Races that are seen as being classic trials are important contests in their own right, but analysis of them tends to be done with a view to the future. Close finishes are disappointing, as they have probably not revealed any potential stars, but an easy winner is exciting, especially when the horse has a top-notch pedigree.
Mekhtaal did not race as a juvenile and the underfoot conditions he encountered on his first two starts were described at heavy. He beat five rivals in a newcomers' race over 10 furlongs at Saint-Cloud in March but was then second of four, at odds of 2/5, in a conditions event over the same trip at Maisons-Laffitte a month later.
If he was to have any classic aspirations then he would have to win or at least go close to success in the Group 2 Prix Hocquart four weeks later. The ground that day was described as good, progeny of his sire are known to be better suited to decent ground rather than to soft or heavy turf, and the result was an impressive six length win.
Mekhtaal was bred by the partnership of Haras Du Mezeray and Skymarc Farm, he is trained by Jean-Claude Rouget, and he is a €300,000 graduate of the Arqana Deauville August Yearling Sale. He represents the third crop of Gilltown Stud stallion Sea The Stars (by Cape Cross), whose best so far include the classic winners Sea The Moon and Taghrooda, and he comes from a family that is no stranger to producing winners at the highest level.
His half-brother Democrate (by Dalakhani) won the Group 2 Prix Hocquart in 2008, the best of five wins for his half-sister Aigue Marine (by Galileo) came in the Grade 3 Long Island Handicap at Aqueduct, and his siblings also include the blacktype-placed pair Apophis (by Rainbow Quest) and Crosswind (by Cape Cross). They have a two-year-old half-brother named Aiguillon (by New Approach), who made €210,000 at Deauville last year, a yearling half-sister from the first crop of juvenile champion and classic-winning miler Dawn Approach (by New Approach), and their dam is the Group 3 Prix Fille de l'Air scorer Aiglonne (by Silver Hawk).
The mare's siblings include the stakes-placed Last Attempt (by Cape Cross) and the Japanese winner Gaily Tiara (by Caerleon), and the latter is the dam of the Group 1 Prix Saint-Alary scorer and Group 1 Prix de Diane (French Oaks) runner-up Germance (by Silver Hawk), who could be described as being a three-parts sister to Mekhtaal's dam.
Majestic Role (by Theatrical), who is the grandam of Mekhtaal, won the Listed Tyros Stakes at the Curragh and was runner-up in the Group 1 Prix de la Salamandre, both as a two-year-old, and she was among five stakes-winning progeny for a one-time scorer named Autocratic (by Tyrant). Proconsular (by Procida) was a stakes winner in France, Norman Style (by Malacate) won a listed contest in Germany, and Supreme Commander (by Saumarez) blacktype wins came in both those countries.
Fair of The Furze (by Ela-Mana-Mou) was the best of the quintet and the Group 2 Tattersalls Gold Cup heroine made quite an impact at stud too. Fair Question (by Rainbow Quest) won the Group 2 St Leger at Dortmund, Elfaslah (by Green Desert) won the Listed Diamond Stakes at the Curragh, and White Muzzle (by Dancing Brave) was a top-class middle-distance horse who went on to success at stud in Japan.
His wins featured the Group 1 Derby Italiano and Group 2 Grand Prix de Deauville, he was only beaten by a neck when runner-up to Urban Sea in the Group 1 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, and he was twice runner-up in the Group 1 King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot, chasing home Opera House in 1993 and King's Theatre 12 months later. He stood at Shadai Stallion Station and those of his progeny who earned the equivalent of £1 million or more in prize money included the Group 1 stars Nihonpiro Ours, Shadow Gate, Ingrandire, and Kikuka Sho (Japanese St Leger) winner Asakusa Kings.
Elfaslah, on the other hand, was the dam of Group 1 1000 Guineas runner-up Muwakleh (by Machiavellian), of pattern-placed Inaaq (by Lammtarra), of Group 2-placed six-figured earner Elmustanser (by Machiavellian), and of dual Group 1 star Almutawakel (by Machiavellian).
He won the Group 1 Prix Jean Prat over nine furlongs at Chantilly as a three-year-old and added the Group 1 Dubai World Cup over a furlong further at Nad Al Sheba the following spring. He lost out by a nose when runner-up to River Keen in the Grade 1 Woodward Stakes over nine at Belmont Park, was only beaten by a neck when runner-up to Limpid in the Group 1 Grand Prix de Paris over 10 at Longchamp, and he was also placed in the Grade 1 Oaklawn Handicap and in the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup.
Almutawakel had accumulated almost £2.2 million by the time he retired from the track, he joined the team at Derrinstown Stud in 2001, but retired five years later and died in 2007. His progeny include the dual New Zealand Group 1 star Wahid, Group 1 Derby Italiano scorer Awelmarduk, and also Silver Cup, the Group 2 Premio Regina Elena (Italian 1000 Guineas) heroine who went on to win a trio of Grade 2 handicaps in California.
There is another of Majestic Role's siblings who deserves a mention and that is Audition (by Dara Monarch). She was unplaced in France and only two of her seven foals were winners, but those two were Judge Decision and Just For Fun, both of whom were by Lead On Time (by Nureyev). The former was a Group 2-placed mile stakes winner who was only beaten by two lengths when fifth behind Shanghai in the Group 1 Poule d'Essai des Poulains (French 2000 Guineas), and the latter a one-time scorer from whom several talented horses descend.
Just For Fun's winning progeny include the prolific dual-purpose horse Rombaldi (by Kahyasi), a blacktype winner over hurdles in France, and she is also the dam of Funny Girl (by Darshaan), a placed mare who has achieved a notable strike-rate and produce record at stud.
That mare's string of winners is headed by the dual 12-furlong listed scorer Suzi's Decision (by Act One) and by Group 2 Prix de Sandringham heroine Laugh Out Loud (by Clodovil), a talented miler who was third in the Group 1 Sun Chariot Stakes at Newmarket before moving to the USA to continue her racing career. Laugh Out Loud's first foal is a Galileo (by Sadler's Wells) colt who was born last year.
It remains to be seen just how good Mekhtaal will be when he reaches his peak, but he was impressive at Deauville, he is bred to achieve anything, and he looks sure to stay a mile and a half. He also looks likely to play a prominent roll in next month's Group 1 Prix du Jockey-Club (French Derby), which is over 10 and a half furlongs. If he does reach the top then he will surely find a good stallion role as he is by a leading representative of the Green Desert (by Danzig) sire line and from the immediate family of two Group 1 stars who went on to sire Group 1 winners at stud.