progress to make if he is to be up to winning a strong race at the highest level, he looks like the sort of colt who could make the frame in such races while picking up a variety of pattern events at the lower levels.
It's January, all of the thoroughbreds in this part of the world are officially a year older, and with the breeding season soon to begin again it is also a time when fans of the flat start to look ahead to the new turf campaign and speculate as to which of the previous year's juveniles will play a prominent role in the classics.
It is entirely possible that one or more of those who will become Group 1 classic winners in Europe in 2017 have not yet done anything more than run in or win a maiden. Maybe they have not even step foot on a racecourse. Some, if not most, will already have names already well known to us because of their excellent juvenile form.
Every year there are some major winners and even classic stars who have somewhat humble pedigrees, but should H H the Aga Khan's homebred Eziyra hit the top then she would be the opposite of that, an example of equine royalty achieving what she was bred to do. She was also a highly talented performer at two.
The daughter of Kildangan Stud's leading international sire Teofilo (by Galileo) has five Group 1 stars in her immediate family and four of them are siblings of her stakes-placed dam Eytarna (by Dubai Destination).
She holds entries in both the Group 1 Tattersalls Irish 1000 Guineas and Group 1 Darley Irish Oaks, she is available at around 20/1 for the Group 1 Investec Oaks at Epsom, and she was among the leading juvenile fillies in Ireland last season.
The Dermot Weld-trained chestnut was runner-up on her debut over seven and a half furlongs at Tipperary in early July and then beat the subsequently dual Group 1-placed Hydrangea by two lengths in a seven-furlong maiden at Galway before losing out by a neck to her debut conqueror Sea Of Grace in the Group 3 Flame Of Tara Stakes over a mile at the Curragh.
A month later, and wearing a hood for the first time, she justified favouritism with a two-length score in the Group 3 C.L. & M.F. Weld Park Stakes over seven on heavy ground at that same venue.
Weld said, in post-race interviews, that he sees her as a miler and as an Irish 1000 Guineas candidate. She has already run well over that course and distance so we know that neither will pose her any difficulty if she lines up for that classic in May.
We also know that she is bred to achieve anything and that the Curragh race is a classic that her sire has won before: Pleascach beat Found by half a length to land the spoils in 2015. Both those standout fillies went on to excel over 10 and 12 furlongs and there is every chance, on pedigree, that Eziyra could follow suit.
The Australian dual Group 1 stars Kermadec and Palentino are milers, as was the Group 1 Prix Jean Prat scorer Havana Gold, but Teofilo's other top-level winners also include the afore mentioned Yorkshire Oaks and Irish 1000 Guineas heroine Pleascach, Irish St Leger winner Voleuse De Coeurs, last season's Prix du Cadran scorer Quest For More, and also the ill-fated Irish Derby hero Trading Leather.
Dubai Destination (by Kingmambo), who was a miler, is well-established as a leading broodmare sire and the Derby and Arc champion Golden Horn (by Cape Cross) is just one the major winners his daughters have produced. Like Eziyra, that colt represents a family that contains some notable middle-distance horses.
Eytarna was unraced at two, won her maiden over nine and a half furlongs in July of her three-year-old season and rounded off her career with a third-place finish in the Listed Finale Stakes over 12 furlongs on soft ground at the Curragh.
Her first foal is the hurdles-placed gelding Enzani (by Cape Cross), who won over 12 furlongs at Dundalk just over two years ago, and her second is the lightly-raced Eshera (by Oratorio) whose two wins from just three starts included a mile listed contest at Cork.
Eytarna is out of the Group 2-placed triple middle-distance stakes winner Ebaziya (by Darshaan) and that makes her a half-sister to the Group 1 Gold Cup winners Enzeli (by Kahyasi) and Estimate (by Monsun), to Group 1 Irish Oaks heroine Ebadiyla (by Sadler's Wells) and to the Group 1 Moyglare Stud Stakes scorer Edabiya (by Rainbow Quest).
Ebadiyla is the dam of three blacktype earners and grandam of the Group 2 Prix de Royallieu winner Ebiyza (by Rock Of Gibraltar), and those out of her unplaced half-sister Elbasana (by Indian Ridge) include the lightly-raced Group 3 Give Thanks Stakes winner Edelmira (by Peintre Celebre).
Ebazyia's daughters also include a thrice-raced maiden called Ebaza (by Sinndar), dam of the Group 3 Athasi Stakes winner Emiyna. That filly was also Group 3-placed over a mile and never asked to try farther, but she is a daughter of US classic sire Maria's Mon (by Wavering Monarch), a horse whose best tend to be in the seven to 10-furlong range. That is also the range in which Ebadiyla's son Eyshal (by Green Desert) earned all of his blacktype.
Another indication that Eziyra may stay the Oaks trip is that Ezilla, an unraced full-sister to Ebaziya, is the dam of Ezima (by Sadler's Wells), the Listed Savel Beg Stakes winner and Group 2 Lancashire Oaks runner-up whose star daughter is 2014's champion Taghrooda (by Sea The Stars).
She won both the Group 1 Oaks at Epsom and Group 1 King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot, was runner-up in the Group 1 Yorkshire Oaks and third in the Group 1 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe. Her first foal is a Kingman (by Invincible Spirit) filly born last February and she was then bred to Dubawi (by Dubai Millennium).
If Eziyra has inherited a speed influence from Teofilo and through Dubai Destination then she may indeed be a miler in the making, but the odds are slightly more in favour of her getting at least 10 furlongs.
If she does indeed prove good enough to win or be placed in the first fillies' Irish classic of the year at the Curragh then she may also be capable of following the example of her sire's Pleascach by excelling over middle-distances too.