Heavy ground can make form unreliable and can exaggerate superiority, but it was hard not to have been impressed with Barkaa's performance in winning the Group 3 Prix Vanteaux over nine furlongs at ParisLongchamp this afternoon, on what was her turf debut.
The Fabrice Vermeulen-trained bay hit the front early in the straight and pulled clear of her rivals to win by four lengths from last year's Group 3 Prix d'Aumale scorer Soustraction, who was running for the first time since finishing out of the frame behind Wild Illusion in the Group 1 Prix Marcel Boussac in October.
Barkaa, on the other hand, was race-fit. She made a two-length winning debut over 10 furlongs at Marseille Pont-de-Vivaux in November, followed-up with a short-head success over that same course and distance in mid-December, finished third over a mile at Cagnes-sur-Mer in January and then won a listed contest over that same track and trip three weeks later. All four of those races were on fibresand.
A €66,000 graduate of Book 2 of the Arqana Deauville Yearling Sale, Barkaa was bred by Jean-Pierre Columbu and she is a daughter of Haras de Bonneval's rising star Siyouni (by Pivotal). His eldest offspring are six years old, his 20 stakes winners include Group 1 stars Ervedya and Laurens, recent Australian Group 2 scorer Aylmerton, and several who have been Group 1 runners-up, namely pattern winners Le Brivido, Siyoushake, Spectre and Volta.
She is a half-sister to the multiple listed scorer My Old Husband (by Gentlewave) – who stays middle-distances – and to the stakes-placed broodmares Dumnonia (by Silver Frost) and Danse du Soir (by Nombre Premier), but these are the only blacktype horses on the page until you look under the fourth dam and find that she is the grandam of Irish Grade B-winning hurdler Bon Temps Rouler (by Hero's Honor).
Barkaa's dam, Dentelle (by Apeldoorn), notched up three wins and 11 places on the flat, was also placed once over obstacles and is out of Dryden (by Shernazar), an unraced daughter of one-time scorer Bedford Row. That mare, who was out of one-time winner Gnulia (by Margouillat), was a daughter of Group 2 Champagne Stakes winner R B Chesne, thereby making Dentelle inbred 2x3 to that son of the great Brigadier Gerard (by Queen's Hussar).
This is not the sort of distaff line that you expect to find on a horse who could play a leading role in the top French fillies' races, and yet Barkaa is a worthy holder of entries in both the Group 1 Poule d'Essai des Pouliches (French 1000 Guineas) and Group 1 Prix de Diane (French Oaks).
It will be fascinating to find out just how good this filly is, and to see how she eventually gets on at stud given the light distaff side of her pedigree. Both parents make a contribution, of course, but it would be fair to say that the bulk of the credit for her talent and potential must go to her sire.