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Royal Ascot Day 5: Banner Stars

Over the last few years, British racegoers have learned to have a very healthy respect for Australian sprinters. One of the first horses to school them in that regard was Choisir, a Danehill Dancer son who took both the King’s Stand Stakes (gr. I) and Golden Jubilee Stakes (gr. I) within a five-day period at the same Royal Meeting. On Saturday, it was an Australian-bred son of Choisir, Starspangledbanner, who was an impressive 1¾ lengths of this year’s Golden Jubilee, a contest that the Racing Post suggested was “arguably the classiest sprint ever run in this country” with 12 of the 24 starters having previously won group or grade I events. Starspangledbanner himself was a member of that company, having taken the Caulfield Guineas (gr. I) and Oakleigh Plate (gr. I) before being purchased by Coolmore and sent to Aiden O’Brien to prep for a European campaign.

Starspangledbanner (TrueNicks A++) is out of stakes-placed mare by Gold Anthem (by Made of Gold, from the Shecky Greene/Noholme II branch of Star Kingdom). National Song, the second dam of Starspangledbanner, is a half sister to Australian Oaks (gr. I) heroine Circles of Gold (by Marscay, from the Biscay branch of the Star Kingdom line). She is another from this family to produce a Royal Ascot winner, as her Fusaichi Pegasus (TrueNicks,SRO) son Haradasun came from Australia to capture the Queen Anne Stakes (gr. I) a couple years ago. Another of her offspring, Elvstroem (by Danehill, and therefore bred on somewhat similar lines to Starspangledbanner), won four group I races in Australia and the Dubai Duty Free (gr. I), and also placed second in the Prix d’Ispahan (gr. I) and third in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes (gr. I) (when Royal Ascot was run at York in 2005), during a European sojourn. Following generations of breeding for speed and precocity, there can be no doubt now that when it comes to sprinting on turf there are no swifter beasts on the planet than those that emanate from Australia.

Having captured the major sprint of the day, the Danehill line also took the most important middle-distance event, the Hardwicke Stakes (gr. II). This fell to Harbinger, who scored by 3½ lengths to record his third successive victory of the year. He is from the fourth crop of Dansili, who had an earlier Royal Ascot winner with Strawberrydaiquiri taking the Windsor Forest Stakes (gr. II). Dansili is having another very strong year, and has been represented by ten stakes winners in 2010, the others including the U.S. grade I winner Proviso.

Harbinger (TrueNicks A++) is out of Penang Pearl, a listed-winning daughter of Bering (a horse whose daughters have been very good under Danehill and his sons). The third dam, Sauceboat (by Connaught, runner-up to Sir Ivor in the Derby), produced a Royal Ascot winner in Kind of Hush, successful in Prince of Wales’s Stakes (gr. II).

Generally, Royal Ascot doesn’t reveal Kentucky Derby (gr. I) prospects, but that race could be the long-term target for Zaidan, who was an impressive winner of the seven-furlong Chesham Stakes (a race restricted to the offspring of sires who won over 9½ furlongs or more). Since he is trained by Clive Brittain, who sent over Bold Arrangement to run second to Ferdinand in 1986, Zaidan’s name could just be worth adding to the notebook.

Zaidan (TrueNicks rated B before the race) is out of the stakes-placed Atticus (TrueNicks,SRO) (by Nureyev) mare Element of Truth. The granddam, My Shafy (by Rousillon, a son of Riverman) won the Fern Hill Stakes at Royal Ascot (now renamed a stakes event), and produced the group III winner Ramooz. The third dam, Lys River, is a listed-winning daughter of Lyphard. Zaidan is the first stakes winner from 16 starters by Street Cry (IRE) (TrueNicks,SRO) out of Nureyev line mares, but his sire, Machiavellian, was exceptional with the cross, getting eight stakes winners, five group, and two group I. Zaidan has quite a lot of line breeding with a double of Riverman, combined with Secretariat, another Nasrullah/Princequillo cross; three crosses of Natalma, and four of Almahmoud; and the three-quarters relatives Mr. Prospector and Marshua’s Dancer 3 x 5.

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