With contests over a wide variety of distances, from five furlongs to beyond two miles, Royal Ascot’s races make very different demands of speed and stamina. A horse’s breeding should give some clue as to which distance should prove its optimum, but given that most pedigrees are a mix of speed and stamina influences, things are not always that straightforward as some of the royal meeting’s winners highlighted.
The Queen Anne Stakes winner Solow was bred to stay much further than a mile – and campaigned accordingly earlier in his career – as we’ve already seen in an earlier post. But he wasn’t the only Group 1 winner on the first day of the meeting to prove much speedier than aspects of his pedigree might have suggested.
The King’s Stand Stakes winner Goldream is by Oasis Dream who finished third in the same race in 2003 before going on to win the July Cup and Nunthorpe Stakes. A simple case, then, of son following in father’s footsteps, a sprinter siring a sprinter? Well, the dam’s side of Goldream’s pedigree suggested he was no certainty to take after his sire, who is well able to get horses who stay further, and it’s interesting that his original trainer, Luca Cumani, for one, clearly believed Goldream was destined for longer distances.
As a two-year-old, Goldream raced exclusively at seven furlongs and a mile, finishing second at the latter trip in a maiden at Kempton. However, it was not until dropping back to six furlongs at three that Goldream got his head in front. Neither his dam nor grandam ever raced, but Goldream’s great grandam Floripedes (by the Prix du Jockey Club winner Top Ville) won the Prix de Lutece and was second in the Prix Royal-Oak, both races at or around fifteen furlongs. Floripedes is now best known as the dam of Montjeu, arguably the best recent sire of staying horses, while her other offspring included Le Paillard, runner-up in what was once America’s longest Grade 1 contest, the San Juan Capistrano Handicap over a mile and three quarters.
None of that stamina has clearly filtered through to Goldream, though it’s a very different story with another of Oasis Dream’s sons who was in action on the first day of the royal meeting. Although out of a mare by the 1989 King’s Stand winner Indian Ridge, Elishpour stayed on to finish third in the Ascot Stakes over two and a half miles, a performance much more in keeping with his dam’s siblings Enzeli and Estimate who were both Gold Cup winners over the same course and distance. Oasis Dream had another winner of a Group 1 sprint later at the meeting when Muhaarar won the inaugural Commonwealth Cup.
There was another notable example of speed and stamina in a pedigree on the Friday of Royal Ascot when Aloft won the Queen’s Vase. This time it was the sire’s stamina which prevailed over the out-and-out speed on his dam’s side. Aloft was Galileo’s third winner of the week after Curvy in the Ribblesdale Stakes (a race previously won by her half-sister Thakafaat) and Gleneagles in the St James’s Palace Stakes.
While Gleneagles has to go down as one of Galileo’s speediest sons (we reviewed his pedigree here), Aloft is clearly much more of a stayer despite being bred on the same cross as Gleneagles, he too out of a Storm Cat mare. Aloft’s dam Dietrich did most of her racing at five furlongs, finishing fourth in the Windsor Castle Stakes at Royal Ascot as a two-year-old and winning the Ballyogan Stakes at Leopardstown and the King George Stakes at Goodwood at three.
It’s not the first time that the Coolmore partners have managed to win the two-mile Queen’s Vase with a colt whose dam brought little or nothing in the way of stamina to his pedigree. The 2013 winner Leading Light was by Montjeu out of Dance Parade who won the Queen Mary Stakes over five furlongs at the Royal meeting as a two-year-old; Leading Light went on to win the St Leger later that season as well as the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot a year later.
Repeat matings between, say, a speedier sire with a mare from a staying background can result in full brothers or sisters with quite different distance requirements. Take Juddmonte’s brothers Dansili and Champs Elysees. By Danehill out of the outstanding broodmare Hasili who was by strong stamina influence Kahyasi, miler Dansili clearly took more after their sire whereas Derby winner Kahyasi’s stamina was more evident in Champs Elysees who was a mile and a half performer.
The two brothers both made their mark at Royal Ascot, but, in keeping with their racing records, did so in very different ways. Champs Elysees’ winner came in the meeting’s premier stamina test when Trip To Paris gave his sire a first Group 1 success by winning the Gold Cup, while Dansili’s winner Mahsoob came in the Wolferton Handicap over a mile and a quarter.
But Dansili’s influence on the meeting didn’t end there. As well siring the dam of the impressive Tercentenary Stakes winner Time Test (out of the Criterium de Saint-Cloud winner Passage of Time), Dansili is also responsible for first-season sire Zoffany who had a terrific meeting with three winners; Washington DC in the Windsor Castle Stakes, Waterloo Bridge in the Norfolk Stakes and Illuminate in the Albany Stakes.
Zoffany had himself run at Royal Ascot as a two-year-old, when finishing only sixth in the Coventry, but he went closer at the meeting twelve months later when getting to within three quarters of a length of upsetting Frankel in the St James’s Palace Stakes.
[Image of royal procession at Royal Ascot courtesy of Steve F]