Classic trial season is under way and, as these listed and pattern events are used by some of the horses who will contest the classics and other Group 1 events in the weeks and months ahead, it is generally hoped that they will produce some clear-cut winners and informative results.
The Group 3 Prix Noailles at ParisLongchamp produced a three-way photo finish, which is usually disappointing, but these colts finished eight lengths clear of their closest pursuer so it may be decent form. The ground was heavy, which can exaggerate the margins, and perhaps some of those who were well-beaten will be seen to better effect on a sounder surface.
It is possible that the runner-up, Alhadab, could ultimately prove best of the trio as that first-crop son of Camelot (by Montjeu) was the least experienced, having just his fourth start. Third-placed Flag Of Honour, an Aidan O'Brien-trained Galileo colt who won the Group 3 Eyrefield Stakes at Leopardstown in late October, was favourite and running his fifth race, but could be a smart 10-12 furlong performer.
The winner, however, could be a leading stayer in the making.
A 30th individual stakes winner for Haras du Logis stallion Manduro (by Monsun), whose six top-level winners include Group 1 Prix du Cadran, dual Group 1 Prix Royal-Oak and triple Group 2 Dubai Gold Cup star Vazirabad, he comes from a family whose stakes and pattern winners have come over the full range of flat racing distances.
Pharrell began his career at La Teste De Buch in July, finishing third over seven furlongs on good ground, and got off the mark over a furlong farther at the same venue a month later. He was then a one-and-three-quarter-length third to Latita – who filled that same placing behind Musis Amica in the Group 3 Prix de la Grotte today – over nine furlongs on soft ground at Salon-de-Provence in late September.
After that, he stepped up to 10 furlongs and won two races on soft ground at Angers, one by two and a half lengths in late October and the other a two-length victory in late November. His pattern success came on his sixth start.
The colt was bred by Pierre Camus-Denais and Bruno Camus-Denais and he was snapped up by trainer Jean-Claude Rouget for just €15,000 at the Arqana Deauville August Yearling Sale. Between prize money and premiums, he had earned almost €73,000 before today's race.
He is the fourth foal out of Censure (by Kendor), whose three wins from 20 starts included a pair of races over nine furlongs as a four-year-old, and is a half-brother to the lightly-raced 11-furlong winner Sage De La Gesse (by Soldier Of Fortune). The mare had a Dabirsim (by Hat Trick) filly last year.
Grandam Nebraska (by Octagonal) was unraced but has produced several multiple winners, notably stakes-placed Mogadishio (by American Post) who won 10 of his 84 starts. Third dam Touraille (by Jim French) was only placed but has 10 winning offspring among 18 foals and her blacktype trio include dual juvenile listed scorer Kandakiev (by African Song) and also Skatesheba (by Green Tune).
The latter is the stakes-placed dam of Perfectly Majestic (by Majesticperfection), a US-based gelding whose prolific blacktype placings, including the runners-up spot in a mile Grade 2 event at Santa Anita, have pushed his earnings to just under $400,000.
It is under the fourth generation of the pedigree that you find the branches leading to the stayers in the family, and although their relationship to Pharrell is distant to remote, their presence on the page shows that there is a stamina element that pops up from time to time in this distaff line.
Fourth dam Trelex (by Exbury) did not race, and her best representative on the track was the speedy Big John (by Gift Card) who won the Group 3 Prix de Ris-Orangis, Group 3 Prix du Chemin de Fer du Nord, and Group 3 Prix Thomas Bryon.
Her grandson Bannaby (by Dyhim Diamond), who is out of a Lashkari (by Mill Reef) mare, won the Group 1 Prix du Cadran at Longchamp, granddaughter Quirinetta (by Ardross) won the Grade 3 Transvaal Cesarewitch in South Africa, and great-grandson Motivado (by Motivator), later a Group 3 winner in Australia, was fourth in the Cesarewitch at Newmarket in 2012.
There are many other stakes and pattern winners to be found among Trelex's descendants, including Grade 1 Personal Ensign Handicap heroine Passing Shot (by A.P. Indy), Grade 1-placed Grade 2 Buena Vista Handicap winner Blue Moon (by Lomitas) and her 10-furlong Grade 2-winning daughter Malibu Pier (by Malibu Moon), Group 3 Prix de Flore scorer Tamise (by Time For A Change; dam of Motivado), and Group 1-placed, Group 3-winning sprinter Morawij (by Exceed And Excel) – all distantly or remotely connected to Pharrell.
He holds an entry in the Group 1 Prix du Jockey-Club (French Derby), but having been effective over 10 furlongs on soft ground as a two-year-old it seems likely that it will be when racing over 12 furlongs and farther that we see him to best effect. He is a bright prospect who could become a notable member of the stayers division in France.