Fashions and attitudes change and around 50 years ago the top two-year-old sprint races were seen as the potential source of the next season's milers, while the seven-furlong and mile events were from where the middle-distance and staying types would come. Those bred to be milers often ran in the former; those bred to be Derby types ran in the latter, and it was the mile prospects who tended to top the juvenile rankings.
Timeform's Racehorses of 1971 pointed out an emerging shift, noting that whereas a Middle Park Stakes and five-furlong Seaton Delaval Stakes winner could usually have been expected to top the Free Handicap, this time he was only sixth in the rankings. Winners of events such as the Dewhurst Stakes, Champagne Stakes, and Observer Gold Cup (now Racing Post Trophy) represented stamina and it was those horses who were now topping the table.
Decades later, two-year-old sprint speed is still in demand, but in a different way. When that 1971 essay said that "stamina, not speed, is becoming the order of the day" it did not mean the same as what such a statement would mean now.
Those who will be the potential mile to 10-furlong stars run over seven furlongs at two, while those who run at a mile in their juvenile season are considered to be potential Derby and Oaks horses, and what the breed needs, in this time of over-reliance on early-season five and six-furlong pace, is more stamina – middle-distance stamina and stayers. The new funding level and championship series for the stayers' division is to be applauded.
The decades-old essay in which Timeform made those observations was their one on Sharpen Up, unbeaten winner of those two speed events named above and rated 127 by them that year. One of only six stakes winners sired by the Native Dancer (by Polynesian) stallion Atan, he had some middle-distance stamina in the distaff side of his pedigree but had given the reviewer the impression that sprinting would be his game rather than having the stamina necessary for the Guineas.
As it turned out, he ran just three times the following year, losing his unbeaten record when runner-up in the seven-furlong Greenham Stakes, then second again when beaten by Parsimony in the July Cup, and unplaced in Deep Diver's Nunthorpe Stakes. The white-faced chestnut with two hind stockings then retired to Side Hill Stud, but eventually crossed the Atlantic to join the team at Gainesway.
The mix of speed and stamina in his pedigree enabled him to sire his best winners over a variety of distances, and for a time the Sharpen Up stallion line was a frequent source of stakes and pattern winners in the broad five to 12-furlong range, his top stallion sons featuring the brothers Kris and Diesis, plus Group 1-siring stallions such as Beveled, Sharpo and Trempolino, among others of note.
They also featured the outstanding miler Selkirk, who sired 17 Group 1 stars among a total 96 stakes winners during his career at Lanwades Stud, but sadly the male line has been weakening in recent years and in danger of disappearing from top-level races.
One of the last of Selkirk's sons, however, was a freshman sire of 2017, and he achieved a notable career landmark last weekend when getting not one but two stakes winners. Cityscape's racing and pedigree profile suggested that it would be with his three-year-olds and older horses that he would get his best results, while still getting some two-year-old winners of course, and that, depending on the mares, they could come over a wide range of distances.
Cityscape was a notable miler, a Group 1 winner over nine furlongs and showing a possible stamina limitation when only fourth to Nathaniel in the Group 1 Eclipse Stakes. And yet had he been assessed in a Timeform essay through the eyes of a 1971 perspective, excellence at a mile would likely not have been predicted – he ran only at that distance at two and followed a nine-length win with second place in the Group 2 Royal Lodge Stakes.
Like his grandsire, Cityscape achieved a peak Timeform rating of 127. Selkirk was on 129.
The first stakes winner for Cityscape was Dan's Dream, who beat prior pattern scorer Tajaanus by a length and a quarter in the Group 3 Dubai Duty Free Stakes (registered as the Fred Darling Stakes) over seven furlongs at Newbury last Saturday. Then the Adrian Keatley-trained gelding The Broghie Man made it two with victory in the Listed Committed Stakes over five and a half furlongs at Navan the following day.
Dan's Dream, who is trained by Mick Channon, finished fourth over six furlongs at Chepstow in mid-July, was not see out again until taking a five and a half-furlong contest by four and a half lengths at Bath in late March, and she is now a contender for Group 1 honours, albeit with plenty more improvement required.
She holds entries in the Group 1 Tattersalls Irish 1000 Guineas, Group 1 Commonwealth Cup and Group 1 Coronation Stakes.
The January-born brown filly was bred by Hunscote Stud, she the first foal out of an unraced mare called Royal Ffanci (by Royal Applause), and her grandam, Madamoiselle Jones (by Emperor Jones), is a winning half-sister to Penkenna Princess (by Pivotal).
That filly won the Listed Oh So Sharp Stakes at Newmarket and was runner-up in the Group 2 Rockfel Stakes as a juvenile, added the Group 3 Fred Darling Stakes at three, and then failed by the narrowest of margins to beat Saoire in the Group 1 Irish 1000 Guineas at the Curragh.
Their half-brother Salut Saint Cloud (by Primo Dominie) stayed farther and, in addition to six wins from 10 to 16 and a half furlongs on the flat, he won several times over obstacles, notably the Grade 2 Summit Junior Hurdle at Lingfield.
They are all out of Tiriana (by Common Grounds), who did not win but whose eight successful siblings included Head Over Heels (by Pursuit Of Love), who was a five-furlong listed scorer at two in England.
On pedigree and the manner in which she won at Newbury, Dan's Dream should stay a mile, and it will be fascinating to find out how high in the rankings she can go. Her sire is also at a promising stage of his career and he, Cityscape, could be the one to revive Sharpen Up's line. Time will tell.