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.
Dalakhani's retirement from active service was announced recently. An undefeated Group 1-winning juvenile who went on to add the Group 1 Prix Lupin, Group 1 Prix du Jockey-Club (French Derby) and Group 1 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, his only defeat in a nine-race career was his shock half-length loss to the top-class Azamour in the Group 1 Irish Derby.
The grey son of classic star and influential sire Darshaan (by Shirley Heights) was rated 133 by Timeform, and given what his half-brother Daylami (by Doyoun) achieved as an older horse, reaching a peak Timeform mark of 138, one wonders what heights he might have achieved had he too raced on at four and five.
Dalakhani joined the team at Gilltown Stud in 2004 and remained there until moving to Haras de Bonneval for the 2016 season. The 16-year-old has been represented by 48 stakes winners, eight of whom have won at least once at the highest level: Chinese White, Conduit, Duncan, Integral, Moonstone, Reliable Man, Second Step, and Seismos.
Conduit is at stud in Japan, and Group 2-winning stayer Alex My Boy was retired earlier this season and may be going to stud in 2017. Reliable Man, who won the Group 1 Prix du Jockey-Club at Chantilly and the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes over a half-furlong shorter at Randwick, stands at Gestüt Röttgen and will have some of his first yearlings on offer at next week's Arqana Deauville August Yearling Sale and, of course, at the Baden-Baden September Yearling Sale.
Three of Dalakhani's Group 1 stars are fillies and already one of those has become one of the leading broodmares in Europe. The first four foals of Moonstone, who won the Group 1 Irish Oaks, are listed scorers Nevis (by Dansili) and Stubbs (by Danehill Dancer), Group 3 Munster Oaks heroine Words (by Dansili), and current three-year-old US Army Ranger (by Galileo), the pattern scorer whose only defeat so far is his length and a half second to Harzand in the Group 1 Derby at Epsom.
That augurs well for the future of the Aga Khan's homebred filly Candarliya, the Alain de Royer-Dupre trained four-year-old who was an odds-on winner of last month's Group 2 Prix Maurice de Nieuil over 14 furlongs at Saint-Cloud.
She was third to Speedy Boarding in the 10 and a half furlong Group 2 Prix Corrida on her previous start, only beaten a neck by Fly With Me in the Group 3 Prix de Barbeville the month before, and in 2015 she won the Group 2 Prix de Royallieu and Group 3 Prix Minerve, performances between which came her second-place finish behind Treve in the Group 1 Prix Vermeille.
Candarliya, who has only been out of the first three once in 13 starts, is the first foal out of Candara (by Barathea), a mare who was placed over 12 furlongs in France.
Her second foal is the Mikel Delzangles-trained Canessar (by Kendargent), who won twice over 10 furlongs before finishing fourth behind Spring Master in the Group 3 Prix du Lys over a quarter-mile farther at Chantilly in June, and he was followed by a full-sister to Candarliya in 2014, a Sinndar (by Grand Lodge) filly in 2015, and a daughter of Motivator (by Montjeu) born in late April of this year.
Candara is a half-sister to a few winners and her dam, one-time scorer Caribbeandriftwood (by Woodman), is a half-sister to the 14-times winner Mr Irish Love (by Rahy).
Drifting (by Lyphard), who is the third dam of Candarliya, is inbred 2x3 to Northern Dancer (by Nearctic) and she is an unraced half-sister to several horses of note. Wixim (by Diesis) won the Group 2 Sandown Mile and was runner-up in the Group 1 Prix d'Ispahan, Run Softly (by Deputy Minister) won a Grade 3 handicap in the USA, and Berceau (by Alleged) won the Group 3 Prix de Royaumont.
The latter is the dam of listed scorer Birthplace (by King Of Kings), but her half-sister Lakab (by Manila) is the dam of three stakes winners, most notably Hessonite (by Freud), plus a stakes-placed filly who went on to produce a New Zealand champion. Hessonite won 11 of her 22 starts, including the Grade 3 Beaugay Stakes over eight and a half furlongs at Belmont Park and eight listed races from seven to nine furlongs, and she earned over $879,000.
The southern hemisphere star is King's Rose (by Redoute's Choice), daughter of Nureyev's Girl (by Nureyev), and winner of the Group 1 New Zealand 1000 Guineas, Group 2 Royal Stakes, Group 2 Sir Tristram Fillies' Classic, Group 2 WH Stocks Stakes, Group 2 Memsie Stakes, and Group 3 Eulogy Stakes. The races in which she was placed include the Group 1 Toorak Handicap, Group 1 Emirates Stakes, Group 1 Coolmore Classic and Group 1 Queen of the Turf Stakes, and she was crowned champion three-year-old filly of 2010/11.
European Rose, a stakes-winning full-sister to Nureyev's Girl, is also a full-sister to two other mares of note. Lakabi is the once-raced dam of triple Group 3 scorer Soneva (by Cherokee Run) who is, in turn, the dam of The Blue Eye (by Dubawi), twice a major winner this year in Qatar.
The other one is the unraced Great Notice and her progeny feature the pattern-placed stakes winner Gybe (by Fastnet Rock) and, even better, juvenile champion and classic-placed dual New Zealand Group 1 star Anabandana (by Anabaa), a filly who was runner-up in the New Zealand 2000 Guineas.
If you go back another generation then you find that the fifth dam of Candarliya is Aladancer (by Northern Dancer), a talented filly won the Firenze Handicap and California Oaks and whose siblings includes both the Group 1 Premio Roma scorer Duke Of Marmalade (by Vaguely Noble) and Naval Orange (by Hoist The Flag), a one-time scorer who became the dam of multimillionaire and classic-placed four-times Grade 1 star Cryptoclearance (by Fappiano).
Those horses are remotely connected to Candarliya, but there is more than enough in more recent generations of her pedigree to suggest that she could have a bright future at stud, whenever her racing days come to an end.