The Group 1 Commonwealth Cup, a six-furlong event for three-year-olds, has been one of the best additions to the European racing calendar in recent years and the 2018 edition, its fourth one, has a tough act to follow.
The inaugural running went to sprint champion Muhaarar, who was chased home by subsequent Group 1 scorer Limato, and the second edition went to star filly Quiet Reflection from the current Timeform 123-rated Kachy. Last year Caravaggio led home subsequent Group 1 winners Harry Angel and Blue Point.
Now the Sir Michael Stoute-trained Eqtidaar, a Shadwell homebred, has added his name to the race's roll of honour. He beat Sands Of Mali by half a length, with Emblazoned another length back in third and a pair of long-shots – Stone Of Destiny and Hey Jonesy – heads back in fourth and fifth, followed another half-length away by the American raider Gidu and last year's Group 2 Queen Mary Stakes and Group 2 Flying Childers Stakes winner Heartache, who flashed past the post together.
With just two and a half lengths covering these first seven, the impression is that this was not a particularly strong renewal of the race. However, the winner was running for just the fifth time, he had been runner-up to Invincible Army in the Group 3 Pavilion Stakes on his seasonal reappearance over Friday's course and distance in early May – on soft ground – and he looks open to plenty of improvement.
He is an early May foal and, indeed, his physical third birthday was not until two days after that Ascot second.
Eqtidaar is the 16th Group 1 winner for the Irish National Stud's flag bearer Invincible Spirit (by Green Desert), a stallion who has over 100 stakes winners to his name, who also supplied the aforementioned Emblazoned, and who has emerged as a source of successful sire sons – something that will add to the attraction of this newest star when his time to retire comes about.
The colt is the third foal and third winner out of Madany (by Acclamation) and the better of those siblings is Massaat (by Teofilo), the Owen Burrows-trained colt who chased home Galileo Gold in the Group 1 2000 Guineas at Newmarket before going on to win the Group 2 Hungerford Stakes over seven at Newbury, beating Librisa Breeze by one and three-quarter lengths.
Massaat's only runs after that victory have been his third-place finish to Ribchester and Taareef in the Group 1 Prix du Moulin de Longchamp at Chantilly in September and his runners-up spot to Limato in the Group 2 Challenge Stakes at Newmarket a month later.
Madany was trained by Barry Hills, won six-furlong contests at Haydock in July of her juvenile year, was runner-up in the valuable Tattersalls Millions 3YO Sprint at Newmarket, and missed out on blacktype when only fifth to Perfect Tribute in the Pavilion Stakes at Ascot, which carried listed status that year.
The mare is among a string of winners produced from one-time scorer Belle De Cadix (by Law Society) and her siblings include two horses of particular note.
Dolled Up (by Whipper) won the Group 3 Prix de Bois, was placed in the Group 2 Prix Robert Papin and Group 2 Criterium de Maisons-Laffitte, and her second foal – the first one died as a yearling – is current French three-year-old Fou Rire (by Iffraaj). That Fabrice Chappet-trained filly has won twice and finished fourth in the seven-furlong listed contest won by Intello Kiss at San Siro late last month.
Madany's other notable sister is four-time stakes winner and successful broodmare Zeiting (by Zieten). She is the dam of the Group 2-winning miler Combat Zone (by Refuse To Bend), of Group 3 Geoffrey Freer Stakes winner Royal Empire (by Teofilo), of Group 3 Strensall Stakes scorer and Group 1 Caulfield Cup runner-up Scottish (by Teofilo), and of three stakes-placed daughters.
That trio includes Zut Alors (by Pivotal), the Group 3 Prix Miesque third whose daughter Precieuse (by Tamayuz) won last year's Group 1 Poule d'Essai des Pouliches (French 1000 Guineas).
There is plenty of blacktype to be found also under the third generation of the pedigree, but those stakes winners out of and descended from Gourgandine (by Auction Ring) achieved their honours in India, and although those include classic wins and places in that country, and horses who showed plenty of stamina, it is connections under the fourth dam that tell us more about the strength of the family.
That mare is Group 2 Ribblesdale Stakes runner-up North Forland (by Northfields) and, in addition to Gourgandine, she was the dam of Group 3 Prix des Chene heroine and Group 1 Prix Marcel Boussac third Harmless Albatross (by Pas De Seul), of Group 2 Prix d'Harcourt scorer Fortune's Wheel (by Law Society), and of Group 2 winner Libertine (by Hello Gorgeous) who was third in the Group 1 Poule d'Essai des Pouliches.
Fortune's Wheel could be described as being a three-parts brother to Belle De Cadix, and Libertine has additional note as having Group 2 Lowther Stakes winner Infamous Angel (by Exceed And Excel) among her descendants, and Harmless Albatross excelled at stud.
Her star son is Grade 2 winner Volochine (by Soviet Star), she was also responsible for the listed scorers Almass (by Elnadim), Ghataas (by Sadler's Wells), Kahtan (by Nashwan) and Sakha (by Wolfhound), and for two others who were blacktype placed.
North Forland, in turn, was a half-sister to Group 1 Prix Ganay and Group 1 Gran Premio del Jockey Club Coppa d'Oro heroine Infra Green (by Laser Light), and that star filly was both the dam of Group 3 scorers Ecologist (by Rainbow Quest), Green Reef (by Mill Reef) and Infrasonic (by Dancing Brave), and of Group 1 St James's Palace Stakes runner-up Greensmith (by Known Fact), and grandam of 1991's Group 1 St Leger hero Toulon (by Top Ville).
Eqtidaar holds an entry in next month's Group 1 Darley July Cup, and although it remains to be seen just how good he will be at his peak, he is a colt with a lot of potential, especially given his birth date.