Intercontinental travel has become a common feature in the careers of many racehorses and it has enabled the better ones to accumulate massive earnings totals as well as developing a wide fan base.
Folkswood is not a leading light among them but he is a talented performer with some good efforts in top company. Godolphin's five-year-old is trained by Charlie Appleby and his narrow victory in this afternoon's Group 3 Dubai Millennium Stakes at Meydan was both his first pattern success and the run that pushed his earnings past the £500,000 mark.
It was his first start since finishing a two-length fifth to Tosen Stardom in the Group 1 Emirates Stakes at Flemington in November, which was his third run in Australia in the space of a month. His first outing there saw him easily win a listed handicap at Cranbourne, his second was an honourable third to Winx and Humidor in the Group 1 Ladbrokes Cox Plate at Moonee Valley – beaten by a half-length and four and a quarter lengths – and those races, like today's, were over 10 furlongs.
A seven-furlong Goodwood winner on the second of two starts as a juvenile, he won a mile handicap at Newmarket from four runs at three, and the first half of his four-year-old campaign was split between Dubai and England, featuring a neck second to Decorated Knight in the Group 1 Jebel Hatta and placings in both the Group 3 Earl of Sefton Stakes at Newmarket and Group 3 Huxley Stakes at Chester.
Folkswood was bred in England by Hascombe & Valiant Studs and the 160,000gns Tattersalls October Yearling Sale Book 2 graduate represents one of that team's famous families.
The son of Darley's leading international sire Exceed And Excel (by Danehill) is the first foal out of Magic Nymph (by Galileo), an unraced daughter of Group 1 Coronation Stakes heroine Balisada (by Kris). His dam is, therefore, a full-sister to Group 2-placed 12-furlong stakes winner Galactic Star and also to the stakes-placed Irish Cesarewitch winner El Salvador, a Killack Stud stallion whose first crop are now two-year-olds.
A half-sister to the stakes-placed four-time scorer Stirring Ballad (by Compton Place), Balisada is the best of a string of winners out of Balnaha (by Lomond), a winning full-sister to the talented and influential Inchmurrin.
That small filly won the Listed Harry Rosebery Challenge Trophy at Ayr as a juvenile, went on to take the Group 2 Child Stakes (now Falmouth Stakes) at Newmarket, was runner-up in the Group 1 Coronation Stakes at Ascot and fourth in the Grade 1 E.P. Taylor Stakes at Woodbine, and became the dam of Inchinor (by Ahonoora) and Ingozi (by Warning).
The former won the Group 3 Greenham Stakes and Group 3 Hungerford Stakes, he was runner-up in the Group 1 Dewhurst Stakes, and although he was only 13 when he died, his progeny feature the Group 1 stars Cape Of Good Hope, Notnowcato, Silca's Sister and Summoner, and he has made an impact as a broodmare sire too.
Ingozi was a mile listed race winner at Sandown, her daughter Miss Keller (by Montjeu) took the Grade 1 E.P. Taylor Stakes at Woodbine, and her grandson Harbour Law (by Lawman), who has been sidelined since taking third to Big Orange and Order Of St George in the Group 1 Gold Cup at Ascot last summer, won the Group 1 St Leger at Doncaster in 2016.
Folkswood, who has now won five of his 16 starts, is a talented performer from eight to 10 furlongs and there should be plenty more good prizes to be earned with him on the international circuit, even though his official rating before this latest success was just 112.
Darley’s Australian-bred Group 1 star Exceed And Excel (by Danehill) has been a shining light for the reverse shuttle stallions, so far, and he has become well established as a source of high-class sprinters and milers in Europe, as well as in his native land.
One might expect that one of his offspring that was related to horses to who won their Group 1s over 10 furlongs and 15 and a half furlongs would be among his milers, but even families that are noted for producing top winners over middle-distance and staying trips can sometimes have a speedier branch.
The Clive Cox-trained filly Priceless represents such a line, her handicap mark has increased by 12lbs in the past year, and her half-length defeat of Goldream in the Group 2 Temple Stakes at Haydock late last month saw it reach a new high of 110.
She needs to improve again if she is to take the Group 1 King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot, but it would not be a surprise to see her sneak into the frame.
All of her races were over six furlongs until early September of 2016 when she took a listed contest at Doncaster. She then skated home by five lengths in a similar event at Bath on her seasonal reappearance in April, both over the minimum trip.
Her only other outing between that and Haydock was at Newmarket where she finished a three-length fifth to Marsha in the Group 3 Palace House Stakes, so her record over five furlongs reads as three wins from four starts.
Her racecourse debut was at Haydock in September of her two-year-old season and, although sent off at 20/1, she won by seven lengths. She was favourite for her only two runs that year but was only third to Shaden in the Group 3 Firth of Clyde Stakes at Ayr and then fifth behind Only Mine in a listed contest at Newmarket.
She was unplaced in her first two starts at three but then chased home subsequent Stewards Cup heroine Dancing Star in a valuable heritage handicap at Newmarket in July – only beaten by three-parts of a length. She lost out by a head in another handicap over that course and distance two weeks later and was fourth in a Pontefract listed contest on her final start over six.
Priceless was bred by Biddestone Stud Ltd and she is a 70,000gns graduate of Book 2 of the Tattersalls October Yearling Sale. She is the tenth foal of her dam, she is a half-sister to a string of winners and they include both the five-time scorer Brazen (by Kyllachy) and the smart Doctor Brown (by Dr Fong), who was short-headed by Excellent Art in the Group 2 Mill Reef Stakes on his final start in Europe. He was later a blacktype performer in Hong Kong under the name Helene Brilliant.
Her dam, Molly Brown (by Rudimentary), was trained by Richard Hannon to win two of her 14 starts - one over five furlongs and the other over six - and she was well-beaten the only time she tried farther.
The mare’s siblings include four-time mile scorer The Fun Merchant (by Mind Games) and also the multiple French winner Zilzoom (by Zilzal) whose successes came from five and a half furlongs up to a mile and a quarter.
It may seem a bit surprising that the former, the son of a leading sprinter, might have been a miler but it would appear that he got some of the stamina that prevails in the distaff side of the family. Molly Brown and her daughter, however, likely got the speed passed on through Midyan (by Miswaki), the sire of Molly Brown’s unraced dam Sinking.
When bred to the speedy Statoblest (by Ahonoora), Sinking came up with the prolific Italian winner Stato King, whose double-digit tally includes a listed contest. And Molly Brown’s offspring also include Bright Moll, a dual sprint-winning full-sister to The Fun Merchant and dam of the six-furlong Group 3 Chipchase Stakes winner Aeolus (by Araafa).
That talented gelding has a notable half-sister in Hezmah (by Oasis Dream), a six-furlong Newmarket handicap scorer who earned her blacktype when finishing third in a listed contest, over the same trip, on the polytrack at Lingfield on her final start.
This is clearly an established speed branch of the family.
Sinking’s siblings include Fleeting Rainbow (by Rainbow Quest), who finished third in a 10-furlong maiden before going on the produce the Group 1 Tattersalls Gold Cup heroine Rebelline (by Robellino) and Group 2 Blandford Stakes winner Quws (by Robellino).
Their dam, Taplow (by Tap On Wood), was an unraced half-sister the pattern-placed stakes winner Leipzig (by Relkino) but also to Krakow (by Malinowski), the listed-placed dam of Group 1 Prix Royal-Oak winner and Group 1 Irish St Leger third Braashee (by Sadler’s Wells).
His full-brother Adam Smith was a multiple Grade 3 winner in the USA – a miler who stayed 10 furlongs. Their half-sister Ghariba (by Final Straw) won the Group 3 Nell Gwyn Stakes and finished fourth in the Group 1 1000 Guineas, and she is the grandam of Fantastic View (by Distant View) who won the Group 3 Autumn Stakes and was runner-up in the Group 1 Racing Post Trophy in 2003.
But even among this family trend for ability from a mile and upwards – the sires of those horses likely played a major role in determining the distance preferences – there is some speed.
When Ghariba was bred to Green Desert (by Danzig), for example, the result was the pattern-placed prolific sprint winner Reinaldo, and Noirmont (by Dominion), an unraced half-sister to Braashee, is the grandam of the Group 2 Champagne Stakes winner and Group 1 July Cup third Etlaala (by Selkirk).
Again, look at the sires – all are horses associated with producing sprinters or milers.
So given the established pattern of the most recent generations of this family – and its branches – and despite having horses such as Rebelline and Braashee on the page, there is no surprise that sprinting is the game for Priceless – a daughter of Exceed And Excel, out of a Rudimentary mare who was produced from a daughter of Midyan.
Whether she has already hit her peak or can improve further remains to be seen, and it will be fascinating too to see how she gets on later as a broodmare as, if she follows her family’s pattern at stud, the distance ranges of her offspring may depend on the influence of their sires.