Blue-blooded pedigree points the way for Derby hope Permian
The Teofilo colt descends from a deep Niarchos family
Ten colts put their Investec Derby credentials on the line in Thursday’s Dante Stakes at York but, as is often the way with thoroughbreds, it was one who sat this particular dance out that found his reputation enhanced by the greatest margin. That horse is, of course, Cracksman, who was declared a non-runner on account of the rain-softened conditions - and who had previously inflicted a narrow defeat on the Dante hero Permian.
But is Cracksman assured to uphold the form should the pair once again go toe to toe at Epsom, or is there more to Permian than the mere figures might suggest?
Having now raced ten times Permian does not boast a profile typical of a Derby winner, especially having been beaten in a Bath handicap on reappearance, albeit only by a rapidly diminishing neck. However, he is plainly thriving at present, having landed the Listed Newmarket Stakes by four and a half lengths on his penultimate start, and he always looked to have matters in hand on the Knavesmire.
The way he finished off in the Dante, not to mention how long it took jockey Franny Norton to pull him up, suggests stamina is unlikely to be an issue. The question now is does he have the scope to keep on improving?
Bred by Darley, Permian is the ninth foal out of the Mark Of Esteem mare Tessa Reef, a dual Listed winner for Sheikh Mohammed and Henri-Alex Pantall in France in 2003. Those victories came over a mile and 1m1f, both on ground officially described as soft, which may go some way to explaining Permian’s ability to handle soft conditions at York Thursday.
Tessa Reef twice ran in Group company, but was presumably amiss when beaten 26 lengths into last place behind Bright Sky in the Prix d’Astarte at Deauville, and could only muster a four-and-a-half lengths seventh behind Marbye in the Group 3 Premio Sergio Cumani at San Siro.
Permian’s siblings include five winners, most noteworthy of which are Samana Cay, twice a runner-up at Listed level in France over 1m2½f and 1m1½f, and his three-parts brother Second Wave, who was second in the 2016 Wolferton Handicap for Charlie Appleby.
However, you do not need to delve too far back into his pedigree to find a deep Niarchos family, responsible for a whole host of Classic winners. Permian’s third dam is the Prove Out mare Pasadoble, a Listed winner best known for producing multiple champion filly Miesque - who, 30 years ago almost to the day, landed her fourth Group 1 of a glittering racecourse career when winning the Poule d'Essai des Pouliches at Longchamp.
In turn Miesque went on to produce French Classic winners Kingmambo - who in turn sired Classic winner King’s Best - and East Of The Moon, while further down the page is replete with top-class performers such as Karakontie, Rumplestiltskin, Tapestry and Real Steel.
As far as the distaff side of Permian’s pedigree is concerned, Classic quality is there in abundance.
His sire, Teofilo, is also enjoying a hot spell of his own. Earlier this month Permian formed part of a stakes race double, with Ajman Princess scoring at Goodwood the same day he won at Newmarket, while Thursday also threw up a pair of promising maiden-winning fillies at Salisbury in the shape of Fleur Forsyte and Mam’Selle - the latter a half-sister to Jacqueline Quest, who was famously demoted to second in the 2010 1,000 Guineas.
Of course Teofilo himself did not run at three, but having already supplied 2013 Irish Derby winner Trading Leather - one of 12 top-level winners on Teofilo’s CV - he has already proved himself capable of siring horses who can march forward on a path he could not take.
With well-being and stamina assured, and a pedigree packed with back class, it is far from given that Permian’s Dante success should be treated only as a boost for the chances of others. Come Epsom, it might yet be worth taking his performance at face value - and think sooner about what it tells us about his own prospects.