Day 1 at Royal Ascot was most notable for group one victories by a pair of outstanding milers. In the Queen Anne Stakes, for older horses over the straight mile, the expected clash between Able Friend and Solow fizzled out when the Hong Kong star failed to fire. That left Solow to score fairly comfortably from his fellow French-trained runner, the filly Esoterique. This was the tenth win in his last 11 starts for Solow, and his seventh straight.
Solow was initially thought likely to make a stayer, and that’s not surprising consider his pedigree. He’s from the last crop of Singspiel (by the Sadler’s Wells horse, In the Wings). Singspiel was at his best at four and five, capturing major events between 10 and 12 furlongs in four different countries, among them the Dubai World Cup, Canadian International Stakes (gr. I), Japan Cup (gr. I), Vodafone Coronation Cup (gr. I) and Juddmonte International Stakes (gr. I). Generally an influence for stamina, Singspiel was highly successful sire, with 98 stakes winners to his name, 14 of group/grade one scorers, and in addition to Solow, his best including Champion U.S Turf Mare Lahudood; Dubai World Cup (gr. I) scorer Moon Ballad; Prix de Diane Hermes (gr. I) winner Confidential Lady; and three-time group/grade one winner Dar Re Mi.
Solow’s dam, High Maintenance was even stouter, winning at 15 furlongs, and finishing third in the Qatar Prix Gladiateur (gr. III) at 15½ furlongs. High Maintenance is half-sister to Hostessante, a French listed winner whose Dixieland Band daughter, Colony Band, was a stakes winner and group/graded placed in both France and the U.S., and subsequently produced the Northern Dancer Stakes (gr. III) scorer Colizeo. Fabulous Hostess, the dam of High Maintenance was a talented middle-distance runner, winning a trio of group events, headed by the Prix de Royallieu (gr. II), and she’s also half-sister to stakes placed Young Manila, the granddam of the Pretty Polly Stakes (gr. I) victress Thistle Bird. High Maintenance’s granddam, Young Hostess was also group placed in France. Young Hostess is also half-sister to Yamuna, whose stakes winning daughter Numidie, is dam of a trio of stakes winners by High Maintenance’s sire, Highest Honor, headed by the Prix Hocquart (gr. II) scorer Numide, and Reve d’Oscar, who was not only heroine of the Prix Saint-Alary (gr. I), but also dam of Reve d’Essor, Champion Two-Year-Old Filly in Japan, and three other stakes winners. In addition, Reve d’Iman, a sister to Numide and Reve d’Oscar, is dam of Bethrah, who took the Irish 1,000 Guineas (gr. I).
Solow and group two winner Au Revioir are two of only five starters by Singspiel out of Highest Honor mares., and Singspiel also has a group winner out of a mare by Take Risks (by Highest Honor out of a Northern Dancer line mare, so bred on the same cross as Solow’s dam). There are strong background similarities between the background of Singspiel and of Highest Honor/High Maintenance. Singspiel’s grandsire, Sadler’s Wells, is by Northern Dancer out of a mare by Bold Reason. His sire, In the Wings, is out of a mare by a son of Mill Reef (by Bold Reason’s half-brother Never Bend), and Singspiel’s dam is a Turn-to line mare. Highest Honor is by Kenmare, a Nasrullah/Djeddah cross, like Never Bend. Highest Honor’s dam is by Riverman, a Never Bend son, bred like Mill Reef, and out of a Turn-to line mare, and the fact that High Maintenance’s dam is Northern Dancer line, makes her something of a mirror image to Singspiel.
The St. James’s Palace Stakes (gr. I) went to another Sadler’s Wells line horse who is compiling an impressive sequence of wins. This is Gleneagles, who after finishing fourth in a maiden last June has been first past the post in his next eight starts, including the National Stakes (gr. I), 2,000 Guineas (gr. I) and Irish 2,000 Guineas (gr. I). The only interruption in the progress was a disqualification to third after crossing the line a ½ length to the good in last year’s Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere (gr. I). With the French 2,000 Guineas (gr. I) winner Make Believe failing to fire, Gleneagles was left to score a comfortable 2½ lengths victory. He’s now likely to head to Goodwood for the Sussex Stakes (gr. I), where he could meet Solow in a potentially intriguing clash of the ages.
It’s a little surprising to learn that although Gleneagles’ sire, Galileo, gained his classic laurels in the Derby (gr. I) and Irish Derby (gr. I), and is renowned as a source of classic stamina, he’s actually now sired eight individual Guineas winners in England, Ireland and France, among them the superlative Frankel. Gleneagles is a brother to Marvellous who took the Irish 1,000 Guineas (gr. I) on only her third start, but subsequently failed to stay when unplaced in the Oaks (gr. I) – when favourite – and the Irish Oaks (gr. I) on her only two subsequent starts. The dam, the Storm Cat mare, You’resothrilling, is a sprint group winner, but is a sister to Giant’s Causeway, which makes Gleneagles just about the ultimate in current sire prospects.
The second dam, Mariah’s Storm, a daughter of Rahy, was a six-time graded stakes winner and grade on placed while racing in the U.S., and is out of Immense, a graded winning Roberto mare who is half-sister to Champion U.S. Two-Year-Old Filly, Dearly Precious.
Gleneagles is the fifth stakes winner, and the third group one winner from the 31 starters sired by Galileo out of mares by Storm Cat (16% stakes winners to starters, against 12% for Galileo with all other mares). He’s inbred 3 x 4 to Northern Dancer, but is free of Danehill, the strain for which Galileo has shown such a strong affinity.
The day also featured a pair of two-year-old contests, the Coventry Stakes (gr. II) at six furlongs and the Windsor Castle Stakes at five. The Coventry Stakes (gr. II) went to Buratino, who ran down the War Front colt, Air Force Blue, to score by two lengths. This was the sixth start and fourth win for Buratino, who had taken the Woodcote Stakes at Epsom by six lengths on his previous outing.
Buratino is a son of reverse shuttler, Exceed and Excel (by Danehill), a graded winner at two, and Champion Sprinter at three in Australia. Exceed and Excel has been a phenomenal sire of juveniles in Australia – although his offspring are far limited to two-year-old form – and has been represented by such stars as Guelph, Helmet, Earthquake, Overreach and Reward For Effort. He’s also been highly effective with his Northern Hemisphere crops, which include such as Excelebration, a three-time group one winner who would have owned the record of a superstar had he not so frequently run into Frankel, as well as other group one winners Outstrip and Margot Did.
Buratino is out of Bergamask, a daughter of Kingmambo, who was stakes placed in France. The second dam, the Sadler’s Wells mare, Adonesque, won the Blue Wind Stakes, and is half-sister to three other stakes winners, most notably Champion Irish Two-Year-Old and outstanding sire, Danehill Dancer (by Exceed and Excel’s sire, Danehill). Buratino’s fourth dam, Mira Adonde, is by Sharpen Up out of a daughter of the brilliant French sprinter/miler, Lianga, also ancestress of Street Sense and Mr. Greeley. Buratino is a product of the very successful Danehill/Kingmambo cross, that has produced nine stakes winners from 98 starters, three of them group or grade one. Exceed and Excel has also crossed very well with Mr. Prospector line mares in general (as here), and Buratino’s dam also has the three-quarters brothers Nureyev and Sadlers’ Wells, both of whom have been exceptional influences for Exceed and Excel.
In the Windsor Castle Stakes, Washington DC narrowly got the better of Areen, a son of the prolific Kodiac. Washington DC is the second stakes winning two-year-old from the first crop of Zoffany, a son of Dansili who won the Phoenix Stakes (gr. I) at two, and was also a fast-closing second to an over-exuberantly ridden Frankel in the St. James’s Palace Stakes (gr. I).
Washington DC is out of How’s She Cuttin’ a daughter of Shinko Forest (by Green Forest), and a stakes placed juvenile sprinter. The second dam, Magic Annemarie (by the Nureyev horse, Dancing Dissident) is half-sister to the dam of Aspen Darlin, another smart two-year-old who won the Firth of Clyde Stakes (gr. III) and took second in the Cheveley Park Stakes (gr. I). Magic Annemarie is also bred for speed as she is by the brilliant juvenile, Precocious (by the Tudor Minstrel line stallion, Mummy’s Pet), out of Magic Flute, who won the Cheveley Park Stakes (before group race status existed) at two and the Coronation Stakes (gr. II) at three. Magic Flute is a noted tap-root mare who is also ancestress of Champion European Two-Year-Old Grand Lodge, Golden Slipper (gr. I) runner-up English, and Canterbury Guineas (gr. I) scorer, Fine Society. Magic Garter has an intriguing pedigree, as Magic Flute’s grandsire and granddam, Tudor Minstrel and Gamble in Gold, are the great-grandsire and fourth dam of Precocious.
Washington DC is a product of a Danzig/Danzig cross through Danehill and Green Desert. The cross has not been prolific for Dansili, although he has sired two group one winners out of Danzig line mares, but the Danehill/Green Desert version is beginning to gain momentum as the two strains recede deeper into pedigrees, and there are now 30 stakes winners on that cross, four of them group/grade one.
In a blanket finish the other group one event on the card, the five furlong King’s Stand Stakes went to the improving five-year-old gelding, Goldream. Goldream is by Oasis Dream (Green Desert), Champion Two-Year-Old and Champion Sprinter in Europe, and now one of Europe’s top stallions with 13 group/grade one winners to his name.
Goldream is out of the Machiavellian mare, Clizia, a half-sister to French listed winner Mont Rocher. The second dam, Cuixmala, is half-sister to European Champion and great classic sire Montjeu, and to the dam of Champion Irish Two-Year-Old Filly Again. Goldream is the third stakes winner by Oasis Dream out of a Machiavellian mare, the others including group one scorer Naaqoos.