The European turf season has begun again and Saint-Cloud hosted three blacktype events on Sunday, with the Group 3 Prix Exbury being the highlight. Cloth Of Stars, who was running for the first time in eight months, won the 10-furlong contest comfortably, giving 4lbs and a one and a quarter-length beating to Star Victory. Godolphin's four-year-old is trained by Andre Fabre.
He beat Vedevani by one and three-quarter lengths in the Group 3 Prix des Chenes over a mile at Longchamp and chased home Robin Of Navan in the Group 1 Criterium de Saint-Cloud as a juvenile and was also a Group 1-placed dual winner from four starts at three.
That campaign began with an odds-on success in the Group 3 Prix La Force over 10 furlongs on heavy and then he beat Robin Of Navan by two and a half lengths in the Group 2 Prix Greffulhe over the same course and distance, this time on good ground.
He was among the market leaders when finishing unplaced behind Harzand in the Group 1 Investec Derby at Epsom and then finished third to Mont Ormel (now known as Helene Charisma) and Red Verdon in the Group 1 Juddmonte Grand Prix de Paris, beaten by one and a quarter lengths and a neck.
Cloth Of Stars was bred by Peter Anastasiou and he is among 34 stakes winners that have come from the early crops of Timeform 140-rated champion Sea The Stars (by Cape Cross), whose offspring also include the aforementioned dual Derby hero Harzand plus additional Group 1 aces Sea The Moon, Taghrooda, Vazira, and Zelzal.
The Aga Khan-homebred Harzand has joined his sire at Gilltown Stud, Sea The Moon is at Lanwades Stud (yearlings in 2017) and it can be expected that a stallion role will be found for the dual Group 1-placed Group 2 winner Cloth Of Stars whenever his racing days come to an end.
He is a 400,000gns graduate of Book 1 of the Tattersalls October Yearling Sale, he is inbred 4x3 to Mr Prospector (by Raise a Native) and is the third foal of an unraced mare called Strawberry Fledge (by Kingmambo).
She is a full-sister to Light Shift, who beat Peeping Fawn by half a length in the Group 1 Oaks at Epsom, chased that star home in the Group 1 Irish Oaks and finished third to her in the Group 1 Nassau Stakes.
Light Shift was represented on the track last year by her Group 3 Gordon Stakes-winning son Ulysses (by Galileo), a Sir Michael Stoute-trained chestnut who was unplaced in the Derby but rounded off his year with an honourable fourth to Highland Reel in the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Turf at Santa Anita.
The classic heroine is a half-sister to the Hector Protector (by Woodman)-sired pair Shiva and Limnos. The former was a champion older mare and Group 1 Tattersalls Gold Cup scorer, while the latter got his best wins in the Group 2 Prix Foy and Group 2 Prix Jean de Chaudennay.
Their non-winning dam Lingerie (by Shirley Heights) is also responsible for the Group 2-placed stakes winner Burning Sunset (by Caerleon), dam of the Group 2 Prix d'Harcourt winner Smoking Sun (by Smart Strike), who was runner-up to Dan Excel in the Group 1 Singapore Airlines International Stakes at Kranji, and also of the Group 2-placed stakes winner Zhiyl (by Henrythenavigator).
Burning Sunset is arguably better known as being the grandam of the Group 1 Derby runner-up and subsequent US champion and four-time Grade 1 star Main Sequence (by Aldebaran), a gelded son of her pattern-placed daughter Ikat (by Pivotal). The horse he chased home at Epsom was Camelot.
Lingerie is also the grandam of the Group 1-placed pattern scorer Magadan (by High Chaparral), a French-based stallion who is off the mark with his first crop, and she is a half-sister to the dam of the Brazilian Grade 1 stars Nonno Luigi (by Dubai Dust) and Jeune-Turc (by Know Heights), the latter a champion three-year-old.
The third dam of Sunday's Group 3 scorer is Northern Trick (by Northern Dancer), Europe's three-year-old filly champion of 1984 when she won the Group 1 Prix de Diane (French Oaks) and Group 1 Prix Vermeille and was runner-up to Sagace in the Group 1 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe.
With such a strong middle-distance pedigree behind him, it is no surprise that Cloth Of Stars has done so well on the track. If he lives up to the potential he has shown so far then he could go on to success at the highest level, something that would give his prospects of a good future stud career another boost.
Timeform 140-rated champion Sea The Stars (by Cape Cross) wasted no time in establishing himself as one of the most important stallions in Europe. The 30 stakes winners that have emerged from his first three crops include the classic stars Harzand (Derby, Irish Derby), Sea The Moon (Deutsches Derby) and Taghrooda (Oaks) and the latter also won the Group 1 King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes and finished third in the Arc.
By the end of June the stallion had proved over and over that he can get excellent middle-distance horses, but then he recorded an important double in early July, one that showed him to be capable of getting leading milers too. Zelzal won the Group 1 Prix Jean Prat at Chantilly and Mutakayyef took the Group 2 Fred Cowley MBE Memorial Summer Mile Stakes at Ascot.
The latter is five years old, so represents his sire's first crop, and he was bred by Cheveley Park Stud. They sold him in Newmarket as a yearling and the 260,000gns purchase carries the colours of Hamdan Al Maktoum. He was multiple blacktype-placed over nine and 10 furlongs at three and four years of age, but this season his two runs have been over the mile.
He kicked off with a length defeat of Sovereign Debt in the Listed Best Western Hotels Ganton Stakes at York and then beat Dutch Connection by two and a quarter lengths at Ascot.
Mutakayyef is the second foal out of Group 3 Nell Gwyn Stakes winner Infallible (by Pivotal) and that makes him a half-brother to the Stewards Cup scorer Intrinsic (by Oasis Dream). He won four of his 10 starts and did not earn any blacktype, but he is a well-bred and talented horse, who has a Group 1-winning relation standing at a major farm, and he has completed his first season at Hedgeholme Stud.
Their half-sister Intimation (by Dubawi) has won twice, their dam has a yearling filly named Veracious (by Frankel) and she had a full-brother to Mutakayyef in early March.
In addition to her pattern success, Infallible has the distinction of having been runner-up in both the Group 1 Coronation Stakes and Group 1 Falmouth Stakes. She is a full-sister to the pattern-placed sprinter Watchable and to the listed-placed gelding Remarkable, and her siblings also include Penchant (by Kyllachy), the unraced dam of Garswood.
Also bred by Cheveley Park Stud, that son of their stallion Dutch Art (by Medicean) won the Group 1 Prix Maurice de Gheest, Group 2 Lennox Stakes, Listed European Free Handicap and Listed Harry Rosebery Stakes, he was runner-up in both the Group 3 Cornwallis Stakes and Group 3 Criterion Stakes, and he finished third in the Group 1 Prix de la Foret. He stands alongside his sire and grandsire and had his first foals this year.
Irresistible (by Cadeaux Genereux), who is the grandam of Mutakayyef, won the Listed Kilvington Stakes and was placed in the Group 3 Brownstown Stakes, making her the most successful runner for her dam, the one-time scorer Polish Romance (by Danzig).
That mare is the grandam of the pattern-placed juvenile blacktype scorers Parliament Square (by Acclamation) and Queen Bee (by Le Havre), and she is a full-sister to an American listed race winner called Polish Love. The next dam, however, is more notable as she is the Grade 1 Frizette Stakes and Grade 1 Matron Stakes heroine Some Romance (by Fappiano).
That top filly was placed in the Santa Anita Oaks, Las Virgenes Stakes, Monmouth Oaks and Ashland Stakes – all Grade 1 – and she was the best of several blacktype winners out of the prolific Zippy Do (by Hilarious), a 15-times scorer whose haul included the Grade 2 Columbiana Handicap.
Jane's Dilemma (by Master Derby), a half-brother to Some Romance, also won 15 times and his tally included the Grade 2 Gallant Fox Handicap and Grade 3 Display Handicap. Vilzak (by Green Dancer), another of their notable siblings, 'only' won three, but they included the Grade 1 Hollywood Turf Cup Handicap, he was multiple graded-placed and he was fourth behind classic-placed champion Theatrical in the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Turf.
Zippy Do's offspring also included the Grade 3-placed stakes-winning seven-times scorer Casey's Romance (by Miswaki) and Mint Cooler (by Key To The Mint), who won a listed contest and three other races and who was runner-up to Fiesta Gal in the Grade 1 Coaching Club American Oaks over 12 furlongs at Belmont Park.
Mutakayyef is engaged in tomorrow's Group 1 Juddmonte International Stakes over the extended 10 furlongs at York and he holds an entry in the Group Qipco Champion Stakes in two months time, but he has also been entered in the Group 2 Celebration Mile and Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II Stakes Sponsored by Qipco.
It will be interesting to see if this gelding's newfound form level will hold up over 10 furlongs, a distance we know he stays, or if it is the shorter trip that will continue to bring out his best.
Hawkbill was not the only major winner this weekend who got their start on the all-weather tracks. Like Saturday's Group 1 Coral-Eclipse hero, and last year's classic stars Jack Hobbs and Covert Love, the Charlie Appleby-trained Endless Time got her maiden success on an artificial surface.
Fifth of 12 in a seven furlong maiden at Newmarket in early August of her two-year-old season, her only other start that year came 18 days later, a neck win over a mile on the polytrack at Kempton. Since then she has run six times, winning five, and she has made the progression through handicap ranks to become a potential Group 1 contender.
Next month's Group 1 Yorkshire Oaks may be on the agenda for Godolphin's four-year-old following her half-length success in the Group 2 bet365 Lancashire Oaks over 12 furlongs on soft ground at Haydock on Saturday. This was her seasonal debut and she rounded off 2015 with an easy listed race success over the same trip at Naas.
Endless Time was bred by Mabaki Investments, and having initially made 115,000gns in Newmarket as a foal, she returned to that venue the following autumn where John Ferguson Bloodstock bought her for 180,000gns. Last year her full-sister made 240,000gns at the Tattersalls October Yearling Sale, a price that could have been even higher had the auction been a fortnight later.
Now named The Sky Is Blazing, the filly was bought on 7th October, by Mayfair Speculators / Peter & Ross Doyle Bloodstock, which was four days after Endless Time won a 12-furlong handicap at Newmarket, a performance for which her handicap figure would increase to 98. Earlier in the year she had beaten subsequent classic star Simple Verse over the same trip at Goodwood. It was on 18th October, however, that Endless Time impressed in the Listed Es Que Love European Breeders Fund Bluebell Stakes over 12 furlongs at Naas.
Endless Time is one of the latest major winners for multiple classic hero and outstanding young Gilltown Stud stallion Sea The Stars (by Cape Cross) and she is her dam's first blacktype horse on the flat. Her half-brother Courage (by Invincible Spirit) is a blacktype-placed staying hurdler, and her half-brother Marhaba Malyoon (by Tiger Hill) won over 10 furlongs and 14 furlongs in England, finished last in Pour Moi's Derby at Epsom, and has won as an older horse abroad.
Mamonta (by Fantastic Light), who is the dam of Saturday's Group 2 scorer, has a yearling son of Shamardal (by Giant's Causeway) and a colt foal from the second crop of juvenile and classic star Dawn Approach (by New Approach), and she is on target to surpass her own dam's record at stud.
Mamoura (by Lomond), who won twice as a three-year-old, came up with eight winners from 16 foals and, like her daughter, she has a Group 2 winner to her name. Mouramara (by Kahyasi), who is a half-sister to a pair of blacktype-placed multiple winners, won the Group 2 Prix de Royallieu and is now a notably successful broodmare whose offspring include two Group 1 performers.
Mourayan (by Alhaarth) is the more notable of the pair as he won the Group 1 Sydney Cup at Randwick, was runner-up in the Group 1 Metropolitan Handicap at the same venue, in the Group 1 Mackinnon Stakes at Flemington and in the Group 1 Tancred Stakes at Rosehill, and he finished third behind Fame And Glory in the Group 1 Irish Derby.
Mourilyan (by Desert Prince) won the Listed March Stakes at Goodwood and his Group 1 placing came when finishing third to Shocking in the 2009 edition of the Melbourne Cup. He was also runner-up in the Group 2 Goodwood Cup and in the Group 3 Dubai City of Gold, third in the Group 3 Geoffrey Freer Stakes and also in the Group 3 September Stakes.
Their half-brother Mourad (by Sinndar) is also a blacktype winner, although his talents lie over obstacles. He was trained by Willie Mullins, won the Grade 2 Galmoy Hurdle at Gowran Park, the Grade 2 Christmas Hurdle at Leopardstown and the Grade 2 Boyne Hurdle at Navan, and his Grade 1 placings include three times behind Quevega in the Ladbrokes.com World Series Hurdle at the Punchestown Festival.
Mamonta and Mouramara are also half-sisters to a one-time scorer called Mouriyana (by Akarad), and what makes that one significant is that her string of successful progeny includes the 10 and a half furlong listed scorer Epatha (by Highest Honor) and also Skins Game (by Diktat). That triple blacktype winner took the Group 3 Prix Edmond Blanc at Saint-Cloud, he was pattern-placed several times from eight to 10 furlongs, and he took up stallion duties in France in 2012.
Mamouna (by Vaguely Noble), who is the third dam of Endless Time, earned her blacktype when runner-up in the Listed Atalanta Stakes at Sandown and third in the Group 2 Nassau Stakes at Goodwood, and in addition to Mamoura, her six winning progeny, from nine foals, include the Listed Challenge Stakes runner-up and Group 3 Meld Stakes third Mirana (by Ela-Mana-Mou). That filly became the dam of the Group 3 Prix de Flore scorer Miliana (by Polar Falcon).
Fourth dam Mabira (by Habitat) won a listed handicap at Saint-Cloud and was a half-sister to 1984's Group 1 Poule d'Essai des Pouliches (French 1000 Guineas) heroine Masarika (by Thatch). The next dam, Miss Melody (by Tudor Melody), was runner-up in the Group 3 Molecomb Stakes, and the notable horses who descend from the various branches extending from that mare include Group/Grade 1 stars Sulk (by Selkirk) and Dank (by Dansili) and the classic-placed Group 2 scorers Massyar (by Kahyasi) and Eagle Mountain (by Rock Of Gibraltar).
That latter group of horses are so remote to Endless Time as to be all but irrelevant beyond illustrating the broad influence that her family has had. But there is more than enough talent among her more immediate relations to show why her pedigree always gave her a chance of becoming a high-class racehorse.
It will be interesting to find out just how high in the rankings she can go by the time her racing career finally comes to an end, and as a Sea The Stars filly from this family there is every reason to hope that she can also become a notable success at stud.