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Royal Ascot Day 3: Unique Passage to Glory

When Newsells Park Stud sent Dahlia’s Krissy, a stakes-placed Kris S. mare out of a stakes-placed daughter of the great runner and producer Dahlia to the court of Giant's Causeway (TrueNicks,SRO), we doubt that they expected the resulting foal would start his career at four in a bumper (a National Hunt Flat race, run under jump rules, but without obstacles).

That, however, is what happened with Rite of Passage, who took a pair of National Hunt Flat races, before taking third in the Weatherbys Champion Bumper (a grade I jumps event) at the prestigious Cheltenham National Hunt festival. From late November last year through to February, Rite of Passage won four straight, a maiden and a handicap on the flat, and a pair of hurdle races. The winning run came to a halt when Rite of Passage finished fourth in the Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle (grade I jumps event) in March. Rite of Passage didn’t reappear until Thursday, when he lined up for the 2½-mile Ascot Gold Cup (gr. I).

Starting at odds of 20-1, he maintained his undefeated record under flat rules, wearing down Age of Aquarius, who’d made a long run for home, to score in a new course record. The newly-crowned group I winner was TrueNicks rated A before his victory, and as that suggests is bred on a cross that has enjoyed a very good strike rate, that of Storm Cat and his sons with mares by Kris S. The cross has produced three stakes winners from 14 starters for Storm Cat, including Champion Two-Year-Old Filly Sweet Catomine, and her sister, Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic (gr. I) victress Life is Sweet, and nine stakes winners from 91 starters for Storm Cat and his sons. Rite of Passage has Kris S.’s sire, Roberto, 4 x 3, and although there have been 23 stakes winners with Roberto inbreeding, the only previous group or grade I winner was also by Giant’s Causeway, this being the Australian-bred Juste Momente.

In the Ribblesdale Stakes (gr. II) – a sort of “Ascot Oaks” since it is for three-year-old fillies at 1½ miles –victory went to Hibaayeb. She was the horse with proven form, having broken her maiden in the Meon Valley Stud Fillies’ Mile (gr. I) over a mile at Ascot last year, and most recently finishing third to Sarafina in the Prix Saint-Alary (gr. I). Hibaayeb is by the highly-consistent Sadler’s Wells grandson Singspiel, who unfortunately is likely to be retired from stud due to waning fertility. Hibaayeb is the twelfth group or grade I winner for Singspiel.

Rated A+ by TrueNicks, Hibaayed is out of Lady Zonda, a daughter of Lion Cavern (brother to Gone West), and Singspiel has at least 15 stakes winners out of Mr. Prospector line mares, including two out of daughters of Gone West. Hibaayeb is the first black type winner to appear under her first three dams, but her third dam, Oh So Hot, is a sister to the excellent runner and producer Roussalka, and half sister to English Filly Triple Crown captress Oh So Sharp. Others under Oh So Hot’s dam, Oh So Fair (the fourth dam of Hibaayeb), include last year’s Metropolitan Mile (gr. I) winner Bribon; 1,000 Guineas (gr. I) winner Ameerat; and group and grade I winners Rosefinch and Shantou. Eventually, the family traces back to the late Aga Khan’s great mare Mumtaz Mahal via Oh So Fair’s granddam, Malindi, a sister to Nasrullah.

Wednesday, the Jersey Stakes (gr. III) was won by Rainfall, a daughter of Oasis Dream, out of a mare by Barathea, a son of Sadler’s Wells. Today, the five furlong Norfolk Stakes (gr. II) was upset by Approve, a two-year-old son of Oasis Dream out of a mare by Sadler’s Wells. To update the statistics on this cross, Approve (TrueNicks A prior to the race) is the first stakes winner from nine starters by Oasis Dream out of a Sadler’s Wells mare, but there are now three stakes winners out of only 18 starters by Oasis Dream out of mares by Sadler’s Wells and his sons). Approve is the first black type winner under his first two dams, but he does come from an illustrious family. His granddam, Rubies From Burma (by Forty Niner), was black type-placed in Ireland, and is a half sister to European Champion Two-Year-Old Filly and French 1,000 Guineas (gr. I) winner Culture Vulture, and also to the dam of graded winner Santa Catarina. The third dam, Perfect Example, is a granddaughter of the Phipps foundation mare Lady Be Good, and is from the same branch of that family as such well known performers as Zilzal, Polish Precedent, Awe Inspiring, Intikhab (sire of recent English Oaks (gr. I) victress Snow Fairy), and more recently, Negligee.

In the Thursday’s closer, the ten-furlong Hampton Court Stakes for three-year-old fillies, the crowds were narrowly denied a Royal victor when Afsare made it to the line inches ahead of Her Majesty’s Quadrille (by Danehill Dancer). Afsare is the sixth stakes winner from first Northern Hemisphere crop of the young sire sensation Dubawi (IRE) (TrueNicks,SRO) (currently battling for leadership of the second crop sires with the equally exciting Shamardal (TrueNicks,SRO)). Five of the sextet of these are group winners, including the 2,000 Guineas (gr. I) victor Makfi; Worthadd, successful in the Italian 2,000 Guineas (gr. III) and Italian Derby (gr. II); and Anna Salai, also second in the Irish 1,000 Guineas (gr. I).

Afsare (TrueNicks rated A+ before her win) is out of the Fairy King mare Jumaireyah. She is three-quarters related to listed winner Lost Soldier Three (by Barathea, a son of Fairy King’s brother Sadler’s Wells, out of Jumaireyah’s dam, Donya, a daughter of Mill Reef). Jumaireyah is also three-quarters related to the Rothmans International Stakes (gr. I) winner French Glory, who is by Sadler’s Wells out of Jumaireyah’s granddam, Dunette, heroine of the French Oaks (gr. I) and Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud (gr. I). Neither Dubawi, nor his sire, the tragically short-lived Dubai Millennium, have previously sired a stakes winner out of a Fairy King mare, but two of Dubai Millennium’s three group winners were out of Sadler’s Wells line mares. Afsare has Northern Dancer 5 x 3 (and is the fifth stakes winner by Dubawi out of a Northern Dancer line mare), and Mill Reef 5 x 3.

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