Galileo's brilliant half-brother Sea The Stars (by Cape Cross) has made an excellent start to his career at Gilltown Stud and the 11-year-old notched up his eighth individual Group 1 winner when Stradivarius took the Qatar Goodwood Cup earlier this month.
The John Gosden-trained chestnut is owned and bred by Bjorn Nielsen, he has won four of his seven starts, and what makes his one and three-quarter length defeat of Group 1 Gold Cup hero Big Orange particularly meritorious is that he is only a three-year-old. Timeform rated him 122.
He won the final of three starts at around a mile as a juvenile, started off his current campaign with a six-length score in a 10-furlong handicap at Beverley in April, failed by just half a length to give away 13lbs over two and a half furlongs farther at Chester the following month, and then put his name into the history books as the first winner of the newly framed Queen's Vase at Royal Ascot.
Previously run over over two miles and with listed or Group 3 status, it was generally seen as one of the lesser blacktype staying events, but, in 2017 and as part of some enhancements to the stayers' programme, it was reduced in distance to 14 furlongs and boosted in status to Group 2.
The presumed hope is that the Queen's Vase might become to stayers what the Commonwealth Cup has to sprinters, a well-supported stepping stone for potentially top-class three-year-olds before they take on the older horses.
The latter has quickly become established as one of the best additions to the racing calendar, and if the next few winners of the former go on to the sort of profile that its latest victor has achieved, then it too will play an important role.
Stradivarius is now one of the ante-post market leaders for both the Group 1 William Hill St Leger Stakes at Doncaster next month and for the Group 2 Qipco British Champions Long Distance Cup at Ascot in October.
He is a half-brother to the dual German 10-furlong Group 3 scorer Persian Storm (by Monsun) and out of Private Life (by Bering), a stakes-placed half-sister to the 15-furlong listed race winner Pretty Tough (by Desert King) and also to Parisienne (by Distant Relative), a juvenile stakes winner with a famous grandson.
That star is Protectionist (by Monsun), the Group 1 Melbourne Cup hero of 2014. He was a pattern-winning stayer before making the trip to Flemington, but an extended stay in Australia did not work out for him so he returned to Germany, added Group 1 success in the Grosser Preis von Berlin over 12 furlongs at Hoppegarten, and took up stallion duties at Gestut Rottgen in the spring.
His third dam, Poughkeepsie (by Sadler's Wells), is the grandam of Stradivarius and that one-time winner is among five successful runners from the dozen foals produced from Pawneese (by Carvin II), the Group 1 Oaks, Group 1 Prix de Diane (French Oaks) and Group 1 King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes heroine whom Timeform rated 131 in her championship season: 1976.
Pawneese's half-sister Petroleuse (by Habitat), who won the Group 3 Princess Elizabeth Stakes, is the grandam of Peintre Celebre (by Nureyev), the Timeform 137-rated star who took the Group 1 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, Group 1 Grand Prix de Paris and Group 1 Prix du Jockey-Club (French Derby) in 1997.
Although he has not achieved the sort of fame at stud as he did on the track, the brilliant chestnut has supplied 65 stakes winners, 12 of whom have won at the highest level, including the Group 1 standouts Pride, Vallee Enchantee, and Bentley Biscuit.
At this point, Stradivarius looks the most likely candidate to win the season's final Group 1 classic at Doncaster. Whether or not he has the stamina for the two and a half-mile Group 1 Gold Cup next year remains to be seen, but a repeat Goodwood Cup success is possible and he could be a leading candidate for championship honours in the stayers' division in 2018.
Given his relationship to Protectionist, Pawneese and Peintre Celebre, it would be interesting to see how he might get on if dropping back to a mile and a half next year, and also to see him get a shot at being a flat stallion, rather than being automatically targeted at the National Hunt sector.