Coolmore Stud's prolific champion sire Galileo (by Sadler's Wells) has been having another tremendous year and his earnings in the combined Ireland and UK sires' championship title race have already passed the £6.2 million mark. His nearest rival on that table is his half-brother Sea The Stars (by Cape Cross), whose earnings of just over £2.4 million are highly commendable and likely to hit or surpass the £3 million mark by the end of the year.
In the past few weeks Galileo has been represented by six individual Group/Grade 1 winners, not all of whom are reflected in that particular earnings total, and the sextet includes Highland Reel, the widely-travelled colt who won the Group 1 King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot eight days ago.
An Aidan O'Brien-trained four-year-old, he was somewhat lucky to be able to add that prestigious event to his CV this year as the hot-favourite Postponed, bidding for a repeat success in the 12-furlong feature, missed the race due to a fever. But, to be fair to him, this is Highland Reel's third victory at the highest level, he was classic-placed at three, a Group 2 scorer at two, and he has done more than enough to attract plenty of interest as a prospective stallion.
His dam's famous full-brother has had mixed success at stud, as has her top-class half-brother, but the family also includes a multiple Group 1 star who has made quite an impression with his early runners in Europe, success that will, no doubt, also serve to promote their younger relation when his time in the covering shed comes.
Highland Reel was runner-up in a seven furlong Leopardstown maiden in June of his two-year-old season and was an easy odds-on winner of both his subsequent starts that year. The first was a mile maiden at Gowran Park, which he won by a dozen lengths, and the second was the Group 2 Vintage Stakes at Goodwood, which he took by two and a quarter lengths.
Unplaced when favourite for the Group 1 Poule d'Essai des Poulains (French 2000 Guineas) on his reappearance the following spring, he bounced back to chase home New Bay in the Group 1 Prix du Jockey Club (French Derby) three weeks later, but then disappointed when well-beaten in the Group 1 Irish Derby. That was his first attempt at 12 furlongs, and although he won the Group 3 Gordon Stakes over that trip a month later, he then dropped back to 10 furlongs for his next three outings.
He made all for wide-margin win in the Grade 1 Secretariat Stakes at Arlington, finished a three and three-quarter length fifth behind Golden Horn in the Group 1 Irish Champion Stakes, took third behind the outstanding filly Winx in the Group 1 Cox Plate at Moonee Valley, and then stepped back up in trip to beat Flintshire by a length and a half in the Group 1 Hong Kong Vase over 12 furlongs at Sha Tin.
Highland Reel added a seventh country to travels when running fourth behind Postponed in the Group 1 Dubai Sheema Classic at Meydan in March, then it was back to Hong Kong for an unplaced effort in the Grade 1 Audemars Piguet QEII Cup over 10 furlongs at Sha Tin, before his narrow defeat by Dartmouth in last month's Group 2 Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot.
Highland Reel was bred by the Hveger Syndicate and his dam, Hveger (by Danehill), was a talented performer in her native Australia. She won just once, but she was runner-up in the Group 2 South Australia Oaks and finished third in the Group 1 Australasian Oaks, both at Morphettville.
Being a daughter of the Group 1 AJC Oaks heroine Circles Of Gold (by Marscay) and, thus, a sibling of two multiple Group 1 stars, she was always a candidate to make an impact at stud, and to get the very best of opportunities in that role. She has lived up to that potential, and there is a chance that she could have a classic winner to her name by the end of the year.
Her Australian-born daughter Valdemoro (by Encosta De Lago) was runner-up in both the Group 1 Storm Queen Stakes at Rosehill and in the Group 1 Victoria Oaks at Flemington, and the colt she had after Highland Reel is the dual Derby-placed Idaho (by Galileo), one of the ante-post favourites for the Group 1 Ladbrokes St Leger at Doncaster in September. His was third to Harzand at Epsom in June and then runner-up to that star at the Curragh. His two-year-old full-sister Cercle de La Vie made 460,000gns from Book 1 of the Tattersalls October Yearling Sale, and the mare had another Galileo filly in May 2015.
Hveger's most notable half-brother is Haradasun (by Fusaichi Pegasus), the Australian champion and dual Group 1 star who took the Group 1 Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot in 2008. He has not had as many notable progeny as might have been hoped, but he is the sire of South African Grade 1 scorer Harry's Son and the Australian Group 2 winners Kabayan and Respondent, among others of note.
Elvstroem is a full-brother to Hveger and the champion and multimillionaire won the Group 1 Victoria Derby, Group 1 Caulfield Cup, Group 1 Underwood Stakes and Group 1 C F Orr Stakes among a string of pattern successes in Australia, plus the Group 1 Dubai Duty Free at Nad Al Sheba in Dubai.
His many top-level placings included second to Valixir in the Group 1 Prix d'Ispahan at Longchamp and third to Azamour in the Group 1 Prince of Wales's Stakes at York, and having spent his early years at stud in Australia, he has now finished his first season at Haras du Petit Tellier in France.
Elvstroem is an interesting addition to the European stallion ranks as he is a well-bred Danehill (by Danzig) horse that has proved that he can get sprinters, milers, middle-distance horses and stayers. His only Group 1 scorer among a dozen stakes winning offspring is Hucklebuck, a talented performer from six furlongs to mile and who is out of a mare by the outstanding Last Tycoon (by Try My Best) horse O'Reilly. His other pattern scorers include the Group 2-winning stayer Outback Joe, a son of the Group 1 Melbourne Cup heroine Let's Elope (by Nassipour).
There are plenty of mares in Europe who represent the Try My Best (by Northern Dancer) and Blushing Groom (by Red God) lines and, of course, it will be interesting to see how he gets on with all those Sadler's Wells (by Northern Dancer) and Green Desert (by Danzig) line mares too.
In addition to her victory in the Group 1 AJC Oaks, Circles Of Gold's top-level form includes second place in each of the Group 1 Caulfield Cup, Group 1 Queensland Oaks and Group 1 Eat More Fruit 'n' Veg Stakes, and she is the best of several winners out of a four-times scorer called Olympic Aim (by Zamazaan). Her gelded half-brother Gold Wells (by Barathea) won a Group 2 contest over a mile, but the sibling that catches the eye on the page is National Song (by Vain).
She did not win anything, but her stakes-placed daughter Gold Anthem (by Made of Gold) is the dam of Starspangledbanner (by Choisir) and grandam of Amicus (by Fastnet Rock). The latter, a Chris Waller-trained filly who will turn five tomorrow, won the Group 1 Schweppes Thousand Guineas over a mile at Caulfield two years ago, and twice at Group 2 level since then.
Starspangledbanner, of course, won the Group 1 Caulfield Guineas and the Group 1 Oakleigh Plate in Australia, added the Group 1 Golden Jubilee Stakes and the Group 1 July Cup in England, and he is a member of the Coolmore Stud stallion team in Ireland.
As is well known, he was sub-fertile in his earliest years at stud and after two seasons on the Coolmore roster he went back into training and then back to his breeders' Rosemont Stud in Australia. Then his small first crop hit the track. Now aged four, they include the The Wow Signal, Anthem Alexander, Home Of The Brave and Silver Rainbow, and the stallion has completed a third Irish season.
Group 1 Prix Morny and Group 2 Coventry Stakes winner The Wow Signal has finished his first season at Haras de Bouquetot in France, Group 2 Queen Mary Stakes heroine Anthem Alexander has been placed in the Group 1 Cheveley Park Stakes and Group 1 Commonwealth Cup, Group 3 scorer Home Of The Brave was runner-up to Dutch Connection in the Group 2 Lennox Stakes at Goodwood on Tuesday, and Silver Rainbow made it five wins from a dozen starts when taking the Listed Prix du Cercle over five furlongs at Deauville yesterday.
If you go back another generation of the pedigree then you will find that Olympic Aim, the third dam of Highland Reel, is a half-sister to the dual Group 1 star Bit Of A Skite (by Showoff) and to Shagolvin (by Sharivari), the Group 1-placed Group 2-winning third dam of Group 1 WATC Derby scorer Markus Maximum (by Pentire).
This is a family that has a well-established tradition of producing Group 1 horses, and also ones who can travel and excel in both the northern and southern hemisphere.
Highland Reel is a triple Group/Grade 1-winning son of Galileo, he has raced in seven different countries, on four continents, and he is an epitome of the modern top-class racehorse. He is related to three stallions who have sired a Group 1 winner, and he has a pedigree and CV that should give him plenty of appeal wherever he eventually goes to stud.