Dark Angel (by Acclamation) has exceeded expectations at stud and the Group 1 Middle Park Stakes winner had a phenomenal year in 2017, headlined by his brilliant sprinting sons Battaash and Harry Angel, Group 1 stars rated 136 and 132 respectively by Timeform.
He has also proved his ability to get high-class milers, which gives him the potential to get classic horses, and his best in that division include Timeform 123-rated Persuasive who beat Ribchester by a length in the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot in October.
Stage Magic is not yet in their league, but the Charlie Appleby-trained bay won the Group 3 Prix de Chenes over a mile on soft ground at Chantilly in early September, holding on in a three-way photo to deny Olmedo and Zyzzyva by a short-head and neck, and with a six-length gap back to the fourth.
This came just over two weeks after he had been short-headed by Francesco Bere in the valuable Listed Criterium du Fonds Europeen de l'Elevage over the same trip at Deauville – in which subsequent dual stakes winner Alounak was fourth.
He was a neck runner-up over seven furlongs at Haydock on his debut in mid-June, won by four and a half lengths over the same trip at Newbury the following month, but disappoined in very soft ground at Chantilly – in the nine-furlong Group 3 Prix de Conde – on his only other outing.
He is due to make his seasonal reappearance in the Listed bet365 Fielden Stakes over that same trip at Newmarket tomorrow, and if has inherited some of the family's stamina, as shown by his dam's half-brother and others farther back on the page, then Stage Magic could be a smart 10-furlong horse in the making.
The early March-born colt was bred by Paul and Billy McEnery, he cost 160,000gns in Newmarket as a foal, and he carries the famous Godolphin colours. He is the second foal of the twice-raced Witnessed (by Authorized), who beat Esentepe by a length at Beverley on her only juvenile start, and his now two-year-old Bungle Inthejungle (by Exceed And Excel) half-sister made €55,000 at the Goffs Sportsmans Sale in late September.
His grandam is the Grade 1-placed mile to 10-furlong filly Magic Mission, whose best win came in the Grade 3 Royal Heroine Stakes, and that makes him inbred 3x3 to her sire Machiavellian (by Mr Prospector). The combination of that cross with being a son of Dark Angel might suggest he has a future as a miler – and that is possible – but the exploits of his dam's star brother offer hope that he will stay farther.
That colt is the distinctively marked Talismanic (by Medaglia d'Oro), winner of the Group 2 Prix Maurice de Nieuil over 14 furlongs before returning to the mile and a half to beat Beach Patrol by half a length in the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Turf at Del Mar in early November. He then chased home Highland Reel in the Group 1 Longines Hong Kong Vase at Sha Tin in December and made a winning seasonal reappearance at over nine and a half furlongs at Chantilly last month, beating Cloth Of Stars by one and three-quarter lengths on the polytrack.
Talismanic holds an entry in the Group 1 Investec Coronation Cup at Epsom, while Stage Magic is engaged in both the Group 1 Prix du Jockey Club (French Derby) and Group 1 Grand Prix de Paris.
Magic Mission is a half-sister to the dam of Japanese mile Group 3 scorer Logi Cry (by Heart's Cry) and she is a granddaughter of Capo Di Monte (by Final Straw), the Listed Pretty Polly Stakes winner and Group 2 Sun Chariot Stakes runner-up who took a Grade 3 handicap in the USA and whose Group 1-winning half-sister Wind In Her Hair (by Alzao) is the dam of Japanese Triple Crown hero and phenomenal stallion Deep Impact (by Sunday Silence).
The fifth dam of Stage Magic is, therefore, Burghclere (by Busted), daughter of dual classic heroine Highclere (by Queen's Hussar) and so a half-sister to Height Of Fashion (by Bustino). That pattern-winning filly is best known as being the dam of Nashwan (by Blushing Groom), Nayef (by Gulch) and Unfuwain (by Northern Dancer), grandam of Group 1 1000 Guineas star Ghanaati (by Giant's Causeway), and ancestor of many others of note.
It remains to be seen if he is good enough to justify his classic and other Group 1 entry, but it will be disappointing if Stage Magic fails to improve on the official 106 and Timeform 107 figures that he earned last year, especially as the distaff side of his pedigree suggests that progress is likely.
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.
In mid-September of last year, Melesina finished only sixth in a one-mile nursery at Ayr, a race for which she had been a 20/1 longshot. It was her seventh start, she had been unplaced at 50/1 and 100/1 in blacktype events at Naas and Royal Ascot respectively, and her sole success came in a seven and a half-furlong Beverley maiden on her sixth start.
She was now rated 80, seemingly well-exposed and with no realistic hope of achieving prominence on the track. She was beaten by 31 lengths in a mile listed contest at Meydan on her seasonal debut last month, and yet few can have been surprised by her victory in the Listed Prix La Camargo over the same trip at Saint-Cloud on Sunday.
That's because of what she achieved in both her eighth start of 2016 and in her second one of 2017. She sprang a 14/1 surprise in the former, beating Turf Laurel by one and a quarter lengths in the Group 3 Prix des Reservoirs over a mile on good ground at Deauville, and was a staying-on three-length fourth to Nomorerichblondes in the latter, the Group 3 UAE Oaks over nine and a half furlongs on the dirt at Meydan.
With 11 runs behind her now, including three this year, it is reasonable to suggest that Melesina is unlikely to improve much on the 102-rating she brought with her to France. If we ignore her first five starts and take a view that perhaps she just needed more time than expected to work it all out, then she would be sitting on a record of three wins from six starts, which would make the prospect of further progress sound more plausible.
It will be interesting to see how her season turns out, but regardless of whether she has already peaked or has more to give, this Richard Fahey-trained daughter of Yeomanstown Stud's star stallion Dark Angel (by Acclamation) will go to the paddocks with both Group 3 and listed success to her name, and that is more than most can do.
Melesina was bred by Duggan Bloodstock, she made just 22,000gns from Book 2 of the Tattersalls October Yearling Sale in Newmarket and she is a half-sister to the seven-furlong winner Lastmanlastround (by Azamour).
That she is one of her sire's milers, rather than a sprinter, was to be expected given that her dam, Lastroseofsummer (by Haafhd), was a capable stayer who won over 13, 15 and 17 furlongs on the flat and at up to two miles, three and a half furlongs over hurdles. Indeed, given how she finished in the UAE Oaks, it is possible that Melesina will handle 10 furlongs in Europe.
The mare's half-brother Romantic Affair (by Persian Bold) won the Listed Stubbs Stakes over two miles and was placed in the Group 2 Prix Maurice de Nieuil, Group 3 Henry II Stakes and Group 3 Sagaro Stakes, and each of her other three blacktype siblings stayed at least 12 furlongs.
Broken Romance (by Ela-Mana-Mou), the unraced grandam of Melesina, was a half-sister to the Grade 1 Hollywood Derby winner Foscarini (by Rusticaro), to Group 2 Dante Stakes runner-up Guns Of Navarone (by Bold Lad IRE) and to Group 2 National Stakes second Cobblers Cove (by Realm), and there is a plethora of stakes winners under the fourth generation of the family.
Those include Pelerin (by Sir Gaylord), the Group 1 Grosser Preis von Baden winner who finished fourth to Henbit in the Group 1 Derby at Epsom, and also Gwen (by Abernant), the speedy multiple stakes winner who, in 1964, chased home Pourparler in the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket. Her siblings included Broken Flush (by Busted), the winning third dam of Melesina.
The Group 1 Irish 1000 Guineas winner Matiya (by Alzao) also appears under a branch of the fourth generation of the pedigree but she and Melesina only share their fourth dam, Donna (by Donore), a four-time scorer whose multiple blacktype placings included the Fred Darling Stakes.
Dark Angel's (by Acclamation) rise in the stallion ranks has been remarkable and in 2016 he finished in fourth place in the combined Ireland and UK sires' championship title race.
His plethora of stakes performers during the season included Harry Angel, a £44,000 Doncaster Premier Yearling Sale graduate who was bred by Cbs Bloodstock and who earned a 110 rating in the recently published Longines World's Best Racehorse Rankings.
The Clive Cox-trained colt lost out by a nose in a five-furlong Ascot maiden in early May 2016 and was only seen out once more after that, when beating Perfect Angel by two and a half lengths in the Group 2 Dubai Duty Free Mill Reef Stakes over a furlong farther at Newbury four months later.
Timeform rated the performance 113p and he is an intriguing prospect for 2017.
Whether he will be a sprinter, a miler, or one of those horses capable of performing with credit in both divisions, remains to be seen. He has shown plenty of pace in his first two starts, but his pedigree suggests that a mile will be within his range.
Dark Angel has proved his ability to get both sprinters and milers and this young son is out of a mare who was placed at both six furlongs and a mile. Beatrix Potter (by Cadeaux Genereux) has also produced the 10-furlong winner Golden Journey (by Nayef), she is by a sprint champion who stayed a mile, and she is out of the stakes-placed seven-furlong winner Great Joy (by Grand Lodge).
That older mare is also the dam of the dual Group 1-winning miler Xtension (by Xaar), who won the Group 2 Vintage Stakes and was placed in both the Group 2 Coventry Stakes and Group 1 Dewhurst Stakes before going on to star in Hong Kong. He stands at Rathbarry Stud in Ireland and his oldest progeny are yearlings.
Great Joy is a half-sister to the mile listed scorer A La Carte (by Caerleon) and to Bally Souza (by Alzao), who is the dam of the Listed Round Tower Stakes winner and Group 1 National Stakes runner-up Wathab (by Cadeaux Genereux), and their dam is an unraced daughter of the mighty Spectacular Bid (by Bold Bidder).
There are plenty of blacktype horses to be found under the fourth generation of the family, starting with fourth dam Avum (by Umbrella Fella), and it is her Grade 3-winning daughter Baroness Direct (by Blushing Groom) who is the grandam of Grade 1 star and successful sire Stephen Got Even (by A.P. Indy), and third dam of multiple Grade 1-winning filly Artemis Agrotera (by Roman Ruler).
Avum's best son was the US Grade 2 scorer Minneapple (by Riverman) and she was also the dam of the pattern-placed French stakes winner Lyphard's Princess (by Lyphard), who was in turn, the dam of the Grade 2 Ohio Derby scorer Private Man (by Private Account).
As a pattern-winning son of Dark Angel, it is likely that Harry Angel has already caught the interest of some of those looking for a future new stallion recruit and, of course, any additional success for him in 2017 will also serve as an advertisement for his Group 1-winning 'uncle' Xtension.
Dark Angel's rise to fame has been remarkable and Yeomanstown Stud's Group 1-winning son of Acclamation (by Royal Applause) is well-established as a leading European sire. His string of stakes winners in 2016 include a filly who is putting her unbeaten record on the line at Leopardstown during the opening day of the Longines Irish Champions Weekend.
Persuasive, one of a growing number of talented horses bred by John Tuthill of Owenstown Stud, made her first public appearance when taking her place as Lot 187 in the 2014 Goffs Orby Sale in Kill. She fetched €180,000 that day and was bought by Cheveley Park Stud.
The John Gosden-trained grey made her debut in a mile maiden on the polytrack at Kempton in November, making her yet another high-class graduate of the artificial surfaces. She was odds-on in a handicap at Goodwood in May, followed-up at Chelmsford 12 days later, and then extended her winning run to four in the Listed Sandringham Handicap on soft ground at Royal Ascot.
Two months later she made it five-from-five when beating Blond Me by three lengths in the Group 3 Redrock Entertainment Atalanta Stakes at Sandown. It was impressive and the runner-up there advertised the form when picking up a Group 2 contest in Turkey on Sunday.
It will be no easy task for her at Leopardstown as she is taking on the Group 1 stars Alice Springs, Jet Setting and Qemah, plus Group 2 scorers Devonshire and Hawksmoor and the talented duo Creggs Pipes and Now Or Never in the Group 1 Coolmore Fastnet Rock Matron Stakes.
A half-brother to the Ismail Mohammed-trained gelding Amazour (by Azamour), whose most recent of three wins came over six furlongs at Newcastle in late June, Persuasive is the second foal out of the high-class performer Choose Me (by Choisir), who was also bred by Owenstown Stud.
The mare's third foal, Tizbutadream (by Dream Ahead), finished out of the frame in a six-furlong maiden on soft ground at Newmarket in late June, she had an Iffraaj (by Zafonic) filly in 2015 and a first-crop Slade Power (by Dutch Art) colt in April.
Choose Me was trained by Kevin Prendergast and although she only won four of her 28 starts, those included the Listed Fairy Bridge Stakes over seven and a half furlongs at Tipperary and the valuable Tattersalls Ireland Sales Stakes over six at the Curragh, both in heavy ground.
She stayed 10 furlongs, won over that trip on fast ground at Naas and was multiple blacktype placed at that distance too, most notably when coming off worst in a three-way photo, with Eleanora Duse and She's Our Mark, for the Group 2 Blandford Stakes at the Curragh.
This record ranks her as the best of several winners out of one-time scorer Hecuba (by Hector Protector) and as that mare is, in turn, out of the Listed Sandy Lane Stakes third Ajuga (by The Minstrel), that makes her a half-sister to the German Group 2 scorer Bad Bertrich Again (by Dowsing), to Group 3 Scottish Classic winner Prolix (by Kris), to the talented dual-purpose gelding Bangalore (by Sanglamore) and also to Alumni.
That daughter of Selkirk (by Sharpen Up) got her only win in the Listed Cheshire Oaks but her star son is prolific, won a 10-furlong listed contest at Newbury, has useful mile form at Bratislava and in the Czech Republic, and also the speed to have won a valuable five-furlong handicap at Meydan.
Indeed, Dux Scholar (by Oasis Dream) is also pattern-placed over the minimum trip, he was only beaten by three and a quarter lengths when out of the frame in a Group 1 sprint two and a half years ago, and his string of pattern placings include races over seven, eight, nine and 10 furlongs, in England, France, Germany and Dubai.
A Rail Link (by Dansili) half-brother to Dux Scholar is catalogued as Lot 1211 in Book 2 of the Tattersalls October Yearling Sale in Newmarket, and Lot 434 of the Goffs Orby Sale is the Iffraaj half-sister to Persuasive.
The fourth dam of Persuasive is Cairn Rouge (by Pitcairn), the Group 1 Irish 1000 Guineas, Group 1 Champion Stakes and Group 2 Coronation Stakes heroine of 1980, rated 127 by Timeform. Her many notable descendants include US Grade 1 star Ventura (by Chester House), Group 1-placed pattern scorers Trade Fair (by Zafonic) and Silver Touch (by Dansili), and recent Group 3 Geoffrey Freer Stakes and Group 3 Glorious Stakes winner Kings Fete (by King's Best).
Persuasive earned an official handicap mark of 112 after her latest success, so a lot more improvement is required if she is to be up to winning at the highest level, especially against a field like the one she will meet at Leopardstown. But she is talented and progressive and it would be no surprise to see her hit the top before long.
She also holds an entry in next month's Group 1 Kingdom Of Bahrain Sun Chariot Stakes at Newmarket and it would be fascinating to see how she might get on if staying in training as a four-year-old. It will also be very interesting to follow her eventual stud career as, with her pedigree connections, she could become a broodmare of considerable note some day.