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Classic Contrasts

It wasn't exactly the best of times or the worst of times, but there were some strange and contradictory contrasts in the two English 1½ mile classics, the Oaks and Derby (both gr. I). In the Oaks, the winner – by a sprinter/miler, out of a mare by a sprinter – was ridden for stamina, while the Derby saw a son of a French Derby winner out of a mare by a French Derby winner take the day after being held up and ridden for finishing speed.

In the Oaks (video below), Dancing Rain, who had never previously won a stakes event – although she’d had only three previous starts – made every yard of the running to score by ¾ length from Wonder Of Wonders (Kingmambo) and Izzi Top (Pivotal). Dancing Rain is by Danehill Dancer, winner of the Phoenix Stakes (gr. I) and National Stakes (gr. I) at 2, and the Greenham Stakes (gr. III) at 3. After starting at a fairly modest fee, Danehill Dancer emerged as one of the best stallion sons of Danehill. He’s sired 127 stakes winners from his Northern and Southern Hemisphere crops. His offspring have included juvenile group I winners (Mastercraftsman, Again, Alfred Nobel and Miss Beatrix), top-class sprinters (most notably Choisir (AUS) (TrueNicks,SRO) and Atomic Force), and numerous talented milers (including group/grade I winners Mastercraftsman, Private Steer, Lillie Langtry, Light Fantastic, and Speciosa). However, on occasion, as did his sire, he’s been responsible for high-class performers who get a fair bit further, notably the Australian Oaks (gr. I) winner Arapaho Miss; Ave, who won the 10-furlong Flower Bowl Invitational (gr. I); Planteur, who took this year’s Prix Ganay (gr. I) at 10½ furlongs; Alexander Tango, who took the Garden City Stakes (gr. I), at nine furlongs; Super Satin, winner of the 10-furlong Hong Kong Derby (gr. I); and Anna Pavlova, successful in the Lancashire Oaks (gr. II) at 12 furlongs and Prix de Royallieu (gr. II) at 12½ furlongs.

Dancing Rain’s dam, Rain Flower, is by Indian Ridge, a talented sprinter who scored group wins from five to seven furlongs, and who was a very good sire, principally of sprinters and milers. As an example of genetic variation, we can note that to Danehill, Rain Flower produced Dancing Rain’s three-parts-sister, Sumora, a stakes winner at five furlongs. Like the Danehill Dancer runners, Rain Flower’s relatives have also been effective over a wide range of distances. To Indian Ridge’s sire, Ahonoora (a go-from-the-gate sprinter), Rain Flower’s dam, Rose of Jericho, produced the Epsom Derby (gr. I) victor Dr. Devious. To Sadler’s Wells, Rose of Jericho came up with Royal Court, a group winner at 13½ furlongs, yet when she was bred to Sadler’s Wells's brother Fairy King, the result was Shinko King, a Japanese group I-winning sprinter. Rose of Jericho is also dam of the sprinter Archway (by Thatching). At stud in Australia, Archway also frequently denied the stamina limitations suggested by his race record with such as AJC Oaks (gr. I) victress Rose Archway, South Australian Oaks (gr. I) winner She’s Archie, and Roman Arch, who won the Toorak Handicap (gr. I) at a mile but also the 12-furlong Sandown Classic (gr. II). The stamina in the family comes from the next generations of the female line, as Rose of Jericho is by Alleged, who won two renewals of the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (gr. I), and is a half sister to Critique, who won the Hardwicke Stakes (gr. II) at Royal Ascot at 1½ miles. This is a good French family, going back to Torbella, a filly who beat colts in the Dewhurst Stakes at 2.

Dancing Rain was rated A by TrueNicks prior to her first black type win. She’s a product of the Danehill/Indian Ridge cross, and this has produced eight stakes winners from 87 starters, including a previous group I winner in Nahoodh, who took the one-mile Falmouth Stakes (gr. I). Prior to Dancing Rain’s victory, the cross had an average winning distance of 6.78 furlongs. Dancing Rain also has Northern Dancer 4x4 at the top and bottom of the pedigree.

The day after the Oaks, in the Derby (click for video), Pour Moi, who is bred to run all day (or at least most of it), was held up at the rear of the field before producing a finishing run that took him to the line a head to the good of Treasure Beach (by Galileo) and the Royal colt Carlton House. We’ve been talking a lot, and with justification, about Galileo lately, so now it’s time to give some love to his fellow Sadler’s Wells son, and Coolmore sire, Montjeu. Like his son Pour Moi, Montjeu was a horse who both stayed 1½ miles well and had a tremendous turn of foot. His victories included the French Derby (gr. I), Irish Derby (gr. I), and Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (gr. I) at 3, and the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes (gr. I), Tattersalls Gold Cup (gr. I), and Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud (gr. I) at 3. He’s pretty much established himself as the Derby sire of his era, with Motivator, Authorized (IRE) (TrueNicks,SRO), and Pour Moi winning the English version (meaning the Sadler’s Wells line has taken six of the last 11 Epsom Derbys); Fame and Glory, Frozen Fire, and Hurricane Run taking the Irish Derby (gr. I); and Roman Emperor and Nom du Jeu winning the Australian Derby (gr. I). Of course, he is also sire of several other standouts, including St. Nicholas Abbey (who won the Coronation Cup (gr. I) over the Derby course and distance this week), Corre Caminos, Jan Vermeer, Joshua Tree, Jukebox Jury, Montare, Montmartre, Tavistock, and Wall Street.

Pour Moi is out of Gwyn, a daughter of French Derby (gr. I) winner Darshaan (by Shirley Heights). Montjeu hasn’t been as strong as his sire and some of his other sons over Darshaan/Shirley Heights – Pour Moi is a TrueNicks B – but he does have five stakes winners on the cross, including other group winners Blue Bajan and Honolulu. Gwyn has also bred the dual group-winning filly Gagnoa to Sadler’s Wells, and she’s a three-parts-sister to the dam of another Sadler’s Wells black type scorer, Atlantic Waves. The granddam, Victoress, is by Conquistador Cielo out of Royal Statute, an E.P. Taylor-bred by Northern Dancer out of the imported English mare Queen’s Statute. Northern Statute was only a minor winner, but she turned out to be a remarkable foundation mare. Three of her offspring won group or graded stakes, including Awaasif (two-time group I winner in Europe; dam of Snow Bride, winner of the Epsom Oaks (gr. I), and in turn herself dam of Lammtarra, winner of the Epsom Derby, King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes, and Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (all gr. I)). Among the other major stakes winners descending from Royal Statute are classic scorers Hector Protector, Bosra Sham, and Shanghai, and group/grade I winners Sunstrach, Act One, Internally Flawless, Red Giant (TrueNicks,SRO), and Passinetti). Given that Northern Dancer was nowhere near as influential through his daughters as his sons, it’s interesting to note that Pour Moi, like the Oaks winner Dancing Rain, is inbred to Northern Dancer through his sire line and a mare in his direct female line.

The day after the Epsom Derby (gr. I), the Prix du Jockey-Club–French Derby (gr. I, video below) was won by Reliable Man (TrueNicks A prior to his win), a horse bred on the reverse cross to Pour Moi. He is a son of French Derby (gr. I) and Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (gr. I) winner Dalakhani (by Darshaan, out of a mare by Miswaki, who of course is also broodmare sire of Galileo). Reliable Man is from the fourth crop of Dalakhani, who has sired 14 other group/graded winners, including previous gr. I winners Conduit, Chinese White, and Moonstone.

Reliable Man is out of the Sadler’s Wells mare On Fair Stage, a minor stakes winner who also bred French listed scorer Gale Force. The cross of Dalakhani with mares by Sadler’s Wells has produced six stakes winners from 35 starters, and three of the sire’s four group I winners. There is a strange statistical quirk here as of the 69 foals by Dalakhani out of Sadler’s Wells mares, 48 are colts and 21 are fillies.

The granddam, Fair Salinia (by Petingo), was an outstanding runner who took the English and Irish Oaks (gr. I), the Yorkshire Oaks (gr. I), and also finished second in the 1,000 Guineas (gr. I) and Cheveley Park Stakes (gr. I). At stud she produced three stakes winners: On Fair Stage, group III winner Perfect Vintage (by Shirley Heights, the grandsire of Dalakhani), and listed winner Perfect Circle. This is a pretty stout background, and Reliable Man is bred to go a fair bit further than the 10 ½ furlongs of the French Derby (gr. I). With that and his relative inexperience in mind, Reliable Man might have plenty of improvement left in him.

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