The phrase 'breed the best to the best and hope for the best' has long been used by many thoroughbred producers. All too often it soon becomes apparent that the dreams of stardom have been dashed but there are, of course, many Group 1 performers who are the product of Group 1-winning parents.
One example from 2016 is star juvenile Rhododendron, a daughter of Derby hero and prolific champion sire Galileo (by Sadler's Wells) and of the triple Group 1 ace Halfway To Heaven (by Pivotal).
The Aidan O'Brien-trained bay was bred by Orpendale, Chelston & Wynatt and she achieved her top billing with an impressive two and a quarter-length defeat of Hydrangea in the Group 1 Dubai Fillies' Mile at Newmarket in October.
She beat that same filly by a head in the Group 2 Debutante Stakes at the Curragh in August, finished a short-head and one and three-quarter lengths behind Intricately and Hydrangea in the Group 1 Moyglare Stud Stakes in September, and her only other outings were in maidens at the Curragh and at Goodwood, the latter an odds-on success.
Rhododendron is a leading classic contender for 2017, but although we already knows that the mile is no problem to her, and staying 10 furlongs looks a shade of odds-on, there is a chance that she may be more of a Guineas and Prix de Diane one than an Oaks filly.
Her dam's Group 1 treble came in the Irish 1000 Guineas, Nassau Stakes and Sun Chariot Stakes – all over a mile – and her full-brother, Flying The Flag, got his best win in the Group 3 International Stakes over 10 furlongs at the Curragh. He was unplaced both times he tried farther.
Halfway To Heaven is by a Group 1 Nunthorpe Stakes winner whose progeny have got their Group 1 wins anywhere from five-furlong sprints up to 12-furlong classics, and she is out of Cassandra Go (by Indian Ridge), a Group 2 King's Stand Stakes and Group 2 Temple Stakes winner who chased home Mozart in the Group 1 July Cup.
That sprint ace is also the dam of the Group 3 Abernant Stakes and Group 3 Coral Charge Sprint Stakes winner Tickled Pink (by Invincible Spirit) and of Theann (by Rock Of Gibraltar), the six-furlong Group 3 scorer whose daughter Photo Call (by Galileo) is a Grade 1 star at eight and 10 furlongs in the USA, but has also had blacktype success at 11 furlongs and been placed at 12.
Cassandra Go's late half-brother Verglas (by Highest Honor) won the Group 3 Coventry Stakes and chased home Desert King in the Group 1 Irish 2000 Guineas before going on to a successful stud career, and her stakes-winning half-sister Persian Secret (by Persian Heights) became the dam of the pattern-winning sprinter Do The Honours (by Highest Honor) and of Grade 1 Mother Goose Stakes third Seba (by Alzao), as well as being the grandam of Group 3 Desmond Stakes scorer Future Generation (by Hurricane Run).
The third dam of Rhododendron is the winning grey Rahaam (by Secreto) and that half-sister to Group 3 Prix Thomas Bryon winner and Group 1 Poule d'Essai des Poulains (French 2000 Guineas) third Glory Forever (by Forever Casting) is also a half-sister to the ancestor of some interesting horses.
That mare is Queen Caroline (by Chief's Crown), who was placed a few times, and she is the grandam of Remus De La Tour (by Stormy River), who is in his first season at stud at Haras de la Hermeraie in France.
He is a grandson of Verglas, so is inbred 4x3 to Rahaam's unraced dam Fager's Glory (by Mr Prospector), and both his Group 3 success and Group 2 placing came over 12 furlongs.
His three-parts sister Chill (by Verglas) won the nine-furlong Listed Prix Finlande and was runner-up in the 10 and a half-furlong Group 3 Prix Cleopatre before going on to produce Childa (by Duke Of Marmalade), a listed scorer who finished third in the Group 2 Prix du Conseil de Paris at Longchamp.
We won't know if Rhododendron will stay 12 furlongs until she tries it, and although it is certainly possible, it may be that she will be most at home over eight to 10 furlongs.