Darley-bred grey Defoe was a progressive middle-distance colt in 2017, winning his first four starts – including the Listed Glasgow Stakes and Group 3 Geoffrey Freer Stakes – in a manner that saw him sent off one of the favourites for the Group 1 William Hill St Leger on his final start.
He disappointed that day and was eased when beaten, but bounced back to form on his reappearance at Newbury this afternoon, beating Danehill Kodiac by two and a half lengths in the Group 3 Dubai Duty Free Finest Surprise Stakes (registered as the John Porter Stakes) over 12 furlongs.
Timeform-rated 119 as a three-year-old, the Roger Varian-trained colt has now won six of his nine starts and it is possible that his next start will be a return to Group 1 company in the Tattersalls Gold Cup at the Curragh in late May.
Defoe is by the Timeform 133-rated star and retired Gilltown Stud and Haras de Bonneval stallion Dalakhani (by Darshaan), the Arc and Prix du Jockey Club hero whose 52 stakes winners include nine who have won at the highest level.
He is the first foal out of 10-furlong Nottingham winner Dulkashe (by Pivotal), he has a two-year-old Shamardal (by Giant's Causeway) half-brother, and his dam is among eight winners from a dozen foals out of an unraced mare called Saik (by Riverman).
Saik's offspring also include the multiple listed-placed Irish filly miler Akira (by Acclamation), and as she is out of the unraced Close Comfort (by Far North), her own siblings feature Husyan (by Alleged) plus some fillies of note.
Husyan won the Group 3 Brigadier Gerard Stakes and Group 3 Scottish Classic, he was runner-up in the Group 3 Cumberland Lodge Stakes, and he had some success as a National Hunt stallion, whereas his non-winning half-sister Badrah (by Private Account) is the dam of pattern-placed Irish juvenile stakes winner Desert Sky (by Green Desert) and grandam of US mile Grade 2 scorer No Jet Lag (by Johar).
Their stakes-placed half-sister Miss Waikiki (by Miswaki) is the third dam of the tragically ill-fated US sprinter Rock Fall (by Speightstown), who won the Grade 1 Vosburgh Stakes, Grade 1 Alfred G Vanderbilt Handicap and Grade 2 True North Stakes in 2015, while dual winner Gazayil (by Irish River) did her part for the family by giving us Arc-placed multiple Group 2 scorer Mubtaker (by Silver Hawk).
The appearance of a top-class sprinter among those branches of the family is no surprise when you consider that the next dam is five-furlong ace Caterina (by Princely Gift) who, in addition to Close Comfort, was the dam of Group 1 Prix Morny heroine Ancient Regime and Group 2 Prix Maurice de Gheest scorer Cricket Ball, both by Olden Times (by Relic).
Caterina was runner-up in the Nunthorpe Stakes at two-year-old but won the race the following year, earning a Timeform rating of 124. Her dam Radiopye (by Bright News) won eight times and earned a peak Timeform rating of 108 as a six-year-old, and that sprinter's offspring also featured Group 1 Eclipse Stakes winner and Group 1 Irish Derby runner-up Scottish Rifle (by Sunny Way).
Defoe shows the family's middle-distance stamina rather than its speed and part of that is due to Dalakhani's influence. He is a talented colt who may still be improving and it would be no surprise to see him perform with credit in Group 1 company this year.
In a week when two-year-olds made 900,000gns, 800,000gns and 775,000gns at the Tattersalls Craven Breeze-Up Sale, it's worth noting that several of this season's pattern races have gone to horses who cost considerably less than that as yearlings, ones who would fall into the bottom end of the market.
Group 3 1000 Guineas Trial heroine Who's Steph was a €40,000 buy, Group 3 Gladness Stakes winner Psychedelic Funk made just £30,000 at that age, Group 3 Prix Sigy scorer Sands Of Mali (£75,000 breeze-up horse) was sold for €20,000, Group 3 Prix Noailles winner Pharrell cost just €15,000, and runaway Group 3 Schwarzgold-Rennen star Butzje changed hands for just €5,500.
The list of low-priced yearlings excelling on the track in 2018 also includes Forest Ranger who beat Deauville by half a length to take the Group 3 bet365 Earl of Sefton Stakes over nine furlongs at Newmarket yesterday. Trainer Richard Fahey picked him up for just 26,000gns from Book 2 of the Tattersalls October Yearling Sale.
This was a third win from 10 starts for the four-year-old and his first since being gelded in October. He chased home Mustashry in the Group 3 Strensall Stakes at York last year, finished third to Beat The Bank in the Group 3 Thoroughbred Stakes at Goodwood, and Timeform rated him 115. His earnings now stand at over £155,000.
Forest Ranger is a son of Group 1 Prix du Jockey Club scorer Lawman (by Invincible Spirit), a notable member of the Ballylinch Stud stallion team and whose 24 stakes winners include classic stars Harbour Law and Just The Judge as well as three others who have been successful at the highest level.
Fahey also trained his older half-sister Home Cummins (by Rip Van Winkle), whose four wins came from six and a half to eight and a half furlongs, and she picked up some valuable blacktype when finishing third in the Listed Fleur de Lys Stakes over a mile on the polytrack at Lingfield as a four-year-old.
Their dam, Alava (by Anabaa), on the other hand, won a listed contest over nine and a half furlongs in France and she is out of Cerita (by Wolfhound), a triple stakes-placed half-sister to several talented horses, notably Group 3 Prix de Flore scorer Tamise (by Time For A Change).
That filly went on to become the dam of Motivado (by Motivator) and his best win came in a 12 and a half-furlong Group 3 race in Australia, but before going 'down under', he was twice a wide-margin winner over 14 furlongs in England and he was not beaten far when fourth in the Cesarewitch Handicap over two and a quarter miles at Newmarket.
His stamina is not an isolated occurrence either as Cerita's siblings also include Quirinetta (by Ardross), who won the Grade 3 Transvaal Cesarewitch in South Africa.
They also include quicker types, such as the pattern-placed stakes winner Tarzan Cry (by Anabaa), Grade 1-placed US stakes winner Luthier's Launch (by Relaunch), and My Cherie Amour (by Sham), a four-time winner who became the grandam of Grade 1 Personal Ensign Handicap heroine Passing Shot (by A.P. Indy).
This is a branch of the same family from which the aforementioned Pharrell comes, and while that three-year-old looks like a potentially high-class stayer in the making, Forest Ranger is quicker and appears to be best in the mile to 10-furlong range.
He does not hold any big race entries, but he looks a useful prospect for the coming summer months, and although further improvement is required to have realistic prospects of making the frame, the Group 1 Coral-Eclipse Stakes was nominated as a potential target for him after this promising return to action.
Top-class sprinter Choisir (by Danehill Dancer), who was Group 1 placed in both his starts over a mile, is among the most successful of the reverse shuttle stallions. The long-time Coolmore team member has given us top-level winners such as Olympic Glory, Obviously and The Last Lion from his northern hemisphere crops and standouts such as Starspangledbanner, Sacred Choice and Divine Prophet from his southern hemisphere offspring.
His final Irish crop are members of this year's classic generation and his penultimate one includes Psychedelic Funk, the Ger Lyons-trained colt who won the Group 3 Gladness Stakes over seven furlongs at Naas this afternoon. He gave Downforce 3lbs and a two-and-a-quarter-length beating, with Making Light, who was another half-length behind, finishing a length in front of fourth-placed Larchmont Lad.
Both the second and third had 2018 blacktype-winning form but for the winner this was a first outing since he beat Downforce by half a length in the Group 3 Coolmore Stud Home of Champions Concorde Stakes over a half-furlong farther at Tipperary at the start of October, also on heavy ground.
His five wins from 13 starts also include a four-length defeat of Panama Hat over a mile on good ground at Naas last July plus both his first two starts as an early-season two-year-old, and the races in which he has been placed include the Group 2 Coventry Stakes, Group 3 Anglesey Stakes, Group 3 Ballycorus Stakes, Group 2 Boomerang Stakes, and Group 3 Lacken Stakes.
The first and last of those pattern events were sprints won by Caravaggio, and the penultimate one on that list was a third-place finish, over a mile, to Suedois and True Valour, who were just three-parts of a length and a head in front of him.
Psychedelic Funk was bred by Joanna Imray of Eildon Hill Stables in the Scottish Borders and he has proved to be a tremendous bargain as he made 13,000gns in Newmarket as a foal and £30,000 at the DBS Premier Yearling Sale, and his latest victory took his earnings to just over £147,000.
He is the third foal out of Parabola (by Galileo), a lightly raced mare who was placed several times between seven to 10 and a half furlongs, and both of his older siblings are winners. Indeed, Gurkha Friend (by Showcasing) has won five times from six to nine furlongs.
The mare had a daughter of Gale Force Ten (by Oasis Dream) in 2016, her current yearling, an Ivawood (by Zebedee) filly, made 48,000gns in Newmarket in late November, and she is out of Zietory (by Zieten) who won the Listed Atalanta Stakes at Sandown and Listed Prix de Lieurey at Deauville, both over a mile.
Zietory's half-brother Welenska (by Danzig Connection) was a stakes-placed six-time winner, there are two blacktype-placed hurdlers among the siblings of third dam Fairy Story (by Persian Bold), who won five times from two to five years of age, and these are the highlights of the first few generations of the pedigree.
Fifth dam Epithet (by Mill Reef) was runner-up in the Group 3 Prix de Royaumont and Group 3 Cheshire Oaks and, in addition to Certain Story (by Known Fact) – the unraced fourth dam of Psychedelic Funk – her offspring included Kiltimony (by Sharpo) and Shomoose (by Habitat).
Irish racegoers may remember the former as she won four sprints plus a mile handicap for trainer Con Collins. Shomoose, on the other hand, was unraced, but in 1997 her son Shaamit (by Mtoto) won the Group 1 Derby at Epsom, finished third to Pentire and Classic Cliche in the Group 1 King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot and was fourth to Timarida in the Group 1 Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown.
Shaamit was only eight when he died, and even though those he left behind featured Group 1 St Leger scorer Bollin Eric, he was a disappointing stallion.
Psychedelic Funk, who is inbred 4x4 to Danzig (by Northern Dancer), is a Group 2-placed, dual pattern-winning sprinter-miler whom Timeform rated 106 at two and 112 at the age of three. He was a precocious two-year-old who made the frame at Royal Ascot and he appears potentially better than ever now that he's a four-year-old.
It is true that his relationship to Shaamit is remote, but should he be given a chance at stud then the fact that his fourth dam is a half-sister to the dam of that classic horse adds a little to his appeal and to his prospects of success.
Yes, that Derby hero was a poor sire with just one big hit to his name, but his young and distant relation is not only speedier and more precocious than he was, but he represents a much more successful sire line – attributes that the market views favourably – and so would receive notably different support than Shaamit got.
Psychedelic Funk appears to be effective on any ground, even though both of his pattern wins have come when there was heavy in the description, and that should give him more opportunities to show his talent. He holds entries in the Group 3 Amethyst Stakes and Group 1 Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes, both over a mile, and it will be interesting to see how highly he will be ranked among his peers at the end of the year.
A surprising number of stallions have died in the first few months of 2018 and although some of them have been, as one might expect, elderly horses living in retirement, several were much younger. The latter include Group 1 winning miler and Dalham Hall Stud resident Poet's Voice, one of the early sire sons of Dubawi (by Dubai Millennium).
His initial foals and yearlings lit up the auction ring, his eldest offspring are five years old, he shuttled to Australia, and has accumulated a double-digit tally of stakes winners. As yet, however, he has no Group 1 winner to his name and the best of his 13 blacktype scorers include Group 2 Mehl-Mulhens Rennen (German 2000 Guineas) winner Poetic Dream and Italian Group 3 mile classic scorers Mi Raccomando (Premio Regina Elena) and Poeta Diletto (Premio Parioli).
The southern hemisphere stint has yielded the Group 1-placed Group 2 Roman Consul Stakes winner Viridine – who is out of an Anabaa (by Danzig) mare – three listed race scorers, and also Group 1 Australian Oaks runner-up Perfect Rhyme, who is out of a daughter of Danehill (by Danzig).
For a horse of whom so much was expected, this is a disappointing overall record, but there is one among the 13 who could strike at the highest level in 2018, and of course it is all but guaranteed that there are more stakes and pattern winners still to emerge from his younger offspring. Perhaps some of those could become racehorses of real note: his story has several chapters still to go.
Poet's Word is that standout performer and the Sir Michael Stoute-trained bay represents his late sire's first crop. He was bred by Woodcote Stud, was fourth over seven furlongs on his only start at two, won handicaps over 10 and 11 furlongs at Nottingham and Goodwood from five starts at three, and was among the leading older horses in Europe at the age of four.
He began that campaign with handicap success at Chelmsford, was only beaten a neck by Deauville in the Group 3 Huxley Stakes over the extended 10 furlongs at Chester and then landed the Group 3 Betfred Glorious Stakes over 12 on soft ground at Goodwood, beating Second Step by a length and a half.
That was a useful effort but it is what he has done since then that has been impressive, even though those four runs have all ended in defeat.
First, he failed by just half a length to beat Decorated Knight in the Group 1 Qipco Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown, he chased home Cracksman in the Group 1 Qipco Champion Stakes at Ascot, was only beaten about five lengths when sixth to Time Warp in the Group 1 Longines Hong Kong Cup at Sha Tin, and then chased home Hawkbill in the Group 1 Longines Dubai Sheema Classic at Meydan just last week.
Timeform rated him 124 last year – his sire received a figure of 126 from that same organisation – and it would be no surprise to see him win at the highest level in 2018, something that would surely earn him a place at stud.
It would be interesting to see how Poet's Word would fare if given the opportunity for a stallion career and he is related to a horse who sired several Group 1 winners despite dying at a young age.
The first point of note about the distaff side of his pedigree is that he is the sixth foal of Whirly Bird (by Nashwan) and that makes him a half-brother to two fillies of note: the talented former Mick Channon-trainee Malabar (by Raven's Pass) and two-time scorer Whirly Dancer (by Danehill Dancer).
The latter is the dam of last year's Group 2 Railway Stakes winner Beckford (by Bated Breath), who was runner-up in the Group 1 National Stakes and Group 1 Phoenix Stakes for the Gordon Elliott stable and is set to continue his career in the USA.
Malabar, on the other hand, won the Group 3 Prestige Stakes over seven furlongs at two, added the Group 3 Thoroughbred Stakes over a mile at three – both at Goodwood – and although the performances do not count for blacktype, she was fourth in each of the Group 1 1000 Guineas, Group 1 Prix Marcel Boussac and Group 1 Moyglare Stud Stakes.
Their dam was trained by Amanda Perrett, won five of her seven starts, and earned her blacktype when finishing third in the Listed Harvest Stakes over 11 and a half furlongs at Windsor on her final outing, so it is no surprise that Poet's Word stays middle-distances.
Her half-brother Ursa Major (by Galileo) won a 14-furlong Group 3 contest at the Curragh a month before finishing fourth to Encke, Camelot and Michelangelo in the Group 1 St Leger at Doncaster, and the pair also have two half-sisters of note.
Inchiri (by Sadler's Wells) won a listed contest over 12 furlongs and Inchberry (by Barathea) was a maiden in eight starts but listed-placed over a mile at Pontefract and missed out on a more notable accolade – classic placing – when finishing a two and a half-length fourth to Casual Look in the Group 1 Oaks at Epsom. She is also the dam of Measuring Time (by Dubai Destination) who was placed in several middle-distance pattern events.
They are all out of one-time scorer Inchyre (by Shirley Heights) and so the third dam of Poet's Word is Inchmurrin (by Lomond).
A stakes-winning sprinter at two, she went on to beat classic-placed Dabaweyaa by five lengths in the Group 2 Child Stakes (now Falmouth Stakes) at Newmarket, shortly after chasing home Magic Of Life in the Group 1 Coronation Stakes at Ascot, and her final start resulted in a fourth-place finish to Sudden Love in the Grade 1 E P Taylor Stakes at Woodbine.
The best of her offspring was the Group 1-placed triple Group 3 scorer Inchinor (by Ahonoora) – who died at the age of 13 – and so Poet's Word's grandam is a half-sister to the sire of Group 1 stars Cape Of Good Hope, Latice, Notnowcato, Silca's Sister and Summoner.
Inchinor's stakes-winning half-sister Ingozi (by Warning) is the dam of Grade 1 E P Taylor Stakes heroine Miss Keller (by Montjeu) and grandam of Group 1 St Leger star Harbour Law (by Lawman), and the long list of stakes and pattern winners among Inchmurrin's descendants also include Agent Murphy (by Cape Cross), Ayaar (by Rock Of Gibraltar), Blue Bayou (by Bahamian Bounty), Fantastic Pick (by Fantastic Light), Hatta Fort (by Cape Cross), and Venus De Milo (by Duke Of Marmalade).
If you go back another step and take a look at the record of fourth dam On Show (by Welsh Pageant) then you find that Inchmurrin was a half-sister to Group 2 Mill Reef Stakes winner Welney (by Habitat) and full-sister to Balnaha, the winning dam of Group 1 Coronation Stakes scorer Balisada (by Kris).
It is Poet's Word's relationship to Inchinor, however, that is most eye-catching when it comes to considering a future stallion career for him. Before then, of course, there are more good prizes to be won on the track and it will be important for his prospects that he picks up at least one Group 1 victory on the way.
It is breeze-up sales time here again and the victory of Stormy Antarctic in this afternoon's Group 3 Prix Edmond Blanc was a timely reminder of the sort of horse who can emerge from those auctions. Three years ago he made 200,000gns at the Tattersalls Craven Breeze-Up Sale in Newmarket.
The Ed Walker-trained chestnut won twice from five starts at two, rounding off that campaign with a head second to Johannes Vermeer in the Group 1 Criterium International over seven furlongs at Saint-Cloud, and he kicked off his three-year-old season with a three and a half-length defeat of Foundation in the Group 3 Craven Stakes at Newmarket.
He was well-beaten in the 2000 Guineas but bounced back from that to chase home Zelzal in the Group 1 Prix Jean Prat over the same trip at Chantilly. Since then, however, he has had his limitations exposed while remaining a high-class performer.
Twice he has been short-headed in listed races, and he was only third to Spirit Of Valor in last year's Group 2 Minstrel Stakes over seven furlongs at the Curragh.
He was an easy winner of a mile listed contest on soft ground at Chantilly in mid-October, then unplaced on the polytrack at Kempton, and his all-the-way success on heavy ground at Saint-Cloud today came on his first start since then. He benefitted from an enterprising ride by Christophe Soumillon to beat Nice To See You by a length, with Jimmy Two Times another half-length back in third.
Stormy Antarctic is a son of sprint stakes winner and veteran Hill 'N' Dale Farm stallion Stormy Atlantic (by Storm Cat), who does not have many runners in Europe but has a global tally of over 100 stakes winners, including Grade 1 scorers Get Stormy, Stormello, Stormy Lucy, Victor Security, Up With The Birds, and last year's Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint star Stormy Liberal.
He was bred by East Bloodstock Ltd, is the first foal out of Bea Remembered (by Doyen) – a dual winner whose blacktype placings featured third in the Group 3 Meld Stakes over nine furlongs at Leopardstown – and his siblings include the Group 2 Queen Mary Stakes and Group 2 Prix Robert Papin runner-up Al Johrah (by Bated Breath).
The mare is a daughter of triple winner Leinster Mills (by Doyoun), who is a half-sister to the stakes winners and blacktype producers Alalja (by Entitled) and Cheviot Amble (by Pennine Walk), and the next dam is Group 3 C L Weld Park Stakes third Miss Turnberry (by Mummy's Pet), who won at two and three years of age.
Alalja got her listed success in the Debutante Stakes at the Curragh as a juvenile and her star son is the prolific Italian colt Absolut Taft (by King's Theatre) whose double-digit tally of wins included a listed contest.
Cheviot Amble was also prolific, her eight wins featured the Listed Mooresbridge Stakes at the Curragh, and her daughter Amalia (by Danehill) notched up five, including the Listed Hoppings Stakes over 10 furlongs at Newcastle.
If you go back farther on the page then you will find that the fifth dam of Stormy Antarctic is Blue Galleon (by Alycidon), the Timeform 110-rated triple winner who was runner-up in each of the Yorkshire Oaks, Nassau Stakes and Ribblesdale Stakes in 1957, three years after her half-brother Blue Sail (by Tehran) took the Great Voltigeur Stakes.
There may be a perception among some that breeze-up sales are all about precocious two-year-old talent, but Stormy Antarctic, a five-year-old with an entry in next month's Group 1 Tattersalls Gold Cup, had an official handicap rating of 111 going into today's race – down from a career peak of 114 – and the dual Group 1-placed, dual Group 3 scorer has earned over £315,000, and counting.