Cassandra goes from brilliant sprinter to budding blue hen
Trevor Stewart meant to pinhook his star mare but she is now a Group 1 matriarch
It was business as usual for Galileo at Newmarket last autumn when he sired the first two home in the Fillies’ Mile as well as the winner of the Dewhurst Stakes, Churchill. The result of the Fillies’ Mile, dominated by the Ballydoyle fillies Rhododendron and Hydrangea, marked the fifth occasion in 2016 in which he had supplied at least the first two in a Group 1 and followed hot on the heels of his remarkable achievement of siring the first three home in the Arc.
With October yielding four European Group 1 winners for Galileo, his European earnings for the year stood at over £14.7 million. His nearest pursuer, Dubawi, has accumulated approximately £4.9m.
It would be wrong, however, to underestimate the influence of Cassandra Go in Galileo’s current purple patch. A high-class sprinter in her day for Trevor Stewart, the daughter of Indian Ridge has become the foundation of a thriving family that is responsible for both Rhododendron and Photo Call, whose shock defeat of Tepin in Saturday’s First Lady Stakes at Keeneland came just a day after Rhododendron’s romp in the Fillies’ Mile. Like Rhododendron, Photo Call is a Galileo granddaughter of Cassandra Go.
The pair are out of two of Cassandra Go’s stakes-winning daughters; Rhododendron is out of Halfway To Heaven, who swept the Irish 1,000 Guineas, Nassau and Sun Chariot Stakes for Aidan O’Brien in 2008, while Photo Call is out of Group 3 winner Theann. She is another current credit to her breeder Evie Stockwell following the exploits of Brave Anna.
All of which bodes well for the prospects of her high-class Invincible Spirit daughter Tickled Pink. Retained by Stewart, she is the dam of a Dark Angel colt who was sold through Ballyhimikin Stud for 500,000gns to Shadwell Estates at Tattersalls last week.
Stewart’s involvement with the family began in 1996 with the purchase of Cassandra Go as a foal through Joss Collins of the BBA for 82,000gns. It was a particularly live family at the time since her dam, Rahaam, had been represented earlier that year by Coventry Stakes winner Verglas and Prix La Sorellina winner Persian Secret.
“Joss bought her as a foal for me and she came back to Corduff Stud,” says Stewart. “The idea was to pinhook her, so she came back to the Houghton Sale as a yearling.”
By that stage, the family had been further enhanced by Verglas’ runner-up performance to Desert King in the 1997 Irish 2,000 Guineas. Thus, the Indian Ridge filly out of Rahaam headed to the sales as a half-sister to a current Classic performer only to be bought back at 200,000gns.
“I’d always followed Geoff Wragg as I liked the way he trained,” says Stewart. “So I went up to him at the sale, introduced myself and said ‘I’ve just bought back this filly and my wife isn’t talking to me. Can you take her for me and help me out?’”
Retaining Cassandra Go, named in honour of London jeweller Cassandra Goad, turned out to be a blessing in disguise when Wragg went on to train her to win six of 17 starts. A brief flirtation with racing over a mile ended in disappointment but that prompted a switch back to sprinting, a division in which she became a potent force, winning the King George and Lansdown Stakes as a four-year-old and the King’s Stand and Temple Stakes during an excellent season at five.
CASSANDRA GO (96 Indian Ridge-Rahaam by Secreto) won Temple Stakes-Gr2, King’s Stand Stakes-Gr2, King George Stakes-Gr3, Lansdown Stakes-LR; 2nd July Cup-Gr1, Palace House Stakes-Gr3, Ballyogan Stakes-Gr3. Dam of:
HALFWAY TO HEAVEN (05 f Pivotal) won Irish 1,000 Guineas-Gr1, Nassau Stakes-Gr1, Sun Chariot Stakes-Gr1. Dam of RHODODENDRON (f Galileo) won Fillies’ Mile-Gr1, Debutante Stakes-Gr2; FLYING THE FLAG (c Galileo) won International Stakes-Gr3, sire in South Africa.
THEANN (04 f Rock Of Gibraltar) won Summer Stakes-Gr3. Dam of PHOTO CALL (f Galileo) won First Lady Stakes-Gr1, Rodeo Drive Stakes-Gr1, Orchid Stakes-Gr3, Violet Stakes-Gr3
TICKLED PINK (09 f Invincible Spirit) won Coral Charge Sprint-Gr3, Abernant Stakes-Gr3
NEVERLETME GO (02 f Green Desert) winner. Dam of BEST REGARDS (10 f Tamayuz) won Hoppegartener Fliegerpreis-LR.
“She was my first decent horse,” says Stewart. “Geoff said early on that she was above average but sore shins held her up a bit. We ran her first time in the Houghton Sales race and we thought she’d be in the first four. So we were a little depressed when she finished 16th.
“Then she won what is usually a very good maiden at Newmarket’s Craven meeting and I said then that we’d like to target the Irish Guineas. She was third next time at Ascot but then did some extraordinary work before the Guineas so we gave it a go.”
Cassandra Go didn’t cover herself in glory that day, finishing 16th behind Hula Angel. But given a break, she returned reinvented as a sprinter and the rest, as they say, is history.
Cassandra Go spent her last season racing while in foal to Green Desert. She went out on a high, taking the Temple and King’s Stand Stakes before running second to Mozart in the July Cup.
“After she won the King George Stakes as a four-year-old, we were going to head to the Nunthorpe,” says Stewart. “But she had a setback and couldn’t run for the rest of the year. So playing it safe, I had her covered the following season just in case things didn’t work out.
“There’s no doubt she improved with age and perhaps she improved for being in foal.”
Cassandra Go’s first foal, Neverletme Go, won twice for Stewart and has since bred German Listed winner Best Regards.
Her third foal, Theann, was one of the auction highlights of Rock Of Gibraltar’s first crop, selling for €400,000 to John Magnier, while Demi O’Byrne signed at €450,000 for Halfway To Heaven, her next yearling through the ring. More recently, John Ferguson paid 1,700,000gns for her Shamardal colt, the placed Chess Master.
“I’d kept the first two so the decision to sell Theann and Halfway To Heaven was commercial,” said Stewart. “Tickled Pink was always going to be kept after the success of those fillies.”
Sent to Sir Henry Cecil, Tickled Pink peaked at four when successful in the 2013 Abernant Stakes - one of the last racecourse appearances made by her iconic trainer - and the Coral Charge.
Tickled Pink has a ‘very smart’ Shamardal colt and is in foal to Gleneagles. Stewart also has Cassandra Go’s unraced Pivotal daughter Allez Alaia, who is in foal to Kingman.
As for Cassandra Go, she has an Iffraaj yearling colt set to be named Scooter who is going to Roger Charlton and an Invincible Spirit filly foal called Holly Golightly.
“Ballyhimikin Stud has done a marvellous job with Cassandra Go,” says Stewart. “She’s been managed very well and looks great for a 20-year-old.”
Stewart also has another talented descendant of Rahaam in Swish, a Listed-placed two-year-old for John James Feane this season.
Photo Call is the sole stakes horse from six foals out of Theann. The emergence of Rhododendron, however, has served to underline Halfway To Heaven’s status as an important producer for Coolmore.
She has visited Galileo throughout her stud career and Rhododendron is her second foal to score at Pattern level following Flying The Flag, the 2013 International Stakes winner. He wasn’t disgraced when beaten six lengths in the Derby but ultimately proved most effective over 1m2f. Given the amount of speed on the page, perhaps 1m4f will end up stretching Rhododendron as well.
Newmarket highlights for Thorman
The dust had barely settled on Mrs Danvers’ popular victory in Friday’s Cornwallis Stakes before another two-year-old associated with Paul Thorman, Poet’s Vanity, had stamped herself as a filly to watch when taking the Oh So Sharp Stakes. While Mrs Danvers has become an important flag-bearer for Hellvelyn, who stands for Thorman among others at Roisin Close’s Bucklands Farm and Stud, Poet’s Vanity was bred by Paul and Sara Thorman’s Trickledown Stud in partnership with Panda Bloodstock. A second Pattern winner for Poet’s Voice, she is a half-sister to the Group 1-placed sprinter Lesson In Humility, dam of Hellvelyn’s studmate Coach House.
Acclamation hot spot
Kassia’s win in Saturday’s Boadicea Stakes at Newmarket maintained a golden period on the track for her sire Acclamation following the victories of Marsha in the Prix de l’Abbaye and Aclaim in Friday’s Challenge Stakes. As a result, the Rathbarry stalwart heads into the last weeks of the turf season among the top ten European sires with the winners of approximately £2.63m to his credit.
Alun Douch’s Sweet Coincidence pulled off a memorable double on Saturday when her daughter Sweet Selection won the Cesarewitch Handicap just minutes before her two-year-old son Gulliver obliged in the 7f maiden at York. Their victories also provided an across-the-card double for Llety Farms, which stands their sires Stimulation and Sayif. Sweet Coincidence, a daughter of Mujadil, initially struck notoriety as the dam of 1,000 Guineas runner-up Lightning Thunder.
Saturday showcase for Airwave family
Churchill wasn’t the only two-year-old to enhance his family on Saturday. Just 20 minutes before he notched his second Group 1 in the Dewhurst Stakes, it was the turn of his close relative Dream Of Dreams to advertise the family when second in the Rockingham Stakes at York. While Churchill is out of Queen Mary Stakes runner-up Meow, a Storm Cat daughter of the flying filly Airwave, Dream Of Dreams is out of Airwave’s unraced Dansili half-sister Vasilia.
Bargain filly closes in on A$2m earnings
With victory in Saturday’s Group 1 Spring Champion Stakes at Randwick, Yankee Rose took her earnings to A$1,922,700 - an incredible return on a filly that cost Darby Racing just A$10,000 at the 2015 Inglis Classic Yearling Sale. A crack against the likes of Winx and Hartnell in the Cox Plate on October 22 now beckons for the David Vandyke-trained filly.