Musselburgh is not a venue at which you would expect to see a future pattern race winner and leading juvenile in action but the Scottish track was the location for the racecourse debut of Syphax, a colt trained by Kevin Ryan.
He beat five rivals that day in early July and has been seen in action just once since, when springing a 16/1 surprise in the Group 3 Tattersalls Acomb Stakes at York the following month. He beat Best Of Days by a head there, with Lockheed three-parts of a length back in third, and this performance earned him an end-of-year rating of 110.
Such a light first season, one that ended so early, may make this colt something of a forgotten horse for many, but this now Godolphin-owned bay, who was bred by Pin Oak Stud, could become a leading performer in 2017, most likely at around the seven to 10-furlong range.
He is by the late Claiborne Farm stallion Arch (by Kris S), who died last year and was responsible for US standouts such as Blame, Pine Island, Archarcharch, and Arravale, although perhaps best known to many here as being the sire of the Group 1 Golden Jubilee Stakes and Group 1 July Cup winner Les Arcs.
It is not impossible that Syphax could be effective over that shorter trip too, but the strong trend in the distaff side of his family is for talent at around a mile so it is reasonable to presume that this colt will follow their lead.
There are two other aspects of his profile that catch the eye before you get to the details of the high-class performers to whom he is related. One of these is his date of birth. Syphax is a 6th May foal, which means that he will not be celebrating his physical third birthday until the actual day of the Group 1 Qipco 2000 Guineas, a race for which he is currently available at around 33/1.
It also makes his juvenile record more interesting, suggests that he may be capable of considerable improvement on what he showed at two, and that he could be a candidate to do well as a four-year-old, in addition to whatever he might achieve in 2017.
The other aspect that pops on his page is his sales history. His foaling date may have been a contributing factor in his Keeneland September Yearling Sale price but, even so, $25,000 is surprisingly low for a colt with his pedigree. He was sold on for €100,000 at the Arqana May Breeze-Up several months later.
Syphax is the third foal and second winner out of the prolific and talented Much Obliged (by Kingmambo), a $400,000+ earner and six-time scorer who was a Grade 3-placed dual stakes winner in the USA and also Grade 2-placed in Canada, best from eight to nine furlongs. Her good start at stud is no surprise given the notable produce record of both her dam and grandam.
Much Obliged is among six winners out of triple scorer Danka (by Strawberry Road), all six won multiple times and each earned blacktype. Two were listed-placed, one a Grade 3 runner-up, and Free Thinking (by Unbridled) was second in both the Grade 2 Kelso Handicap at Belmont Park and Grade 2 Firecracker Handicap at Churchill Downs.
Their half-sister Bedanken (by Geri), however, takes the honours as most prolific and most talented of the siblings as her 11 wins included Grade 3 victories at Fair Grounds, Arlington International, Keeneland, and Oaklawn Park.
Their dam, who is one of 11 winners from 13 foals out of the unraced Paloma Blanca (by Blushing Groom), also has a multiple Grade 3 -winning daughter with a double-digit tally to her name – the near $600,000 earner Apolda (by Theatrical) – and a sister whose tally of seven includes a couple of listed events in California, but Danka's most notable sibling is her half-brother Ganges (by Riverman) who showed his talent on two continents.
He won the Group 2 Criterium de Maisons-Laffitte as a juvenile, won the Listed Prix Djebel at the same venue shortly before finishing third to Mystiko in the Group 1 2000 Guineas at Newmarket, and he was also placed in the Group 3 Prix de Meautry before going on to Grade 3 success at Keeneland.
Paloma Blanca's siblings include the Norsk Derby winner Underworld (by Riverman), she was out of the La Prevoyante Stakes winner Satania (by Ruritania), and that mare was, in turn, a half-sister to Group 2 Prix de l'Opera winner and blacktype producer Sea Sands (by Sea Bird II), to Group 2 Prix Maurice de Nieuil winner and Group 1 Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud runner-up Riboboy (by Ribot), and also to an unraced filly who became the third dam of Group 1-placed sprinter and notable sire Danetime (by Danehill).
These are the highlights of the first few generations of Syphax's pedigree and there is more than enough there to suggest that he has the potential to become a high-class performer as a three-year-old and as an older horse.