The Group 3 P.W. McGrath Memorial Ballysax Stakes at Leopardstown has a striking recent history of being won by subsequent Group 1 stars and the 2017 edition of the 10-furlong contest was won yesterday by Rekindling (by High Chaparral).
It was a fairly close finish as he only won by half a length from Douglas Macarthur and with Yucatan another half-length back in third, but this trio finished three and a quarter lengths clear of the fourth, Capri, this was just the fourth race of his life and his first since joining the Joseph O'Brien team. There is likely to be more improvement to come from him.
He was trained last year by the now retired David Wachman and he chased home Capri in an eight and a half-furlong Galway maiden before taking a similar contest over a mile on soft ground at Gowran Park in September.
His only other outing was in the 10-furlong Group 1 Criterium de Saint-Cloud, won by Waldgeist, and as one might expect, he holds entried in the Group 2 Betfred Dante Stakes at York and Group 1 Investec Derby at Epsom.
Rekindling was bred by the Pocock Family, he is out of the one-time winner Sitara (by Salse) and so is a full-brother to Golden Sword, the Group 3 Chester Vase scorer who was runner-up to Fame And Glory in the Group 1 Irish Derby and then third in the Group 2 Dubai City of Gold Stakes at Meydan before taking up stallion duties in South Africa.
His unraced half-sister Skimmia (by Mark Of Esteem) is the dam of the dual listed-placed Julissima (by Beat Hollow) and of Julie's Love (by Ad Valorem), a Saratoga lised race winner who was runner-up in the Group 2 Diana Trial in Germany.
The brightest stars, however, shine from among the descendants of two of Sitara's 10 winning siblings and they too suggest that Rekindling will have no problem with 12 furlongs, and maybe even a bit farther.
Puce (by Darshaan) was the more talented of the pair, winning three times including the Listed Harvest Stakes over a mile and a half at Ascot and finishing a one-length third to Book At Bedtime in the Group 3 Park Hill Stakes over the St Leger course and distance. She was also a half-length third to Far Ahead in the prestigious Ebor Handicap over 14 furlongs at York.
Her best son, Lion Sands (by Montjeu), won the Listed Fred Archer Stakes and Listed Noel Murless Stakes, both at Newmarket, and Pongee (by Barathea) is her star daughter having won the Group 2 Lancashire Oaks and been runner-up to Quiff in the Group 1 Yorkshire Oaks.
That star is the dam of the 10-furlong listed scorer Pinzolo (by Monsun), but the produce record of her one-time winning half-sister Platonic (by Zafonic) is considerably more eye-catching. That is because she is the dam of the Group 2-placed, Group 3 Prix de Lutece winner Pacifique (by Montjeu) and also of Prudenzia (by Dansili), who is the stakes-winning dam of Group 1 Irish Oaks winner and Group 1 Prix de Diane (French Oaks) runner-up Chicquita (by Montjeu).
The other notable broodmare daughter of Listed Sceptre Stakes third Souk (by Ahonoora) is Shouk (by Shirley Heights), the mare who has given us Alexandrova and Magical Romance.
Alexandrova (by Sadler's Wells) was the joint-champion three-year-old filly in Europe in 2006 when she won both the Group 1 Irish Oaks and Group 1 Yorkshire Oaks. Her offspring include Group 2 Prix Kergorlay scorer Alex My Boy (by Dalakhani) and the smart filly Somehow (by Fastnet Rock), who won the Group 3 Dance Design Stakes at the Curragh last year and chased home Czabo in the Group 3 Lodge Park Stud EBF Park Express Stakes on her seasonal reappearance at Naas last month.
Magical Romance (by Barathea), on the other hand, won the Group 1 Cheveley Park Stakes at two and is the dam of the Group 2-placed dual Australian listed race winner Tall Ship (by Sea The Stars).
Dual Derby and dual Breeders' Cup Turf hero High Chaparral (by Sadler's Wells) was a member of the Coolmore stallion team up to his death in 2014, aged just 15. His Group 1 stars include Toronado, So You Think, Free Eagle, Dundeel, Lucky Lion, and, most recently, yesterday's one-mile Fiber Fresh NZ Thoroughbred Breeders Stakes winner Charmont, and although Rekindling has a long way to go yet if he is to achieve comparable success, he is bred to be a top-class colt.
Might he be a candidate for the Group 1 St Leger at Doncaster in September?