Classic star and Ballylinch Stud resident Lope De Vega (by Shamardal) has made a good start to his stallion career with a string of stakes winners that includes dual Group 1 ace Belardo.
That miler and new Kildangan Stud sire represents his first crop, while classic prospect South Seas comes from his third. Qatar Racing Ltd's chestnut was bred by Stonepark Farms, he is trained by Andrew Balding, and he achieved a juvenile rating of 110.
He was favourite on each of his first three starts, winning a six-furlong maiden on soft ground at Windsor in June, following that with victory over the same trip at Haydock in July, and then beating Salouen by two and a quarter lengths to take the Group 3 Solario Stakes over seven furlongs at Sandown in August.
He lost his unbeaten record when only sixth to Churchill in the Group 1 Dewhurst Stakes seven weeks later, but bounced back to chase home Thunder Snow in the Group 1 Criterium International over the same trip at Saint-Cloud later that month.
A €170,000 Goffs foal who made 145,000gns from the Tattersalls Book 1 catalogue at Newmarket as a yearling, South Seas is the first produce of Let It Be Me (by Mizzen Mast). The mare had a Lawman (by Invincible Spirit) filly last year, was then covered by classic star Make Believe (by Makfi) but did not go in foal.
She was unplaced but is a half-sister to Zaidan (by Street Cry), a Listed Chesham Stakes winner who went on to become a Grade 2-placed listed scorer in Hong Kong and who was runner-up to Chinchon in the Grade 1 International Cup over 10 furlongs at Kranji.
Element Of Truth (by Atticus), the grandam of South Seas, earned her blacktype when third in the Listed Eternal Stakes over seven furlongs at Warwick, her half-sister My Hansel (by Hansel) was third in the Group 1 Fillies' Mile at Ascot, and her four other successful siblings feature the prolific Ramooz (by Rambo Dancer).
He won 10 times from two to six years of age, including the Group 3 Van Geest Criterion Stakes, Group 3 Aon MacDonagh Boland Stakes, and two editions of the Group 3 Minstrel Stakes. He also won two listed races and was placed in a long list of blacktype events from six to eight and a half furlongs.
Their dam, My Shafy (by Rousillon), won two of her four starts and she was among five winners for Lys River (by Lyphard), a Deauville and Longchamp listed scorer who was runner-up to Reine De Saba in the Group 1 Prix Saint-Alary.
South Seas holds entries in both the Group 1 Qipco 2000 Guineas at Newmarket and the Group 1 Tattersalls Irish 2000 Guineas at the Curragh and it will be fascinating to find out just how good he is. He has made a promising start to his career.
Ballylinch Stud stallion Lope De Vega (by Shamardal) has made a fine start to the season. His oldest progeny are four years old and just two days after his first-crop sons Belardo and Endless Drama finished first and third in the Group 1 Lockinge Stakes at Newbury, his second-crop daughter Jemayel won the Group 1 Prix Saint-Alary at Deauville.
His representatives in 2016 also include the pattern-placed stakes-winning sprinter Fort Del Oro, listed scorer Steel Of Madrid, several who have been placed in listed or pattern company and, of course, Blue De Vega, last year's Leopardstown Group 3 scorer who finished third behind Awtaad in the Group 1 Irish 2000 Guineas last month.
Jemayel, his first daughter to win at the highest level, was bred by S.F. Bloodstock Llc and she is trained in France by Jean-Claude Rouget. She carries the well-known colours of Al Shaqab Racing and she was a €100,000 purchase at the Arqana Deauville October Yearling Sale.
She was a narrow winner over a mile at Longchamp on her second start as a juvenile, chased home Trixia in the Group 3 Prix des Reservoirs over that trip at Deauville late the following month, but was a disappointing favourite at Chantilly on her return to action in April.
After that outing it was not really a surprise to see her go off at 14/1 for the Group 1 Pour Moi Coolmore Prix Saint-Alary, and the form of her narrow win there, where she defeated Camprock by a head, got a boost when third-placed Hawksmoor won the Group 2 German 1000 Guineas shortly afterwards.
It remains to be seen just how good she is, but this win put her dam's name on the list of those mares who have produced at least two individual top-level winners at stud. Nawal (by Homme De Loi), who was third in the Group 3 Prix d'Aumale as a two-year-old, is previously the dam of Mast Track (by Mizzen Mast) who won the Grade 1 Hollywood Gold Cup Stakes over 10 furlongs in California. His progeny include the six-figured earner Shez A Masterpiece who was placed in the Coronation Futurity Stakes – Canada's equivalent of the Group 1 Dewhurst Stakes – as a juvenile in 2014.
Nawal is also responsible for the French listed scorer Redbrook (by Raven's Pass) and for Grade 2-placed filly Sagitta Ra (by Run Softly), and another of her daughters is a winning racehorse who is also off the mark as a blacktype producer.
That mare is called Always Auditioning, she is a full-sister to Mast Track, and her first foal is the seven-furlong Grade 2 Beaumont Stakes heroine Ready To Act (by More Than Ready). Her current two-year-old is a colt named Play The Part (by Scat Daddy), she had a full-brother to her star filly in 2015, and her unraced daughter Sifter (by Henrythenavigator) was a €15,000 buy-back at the Goffs February Sale.
Nawal, on the other hand, has a two-year-old filly named Lipstick Rose (by Dream Ahead) who made €80,000 at the Arqana Deauville August Yearling Sale.
The grandam of Jemayel is Lute String (by No Lute), and although she was unsuccessful on the track, eight of her 15 foals became winners. She, in turn, was a half-sister to eight winners out of a placed mare called Tarlace (by Targowice) and the octet featured the notably talented Kenbu (by Kenmare).
The grey won the Group 3 Prix de Cabourg, the Listed Prix du Pin and the Listed Prix Imprudence, she chased home Arazi in the Group 1 Prix Morny, was third behind Wolfhound and Silicon Bavaria in the Group 1 Prix de la Foret, and was only beaten by a total of a length when third to excellent duo Hatoof and Marling in the Group 1 1000 Guineas at Newmarket.
Kenbu's best daughter Sweet Orchid (by Gone West) was a blacktype winner over six furlongs in Japan, and her top son, Symboli Sword (by Green Desert), was a multiple stakes winner from five to seven furlongs in that country.
After her Group 1 success it was said that Jemayel would be seen next in the Group 1 Prix de Diane Longines over 10 and a half furlongs at Chantilly. That race is on Sunday. She may need to improve again to win the classic, but the distance, a half-furlong farther than last month's Prix Saint-Alary, should suit her well.