In the recent articles on Hawkbill and Endless Time, and in the earlier one on Group 2 Dante Stakes winner Wings of Desire, I noted the tremendous benefit that the all-weather tracks have been to racing in Ireland and Britain. To those three leading performers we can add last year's classic stars Jack Hobbs and Covert Love as shining examples of how high a horse can go having got their early start on the artificial surfaces.
France also has all-weather tracks and on Sunday the Group 1 Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud went to a colt whose only two starts as a juvenile were on the Viscoride surface at Pornichet La Baule. He made a winning debut over eight and a half furlongs that October and followed-up a few weeks later with a three-length score over the same course and distance.
Silverwave kicked off his three-year-old campaign with a seven-length win over 10 furlongs on turf at Angers, he beat Epicuris by four lengths in the Group 3 Prix La Force over the same trip on heavy ground at Longchamp the following month, and was one of the market leaders when unplaced behind New Bay in the Group 1 Prix du Jockey Club (French Derby) at Chantilly.
He was only beaten by three and a quarter lengths when fourth behind Erupt in the 12-furlong Group 1 Grand Prix de Paris in July, chased home New Bay in the Group 2 Prix Niel at the same venue two months later, and was 100/1 when unplaced behind Golden Horn in the Group 1 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe. Clearly he had plenty of ability, but improvement would be necessary if he was to be up to winning at the highest level at four.
So far in 2016, the now Pascal Bary-trained colt has run four times. He was unplaced behind Garlingari in the Group 2 Prix d'Harcourt, 25/1 when chasing home Dariyan in the Group 1 Prix Ganay, and then third behind runaway winner A Shin Hikari in the Group 1 Prix d'Ispahan. This form suggested that he was as least as good this year as he was at his best last season, but still some way below the very top.
On Sunday he benefitted from some disappointing performances from the leading contenders and this enabled him to register a first win at the highest level. He beat Erupt by a length and a quarter, with the capable mare Siljan's Saga a neck back in third.
Silverwave was bred by the partnership of Marie-Laure Collet, Jean Collet and Marylene Collet, and after those two winning juvenile starts, he made €420,000 at the Arqana Deauville Autumn Mixed Sale. He was trained at two and three years of age by Alain Couetil, he is a first-crop son of classic winner and Haras de la Hetraie stallion Silver Frost (by Verglas), and he is one of five blacktype horses for his dam.
That mare is the unraced Miss Bio (by River Mist) and she is now one of those notable individuals who have produced at least two Group 1 winners at stud.
In 2006, her son Stormy River (by Verglas), who could be described as being a three-parts brother to Silverwave, won the Group 1 Prix Jean Prat and Group 3 Prix de Fontainebleau. He was runner-up to Araafa in the Group 1 St James's Palace Stakes and to Librettist in the Group 1 Prix du Moulin de Longchamp, and he was only beaten by three-parts of a length when third to Aussie Rules in the Group 1 Poule d'Essai des Poulains (French 2000 Guineas).
A Group 1-placed pattern winner at the age of four, Stormy River stands at Haras de Saint Arnoult and his early progeny include the middle-distance Group 3 scorer Remus De La Tour and additional blacktype scorers Coaintiorn, Tara River, Storm River, Stormyra and Tempete Nocturne.
Line Drummer (by Galileo), who is another of their half-brothers, has been pattern-placed in France and in Italy, half-sister Mary D'Or (by Verglas) is the stakes-placed dam of an Australian-bred listed scorer, and ill-fated Saphir River (by Slickly) was a multiple winner on the flat before going on to success over hurdles and fences, with his most notable piece of blacktype coming when runner-up in the Grade 1 Grand Prix d'Automne over three miles at Auteuil five years ago.
Miss Bio is out of a one-time scorer named River Sans Retour (by Vacarme) and the standout among her 10 winning siblings is Fantastic Filly (by Myrakalu). She was a winner in France before crossing the Atlantic to take the Grade 3 Miesque Stakes and the Grade 3 Senorita Stakes, and her progeny include the lightly-raced Nouvelle Vague (by Henrythenavigator), who finished third in the Listed Prix La Camargo at Saint-Cloud early last year.
The third dam of Silverwave is Riverstar (by Sir Ivor), a winning daughter of Prix de Royallieu scorer Riverside (by Sheshoon) and so a half-sister to the top-class Riverqueen (by Luthier), who won the Group 1 Poule d'Essai des Pouliches (French 1000 Guineas), Group 1 Prix Saint-Alary and Group 1 Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud, and was runner-up in the Group 1 Prix de Diane (French Oaks). Riverqueen's descendants include the dual Group 1 Premio Presidente della Republica scorer Altieri (by Selkirk) and the ill-fated Group 1 Prix Jean Prat winner Rouvres (by Anabaa), both of whom are only remotely related to Silverwave.
Riverside's siblings also included Lorn Lady (by Lorenzaccio) and that one-time scorer is the dam of Lady in Silver (by Silver Hawk), who won the Group 1 Prix de Diane (French Oaks) in 1989 and was runner-up in the Grade 1 Arlington Million, and others who descend from Lorn Lady include the Group 2 Goldene Peitsche winner Nobel Prize (by Lode), the ill-fated Grade 2 Lexington Stakes winner Quintons Gold Rush (by Wild Rush), and that colt's half-brother Golden Soul (by Perfect Soul) who chased home Orb in 2013's Grade 1 Kentucky Derby.
Silverwave is a first Group 1 winner for his sire, the second one for his dam, and although he still has some way to go to take high rank among the very best older horses in Europe this season, Sunday's victory has probably all but guaranteed that a place at stud will await him whenever his racing days come to an end.