Galileo's brilliant half-brother Sea The Stars (by Cape Cross) has made an excellent start to his career at Gilltown Stud and the 11-year-old notched up his eighth individual Group 1 winner when Stradivarius took the Qatar Goodwood Cup earlier this month.
The John Gosden-trained chestnut is owned and bred by Bjorn Nielsen, he has won four of his seven starts, and what makes his one and three-quarter length defeat of Group 1 Gold Cup hero Big Orange particularly meritorious is that he is only a three-year-old. Timeform rated him 122.
He won the final of three starts at around a mile as a juvenile, started off his current campaign with a six-length score in a 10-furlong handicap at Beverley in April, failed by just half a length to give away 13lbs over two and a half furlongs farther at Chester the following month, and then put his name into the history books as the first winner of the newly framed Queen's Vase at Royal Ascot.
Previously run over over two miles and with listed or Group 3 status, it was generally seen as one of the lesser blacktype staying events, but, in 2017 and as part of some enhancements to the stayers' programme, it was reduced in distance to 14 furlongs and boosted in status to Group 2.
The presumed hope is that the Queen's Vase might become to stayers what the Commonwealth Cup has to sprinters, a well-supported stepping stone for potentially top-class three-year-olds before they take on the older horses.
The latter has quickly become established as one of the best additions to the racing calendar, and if the next few winners of the former go on to the sort of profile that its latest victor has achieved, then it too will play an important role.
Stradivarius is now one of the ante-post market leaders for both the Group 1 William Hill St Leger Stakes at Doncaster next month and for the Group 2 Qipco British Champions Long Distance Cup at Ascot in October.
He is a half-brother to the dual German 10-furlong Group 3 scorer Persian Storm (by Monsun) and out of Private Life (by Bering), a stakes-placed half-sister to the 15-furlong listed race winner Pretty Tough (by Desert King) and also to Parisienne (by Distant Relative), a juvenile stakes winner with a famous grandson.
That star is Protectionist (by Monsun), the Group 1 Melbourne Cup hero of 2014. He was a pattern-winning stayer before making the trip to Flemington, but an extended stay in Australia did not work out for him so he returned to Germany, added Group 1 success in the Grosser Preis von Berlin over 12 furlongs at Hoppegarten, and took up stallion duties at Gestut Rottgen in the spring.
His third dam, Poughkeepsie (by Sadler's Wells), is the grandam of Stradivarius and that one-time winner is among five successful runners from the dozen foals produced from Pawneese (by Carvin II), the Group 1 Oaks, Group 1 Prix de Diane (French Oaks) and Group 1 King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes heroine whom Timeform rated 131 in her championship season: 1976.
Pawneese's half-sister Petroleuse (by Habitat), who won the Group 3 Princess Elizabeth Stakes, is the grandam of Peintre Celebre (by Nureyev), the Timeform 137-rated star who took the Group 1 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, Group 1 Grand Prix de Paris and Group 1 Prix du Jockey-Club (French Derby) in 1997.
Although he has not achieved the sort of fame at stud as he did on the track, the brilliant chestnut has supplied 65 stakes winners, 12 of whom have won at the highest level, including the Group 1 standouts Pride, Vallee Enchantee, and Bentley Biscuit.
At this point, Stradivarius looks the most likely candidate to win the season's final Group 1 classic at Doncaster. Whether or not he has the stamina for the two and a half-mile Group 1 Gold Cup next year remains to be seen, but a repeat Goodwood Cup success is possible and he could be a leading candidate for championship honours in the stayers' division in 2018.
Given his relationship to Protectionist, Pawneese and Peintre Celebre, it would be interesting to see how he might get on if dropping back to a mile and a half next year, and also to see him get a shot at being a flat stallion, rather than being automatically targeted at the National Hunt sector.
Yeomanstown Stud's Dark Angel (by Acclamation) was a leading sprint juvenile who took up stallion duties shortly after winning the Group 1 Middle Park Stakes. The Timeform 113-rated grey is a good-looking son of the high-class sprinter Acclamation (by Royal Applause), he has been hugely popular with breeders from day one, and he wasted little time in establishing himself as an important source of speed and precocity.
We can only guess at what he might have done had he stayed in training at three or four years of age, and if he would have been capable of a higher Timeform rating, but an increasing number of his offspring are matching and surpassing his figure, three have won at the highest level, and it is possible that a fourth will hit the Group 1 target tomorrow afternoon.
The big trio are Lethal Force (successful freshman sire), Mecca's Angel, and last month's July Cup hero Harry Angel, and the potential addition is the Charles Hills-trained three-year-old Battaash, one of the most exciting sprinters in Europe in recent years.
He looked a bright prospect when making a winning debut over the minimum trip at Bath in May of last year but was a disappointment when finishing down the field behind Ardad in the Listed Windsor Castle Stakes at Royal Ascot a month later.
He was gelded soon afterwards and although he ran quite well in his three subsequent starts – finishing third each time – he showed nothing of the brilliance that he has exhibited this summer.
First he was placed in a conditions race over six at Doncaster – the only time he has tried that distance – then in a Haydock nursery, and finally behind Mrs Danvers in the Group 3 Cornwallis Stakes at Newmarket.
His three-year-old debut was in the Listed Randox Health Scurry Stakes at Sandown in mid-June and it was an eye-catching effort, beating Koropick by a length and a quarter. Then came his three and a quarter-length defeat of Mirza in the Group 3 Coral Charge, with Goldream another three lengths back in third.
That front-running performance suggested that he could be a Group 1 star in the making, but his two and a quarter-length victory in the Group 2 Qatar King George Stakes at Goodwood was breathtaking.
The ground was soft but he showed a powerful turn of foot to beat Profitable by two and a quarter lengths, with Marsha third, Take Cover fourth, and Washington DC fifth – and in a very quick time. Timeform's analysis placed him on a massive 135+, making it one of the best performances by a sprinter in recent years and putting him level with the brilliant Lady Aurelia.
Immediately thoughts turned to the mouthwatering prospect of these two outstanding three-year-olds meeting on the track, and that is due to happen at York tomorrow afternoon in what could be a Group 1 Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes for the ages.
Battaash was bred in Ireland by Ballyphilip Stud and he is a 200,000gns graduate of Book 2 of the Tattersalls October Yearling Sale in Newmarket. He is the first foal out of an unplaced mare called Anna Law (by Lawman), and although there will obviously be no stallion career for him, there is likely to be one for his notably talented 'cousin'.
That horse is the William Haggas-trained four-year-old Tasleet (by Showcasing), a Timeform 125-rated winner of the Group 2 Duke of York Stakes and who was runner-up to The Tin Man in the Group 1 Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot in June.
He is also owned by Hamdan Al Maktoum, and his dam, Bird Key (by Cadeaux Genereux), is a half-sister to Anna Law. These two mares have four blacktype siblings, best of whom is Group 2 Champagne Stakes winner and Group 1 July Cup third Etlaala (by Selkirk), and they are out of Portelet (by Night Shift), a four-time winning half-sister to stakes-placed sprinter Rozel (by Wolfhound).
Noirmant (by Dominion), the third dam of Battaash and Tasleet, was unraced, her half-sister Ghariba (by Final Straw) won the Group 3 Nell Gwyn Stakes and finished fourth in the Group 1 1000 Guineas and then went on to become the ancestor of several talented horses, including Group 1-placed juvenile mile Group 3 scorer Fantastic View (by Distant View) and the Group 1-placed, pattern-winning sprinter High Standing (by High Yield).
All of this might sound as though it is a family exclusively associated with talent at a mile and under, but Ghariba and Noirmant are out of Listed Montrose Handicap third Krakow (by Malinowski) and so are half-sisters to Group 1 Prix Royal-Oak and Group 2 Yorkshire Cup hero Braashee (by Sadler's Wells).
Their siblings also include Adam Smith (by Sadler's Wells), a multiple Grade 3 winner at around a mile in the USA.
It remains to be seen just how good Battaash really is, and despite his huge Timeform rating he has created the impression that he could still be improving. Although many would love the chance to breed to a horse of such immense talent, it has been said that there was good reason to castrate him and that, as a colt, he would likely not have shown his true worth.
This means that we could be treated to the sight of this exciting sprinter in action for several years, and if he truly is a 130+ talent rather than a 'one-hit wonder', and if can hold that sort of form over a long period of time, then he has the potential to become one of the most celebrated horses on the international scene, and a yardmark against which to judge the current and future generations.
Timeform 147-rated superstar Frankel (by Galileo) has been bred to some of the cream of the world's elite broodmares and, with such support, anything less than a plethora of stakes and pattern winners from the resulting offspring would be disappointing.
As of today, his tally stands at a dozen pattern winners plus one Group 2-placed listed scorer and a string of blacktype-placed representatives from his first crop, and a Group 2 winner from his second.
He is awaiting his first European Group 1 winner – to add to his champion and classic heroine Soul Stirring, in Japan – but with the manner in which Cracksman won the Group 2 Betway Great Voltigeur Stakes at York this afternoon, there is every reason to hope that this John Gosden-trained three-year-old could be one to make the breakthrough.
His six-length defeat of Venice Beach was impressive, there was a further six lengths back to Mirage Dancer – who is also by Frankel – and the talented Douglas Macarthur was another half-length behind in fourth.
This year's Group 1 Qatar Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe or Group 1 Qipco Champion Stakes, and perhaps next year's Group 1 King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes were mentioned, by trainer John Gosden, as potential future targets for the colt, and it looks like Anthony Oppenheimer's Hascombe and Valiant Studs have bred another top-class racehorse.
He won a mile maiden at Newmarket in mid-October, his only start at two, and the benefit of hindsight makes his short-head victory in the Investec Derby Trial, over 10 furlongs at Epsom in late April, look so much better than it did on the day as the colt he pipped was the tragically ill-fated subsequent Group 1-placed dual Group 2 ace Permian.
The latter's talent had started to become apparent before Cracksman returned to the venue on the first Saturday in June and so, despite having just those two races under his belt, the grandson of Galileo (by Sadler's Wells) was sent off favourite for the Group 1 Investec Derby.
His inexperience showed but he still ran an excellent race, finishing third to Wings Of Eagles and Cliffs Of Moher – beaten by a length and a neck – and with the Frankel colt Eminent another three-parts of a length back in fourth.
A month later, he went to the Curragh for the Group 1 Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby where, having come wide and late, he looked like an unlucky loser, crossing the line a short-head in front of Wings Of Eagles but failing by a neck to catch Capri. The Andre Fabre-trained Waldgeist was a length and a half back in fourth, with another two and a quarter back to fifth-placed Douglas Macarthur.
Cracksman is a half-brother to the Group 3 Solario Stakes winner Fantastic Moon (by Dalakhani) and he is the fourth foal out of Rhadegunda (by Pivotal), a triple winner whose tally includes the Listed Prix Solitude over nine furlongs on heavy ground at Fontainebleau, the final start in a nine-race career for the John Gosden-trained bay.
Her half-brother Halla San (by Halling) earned his blacktype with third-place finishes in 14-furlong listed contests at Nottingham and York, he was beaten by just a head when runner-up in the two-mile Northumberland Plate, and went on to some success over hurdles.
His stamina stands out in contrast to the aptitude of his sister, to his dam's Listed Sirenia Stakes-winning half-brother Art Of War (by Machiavellian), and to the classic speed of his grandam, On The House (by Be My Guest), the Group 1 1000 Guineas and Group 1 Sussex Stakes heroine of 1982.
That Timeform 125-rated star is also the grandam of Group 2 Royal Lodge Stakes winner Leo (by Pivotal) and of dual Italian listed scorer Balkenhol (by Polar Falcon), and she is the third dam of Irish Field (by Dubawi), who won the Group 2 Prix Robert Papin and was runner-up in the Group 3 Prix du Bois.
In terms of optimal distance, Cracksman could have gone either way – miler or middle-distance horse. These first three generations are mostly about talent at up to nine furlongs, with Halla San an exception. That gelding, however, is by a stallion often noted for getting horses who excel from 12 furlongs to two miles, and so one could argue that this was the source of his stamina.
Frankel was bred to stay a mile and a half – something his triple Group 1-winning full-brother Noble Mission did – and so, with the right mares, it was always going to happen that some of his offspring would also be suited to that trip, and maybe a bit farther.
Should Cracksman succeed at the highest level over middle-distances, then he will not be the first member of his extended family to achieve the feat. That's because his fourth dam is Lora (by Lorenzaccio), the unraced grandam of Nuryana (by Nureyev) and Littlewick (by Green Desert).
The latter is the dam of the Chilean-bred Grade 1 Premio St Leger heroine Fontanella Borghese (by Roy), but in addition to being the stakes-winning dam of Group 1 Coronation Stakes winner Rebecca Sharp (by Machiavellian), Nuryana is a half-sister to 11 and a half-furlong Group 3 scorer and Derby sixth Mystic Knight (by Caerleon) and grandam of Golden Horn (by Cape Cross).
That Oppenheimer-bred, Timeform 134-rated champion won the Group 1 Derby, Group 1 Coral-Eclipse, Group 1 Irish Champion Stakes, and Group 1 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe in 2015, he stands at Dalham Hall Stud, and his first foals arrived this year.
His relationship to Crackman is remote, as are that of Nuryana, Fontanella Borghese, New Zealand-bred dual Group 1 mile star Obsession (by Bachelor Duke; grandam a half-sister to Nuryana), and Australian Group 1 scorers Kidnapped (by Viscount) and Hauraki (by Reset; their grandam is another half-sister to Nuryana).
But if Cracksman lives up to the potential that he showed at York today then he could take high rank among the very best horses that his immediate and broad family have produced, before going on to what could be a notably successful career at stud.