Deep Impact (by Sunday Silence) was one of the most brilliant racehorses ever to be trained in Japan and the Timeform 134-rated, seven-time Group 1 ace, who stands at Shadai Stallion Station, has followed in the hoofprints of his dynasty-making sire by becoming one of the greatest stallions of the modern era.
His triple-digit tally of stakes winners consists mostly of horses who have won at Group 3 level or above, 33 of them have won at the highest level and, in addition to standouts such as Gentildonna, Kizuna, Real Steel, Tosen Stardom and Vivlos – to name just a few – they include A Shin Hikari (Prix d'Ispahan), Beauty Parlour (Poule d'Essai des Pouliches) and Saxon Warrior, each of whom has achieved the feat in Europe.
The latter is trained in Ireland by Aidan O'Brien and the unbeaten colt is one of the leading classic and Group 1 prospects for 2018.
So far, all of his races have been over a mile, starting with an easy debut success at the Curragh in late August. He followed that with a two-and-a-half-length defeat of Delano Roosevelt in the Group 2 Juddmonte Beresford Stakes on soft ground at Naas and then, a month later, fought well to beat Roaring Lion by a neck in the Group 1 Racing Post Trophy.
The pair finished two and a half lengths clear of The Pentagon, with Group 1 National Stakes winner Verbal Dexterity another three-parts of a length back in fourth, and Chilean, who won the Group 3 Prix La Force at ParisLongchamp this afternoon, another two and a half lengths farther behind in sixth.
Saxon Warrior finished his first season on an official rating of 119, just 3lbs below champion U S Navy Flag. Timeform placed the pair on 120p and 123 respectively.
Yet another top-level winner bred by Orpendale, Chelston & Wynatt, the late-January-born colt is a full-brother to the stakes-placed filly Pavlenko and he is the second foal of Maybe (by Galileo), a filly who finished a three and three-quarter-length fifth to Was in the Group 1 Oaks at Epsom on her only attempt beyond a mile.
She had been a 10-length third to Homecoming Queen in the Group 1 1000 Guineas on her previous start – her first defeat – and won both the Group 1 Moyglare Stud Stakes and Group 2 Debutante Stakes over seven furlongs at the Curragh as a juvenile.
Maybe has the potential to produce both high-class milers and middle-distance horses, and given that he's a son of Deep Impact, there is every chance that Saxon Warrior will be the latter, or both. And should he win the Group 1 Investec Derby at Epsom in June then he would be the latest member of his family to take a classic at that venue.
Promise To Be True, a full-sister to Maybe, was never asked to try beyond a mile, but then she only ran once as a three-year-old. At two she won the Group 3 Silver Flash Stakes over seven furlongs at Leopardstown, chased home Wuheida in the Group 1 Prix Marcel Boussac over a mile at Chantilly, and then took third behind Thunder Snow in the Group 1 Criterium International at Saint-Cloud, over seven furlongs on soft ground.
There was no guarantee that she or Maybe would stay the Oaks distance, despite being Galileo and out of a stakes-winning three-parts sister to Oaks heroine Dancing Rain (by Danehill Dancer), and that's because their dam, Sumora (by Danehill), was a sprinter whose blacktype success came over five furlongs and as a two-year-old.
The odds were very good, of course, but likely to be dependant on which attribute Sumora had passed on to them. Maybe's Oaks fifth suggests that she may have got the stamina assist, and that would boost her prospects of producing offspring who can stay that trip.
Sumora and Dancing Rain are out of the unraced Indian Ridge (by Ahonoora) mare Rain Flower and, in addition to her three-quarter-length defeat of Wonder Of Wonders at Epsom in 2011, Dancing Rain also took the Group 1 Preis der Diana (German Oaks) over a furlong less on soft ground at Dusseldorf before adding victory in the Group 2 British Champions Fillies' and Mares Stakes' at Ascot.
Originally a €200,000 Goffs Orby Sale graduate, Dancing Rain made 4,000,000gns when sold at the Tattersalls December Mare Sale in Newmarket four years later, and her second foal is Godolphin's exciting Magic Lily (by New Approach). That eight-length Newmarket debut winner was only beaten by three-quarters of a length when third to Laurens and September in the Group 1 bet365 Fillies' Mile at Newmarket in October.
It may seem surprising that a pair of three-part sisters could show such different aptitudes – one a five-furlong filly and the other an Oaks star – but it is not really so when you consider the mixed potential of their pedigrees.
Their dam is by a leading source of sprinter and miler speed, and she is a half-sister to two horses of particular note, one of whom is the high-class sprinter Archway (by Thatching).
He won the Group 3 Greenlands Stakes and Listed Waterford Testimonal Stakes when trained by Vincent O'Brien and the brightest stars among his offspring are Roman Arch, Grand Archway, Rose Archway, and Group 1 Melbourne Cup runner-up She's Archie – the latter trio all Group 1 winners over 12 furlongs. Roman Arch got his top-level wins at eight and 10 furlongs.
Strange? No, not when you consider that Archway was a half-brother to Group 1 Derby and Group 1 Irish Champion Stakes star Dr Devious (by Ahonoora) – a three-parts brother to Rain Flower – and that their dam, Rose Of Jericho, was a daughter of dual Arc hero and noted stamina influence Alleged (by Hoist The Flag).
Former Peter Chapple-Hyam-trained ace Dr Devious died recently, at the age of 29, and although his overall record as a stallion was disappointing for a horse of his calibre and pedigree, he did leave us the Group 1 winners Kinnaird (Prix de l'Opera) and Collier Hill (Irish St Leger, Canadian International, Hong Kong Vase).
Clearly, Saxon Warrior is bred for stardom on the track and with the potential to excel at anywhere in the mile to 12-furlong range. There is every reason to hope that his victory at Doncaster will be seen as just his first top-level win whenever the time comes for him to go to stud.