Dark Angel (by Acclamation) was not an obvious candidate to emerge as a force within the industry, as a stallion who would get Group 1 stars, stallion sons and successful broodmare daughters, but although it is still quite early in his career, the early indications are that he could become a stallion of considerable influence.
He raced only as a two-year-old, winning four of his nine starts, and although successful in the Group 1 Middle Park Stakes and Group 2 Mill Reef Stakes, he was unplaced against stronger opposition in the Group 2 Flying Childers Stakes and in the Group 1 Dewhurst Stakes and his end of year official rating was only 114. Timeform gave him a 113.
His combination of relatively low ratings, a successful though rather unfashionably bred sire, and a distaff side to his family whose few stakes winners achieved that feat just once in somewhat minor company, made him something of a long-shot to become a major player. Stakes winning progeny and smart handicappers, with the occasional pattern horse thrown in? Yes, all but guaranteed. But anything more than that fairly typical profile was less likely a prospect for him than it was for some of his cohorts.
Now, with his oldest progeny aged seven, Dark Angel is firmly established as a leading European sire, commanding a €60,000 fee at Yeomanstown Stud in Ireland.
His 30 stakes winners include 14 who have won at pattern level, four of those being Group 2 scorers and another pair top-class sprinters. Lethal Force won the Group 1 July Cup and Group 1 Diamond Jubilee Stakes, and Mecca's Angel is a Timeform 129-rated Group 1 Nunthorpe Stakes heroine.
The former is now a popular member of the stallion team at Cheveley Park Stud in Newmarket and responsible for foals that made 110,000gns, 100,000gns, €135,000, 92,000gns and €120,000 in 2016. The pattern-winning Dark Angel horses Alhebayeb (Tara Stud; first foals), Gutaifan (Yeomanstown Stud; first season) and Heeraat (Mickley Stud; first foals) are also sires, as is Group 1-placed Tough As Nails (Old Meadow Stud; yearlings), and there are others who look likely to be joining them before long.
Markaz is one of those.
The Owen Burrows-trained four-year-old was bred by the partnership of Yeomanstown Stud and Doc Bloodstock, he is a £200,000 graduate of the Doncaster Premier Yearling Sale, and he is a full-brother to the aforementioned sprint star Mecca's Angel.
He was a Group 3-placed winner as a juvenile, won the Group 3 Criterion Stakes and finished runner-up in the Group 2 Park Stakes, both over seven furlongs at three, and at Newcastle today he added a victory in the Group 3 Betfred Chipchase Stakes over six furlongs on the tapeta track. With his looks, pedigree and race record, he seems all but guaranteed to get a place at stud.
Dark Angel's record is strong with sprinters and others who show speed at up to a mile, and also with two-year-olds. Less than an hour after Markaz's latest victory, the Richard Hannon-trained juvenile filly Nations Alexander won the Listed Cambridge Magazine Supporting the AHT Empress Stakes over six furlongs at Newmarket. That, in turn, came an hour before the talented handicapper and previous one-time stakes winner Gabrial won the Listed Sky Bet Midsummer Stakes over eight and a half furlongs at Windsor.
Markaz and his top-class sister Mecca's Angel are out of Folga, a six-times winning daughter of the talented sprinter Atraf (by Clantime). She earned her blacktype when runner-up in a listed sprint at Bath, her celebrity progeny are her first two foals, and her third is a filly named Dirayah (by Dark Angel), who made 825,000gns from Book 1 of the 2015 Tattersalls October Yearling Sale. Number four is their full-sister who arrived in mid-April of last year.
Her dam is the talented sprinter Desert Dawn, one of the best horses sired by Belfort (by Tyrant). She won the Group 3 Prix d'Arenberg as a juvenile, was placed in the Group 3 Norfolk Stakes and in the Listed St Hugh's Stakes that same season, and went on to take the Listed Trafalgar House Sprint Stakes at Sandown.
Her daughters Folga and mile listed scorer Desert Kaya (by Bikala) are the only other blacktype horses in the family until you find a stakes-placed handicapper a couple of generations further back, and although there are high strike-rates of winners to foals born in each layer of the pedigree, this is not a family from which you could have expected horses such as Markaz and Mecca's Angel to emerge.
Yes, their dam and grandam had speed and blacktype ability, but the credit for elevating the family to its current position is largely due to Dark Angel, a stallion who has exceeded all reasonable early expectations and who looks sure to remain a leading sire for years to come.
As for the immediate prospects of Markaz, he holds entries in next month's Group 1 Darley July Cup and Group 2 Qatar Lennox Stakes. But regardless of how he gets on in those, or in any other big-race targets, this dual pattern-winning full-brother to a Group 1 star has probably already done enough to attract interest as a prospective stallion.
It is still too early to know for certain, but the early indications are that Coolmore Stud's multiple champion sire Galileo may end up having an even greater impact on the breed that did his own great sire, Sadler's Wells (by Northern Dancer).
His daughters have produced the European classic stars Galileo Gold (by Paco Boy), La Cressonniere (by Le Havre), Night Of Thunder (by Dubawi) and Qualify (by Fastnet Rock), among others who have won at the highest level, and his early stallion sons include the classic sires New Approach and Teofilo, plus the now Ireland-based Soldier Of Fortune whose six flat stakes winners feature a pair of South American Grade 1 scorers.
His Timeform 147-rated superstar Frankel already has three blacktype earners among his first juveniles, Sixties Icon has had winners at listed, Group 3 and Grade 2 level so far this year, and the early Galileo stallions also include Rip Van Winkle, whom Timeform rated 134, the same figure they awarded to his sire.
He won the Group 3 Tyros Stakes as a juvenile, took the Group 1 Sussex Stakes and Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at three and added the Group 1 Juddmonte International Stakes at four. He joined his sire at Coolmore Stud, and although he has not done as well as his initial results promised, there would not appear to be any reason why he won't continue to get stakes and pattern winners, and maybe even at least one more who can win at the highest level.
Dick Whittington was the first of his progeny to achieve that feat, a leading juvenile in Rip Van Winkle's first crop. He won the Group 1 Phoenix Stakes (video) and Group 3 Anglesey Stakes that year, but was only seen out once as a three-year-old, finishing a disappointing fourth behind Muhaarar in the Group 3 Greenham Stakes at Newbury.
The Aidan O'Brien-trained colt has overcome the setbacks that kept him out of action for the rest of 2015, was unplaced in his first two starts this season, but now appears to have found his form again. He was only beaten by a head and half a length when third in the Group 2 Greenlands Stakes over six furlongs at the Curragh last month and then went to Leopardstown on Thursday evening for an impressive win in the Group 3 Oliver Brady Memorial Shabra Ballycorus Stakes over seven furlongs.
Dick Whittington was bred by Swordlestown Stud, who sold him to Camas Park Stud for €55,000 in Goffs as a foal, and when he returned to that arena the following autumn he produced a decent return on that investment, this time making €280,000.
He is the best of several winners out of Sahara Sky (by Danehill), his lightly-raced three-year-old half-sister Carenot (by Iffraaj) won an eight and a half furlong maiden for the William Haggas stable at Beverley in April, and his two-year-old half-brother Winning Ways (by Lope De Vega) is also a member of that same team. That colt is entered in a newcomers' race over six furlongs at Windsor tomorrow evening and his other entries include the Group 1 Goffs Vincent O'Brien National Stakes at the Curragh in September.
Sahara Sky was unraced but it is hardly a surprise that she could produce a pattern winner at stud, given her family connections. Her dam, Old Domesday Book (by High Top), won just once but was placed in the Listed Sir Charles Clore Memorial Stakes and in the Listed Ballymacoll Stud Stakes, both at Newbury, and the best of her nine successful offspring was Owington (by Green Desert).
He was the top-rated juvenile in Germany in 1993, the top three-year-old sprinter in Europe in 1994, and his five wins were headed by the Group 1 July Cup. He also won the Group 2 Moet et Chandon Rennen, the Group 3 Cork and Orrery Stakes and the Group 3 Duke of York Stakes, and the races in which he was placed featured the Group 1 Middle Park Stakes and two editions of the Group 1 Sprint Cup.
Sadly, Owington died young and his sole crop included Group 2 Lowther Stakes winner Jemima, pattern-placed stakes winner Jezebel, Group 1 Gran Criterium runner-up Whyome, Group 2 Cherry Hinton Stakes third Flowington, and also Gateman, a triple Group 3 and multiple listed race winner whose earnings topped £475,000.
His half-sister Midnight Shift (by Night Shift), who won over six furlongs at Redcar and Leicester, is the dam of the Group 3 Ballyogan Stakes winner Miss Anabaa (by Anabaa), of Portland Handicap scorer Out After Dark (by Cadeaux Genereux) and of the multiple sprint handicap winner Move It who achieved a peak official rating of 105. She is also the grandam of last year's Group 3 Prix du Bois winner Fly On The Night (by Equiano) and of Listed Sweet Mimosa Stakes scorer Minalisa (by Oasis Dream).
There are various other blacktype earners to be found among the descendants of Old Domesday Book, but nothing of the calibre of Owington, Dick Whittington or their pattern-winning relations, and the third dam of Thursday evening's star is Broken Record (by Busted), a handicapper who was third in the Group 3 Jockey Club Stakes.
Dick Whittington has plenty of speed, as do his best immediate relations, but being a son of Rip Van Winkle he also looks likely to get a mile.
The best of five pattern winners among eight blacktype scorers for his sire, he holds an entry in next month's Group 1 Darley July Cup over six furlongs and Group 2 Kilfrush Stud Sapphire Stakes over five, but his entries also include the Group 2 Friarstown Stud Minstrel Stakes over seven furlongs and the one-mile Group 1 Qatar Sussex Stakes.
It will be interesting to see where he goes and to find out how high in the rankings he can ascend, and as a Group 1-winning grandson of Galileo and 'nephew' of pattern sire Owington, one would imagine that a place at stud is somewhere in his future.
Kildangan Stud's Shamardal (by Giant's Causeway) is just five away from reaching his 100th individual stakes winner, a landmark that few stallions ever achieve. The dual classic star is only 14 years old, his huge tally includes 17 who have won at least once at the highest level somewhere in the world, and it looks entirely possible that his four-year-old daughter Usherette may join that select group by the end of the season.
Godolphin's filly was bred by Darley, she is trained by Andre Fabre and she was unraced as a juvenile. She made a winning debut on the artificial track at Chantilly in late March of her three-year-old season, followed-up over a mile on turf at the same venue but then beat only one home behind Amazing Maria in the Group 1 Prix Rothschild over the same trip at Deauville several weeks later.
She was not seen out again until March 2016, a gap of seven months, but she justified favouritism in a conditions race over seven and a half furlongs on the polytrack at Deauville, followed-up over seven at Chantilly a month later, also on polytrack, and then headed to Newmarket for only her third start on turf.
Her eye-catching defeat of Arabian Queen in the Group 2 Dahlia Stakes over nine furlongs at that venue led to her being sent off favourite for the Group 2 Duke of Cambridge Stakes over the mile at Royal Ascot this afternoon, and she won that in style by two and a quarter lengths. She holds an entry in next month's Group 1 Tattersalls 250th Year Falmouth Stakes at Newmarket.
Should she fulfill her promise and win at the highest level then, in addition to joining her sire's string of Group 1 stars, she will also be the latest on a long list of horses in the first few generations of her pedigree who have won or been placed at that grade.
Usherette is the first foal out of Monday Show (by Maria's Mon), a four-times winner in France who earned her blacktype when finishing third in a listed contest in Germany. Her full-sister Show Day, who is trained by Henri-Alex Pantall, has won a nine-furlong maiden and a mile apprentices' race this season, their two-year-old half-brother has been named Powderhouse, and the mare had a Cape Cross (by Green Desert) colt last year.
Monday Show is out of the Group 3 Prix Penelope winner La Sylphide (by Barathea) and that makes her both a half-sister to pattern-placed Vaasa (by Dalakhani) and a full-sister to Expansion. He won the Grade 2 Red Smith Handicap over 11 furlongs on turf at Aqueduct and the Grade 3 Fair Grounds Handicap over a quarter-mile less, and the races in which he was placed included the Grade 1 Man O'War Stakes and the Grade 1 Manhattan Handicap, both at Belmont Park.
La Sylphide, who was born in Switzerland, is one of six blacktype horses out of Vanishing Prairie (by Alysheba), a mare who won her only two starts for the Michael Grassick stable and by a total of eight lengths. They were a 10-furlong Leopardstown maiden followed by a conditions race over 12 and a half furlongs at Down Royal.
Vanishing Cupid (by Galileo) and Windy King (by Hurricane Run) won listed contests in France, Verdi (by Llandaff) was stakes-placed over a mile, and Purple Moon (by Galileo), who won the Listed Glorious Stakes at Goodwood, was a half-length runner-up in the Group 1 Melbourne Cup, short-headed in the Grade 1 Hong Kong Vase, and finished third in both the Group 1 Gold Cup at Ascot and the Group 1 Sheema Classic at Nad Al Sheba.
The remaining member of the sextet is Vespone (by Llandaff) who won the Group 1 Grand Prix de Paris, the Group 1 Prix Jean Prat and Group 3 Prix La Force, and was runner-up in both the Group 1 Prix Ganay and Group 1 Premio Presidente della Republica.
Vanishing Prairie's progeny include several other successful runners, one of whom is Verzasca (by Sadler's Wells), a one-time scorer in France and dam of the listed race winners Val D'Hiver (by Zafeen) and Vertana (by Sinndar). That pair got their top prize over nine furlongs and 12 furlongs respectively.
The fourth dam of Usherette is the unraced Venise (by Nureyev) and that makes Vanishing Prairie a half-sister to four horses of note.
Vetheuil (by Riverman) won the Group 2 Prix du Muguet and three listed races, he was runner-up in the Group 1 Prix Jacques le Marois and third in the Prix d'Ispahan. His unraced half-sister Viking's Cove (by Miswaki) is the dam of the French listed scorer Precious Bunny (by Peintre Celebre), who is inbred 2x3 to Nureyev (by Northern Dancer), while another unraced sibling, Vallee Des Reves (by Kingmambo), is the dam of Group 1 Coronation Stakes winner and Group 1 1000 Guineas runner-up Maids Causeway (by Giant's Causeway).
Most notable of Venise's offspring, however, is Verveine (by Lear Fan). She won the Group 2 Prix de l'Opera and Group 3 Prix du Calvados, she was third in the Group 1 Prix de Diane (French Oaks), Group 1 Prix Saint-Alary and Group 1 Prix Marcel Boussac, and her seven blacktype progeny feature two who have won at the highest level.
Volga (by Caerleon) won seven times from two to five years of age, with her best success coming in the Grade 1 E P Taylor Stakes at Woodbine in Canada, and the standout performance among five wins for Vallee Enchantee (by Peintre Celebre) came in the Grade 1 Hong Kong Vase at Sha Tin. Volga's full-sister Victory Cry won the Group 3 Grand Prix de Vichy, and the gelded Vesuve (by Green Tune) is a pattern-placed stakes winner. Verveine's two-year-old is a filly named Vila Nova (by Silver Frost).
There is more than enough in these first four generations of the family to show how well-bred Usherette is and the tremendous potential that she has both as a racehorse and as a future broodmare. But, as with many top pedigrees, there is plenty more of note further back, a host of major names that won't appear on the catalogue page of any of her immediate relations or future progeny. They are too far removed from her to be having any direct influence, but are of sufficiently high profile that to ignore their presence would be to leave out an important part of her family's history.
Venise was out of Virunga (by Sodium) who won the Group 3 Prix de Mallaret, was runner-up in the Group 1 Yorkshire Oaks and in the Group 1 Prix Saint-Alary, and finished third in the Group 1 Prix de Diane (French Oaks). Only half of her 10 foals became winners, but one of those was the Group 1 Prix Jacques le Marois victor Vin De France (by Foolish Pleasure), another was the Group 2 Mill Reef Stakes scorer Vacarme (by Lyphard), and a third one of note was Vosges (by Youth).
She earned her blacktype when taking third place in the Group 1 Prix Vermeille at Longchamp, her daughter Victoire Bleue (by Legend Of France) won the Group 1 Prix du Cadran, her classic-placed grandson Vertical Speed (by Bering) won the Group 2 Prix Hubert de Chaudenay and Group 3 Prix du Lys, and her great-granddaughter Volume (by Mount Nelson) won a listed race at Newbury before finishing third behind Taghrooda in the Group 1 Oaks at Epsom and a closer third to Bracelet in the Group 1 Irish Oaks at the Curragh.
Virunga's unraced daughter Vahine (by Alysheba) is the dam of Group 2 Prix Hubert de Chaudenay winner and successful young French National Hunt sire Vendangeur (by Galileo), and another of her unraced daughters is Valley Of Hope (by Riverman), a mare from whom several notable performers descend.
That mare's daughter Sister Bella (by Sadler's Wells) was third behind runaway winner Ramruma in the Group 1 Irish Oaks and is a full-sister to Nicola Bella, a minor winner who became a broodmare of note.
Nicola Bella is the dam of the 10-furlong Group 1 scorer and Gestut Hof Ittlingen stallion Neatico (by Medicean), whose first foals arrived this year. She is also responsible for the Grade 2 winner Beautyandthebeast (by Machiavellian) and of Persian Belle (by Machiavellian), the unraced dam of Group 1-placed dual pattern scorer Calvados Blues (by Lando) and of the recent Group 2 Prix de Sandringham heroine Volta (by Siyouni).
Usherette and Volta share a common ancestor – Virunga – but their actual relationship to each other is remote. Each is a filly of considerable potential and it will be fascinating to see how their race records ultimately compare, and to follow their eventual careers at stud.
In the early summer of 1999 the Ballydoyle team had a juvenile who looked like a potential champion in the making, a colt who had cost $925,000 as a foal. He was 1/3 favourite when taking a six-furlong Curragh maiden by five and a half lengths on his debut in May and 2/7 favourite when following-up with a four and a half length score in the Group 3 Railway Stakes over the same course and distance a month later.
His trainer, Aidan O'Brien, was quoted as calling him “a special sort of colt” and when the Brushwood Stable-bred bay reappeared three months later it was as the 4/11 favourite for the Group 1 National Stakes over a mile on soft ground, also at Irish racing's headquarters.
Bernstein flopped that day, the race was won by subsequent Arc and dual Derby hero Sinndar, and when he ran in the Group 1 2000 Guineas at Newmarket the following spring he was defeated by considerably farther, beating only one home in a big field behind King's Best.
The well-related son of Storm Cat (by Storm Bird) dropped back in trip for a narrow win in the Shergar Cup Sprint over six furlongs at Ascot, was well-beaten in the Group 1 Nunthorpe Stakes, then narrowly won the Group 3 Concorde Stakes over seven furlongs before running unplaced in a nine-furlong Grade 3 handicap at Churchill Downs.
Bernstein retired to Buck Pond Farm in Kentucky, moved to Castleton Lyons Stud in 2005, shuttled to Argentina, and such was his level of international success that his premature death, aged just 14, was a clear loss. That loss is more keenly felt now as those who were foals at the time of his demise include a pair of stars who have won at the highest level in both Europe and the USA.
The Japanese-born Karakontie won the Group 1 Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere Grand Criterium as a juvenile, added both the Group 1 Poule d'Essai des Poulains (French 2000 Guineas) and Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Mile at three, and he is in his first season at Gainesway Farm in Kentucky.
The other is 2015 Eclipse Award winner Tepin, the Mark Casse-trained mare who was winning for the fifth time at the highest level when she took the Group 1 Queen Anne Stakes (British Champions Series) over a mile on the opening day of Royal Ascot 2016.
She was bred by Craig and Carrie Brogden's Machmer Hall Farm in Paris, KY, she was bought by her owner Robert Masterson for $140,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Yearling Sale, and she has earned in excess of $3.3 million. Her dozen wins include the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Mile, the Grade 1 Just A Game Stakes, the Grade 1 First Lady Stakes and the recent Grade 1 Jenny Wiley Stakes, and her victory in England was her seventh consecutive success. Indeed, since the start of her four-year-old season this remarkable mare has won 10 times and been runner-up twice from a dozen starts. Those defeats were by a nose and by a head.
Tepin is the fourth foal out of an unraced mare called Life Happened (by Stravinsky) and each of her older siblings has been a successful racehorse. Buddha Bop (by Buddha), who was the mare's first foal, won four times and earned over $80,000. Her second, Prime Cut, is a full-brother to Tepin and his wins are complemented by the runners-up spot in the Grade 3 Lexington Stakes at Keeneland and third in the Grade 2 Peter Pan Stakes at Belmont Park.
Her third foal is the high-class miler Vyjack (by Into Mischief), a millionaire, prolific scorer and winner of the Grade 2 Kelso Handicap, Grade 2 Jerome Stakes and Grade 3 Gotham Stakes. He has been placed in the Grade 1 Wood Memorial Stakes and in the Grade 1 Forego Stakes, and the Bill Mott-trained six-year-old was only beaten by a neck when runner-up in the Grade 3 Red Bank Stakes over a mile at Monmouth Park nine days ago.
The fifth foal is a filly named Azara (by More Than Ready), number six is a three-year-old colt called Taniko (by Gio Ponti), and she had a Harlan's Holiday (by Harlan) colt in 2014, shortly after she was the $750,000 top-priced lot at the opening day of the Keeneland January Sale. She had originally cost the Brogdens just $4,500 at the Keeneland November Sale of 2008.
Life Happened is out of the stakes-placed triple winner Round It Off (by Apalachee) who is also responsible for the dual Grade 3 scorer and prolific stakes winner Disco Rico (by Citidancer). He was a champion sprinter in Maryland, began his stallion career in that state, and he was based in New York when he died at the age of 17. His stakes-winning progeny include At The Disco, La Chica Rica, Pure Disco and Vickis Dancer, a quartet that earned over $2 million between them and a total of 39 races won.
Notching-up big win totals is a common theme with this family.
Round It Off's most notable sibling was Miss Slewpy (by Slewpy), a 14-times scorer whose tally included the 10-furlong Grade 2 Ladies Handicap at Aqueduct and two editions of the nine-furlong Grade 3 Carousel Stakes at Laurel Park, and their dam was the Grade 3-placed triple blacktype winner Capp It Off (by Double Zeus), who won nine of her 18 starts, but died young.
Turn Capp (by Turn To Reason), the stakes-placed fourth dam of Tepin, won 20 of her 44 starts and was just as prolific at stud. Her 14 winning progeny, six of whom earned in excess of $100,000, included another two who won nine times and several others who won six, seven or eight races.
One of her less successful runners compensated at stud. Queen's Crown (by King Emperor) won just once on the track but three of her four foals were winners, one of them scored nine times, and eight-times winner Majesty's Crown (by Magesterial) went on to become the dam of an Eclipse Award winner.
That star was 1997's US champion sprinter Smoke Glacken (by Two Punch) and his 10 wins included the Grade 1 Hopeful Stakes, Grade 2 Sapling Stakes and Grade 2 Frank J de Francis Memorial Dash Stakes as well as several Grade 3 events. He spent his stallion career at Gainesway Farm in Kentucky, was pensioned in late 2013 and died earlier this year. His tally of over 60 stakes winning progeny includes the Grade 1 winners Irish Smoke, On Fire Baby and Persistently.
His half-sister Smokey Glacken (by Forestry) also won 10 times, including a Grade 2 handicap, four Grade 3 contests and several listed races, although their Grade 3-placed stakes-winning sister Capote's Crown (by Capote) only won three. The siblings also include the unraced Crouse Mill (by Strike Gold), dam of the Grade 2-placed stakes winner Rouse The Cat (by Sir Cat), and another unraced mare in Crowning Touch (by Thunder Gulch), dam of dual Grade 2 scorer Crown Of Thorns (by Repent). He lost the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Sprint by a nose, went to stud in Florida, his oldest progeny are three-year-olds, and they include a Grade 3-placed stakes winner.
Smoke Glacken and his relations are only distantly connected to Tepin, but there is more than enough in the first few generations of her pedigree to suggest that she could become a notably successful broodmare whenever glittering racing career finally comes to an end.
Before then, of course, there should be plenty more good prizes to be won with her as Tepin is among the outstanding filly milers of recent decades, a roll of honour that includes standouts such as Miesque, Milligram, Sonic Lady, Ridgewood Pearl, Russian Rhythm, Six Perfections, Moonlight Cloud and Goldikova, to name just a few.
Darley tweeted a picture yesterday of their latest stallion recruit arriving safely at Kildangan Stud. The 11-year-old began his career at Rathasker Stud, spent this season at Overbury Stud, and his move comes about in part due a pair of fillies who lit up a recent classic meeting in Ireland.
Fast Company was trained by Saeed bin Suroor and the son of Danehill Dancer (by Danehill) ran just three times. He made a three-length winning debut over seven furlongs at Salisbury, followed-up with a three and a half length score in the Group 3 Acomb Stakes at York, and then failed by half a length to end the winning run of undefeated juvenile champion New Approach in the Group 1 Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket. Raven's Pass was two and a half lengths further back in third and Rio De La Plata was fourth, making it a strong edition of that prestigious event, and Fast Company earned a Timeform figure of 126 for his performance.
He has been popular at the sales since his first foals appeared in the auction ring, he has covered large books, and he made a quick start as his first runners included Baitha Alga, winner of the Listed Woodcote Stakes at Epsom and then the Group 2 Norfolk Stakes at Royal Ascot. His third crop includes Val Nanda, who won a five and a half furlong listed contest for juveniles at Capannelle last month, and his second crop features Jet Setting.
That €7,000 foal, produced from a €3,000 mare, is the Group 1 Irish 1000 Guineas heroine of 2016. She has won three of her four starts since joining the Adrian Keatley stable, she is catalogued as Lot 43 in the Goffs London Sale on 13th June, and I reviewed her pedigree in The Irish Field in April.
The day before Jet Setting beat Minding by a head at the Curragh, another daughter of Fast Company starred at the same venue. The Willie McCreery-trained Devonshire, who represents Fast Company's first crop, beat last year's Group 1 Poule d'Essai des Pouliches (French 1000 Guineas) runner-up Irish Rookie by two lengths to take the Group 2 Lanwades Stud Stakes over a mile.
This was only a third win from 15 starts for Devonshire, but she too was a classic filly in 2015 as she chased home Pleascach and Found in the Group 1 Irish 1000 Guineas. Both she and Irish Rookie are entered in next week's Group 2 Duke of Cambridge Stakes at Royal Ascot, and Jet Setting is in the Group 1 Coronation Stakes.
Devonshire was bred by Patrick Burns of Newlands House Stud, brother of Rathasker Stud's Maurice Burns, and she is one of two blacktype winners out of Nova Tor (by Trans Island), a mare who won six times over the minimum trip, three of them on the artificial tracks. She carries the famous Godolphin colours and she cost €100,000 at the Goffs Sportsman Yearling Sale.
The classic-placed Group 2 scorer is her dam's third foal, her year-older half-sister Hurryupharriet (by Camacho) won the Listed Harry Rosebery Stakes over five furlongs at Ayr as a juvenile, and their two-year-old full-brother, who made €85,000 at the Goffs Orby Sale in September, has been named Veneer of Charm.
Nova Tor is out of an unplaced mare called Nordic Living (by Nordico) but all seven of her siblings that raced were winners. They include Kisella (by Mujadil) and Yungaburra (by Fath), who won nine times apiece, and also Titian Saga (by Titus Livius), the juvenile six-furlong Newmarket scorer whose daughter Hay Chewed (by Camacho) won the Listed Land O'Burns Fillies' Stakes over the minimum trip at Ayr two years ago.
That five-year-old is now trained by Conrad Allen, she has been unplaced in the Group 3 Palace House Stakes and in the 'Dash' at Epsom on her first two starts of the season, and she holds an entry in next week's Group 1 King's Stand Stakes at Ascot. Like Devonshire, she was bred by Newlands House Stud.
Nordic Living was one of only two foals out of the dual juvenile winner To Die For (by Diesis), her half-brother Long Beach (by Imperial Frontier) was a precocious dual five-furlong winner at two, and her dam was out of the Grade 3-placed US listed handicap scorer Bally Knockan (by Exclusive Native).
That mare was also responsible for the Grade 3 Laurel Futurity winner River Traffic (by Irish River), a colt whose blacktype placings featured third in the Grade 1 Hollywood Derby and third in the Grade 1 Hollywood Turf Cup, and she was out of Ferly (by Traffic Judge), a nine-times scorer who won a Grade 3 handicap.
Devonshire is rated 109, one pound lower than the mark she was on after her classic third last year, and although that is low for a Group 1-placed Group 2 scorer, that will not matter when she retires to the paddocks. There should be more good prizes to be won with her before her racing career comes to an end, and there is every reason to hope that she could produce one or more offspring who are at least as talented as she is.
One Foot In Heaven is lightly-raced for a horse of his age. He did not make his debut until mid-October of his three-year-old season, when he finished sixth in a 10 and a half furlong Saint-Cloud maiden, and he opened his winning account two months later on the polytrack at Deauville. First time out at four he was third in an 11-furlong contest at Lyon Parilly, and at that point of his career one could be forgiven for thinking that he was not going to live up to his illustrious pedigree.
The colt still has some way to go to be as talented as his dam, but the son of outstanding Australian stallion Fastnet Rock (by Danehill) won a 12 furlong listed contest at Maisons-Laffitte in April, followed-up in the Group 3 Prix d'Hedouville over the same trip at Saint-Cloud a few weeks later, and then completed a hat-trick when beating Garlingari by three-parts of a length in the Group 2 Grand Prix de Chantilly on Sunday.
He was bred by Craigavon Agro Ltd, he is trained by Alain de Royer-Dupre, he is the fourth foal and fourth winner for his dam, and that mare is the Group 1 Champion Stakes heroine Pride (by Peintre Celebre). She also won the Group 1 Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud and Group 1 Hong Kong Cup, the Group 2 quartet of Prix Corrida, Prix Jean Romanet, Prix Foy and Prix du Conseil de Paris, and also the Group 3 Prix Allez France.
She was only beaten a neck by Rail Link in the Group 1 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, by the same margin when runner-up to Vengeance Of Rain in the 2005 edition of the Group 1 Hong Kong Cup, and by three-parts of a length when chasing home David Junior in that year's Group 1 Champion Stakes at Newmarket. She retired with the equivalent of almost £2.2 million in prize money to her name, and Timeform rated her 128 as a six-year-old.
Pride's fifth foal is a three-year-old colt named Man of Honor (by Raven's Pass), her sixth is a juvenile filly named Speciality (by Lawman), and she had a son of classic star Reliable Man (by Dalakhani) in 2015.
She is out of Specificity (by Alleged) and that makes her a half-sister to Fate (by Teofilo), a mare who also raced to the age of six. She won the Group 3 Prix de Flore, was runner-up in the Group 2 Prix Corrida, and her third place finishes include to Cirrus Des Aigles in the Group 1 Prix Ganay, to Ming Dynasty in the Group 2 Prix du Conseil de Paris, and to Al Kazeem in the Group 2 Prix d'Harcourt.
Pride is also a half-sister to Tenderly (by Danehill), who is the non-winning dam of the US six and a half furlong Grade 3 scorer Ten Meropa (by Johannesburg), and of Specifically (by Sky Classic), the one-time winner whose double-digit tally of successful progeny is headed by the Group 1 1000 Guineas heroine Speciosa (by Danehill Dancer).
That classic star also won the Group 2 Rockfel Stakes and the Group 3 Nell Gwyn Stakes, she was runner-up in the Group 1 Pretty Polly Stakes, third in the Group 2 May Hill Stakes, and has produced a couple of minor winners. Her current two-year-old is named Leveck (by Dutch Art), that colt was followed by a son of Dark Angel (by Acclamation), and having been rested for a year, she was reported in the spring as being booked to visit Kyllachy (by Pivotal) this season.
Speciosa's half-brother Major Rhythm (by Rhythm) has a double-digit tally of wins to his name, including a Grade 3 handicap at Arlington and several listed races, and her half-sister Special Meaning (by Mount Nelson), who was runner-up in a Group 3 contest at Hanover in October 2014, won six times including a 12 furlong listed event at Goodwood.
Specificity, the grandam of Speciosa and of One Foot In Heaven, won the Listed George Stubbs Stakes over two miles at Newmarket, she is out of the Group 3 Princess Royal Stakes winner and Group 2 Ribblesdale Stakes runner-up Mandera (by Vaguely Noble), and that makes her a half-sister to a couple of horses of note. Touching Wood (by Roberto) won both the Group 1 St Leger and Group 1 Irish St Leger in 1982, and dual Grade 3 scorer African Dancer (by Nijinsky) was only beaten by a length when second to Marlin in the Grade 1 San Juan Capistrano Invitational Handicap in 1997.
With a Group 2 success to his name one would imagine that One Foot In Heaven will now step up to Group 1 level at some point in the season, and if he could win or be placed in that sort of company then, with his pedigree connections, he could have prospects of getting a good place at stud whenever his racing days come to an end.
As the hours and minutes to the 2016 Group 1 Investec Derby count down, my mind runs through some of the most brilliant past winners of the race. Mill Reef (by Never Bend) is high among them, of course, the superstar whose victory in 1971 was part of a glittering CV that earned him a Timeform figure of 141.
He was an outstanding stallion, his dual Derby-winning son Shirley Heights has helped to keep his name alive in the male line of pedigrees, and he was an influential broodmare sire. It is a particular one of Mill Reef's daughters that my memory pulls out next, a filly who was not just one her sire's best-ever runners, but whose Timeform figure of 130 places her highly among the best fillies of the turf.
She is a daughter of 1979's Group 1 1000 Guineas and Group 2 Coronation Stakes heroine One In A Million (by Rarity), a Henry Cecil-trained star whom Timeform rated 125 and who became a foundation mare for Meon Valley Stud.
The Sir Michael Stoute-trained Milligram made a winning debut over seven furlongs at Newbury in September of her juvenile year, just months after the premature death of her sire. The following month she was runner-up to the brilliant Miesque in what turned out to be a remarkably strong edition of the Group 1 Prix Marcel Boussac and she went into winter quarters with a 122 rating from Timeform.
She chased home Miesque again in the Group 1 1000 Guineas at Newmarket on her seasonal reappearance at three, was short-headed by Forest Flower in the Group 1 Irish 1000 Guineas at the Curragh, but then ran away with the Group 2 Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot. She failed to stay when out of the frame behind Mtoto in the Group 1 Eclipse Stakes next time, bounced back to take the Group 2 Waterford Crystal Mile (now Celebration Mile) at Goodwood, and then achieved something that few ever managed; she beat Miesque (Timeform 131 at three, 133 at four). Her margin of victory over the subsequent dual Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Mile heroine was two and a half lengths, and the excellent Sonic Lady was another five lengths back in third; the race was the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot.
In one of those twists of fate that we often see in this business, Milligram failed to produce a single stakes winner at stud, while her Group 2-placed half-sister Someone Special (by Habitat) came up with four: Group 1 Juddmonte International Stakes heroine One So Wonderful (by Nashwan), Group 2 Dante Stakes winner Alnasr Alwasheek (by Sadler's Wells), classic-placed pattern winner Relatively Special (by Alzao) and listed scorer Raucous Lad (by Warning).
In terms of how their grandsons and grand-daughters, and other more distant descendants have fared, their records are quite evenly matched.
For Someone Special those include the US Grade 2 winner Sun Boat (by Machiavellian), European pattern scorers Best Dating (by King's Best) and Nargys (by Lawman), and several listed race winners. Milligram, on the other hand, is the grandam of the Group 2 Sun Chariot Stakes winner Kissogram (by Caerleon), of Group 1-placed stakes winner Dash To The Top (by Montjeu) and of Listed Warwickshire Oaks scorer Dash To The Front (by Diktat), and the latter is, in turn, responsible for the recent Group 2 Prix Corrida heroine Speedy Boarding.
One of a string of blacktype winners in 2016 for dual classic star and outstanding Kildangan Stud stallion Shamardal (by Giant's Causeway), Speedy Boarding is trained by James Fanshawe, she is, like her ancestors, bred by Meon Valley Stud and so she carries the famous black and white colours of Helena Springfield Ltd.
She was placed on her only start at two, beat Journey in a Goodwood maiden first time out at three and then won a listed contest at Newbury before finishing fifth behind Covert Love in the Group 1 Irish Oaks at the Curragh. She then failed by half a length to take a 10-furlong listed contest at Yarmouth, and was unplaced behind Simple Verse in the Group 1 Qipco British Champions Filly & Mare Stakes at Ascot.
Her first start of 2016 was in last month's Group 2 Middleton Stakes over the extended 10 furlongs at York; she finished fourth behind Beautiful Romance. Her Saint-Cloud victory, also over an extended 10 furlongs, came last Sunday and she may now go for the Group 1 Sea The Stars Pretty Polly Stakes at the Curragh on 26th June.
This talented great-granddaughter of Milligram is not in the same league as her famous ancestor, and further improvement is required if she is to be up to winning at the highest level, but beating Siljan's Saga and Candarliya in France suggests that she is on the upgrade. Whatever she does or does not achieve for the rest of her racing career, she promises to become a very valuable addition to the Meon Valley Stud broodmare band whenever that time comes.