Yeomanstown Stud stallion Dark Angel (by Acclamation) is well-established as a source of top-class sprinters and milers, his offspring include the nine-furlong US Grade 1 scorer Raging Bull, and we know that a stallion who passes on the "speed gene" to his offspring can get good winners at up to about 10 and a half furlongs, depending on what the mare brings to the mix.
Two years ago his US-based son Hunt won Grade 2 races over eight and a half furlongs and nine furlongs. Last year he won the Grade 1 Shoemaker Mile Stakes at Santa Anita. However, that gelding's big-race trio of 2017 also included the Grade 2 Del Mar Handicap over 11 furlongs on firm turf. He beat the French-bred Itsinthepost by three-parts of a length at level weights.
Now the stallion has had a Group 3 winner over 12 and a half furlongs, something that may take a lot of people by surprise. It is true that the middle-distance division is not as strong in Australia as it is here, but that does not take from the fact that Valac won the Group 3 Dominant Queens Cup, a handicap at Morphettville, in style.
The ground was described as good, he was favourite for the race, and took the prize by a length from last year's Group 1 Schweppes Oaks heroine Sopressa (gave 1lb) and with Meli Melo (rec. 1lb) another one and three-quarter lengths back in third.
If Dark Angel can get a pattern winner over this trip, and one from a top European family, then there is every reason to hope that he can get at least one more, despite everything we've known about him up to now. So perhaps a Dark Angel-sired leading candidate for a European Derby or Oaks is something that we could see in the coming years.
Valac, a now near-white seven-year-old gelding, began his career in Ireland with Dermot Weld, earning placings over seven, eight, and ten furlongs, and he is now based with the team of David Hayes, Ben Hayes and Tom Dabernig. He was bred by Moyglare Stud Farm in Ireland and represents one of their famous families.
His dam is a winning full-sister to Grade 1 Matriarch Stakes winner Dress To Thrill (by Danehill), which makes her a daughter of Group 1 Irish 1000 Guineas heroine Trusted Partner (by Affirmed), but she is Polished Gem and so also well-established as a celebrity broodmare in her own right, one who has had four pattern winners from her first five foals.
Sapphire was her first born and that Group 1 Pretty Polly Stakes runner-up won the Group 2 British Champions Filly and Mare Stakes, Group 3 Give Thanks Stakes, and Group 3 Noblesse Stakes, each of those three victories coming over 12 furlongs on soft ground. That's a bit more stamina that one usually expects in a Medicean (by Machiavellian).
Custom Cut was her second foal, and although he was not disgraced when fourth in a Group 2 contest over the extended ten furlongs at York – the course and distance over which his sire Notnowcato (by Inchinor) got his best win – he proved best at a mile. His string of blacktype wins over that trip include the Group 2 Boomerang Stakes at Leopardstown, Group 2 bet365 Mile at Sandown, and Group 2 Joel Stakes at Newmarket, although he also picked up the Group 3 Strensall Stakes over nine furlongs at York.
Polished Gem's third foal is Amber Romance (by Bahamian Bounty), the winning dam of a Grade 2-placed hurdler, and her fourth is Free Eagle (by High Chaparral), the Group 1 Prince of Wales's Stakes star who stands at the Irish National Stud.
He is the son of a dual Derby winning son of Sadler's Wells (by Northern Dancer), albeit one who often got top performers at eight and ten furlongs. Although known as being a Timeform 128-rated standout over a mile and a quarter, Free Eagle ran just eight times in his career and was far from disgraced when finishing a four-and-a-quarter-length sixth to Golden Horn in the Group 1 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, his only attempt at 12 furlongs.
Valac is the mare's fifth foal, he is followed by the multiple Qatar scorer Rich History (by Dubawi), and then by Falcon Eight (by Galileo), a lightly-raced member of the Weld team who looks one to note in the stayers' division this year.
He won easily over 12 and 11 furlongs on his first two starts last year – at the Curragh and Killarney – before finishing third to Cypress Creek in the Group 3 Loughbrown Stakes over two miles at Naas in September. His only other outing since then is his second-place finish to Twilight Payment in the Listed Saval Beg Levmoss Stakes over 14 furlongs at Leopardstown on Friday, and the four-year-old's entries include next month's Group 1 Gold Cup at Ascot.
There are many other notable winners in the various branches of this family, including the Group 2 British Champions Long Distance Cup winner and Group 1 Gold Cup third Forgotten Rules (by Nayef), and it is one that always had the potential to pass on either a miler's speed or middle-distance horse's stamina to its descendants.
One would have expected that a Dark Angel foal from this family would become one of its milers, and that one from a mare with Polished Gem's produce record could possibly stay ten furlongs, but when Valac has inherited enough stamina to enable him to win a pattern race over 12 and a half furlongs then it's entirely possible that at least one other son of daughter of Dark Angel will do so too, possibly even at the highest level.
Sires & Winners