We have seen some outstanding fillies and mares in action in recent decades and the Niarchos family's Miesque (by Nureyev) is among them. A star at two, three and four – with Timeform ratings of 124, 131 and 134 – the François Boutin-trained bay won 10 times at the highest level including the 1000 Guineas, Poule d'Essai des Pouliches (French 1000 Guineas), two editions of the Prix Jacques le Marois and back-to-back runnings of the Breeders' Cup Mile.
Many champion racemares have disappointed at stud, but not her. She went on to have a considerable influence on the global racing and bloodstock scene, and that impact is not only still strong but it may be strengthening.
Already in 2018, for example, she is the direct female ancestor of two European Group 1 classic winners and, like her, one of those is a miler who has generated plenty of excitement.
Miesque's grandson Study Of Man (by Deep Impact) won this month's Group 1 Prix du Jockey Club (French Derby) at Chantilly shortly her great-granddaughter Alpha Centauri (by Mastercraftsman) gave trainer Jessica Harrington a first classic success at the Curragh. That Group 1 Irish 1000 Guineas heroine then put up one of the most impressive performances of the week at Royal Ascot, smashing the track record while thrashing her rivals by six lengths and more in the Group 1 Coronation Stakes.
Threading was the one who chased her home, the promising Veracious was another length and three-quarters back in third, and it the same margin again back to the fourth, Group 1 1000 Guineas heroine Billesdon Brook, a filly bred to stay farther.
Timeform rated her 127 for this win, placing her equal with Mendelssohn at the top of the three-year-old division, and it will be fascinating to see if she can increase that figure by the end of the year.
A sound surface suits her well – it was fast at Ascot and had heavy in the description on both occasions that she's been out of the frame – and although her entries include the Group 1 Darley Irish Oaks, it would be no surprise to see her stick at a mile to 10 furlongs.
Her Coolmore Stud-based sire excelled at both distances – she is one of nine top-level scorers for him among 50 stakes winners – and her grandam is East Of The Moon (by Private Account), who won the Group 1 Poule d'Essai des Pouliches, Group 1 Prix Jacques le Marois and Group 1 Prix de Diane (by French Oaks).
That dual classic heroine is, of course, a half-sister to triple mile Group 1 star and leading international sire Kingmambo (by Mr Prospector), to pattern scorer and Group 1 sire Miesque's Son (by Mr Prospector), and to broodmares of note, including Second Happiness (by Storm Cat), dam of the aforementioned Study Of Man.
Another is Monevassia (by Mr Prospector), a non-winner on the track. Her daughter Rumplestiltskin (by Danehill) was a champion at two, when she won the Group 1 Moyglare Stud Stakes and Group 1 Prix Marcel Boussac, and that star's offspring include Group 1 Yorkshire Oaks heroine and Group 1 Irish Oaks runner-up Tapestry (by Galileo).
Monevassia is also the dam of Group 3 Grangecon Stud Balanchine Stakes winner I Am Beautiful (by Rip Van Winkle), and those produced by her other daughters include Japanese ace Real Steel (by Deep Impact), a dual classic-placed winner of the Group 1 Dubai Turf at Meydan.
Miesque's stakes-placed daughter Moon Is Up (by Woodman) is another of note as she is the dam of South African mile Grade 1 winner Amanee (by Pivotal) and grandam of Group 1 Poule d'Essai des Poulains and Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Mile scorer Karakontie (by Bernstein). He stands at Gainesway Farm in Kentucky and will have first-crop yearlings at the sales this summer and autumn.
Massaraat, a stakes-winning full-sister to Miesque, also deserves mention as her descendants include last week's Group 2 King Edward VII Stakes winner Old Persian (by Dubawi), who is out of a full-sister to 2007's Group 2 Ribblesdale Stakes heroine Silkwood (by Singspiel).
Alpha Centauri is the sixth foal out of East Of The Moon's unraced daughter Alpha Lupi (by Rahy) and that makes her a half-sister to former Ballydoyle team member Tenth Star (by Dansili) who showed his best form as a two-year-old.
He took the seven-furlong Listed Golden Fleece Stakes by four lengths, was odds-on when only third to Remember Alexander in the Group 3 Tyros Stakes a few weeks later, but then put up a better performance to chase home stablemate Daddy Long Legs in the Group 2 Royal Lodge Stakes over a mile at Newmarket.
Alpha Lupi's current two-year-old is a daughter of international Group 1 star So You Think (by High Chaparral) – whose offspring have so far done much better in the southern hemisphere than here – and her yearling is a second-crop daughter of runaway Group 1 Deutsches Derby hero and Lanwades Stud stallion Sea The Moon (by Sea The Stars).
The mare's siblings include Group 3 Prix d'Arenberg scorer Moon Driver (by Mr Prospector), and the stakes-placed trio Helike (by Rahy), Mojave Moon (by Mr Prospector) and Canda (by Storm Cat), with the latter being of particular note because of what she achieved at stud.
The Jonathan Pease-trained bay was runner-up in both the Listed Prix Yacowlef and Listed Criterium de Vitesse at two, and her second foal was blacktype sire Evasive (by Elusive Quality), who won the Group 3 Horris Hill Stakes at two and finished fourth to Mastercraftsman in the Group 1 St James's Palace Stakes at Ascot the following summer.
Last year, Canda's son Autocratic (by Dubawi), a Cheveley Park Stud homebred trained by Sir Michael Stoute, won the Group 3 Brigadier Gerard Stakes at Sandown.
Dual Group 1 star Alpha Centauri was a high-class juvenile who trounced Actress in a listed contest at Naas before failing narrowly against Different League in the Group 3 Albany Stakes at Ascot, both over six furlongs, but that pales in comparison to what she has achieved so far in 2018.
It will be disappointing if she fails to win at least once more at the highest level, it would be great to see her in action as a four-year-old, and with her pedigree and connections there is also every reason to hope that she could eventually go on to become a broodmare of influence.
Retired classic sire Danehill Dancer (by Danehill) was in the news recently as his daughter Qemah, who represents his penultimate crop, won the Group 1 Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot, but another who drew attention to his record as a stallion was Even Song, the Group 2 Ribblesdale Stakes winner.
She is not daughter but is, instead, his granddaughter as she is by the juvenile star and classic-winning multiple Group 1 ace Mastercraftsman. That grey stands at Coolmore Stud, his oldest progeny are only five and his tally of 33 stakes winners, around the world, features four who have won at the highest level, two of them achieving that feat in classics.
Kingston Hill, who won the Group 1 St Leger and Group 1 Racing Post Trophy, was runner-up in the Group 1 Derby at Epsom, is also a member of the Coolmore stallion roster, and his first foals will arrive next year. Sir Robert Ogden's homebred mare Amazing Maria was not beaten by far when sixth behind Tepin in the Group 1 Queen Anne Stakes last week, and she was third behind Usherette in the Group 2 Dahlia Stakes the time before, but her prior record includes victories in last summer's Group 1 Falmouth Stakes and Group 1 Prix Rothschild.
The Grey Gatsby finished fourth to My Dream Boat in the Group 1 Prince of Wales's Stakes on his seasonal reappearance last week, but this multimillionaire won the Group 1 Prix du Jockey Club (French Derby) and Group 1 Irish Champion Stakes in 2014, was short-headed by Free Eagle in last year's Group 1 Prince of Wales's Stakes, and has a string of other Group 1 and blacktype placings to his name.
In February the New Zealand-bred three-year-old Valley Girl gave her sire a fourth winner at the highest level when taking the 10 furlong Group 1 Herbie Dyke Stakes at Te Rapa and she was only beaten by three-parts of a length when runner-up in the Group 1 Vinery Stakes over the same trip at Rosehill the following month.
Other notable results for him in 2016 include Spring Master's win in the Group 3 Prix du Lys Longines at Chantilly on Sunday, a listed win and Group 3 placing for four-year-old filly Carnachy, and a fine performance by five-year-old Curbyourenthusiasm on his seasonal reappearance last month, failing by half a length to take the Group 2 Yorkshire Cup.
But back to Even Song.
The Aidan O'Brien-trained three-year-old is yet another major winner bred by the famous Barronstown Stud and she is a €170,000 graduate of the foals section of the Goffs November Sale. She was only beaten by half a length when third in a seven-furlong Dundalk maiden on her debut in October, was an odds-on three and a half length winner over a mile at Leopardstown eight days later, and finished third in the Listed Pretty Polly Stakes at Newmarket on her only other start before Ascot.
Even Song is the fifth foal out of an unraced mare called Guantanamera (by Sadler's Wells), and although her three winning siblings include the Group 2 Superlative Stakes third Maxentius (by Holy Roman Emperor), considerably more notable is her year-older half-sister, last year's Group 1 St Leger and Group 1 Qipco British Champions Fillies and Mares Stakes heroine Simple Verse (by Duke Of Marmalade).
That Ralph Beckett-trained star, whom Barronstown sold for €240,000 as a yearling at the Goffs Orby Sale, was runner-up to Exosphere in the Group 2 Jockey Club Stakes on her seasonal reappearance. She disappointed when only fourth behind Postponed in the Group 1 Coronation Cup at Epsom and when unplaced behind Dartmouth in Saturday's Group 2 Hardwicke Stakes (sponsored by Qipco) at Ascot, but holds entries in the Group 1 King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes and Group 1 Palmerstown House Estate Irish St Leger, so hopefully she can bounce back to her best before going on to what promises to be a notable career at stud.
Guantanamera was not covered in 2013, so has no two-year-old, and she had a first-crop son of Declaration Of War (by War Front) in 2015. She is a half-sister to the listed-placed Limerick 12-furlongs scorer Really (by Entrepreneur) and out of Bluffing (by Darshaan), a juvenile winner who earned her blacktype when third in the Listed Eyrefield Race at the Curragh and in the Listed Victor McCalmont Memorial Stakes at Gowran Park.
In addition to being the daughter of an influential stallion, Bluffing was one of seven winners out the one-time scorer Instinctive Move (by Nijinsky) and that made her a half-sister to Feminine Wiles (by Ahonoora). That Listed Ballymacoll Stud Stakes winner was runner-up in both the Group 2 Sun Chariot Stakes and Group 3 May Hill Stakes, and although she has a trio of stakes-placed horses among her descendants, it is another two of her sisters that came up with the blacktype winners at stud.
Sharnazad (by Track Barron) won just once but is the dam of the Italian listed scorer Splendida Idea (by Kenmare) and of stakes-placed prolific winner Sensum (by Kendor), and her unraced daughter Siraka (by Grand Lodge) is the dam of Strait Of Mewsina (by Spartacus). That grandson of Danehill won five of his 35 starts, including the Grade 3 Hawthorne Derby over nine furlongs on turf, and retired to stud in Indiana where his first crop are two years old.
Shigeki, on the other hand, raced in Australia, and although unsuccessful on the track, she is the dam of the Group 2-winning filly Keiki (by Falvelon).
The fourth dam of Even Song is the Grade 3 Jersey Belle Handicap winner Bold Bikini (by Boldnesian), a half-sister to 1968's US juvenile champion Top Knight (by Vertex). He won the Champagne Stakes, Hopeful Stakes and Futurity Stakes that year, added the Flamingo Stakes and Florida Derby at three, but proved sterile when tried at stud.
His talented sister, however, had a long and successful stud career, producing 20 foals of whom 14 ran and a dozen won, several of them in blacktype company and one a classic star.
The best of Instinctive Move's siblings was, therefore, 1985's Group 1 Irish Derby winner Law Society (by Alleged). He began his stallion career at Coolmore Stud, later moved to Gestut Isarland in Germany, and the best of his progeny include the Group/Grade 1 winners Anzillero, Approach The Bench, Court Of Honour, Homme De Loi and Right Win. He died five years ago, at the age of 29.
Their half-brother Strike Your Colors (by Hoist The Flag) won the Grade 2 Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland and was runner-up in the Grade 1 Futurity Stakes at Belmont Park, Legal Bid (by Spectacular Bid) won the Group 3 Derby Trial Stakes at Lingfield, while both Alfarazdq (by Exclusive Native) and Cerada Ridge (by Riva Ridge) were Grade/Group 2-placed stakes winners. Various other blacktype horses descend from Bold Bikini, including her Group 1 Oaks d'Italia-winning great-granddaughter Nicole Pharly (by Pharly), but the relationship of those horses to Even Song is remote.
Even Song's entries include the Group 1 Sea The Stars Pretty Polly Stakes over 10 furlongs at the Curragh on Sunday and, as you might expect, next month's Group 1 Darley Irish Oaks over a quarter-mile farther at the same venue. Her length and a half defeat of 33/1 Ajman Princess was a promising effort, and while improvement on that would be required to win at the highest level, she is certainly bred for the job. Looking farther ahead, this is a filly whose pedigree also gives her every chance of making an impact at stud.