Timeform 140-rated champion Sea The Stars (by Cape Cross) has made an excellent start to his stallion career at Gilltown Stud with 47 stakes winners to his name, eight of whom have won at the highest level.
The octet include dual Derby hero Harzand, runaway Deutsches Derby star Sea The Moon, French champion Cloth Of Stars, staying ace Stradivarius, and Oaks and King George heroine Taghrooda, and it is a fair bet that at least one more name will be added to the list by the end of 2018.
Whether or not that will be Crystal Ocean remains to be seen, but there is no doubt that he is a colt of considerable talent, one who is bred to improve as he ages.
A neck runner-up over seven furlongs at Newbury on his only start at two, he was third to the ill-fated Permian in both the Group 2 Dante Stakes and Group 2 King Edward VII Stakes before beating Khalidi easily in the Group 3 Gordon Stakes at Goodwood. He then failed by just half a length to beat Group 1 Irish Derby winner Capri in the Group 1 St Leger at Doncaster, finishing that campaign with a Timeform rating of 123p.
Sir Evelyn de Rothschild's homebred has run twice so far in 2018, first short-heading Fabricate in the Group 3 bet365 Gordon Richards Stakes over 10 furlongs at Sandown in April and then trouncing Second Step by six lengths in the Group 3 Al Rayyan Stakes (registered as the Aston Park Stakes) over 12 furlongs on fast ground at Newbury this afternoon.
The Sir Michael Stoute-trained bay is one of four stakes winners produced from Crystal Star (by Mark Of Esteem), who won the Listed Radley Stakes at two and was runner-up in the Group 3 Fred Darling Stakes at three, and he is most closely related to the first of them, Crystal Capella (by Cape Cross).
She won the Group 2 Princess of Wales's Stakes, Group 3 Middleton Stakes, Listed Princess Royal Stakes, and two editions of the Group 2 Pride Stakes, and the closest she came to being Group 1 placed was when fourth to Midday, Snow Fairy and Principal Role in the Nassau Stakes at Goodwood, missing out on that valuable CV-enhancer by a neck. Timeform rated her 116 at three, 119 at four, 122 at five, and 121 at the age of six.
Their half-brother Hillstar (by Danehill Dancer), a Garryrichard Stud stallion whose first crop are yearlings, got his best win in the Grade 1 Pattison Canadian International Stakes at Woodbine. He also won the Group 2 King Edward VII Stakes and Group 3 Dubai Duty Free Legacy Cup Arc Trial, he was third to Novellist in the Group 1 King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes, and was Timeform-rated 121 at both three and four years of age.
Crystal Zvezda (by Dubawi), who achieved a Timeform rating of 110 as a three-year-old, won a 10-furlong listed contest at Newbury and was second in similar contests at Newmarket and York, and the siblings also include Sandor (by Fantastic Light), a handicapper who notched up 10 wins from ages three to nine.
Crystal Star, who is a half-sister to Listed Aphrodite Stakes winner and Group 3 Lillie Langtry Stakes third Waila (by Notnowcato), is out of Crystal Cavern (by Be My Guest), a mare who won over seven furlongs at Redcar as a two-year-old and later scored twice in the USA at four.
That mare's half-sister Rose Gypsy (by Green Desert) took the Group 1 Poule d'Essai des Pouliches (French 1000 Guineas) in 2001, although that classic performance proved to be easily the highlight of a short career for the Aidan O'Brien-trained bay, whom Timeform rated just 114. The best of her offspring has been the Scandinavian 12-furlong Group 3 scorer Chinese Mandarin (by Kingmambo).
Krisalya (by Kris), the third dam of Crystal Cavern, was one of the 13 winners from 16 foals produced by Group 3 Princess Royal Stakes fourth Sassalya (by Sassafras) and so a half-sister to Group 1 Prix d'Ispahan winner Sasuru (by Most Welcome), to ill-fated Group 2 Challenge Stakes and Group 3 Jersey Stakes heroine Sally Rous (by Rousillon), to listed scorers Sossus Vlei (by Inchinor) and Little Bean (by Ajdal), and to three other blacktype earners.
One of that trio was Group 3 Park Hill Stakes and Listed Galtres Stakes runner-up The Faraway Tree (by Suave Dancer) and she went on to become the dam of Grade 1 star Tuscan Evening (by Oasis Dream). That filly had been placed in the Group 3 Anglesey Stakes and Group 2 Debutante Stakes when trained in Ireland by John Murphy, but blossomed Stateside where she won 12 times.
She was a Grade 1-placed dual mile Grade 2 winner as a four-year-old and was as good, if not better, at five. She kicked off that campaign in the Grade 3 Monrovia Handicap over six and a half furlongs at Santa Anita, followed that with victory in the Grade 2 Buena Vista Handicap, Grade 2 Santa Ana Handicap, and Grade 2 Santa Barbara Handicap over eight, nine furlongs and 10 furlongs at the same venue, and then beat Forever Together by half a length in the Grade 1 Gamely Stakes over nine at Hollywood Park.
The Jerry Hollendorfer-trained million-dollar earner extended her unbeaten seasonal record to six with an odds-on success in the Grade 3 Modesty Handicap over nine and a half furlongs at Arlington, moved on to Del Mar, but died from a heart attack there after a workout.
This is a family with an established tradition of producing high-class horses who do well at three, four and five years of age, and so it is no surprise that Crystal Ocean's career is following such a path.
He is a talented performer from 10 to 14 and a half furlongs, he holds entries in the Group 1 Tattersalls Gold Cup, Group 1 Prince of Wales's Stakes and Group 1 Coral-Eclipse, as well as in the Group 2 Hardwicke Stakes, and there is every reason to hope that he can win at least once at the highest level before his racing days come to an end.
After his first start of the current campaign, when he finished last of five behind Capri in the Group 3 Alleged Stakes over 10 furlongs at Naas, Cliffs Of Moher's record showed just two wins and a single place from 10 starts.
That does not sound like the record of a good horse, but those wins included the Listed Dee Stakes at Chester, which came just a few weeks before he chased home Wings Of Eagles in the Group 1 Investec Derby at Epsom.
He was then fourth to Ulysses in both the Group 1 Coral-Eclipse Stakes at Sandown and Group 1 Juddmonte International Stakes at York, but unplaced in the Group 1 Irish Champion Stakes, Group 1 Champion Stakes, and Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Turf. Timeform rated the Aidan O'Brien-trained bay 123, and his earnings topped £500,000.
He finally got a first pattern success to his name when staying-on well to beat Success Days by one and three-quarter lengths in the Group 2 Coolmore Camelot Irish EBF Mooresbridge Stakes over 10 furlongs at Naas six days ago. Yucatan and Mustajeer were another head and nose back in third and fourth.
Cliffs Of Moher is a son of prolific champion sire Galileo (by Sadler's Wells), he was bred by the Wave Syndicate, and he is the first foal out of five-furlong winner Wave (by Dansili), a half-sister to two horses of note and from the family of many more.
Francis Of Assisi (by Danehill Dancer) won the Listed Knockaire Stakes over seven furlongs at Leopardstown when trained by Aidan O'Brien, was a Grade 2-placed multiple winner over hurdles when trained by John Ferguson, then switched to the Charlie Appleby team, won Group 3 contests over 12 and 13 furlongs in Australia, and was last seen in action when down the field behind Frankuus in the Group 3 Rose of Lancaster Stakes at Haydock last August.
That gelding's full-sister Look At Me did all of her racing for the Ballydoyle team, getting the better of her two wins in the Listed Navigation Stakes over eight and a half furlongs at Cork, taking the runners-up spot in the Group 3 Oh So Sharp Stakes and Group 3 Kilternan Stakes, and finishing third in both the Group 2 Blandford Stakes and Group 3 Dance Design Stakes.
Look At Me's first foal is Kind Of Magic (by Galileo), a close relation to Cliffs Of Moher and whose only placing in seven starts was her victory in the Listed Flame Of Tara Stakes over a mile at Curragh as a two-year-old.
Their dam, Queen Cleopatra (by Kingmambo), got her only win in the Group 3 Derrinstown Stud 1000 Guineas Trial over a mile at Leopardstown before taking third in both the Group 1 Irish 1000 Guineas and Group 1 Prix de Diane (French Oaks), and she, in turn, is a daughter of Group 1 Moyglare Stud Stakes scorer Sequoyah (by Sadler's Wells).
This makes Cliffs Of Moher inbred 2x4 to Sadler's Wells (by Northern Dancer), 4x4 to Mr Prospector (by Raise a Native), and 3x5x5 to Northern Dancer (by Nearctic).
In addition to Queen Cleopatra, Sequoyah is also the dam of that filly's star full-brother Henrythenavigator, who won the Group 1 2000 Guineas, Group 1 St James's Palace Stakes and Group 1 Sussex Stakes, was runner-up in the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Classic, Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II Stakes and Group 1 Phoenix Stakes, but a disappointment at stud.
His first crop included Group 1 Phoenix Stakes winner Pedro The Great and Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf scorer George Vancouver, and he later got another Phoenix Stakes winner in Sudirman, but a total of 20 stakes winners worldwide, despite serving shuttle time in Australia and Chile, is a weak record.
The first two of those top-level winners were freshman sires in France in 2017, both have come up with a string of winners, and Pedro The Great has shown some promise with the pattern-placed stakes winner Feralia and last month's nine-furlong Grade 3 Providencia Stakes heroine Fatale Bere on his roll of honour.
There are plenty more good horses in the family as third dam Sequoyah is out of Brigid (by Irish River), which makes her a full-sister to Group 1 Fillies' Mile winner and blacktype producer Listen, a full-sister to Coeur De Beaute's (by Dabirsim) grandam Clara Bow, and half-sister to Lady Windermere (by Lake Coniston), the unraced grandam of Group 1 Irish 2000 Guineas and Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Turf star Magician (by Galileo).
The latter, a full-brother to 12-furlong Grade 3 winner Apple Betty and to Listed Naas Oaks Trial scorer and Grade 1 Belmont Oaks Invitational Stakes third Outstanding, began his stallion career at Coolmore's US division Ashford Stud, his first yearlings made up to 210,000gns in England and up to $80,000 in Keeneland last year, and in a rather unusual step, he left Kentucky mid-season to move to Ireland where he has joined the roster at Castle Hyde Stud and will finish out the current season at a fee of €7,500.
Brigid, of course, is a full-sister to Or Vision, the dual stakes-winning dam of Group/Grade 1 stars Dolphin Street (by Bluebird), Insight (by Sadler's Wells), and Saffron Walden (by Sadler's Wells). The first named took the Prix de la Foret, the filly won the E P Taylor Stakes, and her full-brother landed the Irish 2000 Guineas.
A poor strike rate of wins and places to races run appears to be something of a surprising family trait among the better horses within the most recent generations of the family – Henrythenavigator and Magician being notable exceptions – but there is clearly plenty of talent there.
Cliffs Of Moher holds entries in the Group 1 Tattersalls Gold Cup, Group 1 Investec Coronation Cup and Group 1 Prince of Wales's Stakes and, at his best, he has the ability to make the frame or, with luck, even pick up one of those.
It remains to be seen if he will earn a place at stud when his racing days come to an end, but as a classic-placed Group 2-winning son of Galileo from this family, he is likely to have some appeal.