Classic season is well under way and one result was quite a surprise. It's not that the horse in question had failed to show potential before her Group 1 success – she had a trio of blacktype seconds to her name – but her performance over the mile at Deauville was a huge step forward from what she had achieved in sprints.
Precieuse, homebred in Ireland by Brendan and Anne-Marie Hayes of Knocktoran Stud, was returned at odds of 33/1 when beating Sea Of Grace by one and three-quarter lengths in the Abu Dhabi Poule d'Essai des Pouliches.
The ground was described as being very soft, as it was when she was an odds-on three-length winner over six furlongs at Fontainebleau two months before, it was heavy when she chased home Simmie in a listed contest over a half-furlong less at Chantilly in November, and soft when she was runner-up in a similar contest over six at Maisons-Laffitte 19 days before that.
Her other two starts have been on good ground, both of them also second-place finishes – so she does not necessarily need easy underfoot conditions – and the more recent of those was last month's Group 3 Prix Sigy at Chantilly in which she chased home the exciting Fas.
It remains to be seen if her classic performance is going to remain a career-best effort or if she can improve again and hold her own against stronger opposition, but there is no doubt about the strength of the pedigree behind this Fabrice Chappet-trained chestnut.
Precieuse joins the high-class sprinter G Force as a top-level winner for Derrinstown Stud's regally-bred mile Group 1 star Tamayuz (by Nayef).
She is a half-sister to the blacktype-placed pair Baccarat (by Dutch Art) and Peut Etre (by Whipper) and out of the multiple stakes-placed Zut Alors (by Pivotal). That mare is, in turn, one of nine winners for the French and triple US stakes winner Zeiting (by Zieten) and that makes her a half-sister to four horses of note.
Combat Zone's (by Refuse To Bend) 16 wins feature the Group 2 Europa Meile at Munich, Royal Empire's (by Teofilo) five include the Group 3 Geoffrey Freer Stakes at Newbury, and that one's full-brother Scottish has a Group 3 Strensall Stakes victory on his resume.
The fourth notable sibling is Bikini Babe (by Montjeu) and her string of blacktype placings include second in the Group 3 Prix de Psyche, Group 3 C L Weld Park Stakes, and Listed UAE Oaks, and third in the Group 3 Classic Trial at Sandown.
Bikini Babe's first foal is the multiple French winner Rkaya (by Exceed And Excel) and her current yearling, a Kodiac (by Danehill) colt who made 65,000gns at Newmarket last year, looks sure to attract plenty of attention following Precieuse's big update to his page.
Blacktype form is something that this family has in abundance and this enhances the likelihood that Precieuse will do well whenever she goes to stud.
Zeiting, her grandam, is among eight winners from 11 foals out of the one-time scorer Belle De Cadix (by Law Society) and that octet also includes Dolled Up (by Whipper) and Madany (by Acclamation).
The former was a leading sprint juvenile in France, where she won the Group 3 Prix du Bois, was runner-up in the Group 3 Prix d'Arenberg, and third in both the Group 2 Prix Robert Papin and Group 2 Criterium de Maisons-Laffitte.
Madany, on the other hand, is the dam of Massaat (by Teofilo), the colt who runner-up to Air Force Blue in the Group 1 Dewhurst Stakes and then chased home Galileo Gold in the Group 1 2000 Guineas.
Gourgandine (by Auction Ring), the unplaced fourth dam of Precieuse, was out of the Group 2 Ribblesdale Stakes runner-up North Forland (by Northfields) and that half-sister to Group 1 Prix Ganay heroine Infra Green (by Laser Light) was responsible for three runners of note.
Fortune's Wheel (by Law Society) was Group 1-placed in France and a Group 2 scorer in Italy as a juvenile and went on to add wins in both the Group 2 Prix d'Harcourt and Group 3 Prix Exbury. His second-place finishes in the Group 1 Bayerisches Zuchtrennen and Group 2 Prix Eugene Adam were also praiseworthy.
Libertine (by Hello Gorgeous) won the Group 2 Premio Lydia Tesio, her Group 1 placings included third to the brilliant Miesque in the Group 1 Poule d'Essai des Pouliches, and the best of her four winning offspring was Take Liberties (by Warning), who was runner-up in both the Group 3 Prix Chloe at Evry and Group 3 Prix de Psyche at Deauville.
Libertine's grandson Sgt Pepper (by Fasliyev) won the Listed Stonehenge Stakes at Salisbury, and her smart great-granddaughter Infamous Angel (by Exceed And Excel) won the Group 2 Lowther Stakes at Newmarket nine years ago.
The third member of North Forland's star trio is Harmless Albatross (by Pas De Seul) who won the Group 3 Prix des Chenes and finished third to Ashayer in the Group 1 Prix Marcel Boussac before going on to an excellent career at stud.
Her listed scorers Almaas (by Elnadim), Ghataas (by Sadler's Wells), Kahtan (by Nashwan), and Sakha (by Wolfhound) notched-up 19 races between them, but her standout was eight-time scorer Volochine (by Soviet Star) who won a Grade 2 handicap at Saratoga and was Group/Grade 1-placed at Longchamp and Woodbine.
The talented performers who appear under the fourth and fifth generations – and their branches – of the pedigree are remotely connected to the recent French classic heroine. Their presence does, however, help to illustrate the strength of the broad female line that she represents and that augurs well for her future prospects at stud.
Before then, of course, it is to be hoped that we get more opportunities to assess Precieuse's capabilities as a racehorse and it will be interesting to see where she sits in the overall order of merit at the end of the year.