By Andrew Caulfield
As John Berry rightly pointed out in his Weekly Wrap yesterday, it was great to see a magnificent edition of the King George dominated by four horses which were in their fourth season of racing. While the sport certainly benefits if its biggest stars stay around long enough to become household names, I also draw considerable pleasure from the emergence of potential new stars among the 2-year-olds.
Last week saw five two-year-old group races contested in Ireland (2), France (2) and Britain (1) and all five had something to tell us.
The Irish races simply underlined Galileo’s potential for siring top performers from daughters of Danehill Dancer and Pivotal. With the G3 Tyros S. falling to the highly progressive Armory, Galileo’s statistics with Danehill Dancer mares now stand at 20 black-type winners from 107 foals of racing age, which is nearly 19%. More to the point, those 20 black-type winners are led by five Group 1 winners, two Group 2 scorers and now eight Group 3 winners, for a total of 15 group winners–a breath-taking 14%. That is roughly double the percentage of group winners among Galileo’s worldwide output of 2,749 foals.
Just over half an hour earlier, Galileo had also taken the G3 Silver Flash S. with Love, another progressive juvenile who led throughout to win by more than three lengths. Love is one of 12 black-type winners among the 35 foals of racing age sired by Galileo from daughters of Pivotal and no fewer than 11 of the 12 have won at group level. That’s a truly stunning 31% group winners.
In comparing the achievements of these mares by Pivotal and Danehill Dancer, it is perhaps worth pointing out that Pivotal owes his total to just five mares (Beauty is Truth, Chorist, Halfway To Heaven, Pikaboo and Silver Pivotal), whereas 11 of Danehill Dancer’s daughters are responsible for their total of 15 group winners.
Love is the third consecutive group-winning filly produced by Pivotal’s non-winning daughter Pikaboo, following the mile-and-a-half Group 3 winner Flattering and the mile-and-three-quarters Group 3 winner Peach Tree. It will be interesting to see whether Pikaboo’s first group-winning daughter, the dual Group 2-winning juvenile Lucky Kristale, can fare nearly as well with Galileo’s son Frankel, sire of her 2018 and 2019 fillies. Also keep an eye on Armory’s group-placed dam After, as she also has a yearling colt and a filly foal by Galileo.
Moving on to Britain’s juvenile group race, the G3 Princess Margaret S. at Ascot, it provided a first group winner for the 2014 G1 2000 Guineas winner Night of Thunder, in the shape of the unbeaten Under The Stars. Night of Thunder was a little unlucky not to complete a black-type double later in the Ascot card, when Sun Power was caught in the final strides after appearing to have victory in the bag in a seven-furlong listed race.
Night of Thunder now has the impressive total of 13 individual winners from only 24 runners. However, it hasn’t all been plain sailing for this top-class performer whose pedigree combines Dubawi and Galileo. Having started his career with two seasons at Kildangan Stud, priced firstly at €30,000 and then €25,000, Night of Thunder was transferred to Dalham Hall, with his fee further reduced to £15,000 for his third and fourth seasons. His book fell from 138 mares in his first year to 103 in his second, but he is doing so well that his fee and book size can be confidently expected to rise again next year. It isn’t surprising that his progeny are proving very effective at two, as Night of Thunder won both his juvenile starts, by margins of six lengths and three lengths.
Over in France, there must have been some relief that both the G3 Prix Six Perfections and the G3 Prix de Cabourg fell to youngsters trained in France, by Andre Fabre.
First to shine was the filly Tropbeau, carrying the colours of Lady Bamford. Her decisive win in the Prix Six Perfections over seven furlongs suggests we may be about to see a somewhat new dimension to Showcasing’s career as a stallion.
Thanks to the likes of Advertise, Quiet Reflection, Tasleet and Soldier’s Call, we are already fully aware of Showcasing’s prowess as a sire of fast 2-year-olds and sprinters. However, the possibility now exists that several of his 2019 juveniles are going to shine over seven furlongs and a mile, rather than over five and six furlongs. Two of his Irish-trained juveniles have earned TDN Rising Star status, with the filly Windracer (who performed inexplicably badly in the Silver Flash S.) defeating Love by a neck on her debut over seven furlongs, and the colt Free Solo leading all the way to win easily over a mile at Leopardstown. We have also seen the Showcasing filly Picture Frame win well when stepped up to seven furlongs at Newbury.
Tropbeau has gained both her wins over seven furlongs on ground softer than good, so she clearly stays the distance well, even though she comes from a family noted for its speed. Her dam Frangipanni scored over six and seven furlongs as a 3-year-old but her second dam Frizzante was fast enough to win the G3 Palace House S. and G1 July Cup, as well as finishing third in the G2 King’s Stand S. Frizzante was herself a half-sister to the very useful six-furlong specialists Zidane and Firenze. Perhaps the presence of Dansili as Tropbeau’s broodmare sire is the explanation for the filly’s prowess over seven furlongs.
We had the reverse situation in the Prix de Cabourg, with the four-length winner Earthlight showing more speed that could reasonably be expected of a colt of his breeding. His sire, the excellent Shamardal, was racing over seven furlongs at a similar stage of his career, winning the G2 Vintage S. as a prelude to his Dewhurst S. triumph. Shamardal of course went on to win the Prix du Jockey-Club over an extended mile and a quarter.
The unbeaten Earthlight can safely be expected to improve further when he steps up to seven furlongs or a mile, as his dam Winters Moon was once a close third in the G1 Fillies’ Mile. Although largely disappointing at three, Winters Moon should have been at home over middle distances, as her sire New Approach won the Derby and her dam, the Darshaan mare Summertime Legacy, was third in the G1 Prix Saint-Alary.
It’s going to be fascinating to track these promising youngsters as they step up further in grade.