There was a period in the 1980s when yearling sale figures were through the roof and in 1985 a colt set a new world record price of $13.1 million in Keeneland, eclipsing the previous high of $10.2 million for the ultimately unraced and sterile Snaafi Dancer.
This new market leader was a son of Triple Crown hero and influential sire Nijinsky (by Northern Dancer) and out of the Fair Ground Oaks scorer My Charmer (by Poker), which made him both a three-parts brother to Group 1 2000 Guineas winner Lomond (by Northern Dancer) and a half-brother to the US Triple Crown star and leading sire Seattle Slew (by Bold Reasoning).
The colt was bred by Warner Jones Jr, William S Farish and William Kilroy, he was owned by a partnership that included Stavros Niarchos and Robert Sangster, and he went into training with the great Vincent O'Brien. He did show plenty of talent, but it was not the sort of superstar form for which one would hope of such an expensive purchase.
Unraced at two, Seattle Dancer was only third over a mile at Phoenix Park on his racecourse debut, won the Group 2 Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial at Leopardstown and the Group 2 Gallinule Stakes at the Curragh, and then bypassed Epsom in favour of Chantilly. He was only sixth in the Group 1 Prix du Jockey-Club (French Derby), then runner-up in the Group 1 Grand Prix de Paris at Longchamp, and he was not seen on the track again. His entire racing career fitted into 10 weeks.
Timeform rated him 119, some way below the 128 they awarded to Lomond four years before, and like that sibling he joined the Coolmore stallion team. Lomond began his career in Ireland and got several Group 1 winners. Seattle Dancer began his at Ashford Stud in Kentucky and he got the Group 1 Racing Post Trophy scorer Seattle Rhyme in his first juveniles.
Other notables for him included US Grade 1 scorers Caffe Latte and Pike Place Dancer and talented European runners such as Via Borghese, Que Belle and Rose Of Zollern, but this too was well short of what would be expected of a $13.1 million purchase. Seattle Dancer was a member of the team at Gestut Auenquelle in Germany at the time of his death in the summer of 2007.
Seattle Slew, of course, was not only a major sire of racehorses and of broodmares but a hugely successful sire of sires, and his champion son A.P. Indy has forged one of the most powerful and dominant sire lines in the USA.
Seattle Dancer's siblings also included a full-sister named Ghashtah. She was unraced and came up with just four winners from a dozen foals, but her granddaughter Nasheej (by Swain) showed plenty of talent in England. As a juvenile she won the Group 2 May Hill Stakes and the Group 3 Sweet Solera Stakes, she was third in the Group 1 Fillies' Mile and earned a Timeform rating of 103. At three she moved up to a figure of 112, winning the Group 3 Fred Darling Stakes and being third in both the Group 1 1000 Guineas and Group 1 Coronation Stakes.
Ghashtah is also the grandam of Adaala (by Sahm) and that pattern-placed Listed Kilboy Estate Stakes winner is the grandam Awtaad, the colt who impressed with victory in the Group 1 Tattersalls Irish 2000 Guineas on Saturday.
The Kevin Prendergast-trained son of Kildangan Stud's excellent sire Cape Cross (by Green Desert) is owned and bred by Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum and he is out of Asheerah, one of four stakes-placed daughters of Adaala. A first Group 1 winner for fellow Kildangan team member Shamardal (by Giant's Causeway) as a broodmare sire, Awtaad is a fourth Group 1 European classic winner for Cape Cross, following Ouija Board (Oaks, Irish Oaks), Sea The Stars (2000 Guineas, Derby) and Golden Horn (Derby).
Sea The Stars got two Group 1 classic winners in his first crop and has several potential Group 1 scorers among his current batch of three-year-olds, which augurs well for the prospects of other Cape Cross stallions. Yes, that Gilltown Stud ace is a half-brother to prolific champion sire Galileo and related to other Group 1 sires such as King's Best, Tertullian and Black Sam Bellamy, but Awtaad comes from the family of Seattle Slew and of Group 1 sires Seattle Dancer and Lomond.
Awtaad, who has been ridden by Chris Hayes on all five of his starts, was third in a seven-furlong Curragh maiden on his juvenile debut in October and won over the same trip at Leopardstown a fortnight later. He won the Madrid Handicap by five lengths at the Curragh on his seasonal reappearance, beat Blue De Vega by two lengths in the Listed Tetrarch Stakes in early May, and on his first time at a mile he beat Group 1 2000 Guineas hero Galileo Gold by two and a half lengths to record a popular classic success.
His entries include the Group 1 St James's Palace Stakes and Group 1 Qatar Sussex Stakes, both over a mile, the 10-furlong Group 1 QIPCO Irish Champion Stakes, and also the Group 1 Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby.
His Timeform figure of 124p puts him joint-top of the three-year-old division. His pedigree certainly gives him every chance of being as effective over 10 furlongs, and although he is by the sire of three 12-furlong classic stars he is not absolutely guaranteed to stay the Derby distance.
His dam was stakes-placed over 10 furlongs but beaten when she tried farther, and his grandam stayed nine but was unplaced when she went beyond that trip. Adaala's sire Sahm (by Mr Prospector) was a son of the Group 1 Irish Derby heroine Salsabil (by Sadler's Wells), but he showed more of his sire's speed than his dam's stamina.
The question of whether or not Awtaad can stay 12 furlongs will not be answered until he actually tries it, but whatever distances prove to be his best, this exciting colt promises to be one of the brightest stars of 2016. And with his pedigree connections there is also every reason to hope that a notable stallion career awaits him whenever his racing days come to an end.
One of the best-bred horses in the Stud Book advertised her Group 1 potential when winning the Group 3 Tattersalls Musidora Stakes over 10 furlongs at York.
This four-length defeat of Group 1 1000 Guineas fourth Fireglow saw her shoot to the top of the ante-post market for both the Group 1 Investec Derby and the Group 1 Investec Oaks, but five days later it was announced that she was lame and would miss Epsom. It is to be hoped that she recovers quickly and can return to action before long.
So Mi Dar is trained by John Gosden, she was bred by her owner Lord Lloyd-Webber's Watership Down Stud and she is a daughter of Dalham Hall Stud's outstanding stallion Dubawi (by Dubai Millennium). She is a half-sister to the multiple pattern-placed colt De Treville (by Oasis Dream) and these two talented performers are the first two progeny of the triple Group 1 star Dar Re Mi (by Singspiel).
Placed in her only starts at two, Dar Re Mi, who was also trained by Gosden, won a 10 furlong Sandown maiden by seven lengths, finished third behind Lush Lashes in the Group 3 Musidora Stakes and came off worst in a three-way photo finish for the Group 2 Prix de Mallaret over 12 furlongs at Saint-Cloud. Three weeks later she won a listed contest at Newmarket, followed-up with victory in the Group 3 Prix Minerve at Deauville, and then chased home her old rival Lush Lashes in the Group 1 Yorkshire Oaks, run that year at Newmarket.
Dar Re Mi completed her three-year-old campaign by chasing home Zarkava in the Group 1 Prix Vermeille and taking third in the Group 2 Prix de Royallieu. At four she won the Group 1 Pretty Polly Stakes over 10 furlongs at the Curragh, beat Sariska in the Group 1 Yorkshire Oaks, and was first past the post in the Group 1 Prix Vermeille (relegated to fifth) before finishing a three and a half length fifth behind Sea The Stars in the Group 1 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe.
A month later she was third to Conduit in the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Turf, and although her five-year-old campaign was restricted to just two appearances, she showed herself to be at least as good as ever with victory in the Group 1 Dubai Sheema Classic at Meydan.
With a dam like this, So Mi Dar could have a top-class career on the track and still remain in her mother's shadow. And Dar Re Mi could produce a string of stakes-winning progeny without matching the exploits of her dam, the Group 1 Prix Vermeille heroine Darara (by Top Ville), one of those exceptionally rare broodmares who have produced at least four individual Group/Grade 1-winning offspring.
Darazari (by Sadler's Wells) won the Group 1 Ranvet Stakes in Australia, Diaghilev (by Sadler's Wells) won the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Cup in Hong Kong under the name River Dancer, and Derby-third Rewilding (by Tiger Hill) looked set for a glittering career on the track, and potentially at stud, after wins in the Group 1 Dubai Sheema Classic and Group 1 Prince of Wales's Stakes of 2011, but tragically suffered a fatal injury during the Group 1 King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot that summer.
Darara was also responsible for the Group 1-placed multiple stakes winner Dariyoun (by Shahrastani), for Group 1 Prix du Jockey-Club (French Derby) third Rhagaas (by Sadler's Wells), for Group 2 King Edward VII Stakes runner-up Kilimanjaro (by Shirley Heights), and for Dararita (by Halo), the mare who gave us the high-class stayer Darasim (by Kahyasi). He won the Group 2 Goodwood Cup and Group 2 Prix Kergorlay and the races in which he was placed included the Group 1 Gold Cup and Group 1 Prix du Cadran.
A daughter of the pattern-placed Delsy (by Abdos), Darara was bred and raced by the Aga Khan, and the Lloyd-Webbers acquired her as an 11-year-old when she was sold, with Kilimanjaro in utero, for IR£470,000 at the 1994 Goffs November Breeding Stock Sale.
The best of her siblings was her classic-winning half-brother Darshaan (by Shirley Heights), the 1984 Group 1 Prix du Jockey-Club hero stood at Gilltown Stud, and in addition to being the sire of a Group 1 roll of honour that includes standouts such as Dalakhani (classic sire), Kotashaan and Mark Of Esteem (classic sire), he has had powerful influence as a broodmare sire.
Their Group 2-winning half-sister Dalara (by Doyoun) gave the dual Group 1 scorer and dual Derby runner-up Daliapour (by Sadler's Wells), Delsy's descendants also include the triple Group 1 winner and new Haras du Logis stallion Hunter's Light (by Dubawi), and all of this represents just the highlights in the family's achievements.
So Mi Dar has a tremendous amount going for her, she is unbeaten in three starts and Timeform awarded her a figure of 120p for her York success. That is the same mark given to that week's Group 2 Dante Stakes winner Wings of Desire and it ranks her second only to Minding (122) among the three-year-old fillies. She could be anything, and it will be exciting to find out just how good she will be when she reaches her peak.
German champion and Group 1 Deutsches Derby hero Adlerflug (by In The Wings) has done well with his early crops, and given the family he represents that is hardly a surprise.
Gestut Harzburg's stallion, whose progeny include the Group 1 Grosser Preis von Bayern and recent Group 2 Gerling-Preis winner Ito, is a grandson of the Group 2 Preis der Diana (German Oaks) runner-up Alya (by Lombard), and she was a full-sister to the pattern-placed Allegretta (by Lombard), the mare who gave us Urban Sea (by Miswaki).
That Group 1 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe heroine is not only one of the elite few who produced at least four Group/Grade 1-winning offspring, but her two most brilliant sons are also two of Europe's best sires.
Galileo (by Sadler's Wells), who is somewhat closely related to Adlerflug, is a prolific champion sire who appears to be forging a dynasty, while Sea The Stars (by Cape Cross) came up with the classic winners Sea The Moon and Taghrooda in his first crop and has several exciting prospects in his latest batch of three-year-olds, including Cloth Of Stars, Harzand and Mekhtaal.
Urban Sea's three-parts brother Tertullian (by Miswaki) has the Australian Group 1 scorer Mawingo, German Group 1 winner Guiliani, and the millionaire and German Group 2 classic scorer Irian on his roll of honour. Her siblings include the Group 1 2000 Guineas hero and classic sire King's Best (by Kingmambo) and her sons also include Black Sam Bellamy (by Sadler's Wells), the Group 1-winning sire of classic-placed triple Group 1 star Earl Of Tinsdal.
With family connections like these, combined with representing the Danehill (by Danzig) sire line, Monday's Group 2 Mehl-Mulhens-Rennen (German 2000 Guineas) winner Knife Edge may now attract plenty of attention as a prospective stallion. His unraced dam Attalea (by Monsun) is out of Anthyllis (by Lycius), a stakes-placed half-sister to Adlerflug.
The Marco Botti-trained chestnut was bred by the Attalea Partnership and he races in Coolmore colours. He made a winning debut over seven furlongs at Ascot in September, his short-head defeat by Tasleet in the Group 3 Greenham Stakes at Chelmsford last month was his fourth start, and his classic victory was achieved by a nose over a mile on good ground at Cologne.
Knife Edge represents the first crop of Coolmore Stud stallion Zoffany (by Dansili), a horse who won the Group 1 Phoenix Stakes as a juvenile but who is probably best remembered as the one who gave Frankel fans a brief scare in the Group 1 St James's Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot.
With eight individual stakes winners already in his first crop, plus two others who have been blacktype-placed, Zoffany is the standout second-crop stallion in Europe.
His Group 1-placed Group 2 Royal Lodge Stakes winner Foundation may go to Epsom for the Group 1 Investec Derby or to Chantilly for the Group 1 Prix du Jockey-Club, Waterloo Bridge and Illuminate were Group 2 scorers last summer, Ventura Storm and Group 1-placed Washington DC are listed race winners in 2016, and Dolce Strega took the Group 3 Athasi Stakes at the Curragh a couple of weeks ago.
A €43,000 graduate of the Baden-Baden September Yearlings Sale, Knife Edge is said to be entered in the Group 1 St James's Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot. He still has quite a bit of improvement to make if he is going to win at the highest level, but this victory was a step up on what he had done before, so he is a colt who appears to be on the upgrade.
The all-weather tracks have proved themselves to be a tremendous asset to the racing industry and a growing trend associated with them is that there is an increasing number of potentially top-class performers who are getting their initial wins at those venues.
In 2015, for example, Covert Love won the Group 1 Irish Oaks just over two months after taking a 10 furlong maiden at Chelmsford, and Jack Hobbs, whose only outing as a juvenile was a three-length success in an eight and a half furlong maiden at Wolverhampton, scored by five lengths in the Group 1 Irish Derby.
It remains to be sees if Wings of Desire can follow their example by winning a classic, or any other Group 1 contest, and his Group 2 Betfred Dante Stakes success, over 10 and a half furlongs at York, came 19 days after his odds-on win in a 12 furlong Wolverhampton maiden. His only other start was when third, at 14/1, over a mile and a quarter at Newmarket 10 days earlier.
He is now one of the ante-post favourites for next month's Group 1 Investec Derby at Epsom, and with such a promising start made to his career, it looks certain that his rating will soon rise well above the 114 he earned at York.
Lady Bamford's homebred chestnut is trained by John Gosden and he is a son of veteran Cheveley Park Stud stallion Pivotal (by Polar Falcon), the Group 1-winning sprinter whose tally of more than 120 individual stakes winners features 25 who have won at least once at the highest level.
The best of his progeny can be sprinters, milers or middle-distance horses, with the distaff side of the family influencing what suits them best. Wings of Desire has already proved his ability to stay the Derby distance, and with his family connections it was to be expected that the trip would be within his range.
Pivotal's Group 1 classic winners are Buzzword (Deutsches Derby), Falco (Poule d'Essai des Poulains), Halfway To Heaven (Irish 1000 Guineas), Saoire (Irish 1000 Guineas), Silvester Lady (Preis der Diana) and Sariska (Oaks, Irish Oaks), and the latter could be described as being a three-parts sister to Wings of Desire.
The dual classic heroine is out of the 14-furlong listed scorer Maycocks Bay (by Muhtarram) and her siblings include Gull Wing (by In The Wings), winner of the Listed Further Flight Stakes over 14 furlongs at Nottingham and dam of the recent Dante Stakes hero.
Sariska's daughter Snow Moon (by Oasis Dream) won an eight and a half furlong maiden at Nottingham earlier in the month and holds an entry in the Group 2 Ribblesdale Stakes at Royal Ascot. Her third foal is a Frankel (by Galileo) colt who was born last year, and her current one is a daughter of Dubawi (by Dubai Millennium).
Wings of Desire is Gull Wing's fourth foal and he is a full-brother to The Lark and Eagle Top. The Lark won the Group 2 Park Hill Stakes over the St Leger course and distance at Doncaster and the more notable of her other two pieces of blacktype is her third place finish behind Talent and Secret Gesture in the Group 1 Oaks at Epsom. She was trained by Michael Bell.
Eagle Top is a member of the John Gosden team and although the entire has not been as consistent as might be hoped, his easy victory over Adelaide in the Group 2 King Edward VII Stakes in 2014 and his nose defeat by Postponed in the Group 1 King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot last summer prove that he is capable of producing top-class form.
The mare's other racing-age offspring are The Mighty Eagle (by Shamardal), who was born in 2012, and two-year-old colt Crowned Eagle (by Oasis Dream). Her sixth foal is a yearling full-brother to her star trio.
The next dam is an unraced mare called Beacon (by High Top) and although only six of her 15 siblings were winners, they included the Group 3 Gordon Stakes winner and Group 1 Gold Cup third Compton Ace (by Pharly), who died young, and his stakes-winning half-brother Turbine Blade (by Kings Lake). Their winning half-sister Clara House (by Shirley Heights) was represented by a pair of listed scorers in Italy and she is the grandam of Tiger Tops (by Tiger Hill) who was a leading filly in India.
Mountain Lodge (by Blakeney), who won the Cesarewitch Handicap at Newmarket as a three-year-old and the Group 1 Irish St Leger at the age of four, is the fourth dam of Wings of Desire. She was a half-sister to the dam of the Group 3 Goodwood Cup runner-up El Conquistador (by Shirley Heights), related to the Group 1 Prix Vermeille heroine Pearly Shells (by Efisio) and also to Grade 1 Hollywood Turf Cup winner Frenchpark (by Fools Holme). If you go back another few generations then you find that this is the family of the Derby hero and prolific champion sire Hyperion (by Gainsborough).
Wings of Desire is the third Group 2 scorer from the first four foals of Gull Wing, which is a tremendous start to that mare's career at stud. His talented siblings have been placed at the highest level, he has the potential surpass their achievements, and if he should go on to become a Group 1 star then that accolade, plus ongoing success for the Pivotal-sired stallions Kyllachy and Siyouni, will make him an attractive future addition to the covering shed.
Races that are seen as being classic trials are important contests in their own right, but analysis of them tends to be done with a view to the future. Close finishes are disappointing, as they have probably not revealed any potential stars, but an easy winner is exciting, especially when the horse has a top-notch pedigree.
Mekhtaal did not race as a juvenile and the underfoot conditions he encountered on his first two starts were described at heavy. He beat five rivals in a newcomers' race over 10 furlongs at Saint-Cloud in March but was then second of four, at odds of 2/5, in a conditions event over the same trip at Maisons-Laffitte a month later.
If he was to have any classic aspirations then he would have to win or at least go close to success in the Group 2 Prix Hocquart four weeks later. The ground that day was described as good, progeny of his sire are known to be better suited to decent ground rather than to soft or heavy turf, and the result was an impressive six length win.
Mekhtaal was bred by the partnership of Haras Du Mezeray and Skymarc Farm, he is trained by Jean-Claude Rouget, and he is a €300,000 graduate of the Arqana Deauville August Yearling Sale. He represents the third crop of Gilltown Stud stallion Sea The Stars (by Cape Cross), whose best so far include the classic winners Sea The Moon and Taghrooda, and he comes from a family that is no stranger to producing winners at the highest level.
His half-brother Democrate (by Dalakhani) won the Group 2 Prix Hocquart in 2008, the best of five wins for his half-sister Aigue Marine (by Galileo) came in the Grade 3 Long Island Handicap at Aqueduct, and his siblings also include the blacktype-placed pair Apophis (by Rainbow Quest) and Crosswind (by Cape Cross). They have a two-year-old half-brother named Aiguillon (by New Approach), who made €210,000 at Deauville last year, a yearling half-sister from the first crop of juvenile champion and classic-winning miler Dawn Approach (by New Approach), and their dam is the Group 3 Prix Fille de l'Air scorer Aiglonne (by Silver Hawk).
The mare's siblings include the stakes-placed Last Attempt (by Cape Cross) and the Japanese winner Gaily Tiara (by Caerleon), and the latter is the dam of the Group 1 Prix Saint-Alary scorer and Group 1 Prix de Diane (French Oaks) runner-up Germance (by Silver Hawk), who could be described as being a three-parts sister to Mekhtaal's dam.
Majestic Role (by Theatrical), who is the grandam of Mekhtaal, won the Listed Tyros Stakes at the Curragh and was runner-up in the Group 1 Prix de la Salamandre, both as a two-year-old, and she was among five stakes-winning progeny for a one-time scorer named Autocratic (by Tyrant). Proconsular (by Procida) was a stakes winner in France, Norman Style (by Malacate) won a listed contest in Germany, and Supreme Commander (by Saumarez) blacktype wins came in both those countries.
Fair of The Furze (by Ela-Mana-Mou) was the best of the quintet and the Group 2 Tattersalls Gold Cup heroine made quite an impact at stud too. Fair Question (by Rainbow Quest) won the Group 2 St Leger at Dortmund, Elfaslah (by Green Desert) won the Listed Diamond Stakes at the Curragh, and White Muzzle (by Dancing Brave) was a top-class middle-distance horse who went on to success at stud in Japan.
His wins featured the Group 1 Derby Italiano and Group 2 Grand Prix de Deauville, he was only beaten by a neck when runner-up to Urban Sea in the Group 1 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, and he was twice runner-up in the Group 1 King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot, chasing home Opera House in 1993 and King's Theatre 12 months later. He stood at Shadai Stallion Station and those of his progeny who earned the equivalent of £1 million or more in prize money included the Group 1 stars Nihonpiro Ours, Shadow Gate, Ingrandire, and Kikuka Sho (Japanese St Leger) winner Asakusa Kings.
Elfaslah, on the other hand, was the dam of Group 1 1000 Guineas runner-up Muwakleh (by Machiavellian), of pattern-placed Inaaq (by Lammtarra), of Group 2-placed six-figured earner Elmustanser (by Machiavellian), and of dual Group 1 star Almutawakel (by Machiavellian).
He won the Group 1 Prix Jean Prat over nine furlongs at Chantilly as a three-year-old and added the Group 1 Dubai World Cup over a furlong further at Nad Al Sheba the following spring. He lost out by a nose when runner-up to River Keen in the Grade 1 Woodward Stakes over nine at Belmont Park, was only beaten by a neck when runner-up to Limpid in the Group 1 Grand Prix de Paris over 10 at Longchamp, and he was also placed in the Grade 1 Oaklawn Handicap and in the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup.
Almutawakel had accumulated almost £2.2 million by the time he retired from the track, he joined the team at Derrinstown Stud in 2001, but retired five years later and died in 2007. His progeny include the dual New Zealand Group 1 star Wahid, Group 1 Derby Italiano scorer Awelmarduk, and also Silver Cup, the Group 2 Premio Regina Elena (Italian 1000 Guineas) heroine who went on to win a trio of Grade 2 handicaps in California.
There is another of Majestic Role's siblings who deserves a mention and that is Audition (by Dara Monarch). She was unplaced in France and only two of her seven foals were winners, but those two were Judge Decision and Just For Fun, both of whom were by Lead On Time (by Nureyev). The former was a Group 2-placed mile stakes winner who was only beaten by two lengths when fifth behind Shanghai in the Group 1 Poule d'Essai des Poulains (French 2000 Guineas), and the latter a one-time scorer from whom several talented horses descend.
Just For Fun's winning progeny include the prolific dual-purpose horse Rombaldi (by Kahyasi), a blacktype winner over hurdles in France, and she is also the dam of Funny Girl (by Darshaan), a placed mare who has achieved a notable strike-rate and produce record at stud.
That mare's string of winners is headed by the dual 12-furlong listed scorer Suzi's Decision (by Act One) and by Group 2 Prix de Sandringham heroine Laugh Out Loud (by Clodovil), a talented miler who was third in the Group 1 Sun Chariot Stakes at Newmarket before moving to the USA to continue her racing career. Laugh Out Loud's first foal is a Galileo (by Sadler's Wells) colt who was born last year.
It remains to be seen just how good Mekhtaal will be when he reaches his peak, but he was impressive at Deauville, he is bred to achieve anything, and he looks sure to stay a mile and a half. He also looks likely to play a prominent roll in next month's Group 1 Prix du Jockey-Club (French Derby), which is over 10 and a half furlongs. If he does reach the top then he will surely find a good stallion role as he is by a leading representative of the Green Desert (by Danzig) sire line and from the immediate family of two Group 1 stars who went on to sire Group 1 winners at stud.