A surprising number of stallions have died in the first few months of 2018 and although some of them have been, as one might expect, elderly horses living in retirement, several were much younger. The latter include Group 1 winning miler and Dalham Hall Stud resident Poet's Voice, one of the early sire sons of Dubawi (by Dubai Millennium).
His initial foals and yearlings lit up the auction ring, his eldest offspring are five years old, he shuttled to Australia, and has accumulated a double-digit tally of stakes winners. As yet, however, he has no Group 1 winner to his name and the best of his 13 blacktype scorers include Group 2 Mehl-Mulhens Rennen (German 2000 Guineas) winner Poetic Dream and Italian Group 3 mile classic scorers Mi Raccomando (Premio Regina Elena) and Poeta Diletto (Premio Parioli).
The southern hemisphere stint has yielded the Group 1-placed Group 2 Roman Consul Stakes winner Viridine – who is out of an Anabaa (by Danzig) mare – three listed race scorers, and also Group 1 Australian Oaks runner-up Perfect Rhyme, who is out of a daughter of Danehill (by Danzig).
For a horse of whom so much was expected, this is a disappointing overall record, but there is one among the 13 who could strike at the highest level in 2018, and of course it is all but guaranteed that there are more stakes and pattern winners still to emerge from his younger offspring. Perhaps some of those could become racehorses of real note: his story has several chapters still to go.
Poet's Word is that standout performer and the Sir Michael Stoute-trained bay represents his late sire's first crop. He was bred by Woodcote Stud, was fourth over seven furlongs on his only start at two, won handicaps over 10 and 11 furlongs at Nottingham and Goodwood from five starts at three, and was among the leading older horses in Europe at the age of four.
He began that campaign with handicap success at Chelmsford, was only beaten a neck by Deauville in the Group 3 Huxley Stakes over the extended 10 furlongs at Chester and then landed the Group 3 Betfred Glorious Stakes over 12 on soft ground at Goodwood, beating Second Step by a length and a half.
That was a useful effort but it is what he has done since then that has been impressive, even though those four runs have all ended in defeat.
First, he failed by just half a length to beat Decorated Knight in the Group 1 Qipco Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown, he chased home Cracksman in the Group 1 Qipco Champion Stakes at Ascot, was only beaten about five lengths when sixth to Time Warp in the Group 1 Longines Hong Kong Cup at Sha Tin, and then chased home Hawkbill in the Group 1 Longines Dubai Sheema Classic at Meydan just last week.
Timeform rated him 124 last year – his sire received a figure of 126 from that same organisation – and it would be no surprise to see him win at the highest level in 2018, something that would surely earn him a place at stud.
It would be interesting to see how Poet's Word would fare if given the opportunity for a stallion career and he is related to a horse who sired several Group 1 winners despite dying at a young age.
The first point of note about the distaff side of his pedigree is that he is the sixth foal of Whirly Bird (by Nashwan) and that makes him a half-brother to two fillies of note: the talented former Mick Channon-trainee Malabar (by Raven's Pass) and two-time scorer Whirly Dancer (by Danehill Dancer).
The latter is the dam of last year's Group 2 Railway Stakes winner Beckford (by Bated Breath), who was runner-up in the Group 1 National Stakes and Group 1 Phoenix Stakes for the Gordon Elliott stable and is set to continue his career in the USA.
Malabar, on the other hand, won the Group 3 Prestige Stakes over seven furlongs at two, added the Group 3 Thoroughbred Stakes over a mile at three – both at Goodwood – and although the performances do not count for blacktype, she was fourth in each of the Group 1 1000 Guineas, Group 1 Prix Marcel Boussac and Group 1 Moyglare Stud Stakes.
Their dam was trained by Amanda Perrett, won five of her seven starts, and earned her blacktype when finishing third in the Listed Harvest Stakes over 11 and a half furlongs at Windsor on her final outing, so it is no surprise that Poet's Word stays middle-distances.
Her half-brother Ursa Major (by Galileo) won a 14-furlong Group 3 contest at the Curragh a month before finishing fourth to Encke, Camelot and Michelangelo in the Group 1 St Leger at Doncaster, and the pair also have two half-sisters of note.
Inchiri (by Sadler's Wells) won a listed contest over 12 furlongs and Inchberry (by Barathea) was a maiden in eight starts but listed-placed over a mile at Pontefract and missed out on a more notable accolade – classic placing – when finishing a two and a half-length fourth to Casual Look in the Group 1 Oaks at Epsom. She is also the dam of Measuring Time (by Dubai Destination) who was placed in several middle-distance pattern events.
They are all out of one-time scorer Inchyre (by Shirley Heights) and so the third dam of Poet's Word is Inchmurrin (by Lomond).
A stakes-winning sprinter at two, she went on to beat classic-placed Dabaweyaa by five lengths in the Group 2 Child Stakes (now Falmouth Stakes) at Newmarket, shortly after chasing home Magic Of Life in the Group 1 Coronation Stakes at Ascot, and her final start resulted in a fourth-place finish to Sudden Love in the Grade 1 E P Taylor Stakes at Woodbine.
The best of her offspring was the Group 1-placed triple Group 3 scorer Inchinor (by Ahonoora) – who died at the age of 13 – and so Poet's Word's grandam is a half-sister to the sire of Group 1 stars Cape Of Good Hope, Latice, Notnowcato, Silca's Sister and Summoner.
Inchinor's stakes-winning half-sister Ingozi (by Warning) is the dam of Grade 1 E P Taylor Stakes heroine Miss Keller (by Montjeu) and grandam of Group 1 St Leger star Harbour Law (by Lawman), and the long list of stakes and pattern winners among Inchmurrin's descendants also include Agent Murphy (by Cape Cross), Ayaar (by Rock Of Gibraltar), Blue Bayou (by Bahamian Bounty), Fantastic Pick (by Fantastic Light), Hatta Fort (by Cape Cross), and Venus De Milo (by Duke Of Marmalade).
If you go back another step and take a look at the record of fourth dam On Show (by Welsh Pageant) then you find that Inchmurrin was a half-sister to Group 2 Mill Reef Stakes winner Welney (by Habitat) and full-sister to Balnaha, the winning dam of Group 1 Coronation Stakes scorer Balisada (by Kris).
It is Poet's Word's relationship to Inchinor, however, that is most eye-catching when it comes to considering a future stallion career for him. Before then, of course, there are more good prizes to be won on the track and it will be important for his prospects that he picks up at least one Group 1 victory on the way.