Last year, in an article titled 'Ribchester could have classic potential', I stated: “...he is a colt who has the potential to stay a mile, to become a Group 1 contender, and who may have a stallion career in his future.”
Now, almost 11 months later, the Richard Fahey-trained bay is well-known as being the classic-placed colt who took the Group 1 Prix du Haras de Fresnay-le-Buffard Jacques le Marois over a mile at Deauville on Sunday.
Ribchester is by the sire of Wootton Bassett (by Iffraaj) - the Group 1-winning Haras d'Etreham stallion whose first-crop son Almanzor today added the Group 2 Prix Guillaume d'Ornano – Haras du Logis Saint-Germain to his earlier success in the Group 1 Prix du Jockey Club (French Derby) - and he comes from the famous Fall Aspen (by Pretense) family, which all but guarantees that this top-class colt will get plenty of attention and a top home as a stallion whenever his racing career comes to a close.
Bred by Andrew Thompson and Mike O'Brien, the colt made €78,000 in Goffs as a foal and, when he returned to that venue the following autumn, made €105,000 at that company's famous Orby Sale. He was runner-up in a Doncaster maiden on his debut, then chased home Ajaya in the Group 2 Gimcrack Stakes at York, and was bought by Godolphin before winning the Group 2 Mill Reef Stakes at Newbury.
He was second past the post in the Group 3 Prix Djebel over seven furlongs on heavy ground at Maisons-Laffitte on his seasonal reappearance, but was relegated to fifth following an enquiry. Surprisingly, he seemed to be something of a forgotten horse when lining up for the Group 1 Qipco 2000 Guineas at Newmarket just over three weeks later, but he belief his 33/1 starting price to take third behind Galileo Gold and Massaat.
The Group 3 Jersey Stakes was an obvious target after this fine effort and, again, he was generously priced, paying out at 7/1 after his two and a quarter-length defeat of Thikriyaat. His performance at Goodwood last month, however, represented a step forward and the impression he created in the Group 1 Qatar Sussex Stakes was that, by the end of the year, it was potentially he who could take the crown as the season's top three-year-old miler.
The Gurkha won by a neck from Galileo Gold, but Ribchester was running on strongly, finishing just a short-head back in third and looking as though victory could have been his in just a few more strides. There was, therefore, no surprise that he won the feature race at Deauville on Sunday, beating Vadamos by half a length and with last year's classic heroine Ervedya another one and three-quarter lengths back in third.
A triple seven-furlong Group 2 scorer who was only beaten by a head when runner-up to Les Arcs in the Group 1 July Cup over six, Iffraaj (by Zafonic) is a Darley stallion and he represents the Gone West branch of the Mr Prospector (by Raise A Native) line.
He stood at Kildangan Stud in Ireland until moving to Dalham Hall Stud in Newmarket in 2015 and, in addition to the aforementioned Wootton Bassett (dam by Primo Dominie), he has been represented by the Australian Group 1 and New Zealand classic star Turn Me Loose (dam by Danehill), the Italian Group 1 scorer Benvenue (dam by Be My Guest), and the top-class fillies Chriselliam (dam by Danehill) and Rizeena (dam by Statute Of Liberty).
The former was the juvenile filly champion of 2013 when she beat Rizeena by a length in the Group 1 Fillies' Mile at Newmarket and then stormed home by two and a half lengths in the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies' Turf over the same trip at Santa Anita. The Ballylinch Stud-bred and Charles Hills-trained bay was regarded as being a major classic contender, but, tragically, complications from a foot infection cost her her life just three months after her American success.
The Clive Brittain-trained and Roundhill Stud-bred Rizeena, who had won the Group 1 Moyglare Stud Stakes before that Newmarket defeat, went on to take the Group 1 Coronation Stakes at Ascot, chased home Integral in the Group 1 Falmouth Stakes at Newmarket, was a half-length runner-up to Fiesolana in the Group 1 Matron Stakes at Leopardstown, and runner-up to Amazing Maria in last year's Group 2 Duke of Cambridge Stakes at Ascot.
Iffraaj's tally of 38 stakes winners also included the classic-placed New Zealand Group 2 scorers Fix (dam by Danehill) and Serena Miss (dam by More Than Ready), and the Group 1-placed Group 2 Temple Stakes winner Hot Streak (dam by Housebuster), who has completed his first season at Tweenhills Farm & Stud in Gloucestershire.
Ribchester is the first foal out of Mujarah (by Marju). His half-brother Golconda Prince (by Arcano), who made €39,000 in Goffs as a foal and 85,000gns from Book 2 of the Tattersalls October Yearling Sale, is also trained by Fahey and he finished third in a seven-furlong novice event on his debut at Catterick 13 days ago. The mare has no yearling but she had a Raven's Pass (by Elusive Quality) filly in early March of this year.
Mujarah ran five times in England, from eight to 12 furlongs, but showed little aptitude and was beaten by a total of 96 lengths. Her half-brother Tactic (by Sadler's Wells) won the Group 3 Curragh Cup and her stakes-placed half-sister Zahoo (by Nayef) is the dam of the Group 3 Ballycorus Stakes winner Convergence (by Cape Cross), so there was certainly no suggestion that she might represent a weakening branch of her famous family. There was always the chance that she might compensate at stud for her failure on the track.
Last year her half-sister Yaazy (by Teofilo) won a listed contest in France and was placed in both the Group 3 Prix Minerve and Group 2 Prix de Mallaret from just a handful of starts. Another member of the family hit the headlines again on Saturday with a major win on the international circuit, and there is also a recent Irish blacktype scorer on the page.
Tanaghum (by Darshaan), the grandam of Ribchester, was listed-placed at Ascot, she is a half-sister to the Group 2 Premio Lydia Tesio scorer Najah (by Nashwan), and she is out of Mehthaaf (by Nureyev), the white-faced bay who won the Group 1 Irish 1000 Guineas at the Curragh in 1994.
That Shadwell-homebred was trained by John Dunlop, she also won the Group 2 Celebration Mile and the Group 3 Nell Gwyn Stakes, and the races in which she was placed included the Group 1 Coronation Stakes, Group 1 Prix Jacques le Marois, and Group 1 Prix Marcel Boussac. On her final start, she finished fourth in a five-way finish for the Group 1 Dubai Champion Stakes at Newmarket, beaten a by short-head, a neck and a head by Dernier Empereur, Grand Lodge and Muhtarram, and with Hatoof a neck back in fifth.
Mehthaaf was the best daughter of the Group 2 Prix d'Astarte winner Elle Seule (by Exclusive Native) and the best of her brothers was Group 1 July Cup hero and long-time Derrinstown Stud stallion Elnadim (by Danzig). His stakes-winning offspring include the mile Group 1 scorer Culminate and also Elletelle, the Group 2 Queen Mary Stakes heroine who died young but left us with the dual Group 1 star and young Australian-based stallion Adelaide (by Galileo).
Elnadim's full-sister Ashraakat was a listed race winner and their blacktype siblings also include the Group 3 Nell Gwyn Stakes winner Khulood (by Storm Cat). That chestnut also won the Listed Oh So Sharp Stakes and was runner-up in a Group 3 sprint at York, and the best of her progeny is the Dermot Weld-trained three-year-old Adool (by Teofilo).
Also owned and bred by Hamdan Al Maktoum, that chestnut filly made a winning debut over 10 furlongs at Fairyhouse in early June, showed considerable potential when taking third to the older colts Decorated Knight and Portage in the Group 3 Meld Stakes the following month, and won the Listed Irish Stallion Farms European Breeders Fund Hurry Harriet Stakes over nine and a half furlongs at Gowran Park five days ago. She holds entries in several pattern events.
Only Seule (by Lyphard) won once as a two-year-old, she too is out of Elle Seule, and the better of her two stakes-winning progeny is the French champion Occupandiste (by Kaldoun), winner of the Group 1 Prix de la Foret and Group 1 Prix Maurice de Gheest.
That star is, in turn, the dam of Saturday's night's Grade 1 Arlington Million hero Mondialiste (by Galileo), who won the Grade 1 Woodbine Mile last year before chasing home Tepin in the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Mile, and she is also responsible for three other stakes winners, most notably Impressionnante (by Danehill).
That high-class miler won the Group 2 Prix de Sandringham, she was runner-up in both the Group 1 Poule d'Essai des Pouliches (French 1000 Guineas) and Group 1 Prix d'Astarte, and her classic-winning son Intello (by Galileo) has his first yearlings on offer now. They include a €360,000 filly (out of Platonic, by Zafonic) and a €320,000 colt (out of Nuit Polaire, by Kheleyf) sold at the Arqana Deauville August Yearling Sale, which started yesterday.
Intello won the Group 1 Prix du Jockey Club (French Derby), Group 3 Prix du Prince d'Orange and Group 3 Prix Messidor, he was third in the Group 1 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, Group 1 Poule d'Essai des Poulains (French 2000 Guineas) and Group 1 Prix Jacques le Marois, and he has completed a first season at Haras du Quesnay after two spent at Cheveley Park Stud in Newmarket.
These are the highlights of the first four generations of Ribchester's pedigree but, as is well known, there is considerably more depth to the family, because the fifth dam is Fall Aspen. She won the Grade 1 Matron Stakes in 1978 and became one of the most celebrated broodmares of the modern era.
Northern Aspen (by Northern Dancer) won the Grade 1 Gamely Handicap, Hamas (by Danzig) won the Group 1 July Cup and sired stakes winners without making an impact, and Timber Country (by Woodman) was a US juvenile champion and Grade 1 Preakness Stakes hero who got winners at all levels including US Grade 1 scorer Baletto and Japanese multiple Group 1 star Admire Don.
Fort Wood (by Sadler's Wells) won the Group 1 Grand Prix de Paris before going on to become a major sire in South Africa, and Bianconi (by Danzig), who won the Group 2 Diadem Stakes, also sired winners at the highest level.
Unraced filly Dance of Leaves (by Sadler's Wells) produced Group 1 scorer Medaaly (by Highest Honor) and Group 1-placed Group 2-winning miler Charnwood Forest (by Warning), the latter a stallion who died young but left us with the mile Group 1 scorer Firebreak. And then there's Colorado Dancer (by Shareef Dancer), the Group 2 Prix de Pomone winner and Group 1 Prix Vermeille third who gave us the Timeform 140-rated superstar Dubai Millennium (by Seeking The Gold), sire of the phenomenal Dalham Hall Stud stallion Dubawi.
Ribchester represents a branch of one of the most famous families in the stud book and he is a classic-placed Group 1-winning son of a stallion whose first sire son has got a classic star in his first crop. His entries include the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II Stakes Sponsored by Qipco, to be run at Ascot in mid-October, and he looks sure to be a very popular addition to the stallion ranks when the time comes.