A pattern winning juvenile whose only defeat was his third-place finish to New Approach and Fast Company in the Group 1 Dewhurst Stakes, Raven's Pass (by Elusive Quality) endured a frustrating first half to his three-year-old campaign.
He was short-headed by Twice Over in the Group 3 Craven Stakes, finished fourth to Henrythenavigator in the Group 1 2000 Guineas, chased home that same colt in the Group 1 St James's Palace Stakes at Ascot and lost to him by a head in the Group 1 Sussex Stakes, and he was also runner-up to Tamayuz in the Group 1 Prix Jean Prat at Chantilly.
But then his fortunes changed, he reeled off a hat-trick and retired to stud with a championship title to his name: three-year-old miler. He took the Group 2 Celebration Mile at Goodwood and followed that by finally getting his revenge on Henrythenavigator with a one-length score in the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot.
The pair met one last time in the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Classic on the Pro-Ride surface at Santa Anita in late October, they again finished first and second, and this time the chestnut beat the bay by one and three-quarter lengths.
As stallions they are closely matched in terms of the number of individual stakes winners sired, with 15 for Raven's Pass and 14 for Henrythenavigator (by Kingmambo). The Kildangan Stud team member also leads his Coolmore rival by the number of pattern winners - six to four - but the latter leads by three to nil when it comes to Group 1 winners, two of whom are George Vancouver and Pedro The Great, now stallions who have their first yearlings on offer.
There is no reason why Raven's Pass should not get at least one Group 1 winner by the time his final progeny have finished their careers, and as he is only 11 years old now, there should, hopefully, be plenty of time available for him to achieve that goal.
Could Richard Pankhurst be the one to make the breakthrough for him? The John Gosden-trained four-year-old looked full of promise when easily winning the Listed Chesham Stakes at Royal Ascot in 2014, but he missed most of last year and has run just three times in 2016.
He put up the best performance of his career to date when beating Home Of The Brave by a length in the Group 2 Betfred Hungerford Stakes last month, earning a 115 handicap mark that is still some what short of what is required at the highest level, and he is due to run in tomorrow's Group 2 Saint Gobain Weber Park Stakes at Doncaster, also over seven furlongs.
The Godolphin-owned chestnut was bred by Rachel Hood, he is the first foal out of the mile winner Mainstay (by Elmaamul) and she is a full-sister to the nine-furlong Group 3 scorer Lateen Sails. Her second foal is the seven-furlong Group 3 winner Crazy Horse (by Sleeping Indian), whose only defeat is his sixth-place finish to The Gurkha in the Group 1 Poule d'Essai des Poulains at Deauville in May, her two-year-old filly is named Lydia Becker (by Sleeping Indian), and her 2015 Nathaniel (by Galileo) colt was followed by a Kingman (by Invincible Spirit) filly born in March.
Felucca (by Green Desert), the winning grandam of Richard Pankhurst, is a half-sister to the Group 2 Prix Eugene Adam scorer Radevore (by Generous) and out of Bloudan (by Damascus), an unraced half-sister to the Group 1 Irish 1000 Guineas and Group 2 Coronation Stakes heroine Al Bahathri (by Blushing Groom).
That classic ace is, of course, the dam of the Group 1 2000 Guineas and Group 1 Champion Stakes winner Haafhd (by Alhaarth) and of Group 2 Challenge Stakes scorer Munir (by Indian Ridge), both of whom have enjoyed some success at stud, and her descendants include the Group/Grade 1 stars Military Attack (by Oratorio), Gladiatorus (by Silic) and Red Cadeaux (by Cadeaux Genereux).
A half-sister to the Grade 2 scorer and prolific winner Geraldine's Store (by Exclusive Native), Al Bahathri was also a full-sister to Chain Fern, the mare from whom the Group/Grade 1 winners Spanish Fern (by El Gran Senor), Heatseeker (by Giant's Causeway) and Lord Shanakill (by Speightstown) descend. The latter, who is a remote relation to Richard Pankhurst, is the sire of this year's surprise Group 1 Prince of Wales's Stakes scorer My Dream Boat.
Richard Pankhurst has plenty of ability and, although he still has some way to go if he is to be up to winning at the highest level, it should be noted that his only defeats, so far, have been when racing over a trip other than seven furlongs. Will he extend that unbeaten record to four tomorrow?
He also hold entries in the Group 2 Shadwell Joel Stakes over a mile at Newmarket in two weeks' time and in next month's Group 2 Dubai 100 Challenge Stakes over seven at the same venue. It will be interesting to see how highly he can climb in the rankings and to find out if he is actually a seven-furlong specialist.