Those known as reverse shuttle sires – horses from the southern hemisphere who come north rather than the other way around – have not made as great an impact as their counterparts, but a growing number of them are making the grade and coming up with a string of Group 1 stars.
Exceed And Excel (by Danehill) has been one of the most successful of them, so far, and last season one of his Australian-born Group 1 winners got off to a quick and eye-catching start as a freshman in Europe.
The star of that first crop is the Darley-bred colt Thunder Snow and the Saeed bin Suroor-trained bay is already off the mark in 2017.
He made his debut at the end of May, and although only sixth behind Caravaggio in the Group 2 Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot a fornight later, his four subsequent outings showed him to be among the best of his age.
He chased home War Decree in the Group 2 Vintage Stakes over seven furlongs at Goodwood in late July, failed by just a head to beat subsequent Group 1 winner Rivet in the Group 2 Champagne Stakes at Doncaster, and then finished a two-length fourth to champion Churchill in the Group 1 Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket.
It was his final start, however, that advertised his potential to be a major player at three as he beat South Seas by five lengths in the Group 1 Criterium International at Saint-Cloud, with the talented filly Promise To Be True back in third.
The ground was soft that day, it was fast for his winning debut and for his Goodwood second, and he finished the year on a rating of 118.
The merit of what he achieved in his five and three-quarter-length Group 3 UAE 2000 Guineas victory at Meydan on Saturday is open to question, especially as the eight-furlong contest is on dirt, but this talented colt is clearly in good heart and a serious candidate for Europe's mile classics.
Helmet's racing and pedigree profile suggests that most of his offspring will be sprinters and/or milers and that, with the right mares, he will get some who are effective at 10 furlongs.
Thunder Snow is the fourth foal and fourth blacktype winner out of Eastern Joy (by Dubai Destination) and he is a half-brother to three fillies of note, headed by Ihtimal (by Shamardal), who won the Group 2 May Hill Stakes at two, added both the Listed UAE 1000 Guineas and a runaway victory in the Group 3 UAE Oaks at three and was then third in the Group 1 1000 Guineas. Her final start was when finishing fifth behind Taghrooda in the Group 1 Oaks at Epsom.
The lightly-raced First Victory (by Teofilo) won the Group 3 Oh So Sharp Stakes, and listed scorer Always Smile (by Cape Cross) finished third in the Group 1 Falmouth Stakes and runner-up in the Group 1 Sun Chariot Stakes last year, both races won by Alice Springs.
It is no surprise that Eastern Joy has become such a successful broodmare. Not only is she by a rising star in the broodmare sire ranks, but she is a half-sister to the Group 1 Prix de Diane (French Oaks) winner West Wind (by Machiavellian) and out of a high-class sibling to two classic performers.
Her dam is the Group 2 Sun Chariot Stakes winner Red Slippers (by Nureyev) and that mare is both a full-sister to Romanov and half-sister to Balanchine (by Storm Bird).
Romanov won the Group 2 Jockey Club Stakes and Group 3 Rose of Lancaster Stakes, he was runner-up in the Group 1 Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud, and finished third in both the Group 1 Derby at Epsom and the Group 1 Irish 2000 Guineas at the Curragh.
Balanchine was Europe's champion three-year-old filly in 1994 when, after being short-headed by Las Meninas in the Group 1 1000 Guineas as Newmarket, she won the Group 1 Oaks at Epsom and beat the colts to take the Group 1 Irish Derby at the Curragh, joining Salsabil (1990) and Gallinaria (1900) as the most recent fillies to achieve that latter classic feat.
Balanchine disappointed at stud but her placed half-sister Subtle Breeze (by Storm Cat) is the dam of the Australian seven- and eight-furlong Group 1 scorer Trust In A Gust (by Keep The Faith), unraced Alleged Devotion (by Alleged) is the dam, grandam and third dam of several talented performers, and stakes-placed First Night (by Sadler's Wells) is the grandam of the Group 1-placed Australian Group 3 winner Havana Cooler (by Hurricane Run).
Thunder Snow is, therefore, a Group 1 winner from a family that has a strong recent tradition of producing Group 1 performers and, although he may not stay quite as far as did some of his most accomplished relations, he is a talented miler who may handle the 10 and a half furlongs of the Group 1 Prix du Jockey Club (French Derby).