Often a quick glance will be enough to work out from where a talented horse got its aptitude, but sometimes we have to dig a bit deeper. Just a cursory look at the pedigree of Heshem might lead to surprise that his major autumn target could be the Group 1 Qatar Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, because he is the son of a miler and out of a mare whose parents were sprint stars.
There is no guarantee that he will stay much beyond the 10 furlongs over which he won the Group 2 Prix Eugene Adam at Maisons-Laffitte on Sunday, especially if an emphasis is placed in stamina, but he is unquestionably talented, he is improving, and he could be anything.
The Christophe Ferland-trained three-year-old is an €85,000 Arqana August Sale graduate, he carries the famous colours of Al Shaqab Racing, and his only defeat is his third place finish behind Mekhtaal in a newcomers' event over 10 furlongs on heavy ground at Saint-Cloud in March. The following month he won twice over nine furlongs on the polytrack at Chantilly, and Sunday's three-quarter length defeat of Ultra came on just his fourth start.
The artificial tracks have become a tremendously successful early stomping ground for future pattern winners, and in 2016 the roll of honour includes the Group 1 stars Hawkbill, Seventh Heaven, Silverwave and Zelzal, along with the promising Group 2 scorers Endless Time and Wings of Desire. Last year, both the Group 1 Irish Derby and Group 1 Irish Oaks went to horses who got their early success on all-weather surfaces, Jack Hobbs taking the former and Covert Love the latter.
Heshem, who was bred by Yeguada De Milagro Sa, is a son of Coolmore Stud stallion Footstepsinthesand (by Giant's Causeway), a horse who was bred to stay 10 furlongs, and possibly a little farther, but who did not race again after winning the Group 1 2000 Guineas at Newmarket.
The stallion's half-brother Pedro The Great (by Henrythenavigator) won the Group 1 Phoenix Stakes, his Group 2-placed stakes-winning half-sister Belle D'Or (by Medaglia d'Oro) was unplaced in her sole attempt beyond nine furlongs, and his siblings also include the dam of Group 1 stars Curvy (by Galileo) and Power (by Oasis Dream). The former won the E P Taylor Stakes and was third in the Irish Oaks, and the latter, a leading juvenile, won the Irish 2000 Guineas and is the freshman sire responsible for last week's Group 3-winning juvenile Peace Envoy.
Although there are some other sprinters in his family, there are also middle-distance horses and stayers too, and it is not impossible that he could sire a top-level winner over the Derby and Arc distance.
That said, Footstepsinthesand's best progeny include the Group/Grade 1-winning milers Chachamaidee, Infiltrada, Shamalgan and the horse known both as Steinbeck and Pure Champion. They also include the high-class miler Kaspersky, who won another Group 2 contest in Germany on Sunday, a Peruvian 10-furlong Grade 1 scorer, and even a high-class sprinter in Group 2 Goldene Peitsche winner Giant Sandman. Input from the mare will, therefore, be very important if he is to get a top 12-furlong horse.
Is Doohulla a realistic candidate to be such a mare? It is not impossible, but it does not seem likely.
She won over six furlongs at Lingfield and at Pontefract, she earned her blacktype when finishing a four and a quarter-length third in the Listed Bosra Sham Stakes over the same trip at Newmarket, and she was unplaced on both occasions that the went beyond that distance.
As a daughter of the European sprint champion Stravinsky (by Nureyev) and of the Group 2 Prix du Gros-Chene heroine Viva Zapata (by Affirmed), her effective range was in keeping with what one would have expected. Her other talented son has been unplaced on his attempts beyond 10 furlongs and he, the Group 3 Prix Paul de Moussac winner Xanadou (by Peintre Celebre), who races in Hong Kong as Rainbow Chic, is by an Arc hero with plenty of talented middle-distance progeny to his name.
Doohulla's stakes-placed three-parts brother Viva Nureyev (by Nureyev) stayed a mile, and their half-sister Zapata Beauty (by Manila) earned her blacktype with third place in the Listed Prix Imprudence over seven furlongs. Her siblings also include Mexican Hawk (by Silver Hawk), who is the dam of the juvenile five-furlong listed scorer Accipiter (by Showcasing), and grandam of a pattern-placed middle-distance horse. But Regal Hawk is a daughter of Singpsiel (by In The Wings) and out of a Generous (by Caerleon) mare, so was hardly going to be a speed horse.
Viva Zapata's sire will catch the eye, because although he got his best winners over a variety of trips, Affirmed (by Exclusive Native) was the US Triple Crown hero of 1978. Her broodmare sire, Secretariat (by Bold Ruler), swept the same classic series in 1973, culminating in that incredible 31-length victory in the Belmont Stakes over 12 furlongs. And somehow they combined to produce a five-furlong Group 2 scorer.
A half-sister to the minor juvenile stakes winner Valleycreek Kid (by Septieme Ciel), Viva Zapata is out of Viva Aviva (by Secretariat), a one-time scorer whose siblings include her multiple stakes-winning full-sister Viva Sec, a six-furlong specialist, who was Grade 3 placed over seven. The next dam, Viva La Vivi (by Royal Note), also showed plenty of speed and the best of her 15 wins were in the Grade 3 Correction Handicap over six furlongs and the Grade 3 Santa Paula Handicap in the last year that it was run over seven.
This is clearly the pedigree of a sprinter or miler, and yet Heshem's first pattern success has come over 10 furlongs, which makes him atypical of the best horses in the most recent generations of his family.
His grandsire, Giant's Causeway (by Storm Cat), stayed 10 and a half furlongs, his paternal grandam Glatisant (by Rainbow Quest) showed more speed that might have been expected of a daughter of her sire, and on the distaff side there are those appearances of Affirmed and Secretariat, who did not seem to extend the family's effective range.
If Heshem has inherited some of the stamina that those stallions can impart, and for a truly-run 12 furlongs it would likely be necessary to come from both the top and bottom half of the pedigree, then there is a chance that he could be effective in over that distance. But it looks something of a long-shot, and it may be that 10 and a half furlongs is as far as he will want to go.
Coolmore Stud's prolific champion sire Galileo (by Sadler's Wells) added yet another classic star to his tally when Seventh Heaven won the Group 1 Darley Irish Oaks at the Curragh on Saturday.
Although a daughter of one of the world's best sources of top-class middle-distance horses, she was not a guaranteed stayer, bred instead with a strong chance of being another of her sire's mile to 10-furlong performers, but despite the speed in the distaff side of her family, the bottom half of her pedigree has clearly contributed the potential to stay.
We can only guess as to which of her dam's ancestors are responsible, and likely favourites would include Unbridled (by Fappiano) and Devil's Bag (by Halo), who are the maternal grandsire of her dam and grandam respectively, but if you go back a few generations then you find a top-level performer who stayed 12 furlongs, suggesting that a stamina potential may have been passed along more often than has been apparent in the most recent generations of the family, likely moderated, in some cases, by the sires.
Out of the frame on her only two starts as a juvenile, Seventh Heaven made an impressive return to action over a mile at Dundalk, thereby making her yet another Group 1 star who got an early winning start on the artificial tracks, and the second consecutive Irish Oaks heroine to do so, following Covert Love's victory at the Curragh 12 months ago.
All-weather graduates also include last year's Group 1 Irish Derby hero Jack Hobbs, recent Group 1 scorers Hawkbill, Silverwave and Zelzal, and the promising Group 2 winners Endless Time, Heshem and Wings of Desire. The last named runs in the Group 1 King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot tomorrow.
The Aidan O'Brien-trained Seventh Heaven followed her Dundalk win with a game neck defeat of Architecture in the Listed Oaks Trial at Lingfield in early May, proving that, despite the speed in her family, she had got its comparatively rare stamina influence, and now she had prospects of middle-distance classic success.
She did not handle the track at Epsom, where she was beaten by a distance behind her winning stable teammate Minding, but the Curragh was likely to suit her better, which would enable her to demonstrate her true ability. She would not have been 14/1 on Saturday had she gone straight from Lingfield to the Irish Oaks, and this time her margin of superiority over Architecture, who had been runner-up at Epsom, was two and three-quarter lengths.
So what was it about her pedigree that suggested the possibility, but certainly not a guarantee, that 12 furlongs could be too far for her?
When Galileo is paired with speed mares from speed families then it can happen that the result is a mile to 10 furlong horse. This was also true of his own great sire, Sadler's Wells (by Northern Dancer). His 59th Group 1 winner is out of the six-furlong Grade 3 scorer La Traviata (by Johannesburg) and her two prior blacktype horses are Crusade and Cristoforo Colombo.
That pair are sons of Mr Greeley (by Gone West) and Henrythenavigator (by Kingmambo) respectively, so both somewhat unlikely to stay beyond nine to 10 furlongs. Crusade won the Group 1 Middle Park Stakes, Cristoforo Colombo was fourth in that same contest 12 months later, and that younger colt earned his blacktype when runner-up in the Group 2 Railway Stakes and third in the Group 2 Coventry Stakes.
La Traviata, whose name is on the syndicate that bred her talented trio, is a half-sister to a prolific US gelding called Holy Dreamer (by Holy Bull) and full-sister to a one-time scorer named Ducane. Their unraced dam Piedras Negras (by Unbridled) is among 10 foals out of the minor nine-furlong listed scorer Provisions (by Devil's Bag), and that makes her a half-sister to seven successful runners, including 13-times scorer Visionary (by Silver Ghost) and the six-times winning filly Northeast Harbor (by Northern Afleet).
The most notable member of the septet, however, is Jack Sullivan (by Belong To Me), whose nine wins included the Listed Lady Wulfruna Stakes at Wolverhampton and two editions of the Group 3 Sheikh Mohammed Al Maktoum Challenge 2 at Nad Al Sheba. His various blacktype placings feature second in the Group 2 Lennox Stakes over seven furlongs at Goodwood, when he was short-headed by the subsequent dual Group 1 star Court Masterpiece.
Their dam, Atzimba was a stakes-placed seven-times winning daughter of Miswaki (by Mr Prospector), making Seventh Heaven inbred 3x5 to that Group 1-winning sire of Urban Sea. And if you go back another generation then you will find that Novara (by Dance Spell), the unraced fifth dam of Seventh Heaven, was a half-sister to the Grade 2-winning 12-times scorer Cycylya Zee (by Knightly Manner) and also to the tragically ill-fated millionaire Southjet (by Northjet). He won the Grade 1 Rothmans International Stakes and Grade 1 Secretariat Stakes in 1986, was runner-up in the Japan Cup the following year, but died before getting a chance at stud.
Seventh Heaven is now a classic star, she may be capable of further improvement, her entries include next month's Group 1 Darley Yorkshire Oaks, and it will be fascinating to find out where she sits in the overall rankings by the end of the year.
Danzig (by Northern Dancer) was one of the world's greatest stallions and his powerful dynasty has been maintained in Europe through two of his most successful sons: Green Desert and Danehill. The latter, a multiple champion sire for Coolmore Stud, became one of the world's most influential sires of successful stallions, and his lengthy roll of honour includes Danehill Dancer.
A juvenile Group 1 scorer who is now in retirement at Coolmore, Danehill Dancer has long been a leading sire of juveniles, milers, classic stars and middle-distance horses, and he is now emerging as both an important broodmare sire and as a source of good stallions. Choisir, Mastercraftsman, Monsieur Bond and Silent Times are among his sons with at least two top-level winners to their name at stud, and this year Fast Company made a breakthrough at the top with classic success for his daughter Jet Setting.
On Thursday evening, another son of Danehill Dancer became a Group 1 sire, as Air Chief Marshal's second-crop son Mont Ormel sprang a surprise in the Group 1 Juddmonte Grand Prix de Paris over 12 furlongs at Chantilly. One of only two stakes winners among four blacktype horses for the Haras de la Cauviniere stallion, the Pia Brandt-trained colt has now all but guaranteed that he too will get his chance at stud some day.
Air Chief Marshal was bred by Barronstown Stud, he was trained by Aidan O'Brien, and he was placed in the Group 1 Phoenix Stakes, Group 3 Round Tower Stakes and Listed Marble Hill Stakes as a juvenile. At three he won the Group 3 Minstrel Stakes over seven furlongs at the Curragh, he finished third in the Group 3 Concorde Stakes over the same trip at Tipperary, and the following year he covered 120 mares in his first season at stud.
Bred by Franklin Finance S.A., the colt won over seven furlongs as a juvenile, kicked off his current campaign with third place behind the subsequently dual classic-placed colt Dicton in a mile listed contest at Saint-Cloud, and although beaten on his next two starts, ran away with a 10-furlong listed contest on heavy ground at Compiegne last month. The one who chased him home on Thursday was Red Verdon, the colt who finished fourth in the Group 1 Irish Derby on his previous start.
Mont Ormel is the third foal out of Lidana (by King's Best), a seven-furlong Dundalk winner, who was placed over 10 and a half furlongs at the same venue. Her first two produce are the multiple scorers Lillebonne (by Danehill Dancer) and La Pyle (by Le Havre), both fillies, her two-year-old, also female, has been named Normandel (by Le Havre) and her yearling is a second-crop daughter of leading French freshman sire Rajsaman (by Linamix), another member of the Haras de la Cauviniere team.
Lidana was bred by the Aga Khan and she is out of Lidakiya (by Kahyasi), a lightly-raced filly who won three times over middle-distances for the Sir Michael Stoute stable, but finished last of 12 in her only attempt in blacktype company. Like her daughter, however, she is also the dam of a Group 1 star because her top son is the prolific Linngari (by Indian Ridge).
Six of his 11 wins came in pattern company, including the Group 1 Premio Vittorio di Capua over a mile at San Siro and the Group 1 Grosser Dallmayr Preis Bayerisches Zuchtrennen over 10 furlongs at Munich. He won back-to-back editions of the Group 2 Al Fahidi Fort over a mile at Nad Al Sheba, he won the Group 2 Goldene Peitsche over six furlongs at Baden-Baden, and the final two starts of this millionaire's shining career resulted in third place finishes in the Group 1 Champion Stakes at Newmarket and Group 1 Hong Kong Cup at Sha Tin. His stud career has not yet been as successful as might have been hoped, but his progeny do include this year's Group 1-placed Group 2 Prix d'Harcourt winner Garlingari.
The third dam of Mont Ormel is Lilissa (by Doyoun), whose string of successful runners includes the Group 3-placed filly Liska (by Bigstone) and the prolific Livadiya (by Shernazar). The popular mare reached a career peak handicap mark of 112 and her eight wins, from 52 starts, featured three listed race scores and three premier handicap victories, which included the Irish Lincolnshire at the Curragh. The standout result among her 14 placed efforts is her six-length second to Powerscourt in the Group 1 Tattersalls Gold Cup, and she was also beaten by that same margin when chasing home Soviet Song in the Group 2 Ridgewood Pearl Stakes over a mile at the same venue.
If you go back another generation then you find that Lilissa is a half-sister to the Group 3 Prix Minerve scorer Linnga (by Shardari), and if you go even further back you will see that Licara (by Caro), the pattern-placed fifth dam of Mont Ormel, was out of the Group 2 Prix de Mallaret winner and exceptional broodmare Licata (by Abdos).
Licata is one of those rare individuals with at least three Group 1-winning progeny to her name, and her trio are Acamas (by Mill Reef), Akarad (by Labus) and Akiyda (by Labus). The former won the Group 1 Prix du Jockey-Club (French Derby) and Group 1 Prix Lupin, the last-named won the Group 1 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, and Akarad won the Group 1 Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud before going on to become a classic sire.
Those stars are remotely connected to Mont Ormel, but when the time comes for him to take up a place a stud, he will do so as a Group 1-winning representative of the powerful Danehill line, one who is out of a half-sister to the Group 1-winning sire of a horse who, by then, may have picked up a top-level win of his own.
Most stallions never get as many as 58 stakes winners in their entire career, but when Deauville won the Grade 1 Belmont Derby Invitational Stakes on Saturday evening he became the 58th individual Group/Grade 1 winner for his phenomenal sire Galileo (by Sadler's Wells).
The overall tally of stakes winners for Coolmore Stud's prolific champion sire is closing in on four times that number, and in 2016 each of Alice Springs, Minding, Order Of St George, The Gurkha and The United States have also won at the highest level for him.
Deauville is out of Walklikeanegyptian and so is one of a dozen Galileo-sired Group/Grade 1 winners who are out of Danehill (by Danzig) mares. A further six are out of mares who are by a son of Danehill - including Alice Springs, Minding and The Gurkha - and four others represent other Danzig-line broodmare sires.
He made his debut in a seven-furlong Listowel maiden on heavy ground in late May last year, followed that with a half-length defeat of Sanus Per Aquam in the Group 3 Tyros Stakes over the same trip on fast ground at Leopardstown, and lost his unbeaten record when a three-quarter length runner-up to Foundation in the Group 2 Royal Lodge Stakes over a mile at Newmarket two months later. His only other juvenile out was in the Group 1 Racing Post Trophy, in which he finished fifth behind Marcel.
Deauville was only beaten by a neck when runner-up to Wings of Desire in the Group 2 Dante Stakes at York on his seasonal reappearance, but disappointed when unplaced behind Harzand in the Derby at Epsom, beaten by more than 20 lengths. His neck victory in New York two days ago confirms his position as a high-class colt and he is now available at around 16/1 for next month's Group 1 Juddmonte International Stakes at York, one of several top-level events in which he holds an entry.
Deauville is the fourth foal out of the aforementioned Walklikeanegyptian and he is a full-brother to The Corsican. Also bred by Mrs Fitri Hay, that David Simcock-trained colt won the Listed Festival Stakes at Goodwood and the Group 3 Dubai Duty Free Legacy Cup (Arc Trial) at Newbury last year, he was fourth behind Free Eagle in the Group 1 Prince of Wales's Stakes at Ascot, and was last seen out when finishing fifth behind Dariyan in the Group 1 Prix Ganay at Saint-Cloud in early May. Sadly, the five-year-old was put down a few weeks later after an accident on the gallops.
The mare's first foal is the Swedish winner Absolute Soul (by Perfect Soul), her four-year-old is the Charles Hills-trained Heatstroke (by Galileo), who is available at around 33/1 for the Betfred Mile at Goodwood later this month, her unnamed juvenile is entered in next year's Group 1 Investec Derby and that full-brother to Deauville was followed by another Galileo colt in May 2015.
Walklikeanegyptian earned her blacktype when runner-up in a Grade 3 contest at Arlington, but her three-parts sisters Contredanse (by Danehill Dancer) and Callwood Dancer (by Danehill Dancer) are blacktype winners. The former took the Group 2 Oaks d'Italia and was runner-up in the Group 3 Prix de la Nonette, and the latter got her best win in the Grade 2 Nassau Stakes at Woodbine, the venue at which her blacktype placings featured the runners-up spot in the Grade 1 E P Taylor Stakes.
Set Sail, who is a full-brother to those two fillies, has third place in the Group 1 Juddmonte International Stakes to his name, but that was in the four-runner edition fought out by Sea The Stars and Mastercraftsman, and he was 32 lengths adrift of the latter.
Ahdaab (by Rahy) is the grandam of Deauville. She was placed once, as was one of her most notable siblings, and the best of the eight winners out of her dam was Maroof (by Danzig), a 66/1 shock winner of the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot in 1994, the pacemaker they never caught. Two years before he had been a leading juvenile, winning the Group 2 Vintage Stakes at Goodwood and taking the runners-up spot in the Group 1 National Stakes at the Curragh.
His dam is the Group 2 Ribblesdale Stakes winner and Group 1 Yorkshire Oaks third Dish Dash (by Bustino) and the notable non-winning half-sister is Sabaah (by Nureyev), the mare who gave us Desert King (by Danehill).
He is somewhat closely related to Walklikeanegyptian, and to her talented sons, and the Irish National Stud-bred bay was the champion three-year-old in Ireland in 1997 when he won both the Group 1 Irish 2000 Guineas and Group 1 Irish Derby. He was runner-up in both the Group 1 Irish Champion Stakes and Group 1 Juddmonte International Stakes that year, and as a juvenile he won the Group 1 National Stakes. Desert King enjoyed mixed success at stud, but his Group 1 winners include the triple Melbourne Cup heroine Makybe Diva.
Sabaah was also the dam of the Group 2-placed Chianti (by Danehill) and of the Group 3 Mooresbridge Stakes winner Cairdeas (by Darshaan), and her unraced daughter Dawn Attack (by Fantastic Light) has become a tremendous success at stud in Australia.
Her first foal is the Group 3-winning filly Crucial (by Nadeem), her second is the Group 2 Dane Ripper Stakes scorer Hazard (by Flying Spur), her fourth is the pattern-winning gelding Java (by Medaglia d'Oro), and he was followed by Flemington Group 3 scorer Antelucan (by Domesday).
Maroof also went to stud in the southern hemisphere and his progeny include the Group 1 Victoria Derby winner Hit The Roof, Grade 1 Hong Kong Spring winner Natural Blitz, South African Grade 1 heroines Hoeberg and Toccata, and New Zealand's champion juvenile and multiple Group 1 star Maroofity, among others of note.
As a Grade 1-winning son of Galileo and related to two Group 1 winners who have sired Group 1-winning progeny, Deauville has surely all but guaranteed that he will get a place at stud whenever his racing days come to an end, and such appeal will be wider should he manage to repeat the feat at least once in Europe. He did not appear to stay the trip at Epsom and he only just held on against a fast-finishing rival in New York, so it will be interesting to see if he stays at 10 furlongs and/or drops back to a mile.
Gilltown Stud stallion Sea The Stars has rapidly established himself as one of the best sires in Europe and the Timeform 140-rated champion recorded an important double at the weekend. It's not just that his sons Zelzal and Mutakayyef respectively won their first Group 1 and Group 2 contests that is notable, but the distance over which they achieved the feat.
A half-brother to the dual Derby hero and prolific champion sire Galileo (by Sadler's Wells), Sea The Stars was not guaranteed to stay beyond 10 furlongs during his glittering career. Yes, his dam Urban Sea (by Miswaki) stayed further than expected by winning the Group 1 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, and yes, some of the progeny of ace miler Cape Cross (by Green Desert) stay a mile and a half, but if what he had inherited from his parents was the speed influences in their pedigrees, instead of a blend of speed and stamina, then his distance range would have been limited.
As we all know, Sea The Stars stayed 12 furlongs just fine, winning both the Derby and the Arc over the trip, and many of his 28 stakes-winning progeny, almost two-third of whom are pattern winners, also handle middle-distances. Sea The Moon and Taghrooda, from his first crop, won classics over a mile and a half, this year's dual Derby hero Harzand is currently the brightest star from his third crop, and of his eight pattern winners in 2016 six have achieved the feat over 10 or 12 furlongs.
His Group/Grade 3 scorers Afternoon Sunlight, Casual Smile and My Titania have got their top wins over shorter, but all too often we focus more on a stallion's Group 1 and Group 2 stars when assessing him, sometimes overlooking his lesser stakes and pattern horses.
Doing so with Sea The Stars might have led one to presume that all of his offspring will automatically stay at least 10 furlongs and prove best over that trip and farther, and for anyone who may have been sliding into that way of thinking, those big wins on Saturday and Sunday will be a wake-up call.
The older of the pair has proved his ability to stay a little farther, and the younger colt may get 10 furlongs if asked, but their most recent performances show us that Mutakayyef and Zelzal are milers.
The former, a five-year-old gelding trained by William Haggas, is a first-crop son of his sire and he easily beat Dutch Connection by two and a quarter lengths in the Group 2 Fred Cowley MBE Memorial Summer Mile Stakes on fast ground at Ascot on Saturday, earning a Timeform rating of 123. The following afternoon the Jean-Claude Rouget-trained three-year-old Zelzal broke the track record when beating Stormy Antarctic by two lengths in the Group 1 Prix Jean Prat at Chantilly.
Zelzal made a six-length winning debut over seven and a half furlongs on the polytrack at Deauville in early March and followed-up by four lengths over a mile at Chantilly a month later, also on polytrack, thereby making him yet another recent Group 1 star to have graduated from early experience on the artificial tracks.
Recent Coral-Eclipse and Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud winners Hawkbill and Silverwave are others, as are last year's classic stars Jack Hobbs and Covert Love. The Group 2 scorers Endless Time and Wings of Desire, both of whom have been reviewed here, are all-weather graduates with Group 1 potential.
Zelzal's turf debut proved very disappointing and it is the one blot on his record. He was one of the favourites for the Group 1 Poule d'Essai des Poulains (French 2000 Guineas) at Deauville in May, but beat just two home, finishing a dozen lengths behind impressive winner The Gurkha. He bounced back from that to take the Group 3 Prix Paul de Moussac over a mile at Chantilly a month later, and now he has won in style at the highest level.
Zelzal was bred by Viktor Timoshenko, and Al Shaqab Racing secured him for €180,000 at the Arqana October Yearling Sale. He is the second foal out of the mile winner Olga Prekrasa (by Kingmambo), which makes him inbred 4x3 to Mr Prospector (by Raise A Native), he has an older half-sister called Vejer (by Dalakhani), and his dam had a Redoute's Choice (by Danehill) filly in 2014.
The grandam of Zelzal is Opera Aida (by Sadler's Wells), who was unplaced on her only start. The mare is a half-sister to the Listed Cheshire Oaks third Crystal Curling (by Peintre Celebre) and to the dams of listed scorer Sparkling Portrait (by Excellent Art) and Group 3 Minstrel Stakes winner Three Rocks (by Rock Of Gibraltar).
She is out of State Crystal (by High Estate), the Group 3 Lancashire Oaks winner who was runner-up in the Group 2 Sun Chariot Stakes and third in both the Group 1 Yorkshire Oaks and Group 1 Prix Vermeille, and that mare is, in turn, one of seven winners from 11 foals out of the one-time scorer Crystal Spray (by Beldale Flutter). That makes her a half-sister to four runners of particular note plus an unraced filly who went on to be represented by a big race winner abroad.
Dubai Success (by Sadler's Wells) won the Group 3 John Porter Stakes at Newbury and the races in which he was placed included the Group 2 Princess of Wales's Stakes, the Group 2 Geoffrey Freer Stakes, the Group 3 Sagaro Stakes and Group 3 St Simon Stakes. His full-brother Tchaikovsky picked up third place in the Group 1 Irish Derby, beaten by a total of 10 and a half lengths behind Montjeu.
Solar Crystal (by Alzao) won the Group 3 May Hill Stakes and was third in the Group 1 Prix Marcel Boussac, but her younger sister Crystal Music (by Nureyev) was better, winning the Group 1 Fillies' Mile at Ascot as a juvenile and placed in both the Group 1 Coronation Stakes and Group 1 Irish 1000 Guineas the following year. She also has the better record at stud, with three blacktype earners among her progeny and the Group 1-placed Group 2 scorer and young Beeches Stud stallion Ocovango (by Monsun) for a grandson.
Crystal Melody, a year-younger full-sister to Crystal Music, did not race, but her daughter Grande Melody (by Grand Lodge), a stakes-placed winner in France as a three-year-old, went to California later and was a narrow winner of the Grade 2 Dahlia Handicap over eight and a half furlongs on turf at Hollywood Park.
Like several of her talented relations, she was bred by Watership Down Stud. (Solar Crystal and State Crystal were bred by Michael Poland.) That top-class operation sold her for €200,000 as a yearling, she raced in the well-known Joseph Allen colours, and it is he who bred her smart son Broadway Boogie (by Distorted Humor), whose more recent piece of blacktype was when placed in a nine and a half furlong listed contest at Bordeaux Le Bouscat in late May.
It is these first few generations of the pedigree that make the most important contribution to Zelzal's genetic make-up and they present us with more than enough evidence to show why he always had the potential to become a good horse, and also that there is a chance that he will stay at least 10 furlongs. We won't know the limits of his stamina until he tries farther than the mile, and it will depend on the mix of speed and staying elements that have been passed on to him.
If you go back further into his family then you will find branches that lead to an array of stars, all of which are only remotely connected to Zelzal, but interesting nonetheless.
His fifth dam is the unraced Crystal Fountain (by Great Nephew), and in addition to being the dam of the 10-furlong Group 2 scorer Crystal Hearted (by Broken Hearted) and grandam of the 12-furlong Grade 2 winner Always First (by Barathea), she was a half-sister to the brilliant Royal Palace (by Ballymoss). This is, therefore, the family of top-level stars such as Fairy Footsteps (by Mill Reef), Light Cavalry (by Brigadier Gerard), Welsh Pageant (by Tudor Melody), Desert Prince (by Green Desert), and even further removed, Dubawi Heights (by Dubawi) and her classic-winning three-parts brother Make Believe (by Makfi), who is in his first season at Ballylinch Stud.
Zelzal, a son of Sea The Stars and from the immediate family of the classic-placed Group 1-winning miler Crystal Music, is a leading candidate for the best mile races in the second half of the season, and with some of the good horses in the first four generations of his family being ones who stayed 10 and 12 furlongs, it is possible that he too will be effective at beyond a mile.
We saw some impressive performances at the 2016 July Meeting at Newmarket and one of those was the victory of Alice Springs in the Group 1 Tattersalls 250th Year Falmouth Stakes (British Champions Series) over a mile on Friday. The optics of her two and a quarter length defeat of Very Special and Always Smile looked good, and so was the time she clocked, a new course record.
It is true that neither the favourite Usherette nor the multiple Group 1 star Amazing Maria showed anything close to their best that day, which was disappointing, but the winner may be improving, which is not really a surprise for an early May foal.
Bred by the partnership of Lynch-Bages and Longfield Stud, the chestnut daughter of Coolmore Stud's prolific champion sire Galileo (by Sadler's Wells) is a 550,000gns graduate of the Tattersalls October Yearling Sale and she is trained by Aidan O'Brien. She is out of Aleagueoftheirown (by Danehill Dancer), which makes her another Group 1 winner bred on the popular Galileo – Danehill line cross, and her relations include another two other mile Group 1 stars.
The Galileo – Danehill line cross added another top-level winner to its roll of honour on Saturday night when the Aidan O'Brien-trained Deauville won the Grade 1 Belmont Derby Invitational Stakes at Belmont Park, and its most famous representative is, of course, the undefeated Timeform 147-rated superstar Frankel, whose first eight runners have yielded seven winners (two of them blacktype placed) and one placed horse.
Of course, mares by Danehill Dancer (by Danehill) have also been responsible for this year's Galileo Group 1 classic stars Minding and The Gurkha, and other Danehill stallions who are the broodmare sire of a Galileo-sired Group/Grade 1 winner are Holy Roman Emperor (Johannes Vermeer), Mozart (Magician) and Rock Of Gibraltar (Photo Call).
Alice Springs is the fourth foal of her dam, her three older full-siblings are winners, and the fifth registered foal out Aleagueoftheirown is another Galileo filly, born last year.
Kingston Jamaica was the eldest, he was third in the Group 3 Tyros Stakes as a juvenile and third behind the tragically ill-fated subsequent classic star Trading Leather in the Listed Silver Stakes over 10 furlongs at the Curragh. He was then sold for $305,000 at the Fasig-Tipton July Sale, but met with a fatal accident after just three starts. His gelded full-brother Crocodile Rock won a nine and a half furlong Gowran Park maiden in October.
Criteria is now five years old and Cheveley Park Stud bought her for 535,000gns in Newmarket as a yearling. Her only win came in a 12-furlong maiden at Kempton, but next time out she picked up her first piece of blacktype when a nose runner-up in the Listed Oaks Trial Stakes at Lingfield. She was only beaten by three-parts of a length when third to Bracelet in the Group 2 Ribblesdale Stakes at Ascot, she was also third in the Group 2 Park Hill Stakes at Doncaster and runner-up in a listed contest at Newmarket.
Aleagueoftheirown was trained by David Wachman, and although she showed a lot or promise on her debut, when coming off worst in a four-way photo finish for the Group 2 Debutante Stakes over seven furlongs at Leopardstown, she only made the frame in two of her 11 subsequent starts, both of them short-head verdicts. The first, an eight and a half furlong Cork maiden, went her way, but the other one went to Elletelle, subsequently the dam of Adelaide.
So the two fillies who flashed past the post together at the end of 2008's Listed Sweet Mimosa Stakes over six furlongs at the Curragh both went on to produce a Galileo-sired Group 1 winner at stud.
Aleagueoftheirown is out of Golden Coral (by Slew O' Gold), a filly who was beaten by a total of 43 and a half lengths in three starts for the Aidan O'Brien stable, a lack of talent that is in stark contrast to that possessed by her full-sister Golden Opinion.
One of the early stars for their sire, the Andre Fabre-trained champion Golden Opinion won a listed contest at Maisons-Laffitte shortly before finishing third in the Group 1 Poule d'Essai des Pouliches (French 1000 Guineas) and she won the Group 3 Prix de Sandringham at Chantilly before justifying favouritism in the Group 1 Coronation Stakes at Ascot. She then beat all but the narrow winner Cadeaux Genereux in the Group 1 July Cup at Newmarket before thrashing her opposition by six lengths and more in the Group 3 Prix du Rond Point at Longchamp in October.
It is one of the odd quirks of the business that sometimes it is the lesser sibling who goes on to achieve the more notable success at stud, and although the unplaced Golden Coral is the grandam of Group 1 star Alice Springs, champion Golden Opinion's best descendant is the Group 3 Prix Allez France scorer Daksha (by Authorized), one of her granddaughters.
Tsar Maiden (by Nijinsky), who was placed, is another of Golden Coral's siblings and she earned her spot on catalogue pages by coming up with the Indian classic winner Wild Eagle, a miler by 1987's Group 1 2000 Guineas and Group 1 Irish 2000 Guineas star Don't Forget Me (by Ahonoora).
More notable, however, is the record of their winning half-sister Joyful (by Green Desert). The stakes-placed gelding Roker Park (by Choisir) is the best of her progeny on the track, but she is the grandam of four stakes winners, one of whom is a classic star.
The Richard Hannon-trained sprinter Orvar (by Dandy Man) won a valuable listed race in Turkey last year, and Italian second-crop sire Shaweel (by Dansili) won the Group 2 Gimcrack Stakes, was third in the Group 2 Superlative Stakes and short-headed by Mastercraftsman in the Group 1 National Stakes. Nijoom Dubai (by Noverre) won the Group 3 Albany Stakes as a two-year-old and it is her half-sister who shares the honours, along with Golden Opinion and Alice Springs, as being one of the best the family has produced.
Samitar (by Rock Of Gibraltar), who was bred by Norman Court Stud, began her career with Mick Channon and also won the Group 3 Albany Stakes. She added a valuable sales race at Newmarket, the Group 1 Irish 1000 Guineas, the Grade 1 Garden City Stakes and a pair of listed contests, and she was only beaten by a head when runner-up to Lyric Of Light in the Group 1 Fillies' Mile. She was also runner-up in the Grade 1 Jenny Wiley Stakes at Keeneland, was placed in several other pattern and graded events, and her first foal is a 2015 son of the outstanding Japanese stallion Deep Impact (by Sunday Silence).
The third dam of Alice Springs is Optimistic Lass (by Mr Prospector), who won the Group 2 Nassau Stakes and Group 3 Musidora Stakes, was third in the Group 2 Sun Chariot Stakes and finished fourth behind Circus Plume in the Group 1 Oaks at Epsom. She was out of the pattern-placed Loveliest (by Tibaldo) and was a half-sister to the stakes winners Indian Romance (by Raja Baba) and Dangerous Diva (by Royal Academy), the latter a three-parts sister to the Group 3 Minstrel Stakes and dual Scurry Handicap winner Avorado.
Alice Springs, who was runner-up in the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf and third in the Group 1 Moyglare Stud Stakes last year, finished third in both the Group 1 1000 Guineas and Group 1 Coronation Stakes before winning at Newmarket on Friday.
She holds an entry in the Group 1 Darley Irish Oaks, but although her full-sister Criteria stayed that trip well, which offers support for the argument that she too may stay, the amount of speed shown by the chestnut suggests that she may have inherited more of the family's speed than did her older sibling, which would limit her distance range.
Her entries also include the Group 1 Qatar Sussex Stakes, the Group 1 Qatar Nassau Stakes, the Group 1 Juddmonte International Stakes, the Group 1 Coolmore Fastnet Rock Matron Stakes, and the Group 2 Kilboy Estate Stakes, so we are likely to get plenty more opportunities to assess her and to determine whether her latest performance was a one-off or marks the start an exciting new phase of her career.
Most of the major classics of 2016 have already been run in Europe and one of the remaining few is the Group 1 St Leger at Doncaster in September. The longest and the oldest of the classics, the identities of many of its potential candidates do not become apparent until the months of July and August, and the all-conquering Ballydoyle team unveiled a possible challenger during the July Meeting at Newmarket.
The colt in question had already run six times, so we already knew something about him, but the step up to 13 furlongs resulted in his first pattern success; he beat Platitude by a length and a half in the Group 3 Bahrain Trophy. His only prior win came in a 10 and a half furlong Dundalk maiden, making him yet another high-class performer to graduate from the artificial tracks, and each of his three runs between that race and Thursday's one was in blacktype company.
He also had Platitude behind him at Chester in early May, but was beaten by a short-head and a head, by Viren's Army and Linguistic, in the Listed Dee Stakes that day. He was then just under three-lengths fourth to Beacon Rock in the Group 3 Gallinule Stakes at the Curragh, and was beaten by a total of two and a quarter lengths when filling the same position behind Across The Stars in the Group 2 King Edward VII Stakes at Ascot last month.
Housesofparliament may not have had to produce a much better effort than that to win two days ago, but when his big race entries include the Group 2 Qatar Goodwood Cup and the Group 1 Palmerstown House Estate Irish St Leger, his connections clearly consider him to be a high-class stayer in the making.
The chestnut was bred by Smithfield Inc and he is yet another pattern winner for Coolmore Stud's phenomenal stallion Galileo (by Sadler's Wells). He is the fifth foal of his dam and his full-brother Foundry chased home Telescope in the Group 2 Great Voltigeur Stakes three years ago. That bay was only beaten by three and a quarter lengths when fifth behind Leading Light in the Group 1 St Leger at Doncaster before heading off to continue his career in Australia.
His siblings also include the seven and eight-furlong winner Unanimous (by Dansili), who was also trained by Aidan O'Brien, and his two sisters are Lady Bingo (by Galileo) and Ballyhoo Kat (by Storm Cat), both of whom were placed. The former stayed 14 furlongs and the latter is a young broodmare in the US; her second foal is a juvenile filly named Ballyhoo Moon (by Malibu Moon).
Housesofparliament of out of Sharp Lisa (by Dixieland Band), who won the Grade 1 Las Virgenes Stakes, the Grade 2 Santa Barbara Handicap and the Grade 2 Santa Ynez Stakes, and although Grade 1 placed over nine furlongs, her best form was over a mile.
She is by a stallion that some in Europe immediately associate with stamina, because he got the Group 1 Gold Cup winner Drum Taps from his early runners here, but his European representatives also featured the Group 1 Prix de Diane (French Oaks) heroine and Group 1 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe runner-up Egyptband, Group 1 Oaks d'Italia scorer Menhoubah, and the talented sprinters Didyme, Tajannub and Check The Band, to name just a few.
Dixieland Band, a Grade 2 winner who spent his career at Lane's Farm in Kentucky, was a top-class stallion, and among the leading representatives of his dynasty-making sire Northern Dancer (by Nearctic).
Sharp Lisa's half-brother Spring At Last (by Silver Deputy) won the Grade 1 Donn Handicap over nine furlongs at Gulfstream Park and also the Group 2 Godolphin Mile at Nad Al Sheba, and her half-sister Sharp Susan (by Touch Gold) was both a Grade 2 and Grade 3 winner at nine furlongs.
So can a mare of that sort of profile produce a son who stays the St Leger trip, or further? Although not guaranteed at the time of conception, it does seem likely that she has passed on the stamina influences of her pedigree to Houseofparliament, rather than its speed angle.
Winter's Gone, the dam of Sharp Lisa, is a daughter of Dynaformer (by Roberto), the excellent Three Chimneys Farm stallion whose string of top-level winners featured the classic stars Barbaro, Wiener Walzer, Blue Bunting and Lucarno, plus standouts such as Riskaverse, Point Of Entry, Film Maker, Rainbow View, Perfect Drift, and Melbourne Cup hero Americain.
More telling, perhaps, is that the best of several blacktype siblings of Winter's Gone was Bien Bien (by Manila). He had the pace to be a Grade 1 runner-up over 10 furlongs, he won both the Grade 1 Hollywood Turf Cup and Grade 1 San Luis Rey Stakes over 12 furlongs, and there was just Kotashaan's nose between him and being a dual winner of the Grade 1 San Juan Capistrano Handicap over 14 furlongs at Santa Anita.
Bien Bien had some successful moments at stud, most notably with his son Bienamado, who won the Grade 1 Charles Whittingham Handicap over 10 furlongs and emulated his sire with wins in the Grade 1 Hollywood Turf Cup and Grade 1 San Juan Capistrano Handicap.
Housesofparliament has some way to go yet if he is to prove himself good enough to succeed at the highest level, but this pattern-winning Galileo colt is certainly bred to do so, and there is every reason to hope that he can stay at least the St Leger distance.
Last weekend was a good one for horses who got at least one of their earliest wins on an all-weather track, with Hawkbill taking the Group 1 Coral-Eclipse at Sandown, Endless Time winning the Group 2 Lancashire Oaks at Haydock, Silverwave starring in the Group 1 Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud, and Al Wathna making the breakthrough in pattern company with victory in the Group 2 Prix de Mallaret earlier on that same card.
A three-year-old trained by Jean-Claude Rouget, Al Shaqab Racing's filly was bred by Petra Bloodstock Agency Ltd and she is a €72,000 graduate of the Arqana Deauville October Yearling Sale. She was runner-up over a mile on heavy ground on the first of two starts as a juvenile, got off the mark with a win over 11 furlongs on soft turf at Cagnes-sur-Mer in early February, and then followed-up over 10 and a half furlongs on the polytrack at Chantilly in March.
Her next two outings were on the turf track at that venue, finishing third behind The Juliet Rose in a listed contest and then chasing home that same filly in the Group 3 Prix de Royaumont, and the latter came a month before her neck defeat of Impressionist at Saint-Cloud on Sunday.
Al Wathna is one of 24 stakes winners for the top-class middle-distance performer Nayef (by Gulch). That Nunnery Stud-based half-brother to Nashwan (by Blushing Groom) and Unfuwain (by Northern Dancer) is also responsible for the Group 1 stars Lady Marian and Tamayuz (Group 1 sire at Derrinstown Stud) and for the Group 1-placed Group 2 scorers Forgotten Rules, Mustajeeb (stands at Overbury Stud), Snow Sky (stands at Ballycurragh Stud), Spacious, and Tasaday. His Group 2-winning son Valirann (stands at Whytemount Stud) was lightly-raced and did not get the chance to tackle Group 1 company.
His latest pattern star is the second foal out of Lemon Twist (by Marju), she has an as yet unnamed juvenile full-sister, and her unraced dam had a son of Motivator (by Montjeu) in 2015. The mare is out of the stakes-placed Lia (by Desert King), which makes her a half-sister to the Listed Prix Urban Sea winner Lake Palace (by Nayef), and the next dam is Lisheba (by Alysheba).
That mare was only placed but produced six winners, as did her most notable sibling. Laramie (by Gulch), who was placed just once, is the dam of the Group 1 Prix de Diane (French Oaks) heroine Latice (by Inchinor), of the Group 3 Prix du Palais Royal winner and Group 1 Prix Maurice de Gheest runner-up Satri (by Mujadil) and, of course, of the Group 1 Prix du Jockey Club (French Derby) and Group 1 Prix Jean Prat star Lawman (by Invincible Spirit).
He is a member of the stallion team at Ballylinch Stud and his early crops feature Group 1 Irish 1000 Guineas and Grade 1 E P Taylor Stakes heroine Just The Judge, juvenile mile Group 1 scorers Law Enforcement and Marcel, and the Group 1 St James's Palace Stakes winner Most Improved, who is a member of the Coolmore stallion team.
The presence of Lawman in the family will look good when it comes to assessing the prospects of any future sons of Al Wathna that might achieve enough on the track to earn a berth at stud. His current three-year-olds include the pattern scorer Dicton, who has been third in both the Group 1 Poule d'Essai des Poulains (French 2000 Guineas) and Group 1 Prix du Jockey Club.
Her fourth dam is the Group 2 Prix de Pomone winner and Group 1 Prix Vermeille third Light The Lights (by Shirley Heights), who was a half-sister to the middle-distance pattern scorers Liastra (by Artaius) and Last Light (by Round Table) and out of the Group 3 Prix de Flore winner and Group 1 Prix Saint-Alary runner-up Lighted Glory (by Nijinsky).
There are plenty of other blacktype horses to be found in the branches of these first few generations of the pedigree, including the Group 2 scorers L'Amour De Ma Vie (by Dansili) and Lights Out (by Crystal Glitters), Group 1-placed stakes winner Fencing (by Street Cry), and last month's Group 2 Ribblesdale Stakes third The Black Princess (by Iffraaj).
Al Wathna is a Group 2-winning filly who could be capable of further improvement, she holds an entry in next month's Group 1 Darley Yorkshire Oaks, for which she is available at around 25/1, and with her family relations there is every chance that she could also go on to make an impact at stud whenever her racing days come to an end.
Several members of the current batch of second-crop sires have shown promise, most notably Coolmore Stud's Zoffany (by Dansili), who has now hit double figures for the number of individual stakes winners. Not all got large books or have had many runners to represent them, and among that group is Haras de Lonray's Milanais.
A son of Dyhim Diamond (by Night Shift), he was a leading two-year-old in France in 2008 when he won the Listed Criterium du Bequet at La Teste de Buch, was a half-length runner-up to Soul City in the Group 3 Prix la Rochette over seven furlongs at Longchamp, and then failed by just a neck to beat Naaqoos in the Group 1 Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere (Grand Criterium) over the same course and distance a month later.
He was runner-up to subsequent classic hero Silver Frost in a listed contest over a mile at Saint-Cloud in the spring of his three-year-old season, and his handful of first-crop runners feature Damila, short-head winner of the Group 3 Prix de Ris-Orangis over six furlongs on Wednesday.
Pierre Pasquiou's homebred filly is trained by Henri-Alex Pantall, she was a stakes-placed winner as a juvenile, and only beaten by a length and a half when third to Ross Castle in the Group 3 Prix Texanita in May. Each of her pieces of blacktype has come at Maisons-Laffitte.
Damila is the first foal out of Dawaes (by Marchand De Sable), a mare who won five times, from two to five years of age. She stayed a mile, she is a full-sister to the successful runners Seven Marchand and Morya, and she is out of an unraced mare called Seven Seventy (by Solid Illusion).
There are several winners under the next few generations of the family, including some who won six and seven times, but you have to back to a branch of the sixth generation before you find any high-profile individuals. The sixth dam of Damila is Nona (by Oise), the grandam of 1983 Group 2 Preis der Diana (German Oaks) winner Novelle (by Northfields).
That classic heroine is, in turn, the grandam of Night Magic (by Sholokhov), German Horse of the Year and winner of the Group 1 Grosser Preis von Baden, Group 1 Preis der Diana (German Oaks) and several other pattern events. She lost the Group 1 Premio Lydia Tesio by a head, was a length runner-up in the Group 1 Grosser Dallmayr Preis Bayerisches Zuchtrennen, and was also runner-up in both the Group 1 Preis von Europa and the Group 1 Grosser Preis von Baden. In the latter she chased home the brilliant Danedream.
Damila was sent off at 16/1 on Wednesday, when she was placed behind Ross Castle in May, and also when she was only sixth behind Son Cesio in the Group 2 Prix du Gros Chene over five furlongs at Chantilly last month. It remains to be seen how much further improvement she can make, if any, but regardless of how the rest of her racing career goes, she will go to stud as a pattern-winning sprinter.
The all-weather tracks have been a huge benefit to the racing industry in Britain and in Ireland and in 2015 two classic stars were horses who got their maiden success on one of the artificial surfaces.
Jack Hobbs, who was a three-length winner over eight and a half furlongs at Wolverhampton on his only juvenile start, chased home Golden Horn in the Derby at Epsom before taking the Irish Derby at the Curragh, and Covert Love, whose first start at three was a winning one at Chelmsford, went on to take the Irish Oaks at the Curragh, one of two Group 1 races the now retired filly won that season.
Others have won on the all-weather before going on to pattern success on turf, and at Sandown today, one of those took another leap forward to win the Group 1 Coral-Eclipse (British Champions Series) over 10 furlongs.
Hawkbill began his career with a forgettable effort over five furlongs at Newbury in mid-April of his juvenile season but showed some promise when third over seven furlongs on the polytrack at Kempton two months later. Several weeks after that he narrowly won a maiden at Lingfield, and both his subsequent outings of 2015 were back at Kempton, an easy win in a seven-furlong nursery followed by a narrow defeat of subsequent listed scorer Steel Of Madrid in a four-runner contest over a mile.
Three all-weather wins from a total of five starts, with an official handicap rating of 98, was hardly the profile of a potential Group 1 star, but Hawkbill showed that he had improved over the winter when springing a 14/1 surprise in the Listed Newmarket Stakes over 10 furlongs, on turf, on his reappearance in late April. Last month he took another step up in grade and added the Group 3 Tercentenary Stakes over the same trip at Ascot.
The ground was soft that day, as it was at Sandown this afternoon, and the white-faced chestnut extended his winning sequence to six with a half-length defeat of Group 1 Poule d'Essai des Poulains (French 2000 Guineas) winner The Gurkha, thereby becoming the first Group 1 winner in Europe for his sire Kitten's Joy (by El Prado).
It was only a matter of time before that US champion sire achieved such a feat as the grandson of Sadler's Wells (by Northern Dancer) was not only a top turf horse himself, but he is arguably the premier source of turf horses in North America. His array of stars features Big Blue Kitten, Stephanie's Kitten and Real Solution, each of whom is a multiple winner at the highest level, and the latter, a Calumet Farm stallion whose first foals arrived this year, was a listed scorer in Italy before crossing the Atlantic.
His Grade 1 stars also include Bobby's Kitten, who won a listed sprint at Cork earlier this year, and his current European runners also feature Taareef, who won the Group 3 Prix Daphnis at Chantilly recently.
Kitten's Joy was bred by Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey and he stands at their Ramsey Farm. He is a half-brother to the multiple Grade 1 heroine Precious Kitten (by Catienus) and to Justenuffheart (by Broad Brush), the dam of Grade 1 winner and juvenile champion Dreaming Of Anna (by Rahy). His dam is a half-sister to the Grade 1 scorer Down The Isle (by Runaway Groom) and his grandam's siblings include the Grade 1 Mother Goose Stakes winner Road Princess (by Gallant Man).
Of course, many in Europe will remember his sire, El Prado, who was trained by the great Vincent O'Brien and was one of the early Group 1 winners and juvenile stars for his sire, Sadler's Wells. He stood at Adena Springs in Kentucky and his total of 83 stakes winning progeny also includes Grade 1 stars such as Artie Schiller, Asi Siempre, Borrego, Medaglia d'Oro, Paddy O'Prado and Spanish Moon.
As a Group 1-winning son of a champion sire who represents the Sadler's Wells sire line, Hawkbill should now draw plenty of attention as a prospective stallion, especially as he can also boast the attraction of coming from the immediate family of a one whose Group/Grade 1-winning offspring include another winner of the Eclipse Stakes.
Hawkbill, one of three Grade 1 winners for his sire out of mares that represent the Storm Cat (by Storm Bird) sire line, was bred by the Helen K Groves Revokable Trust. The $350,000 graduate of the Keeneland September Yearling Sale is trained for Godolphin by Charlie Appleby, he is the second foal out of Trensa (by Giant's Causeway) and his year-older half-sister Trensita (by Curlin) has won once from a dozen starts.
Trensa, who had a Hard Spun (by Danzig) filly in 2014, was a winner at three, four and five years of age and her multiple blacktype placings included the runners-up spot in a Grade 3 handicap at Del Mar. Her half-sister Batique (by Storm Cat) was also durable, notching up seven wins from two to six years of age, and that triple Grade 3-scorer's credentials also include setting a new course record over nine furlongs at Monmouth Park.
Indeed, multiple successes, above-average form, and an ability to win at the age of four or older, are frequently seen attributes in the family, which could augur well for Hawkbill's prospects of attempting next year to become only the sixth horse to take a second Eclipse Stakes. Only Mtoto (1987 & 1988) and Halling (1995 & 1996) have achieved that feat in the past 90 years.
Tejida (by Rahy), who is out of Batique, won only four of her 23 starts, but she was Grade 3-placed over nine furlongs and over a mile and a half as a five-year-old, and three times Grade 3-placed at the age of six.
The grandam of Hawkbill is Serape (by Fappiano), whom Helen Groves bred and raced, and the best of her five wins, from two to four years of age, came in the Grade 1 Ballerina Handicap over seven furlongs at Saratoga. Although her dam did not win at the highest level, she did beat Serape by wins total and accumulated earnings. That mare is Mochila (by In Reality), a nine-times scorer from two to four years of age, a Grade 1 Ruffian Handicap runner-up, and half-sister to the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Mile hero and Eclipse Award winner Cozzene (by Caro).
He spent his stallion career at Gainesway Farm in Kentucky, was US champion sire in 1996 when his son Alphabet Soup won the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Classic, and his other top-level winners include Mizzen Mast, Tikkanen, Star Of Cozzene, and the popular grey Environment Friend, whom Clive Brittain trained to win the Group 1 Coral-Eclipse Stakes in 1991.
Mochila, who was out of the unraced Ride The Trails (by Prince John), was also a half-sister to the Grade 2 Del Mar Oaks winner Movin' Money (by Dr. Fager) and to listed scorer Ivy Road (by Dr. Fager), with the latter being the dam of the blacktype earners Addled (by Foolish Pleasure), Devil On Ice (by Devil's Bag) and Yurtu (by Fappiano), who won 23 races between them.
Her three-times winning half-sister Mesabi (by Minnesota Mac) was the dam of the blacktype-placed eight-times winner Kunjar (by Fappiano), of Wakonda (by Fappiano), a dual blacktype scorer who got the bulk of her dozen wins from four to six years of age, and of their full-sister Funistrada, who was Grade 1-placed at two, won the Grade 2 Fall Highweight Handicap at three, was a Grade 1-placed dual stakes winner at four, and a listed race winner at five.
The talented Conte Di Savoya (by Sovereign Dancer), who missed out on classic placing when fourth in the Kentucky Derby, and the Grade 2 La Prevoyante Handicap heroine Krisada (by Kris S) feature among Funistrada's progeny.
It will be interesting to see what the time analysts made of Hawkbill's performance at Sandown as the 81-rated, 150/1 pacemaker held on for fourth place, which casts an awkward shadow over its reliability. But this talented three-year-old has been improving with every run, he is bred to be both talented and durable, and there is every reason to hope that this will not remain his only win at the highest level.
Heavy ground can distort the margins of actual superiority on the track, but when a maiden is won by a dozen lengths or more, it often happens that the winner is quite a good horse.
In late March, a 10-furlong Cork maiden saw the 4/9 favourite trounce a 6/1 chance by 16 lengths. The winner then took a Group 3 contest at Leopardstown before confirming himself as being one of the brightest stars in Europe; Harzand is now a dual Derby hero.
Usually one would not expect the recipient of such a drubbing in maiden company to do more than, perhaps, become a useful handicapper, but the runner-up that day went on to thrash four rivals by 14 lengths and farther in a similar contest at Sligo just over a month later, again on heavy ground.
He followed that with a third place finish behind Ebediyin in a four-runner event over 12 furlongs at Naas 10 days later, and then went to Royal Ascot where he sprang a 33/1 surprise in the Listed Queen's Vase over two miles.
The horse that Harzand beat so easily at Cork in March is Sword Fighter, and now that the latter has added a two-length win in the Group 2 coral.ie Curragh Cup, there is the chance that two of the year's English classic stars could come from that same maiden. And if you fancy the chances of that Aidan O'Brien-trained colt at Doncaster in September, you can currently get odds of between 8/1 to 12/1, depending on where you look.
Sword Fighter, a son of Coolmore Stud's prolific champion sire Galileo (by Sadler's Wells), was bred by Ciaran 'Flash' Conroy's famous Glenvale Stud. He holds entries in the Group 2 Qatar Goodwood Cup, the Group 2 Betway Great Voltigeur Stakes and the Group 1 Palmerstown House Estate Irish St Leger, and it could be that the Ballydoyle team have another potential staying star in their string.
The first striking thing about the colt's pedigree, when you look at the distaff side of his family, is the amount of speed it contains, and not just milers but those who excelled as sprinters. When matched with Galileo, that is usually a recipe for a mile to 10 furlong horse that just might get 12, but not for a stayer.
Galileo clearly passed on a stamina influence to his son, and it is likely that the colt's broodmare sire is responsible for the rest as, though a miler, Grand Lodge (by Chief's Crown) got middle-distance horses. There is a Group 3 Princess Royal Stakes winner under the fifth generation, but she was by runaway Derby hero Shergar (by Great Nephew) and too remote from Sword Fighter to have any bearing on his aptitude or prospects.
Tarbela, the dam of Sword Fighter, was trained by John Oxx but did not show much aptitude for racing, finishing unplaced in five of her six starts, from six furlongs to a mile, and beaten by a total of 13 lengths when third in a seven-furlong Limerick maiden on her only start at two. She was sold for €40,000 at Goffs, as a broodmare prospect, and on the most recent of three subsequent appearances in the auction ring, she made €160,000 at that same venue nearly four and a half years ago.
By that point she had produced the seven and eight furlong listed scorer Big Audio (by Oratorio), a gelding who, despite being by a top-class 10-furlong horse, was beaten by a long way on his only attempt at that distance. The foal she was carrying at the time of that sale is a gelding named Anachronism (by Arcano), Sword Fighter arrived the following year, and she has a two-year-old full-brother to that rising star, named North Carolina.
Tarbela is a half-sister to Tarwila (by In The Wings), a 12-furlong Curragh winner who got her blacktype when finishing third behind Jammaal in the Listed Trigo Stakes over a quarter-mile less at Leopardstown, and she is also a half-sister to dual mile scorer Teen Ager (by Invincible Spirit), a gelding who got six of his nine wins over seven furlongs.
It is already clear that a pattern is beginning to emerge. The sire appears to determine the effective distance range for many in this family.
Tarbela's half-sister Tahara (by Caerleon), therefore, could have been turned out to be a middle-distance horse, but her career was restricted to just two outings, both as a three-year-old, and both unplaced efforts, one over six furlongs at Newmarket and the other over seven at Sandown.
Of course, some of the Caerleons (by Nijinsky) were highly effective at a mile and under, and so it was reasonable to presume that a daughter of his, out of Tarwiya (by Dominion) could show speed in that range too. And speed is what she is associated with at stud, as she is the dam of the Group 1 Prix de l'Abbaye de Longchamp heroine Gilt Edge Girl (by Monsieur Bond) and of Group 2 Flying Childers Stakes winner Godfrey Street (by Compton Place).
Tariysha (by Daylami) could also have been expected to stay a mile, or more, but she did not race, and when she was bred to the sprint star Oasis Dream (by Green Desert), the result was Group 1 Prix Morny winner Arcano. He also won the Group 2 July Stakes at Newmarket, ran just twice at three, and after five seasons at Derrinstown Stud he moved to Allevamento di Besnate, in Italy, in 2016.
Tarwiya's tendency to swish her tail in races helped in making her memorable, but so too did her high-class racing record. The Aga Khan homebred, whom John Oxx trained, won the Group 3 C L Weld Park Stakes and Listed Rochestown Stakes over seven furlongs as a juvenile, and the best of her blacktype placings were her half-length defeat by Twafeaj in the Group 1 Moyglare Stud Stakes, then over six furlongs, and her third place finish to the outstanding pair Marling and Market Booster in the Group 1 Irish 1000 Guineas.
The best of her siblings were the ill-fated pair Namaya and Blue Dakota, sons of the Group 1 Prix de l'Abbaye de Longchamp winner Namid (by Indian Ridge). The former was third to George Washington in the Group 2 Railway Stakes as a juvenile and later won a mile premier handicap at the Curragh.
Blue Dakota also died at the age of five, having first sired a handful of progeny at Hedgeholme Stud. As a juvenile he won his first three starts by an aggregate of 13 and a half lengths before scoring a narrow win in the Group 3 Norfolk Stakes at Royal Ascot. Those few offspring of his include the five-times sprint winning mare Ingenti.
These are the highlights of the first four generations of Sword Fighter's pedigree. In winning good races over 14 furlongs and over two miles, this three-year-old has proved that he stays much farther than might have been expected given the distaff family he represents. Further improvement is required if he is to win at the highest level, but he is a well-bred son of Galileo and clearly on the upgrade, so anything is possible.