Godolphin siblings could send their dam into the big time
Martin Stevens looks at some intriguing breeding angles on Arc day
Few broodmares produce two Group 1 winners in a lifetime and yet one has a decent chance of doing the double on a single card at Longchamp on Sunday.
Ceratonia, who is among the leading fancies for the Prix Marcel Boussac after finishing second to Rocques in the Prix d'Aumale last time out, is the year-younger half-sister of Wild Illusion, who goes for back-to-back top-level triumphs in the Prix de l'Opera after taking the Nassau Stakes in August.
Wild Illusion won last year's Marcel Boussac at Chantilly and it may bode well for Ceratonia's prospects that she too came into the race after a placed effort in the Prix d'Aumale.
The siblings are the second and third foals out of Godolphin's Listed-winning Monsun mare Rumh, who must rank as one of Sheikh Mohammed's most exciting producers as her first foal was the Listed Montrose Fillies' Stakes winner Really Special.
Ceratonia is by Oasis Dream – bidding to become a second Group 1-winning two-year-old filly for the Banstead Manor Stud stalwart this season after Pretty Pollyanna – and Wild Illusion is by Godolphin great Dubawi.
Rumh has yearling and foal colts by Dubawi, and returned to the son of Dubai Millennium this year, when Really Special also visited him for her first cover.
Another first for Sea The Stars?
Sea The Stars has achieved so much already in his stallion career – a dual Derby hero in Harzand, a brilliant filly in Taghrooda, a superstar stayer in Stradivarius and so on – but he could achieve two notable firsts on Sunday.
After Taghrooda finished third in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe and Cloth Of Stars came second, the impressive Yorkshire Oaks winner and returning Cloth Of Stars could become the sire's first winner of Europe's premier all-aged middle-distance contest – which he of course took on his racing swansong nine years ago.
What could really give Sea The Stars' stallion record additional commercial edge, however, is a debut two-year-old Group 1 winner and that could come when Star Terms, an honourable second in last month's May Hill Stakes, lines up in the Marcel Boussac.
So far, Sea The Stars has appeared to be more of a stamina influence at stud than his half-brother Galileo, which is somewhat counter-intuitive considering he had more speed – winning the 2,000 Guineas before going on to excel over middle distances, which Galileo appeared to need to show his best – and is by a sharper stallion; Cape Cross rather than Sadler's Wells.
But perhaps Star Terms, bred by owner Robert Barnett out of his Queen Mary Stakes-winning Exceed And Excel mare Best Terms, shows what Sea The Stars can achieve when mated with speed and will encourage more breeders to repeat the trick.
It is after all a formula that has worked well with Galileo, as demonstrated by St Leger victor and Arc hopeful Kew Gardens (out of Moyglare Stud Stakes winner Chelsea Rose) and Prix de la Foret entrant Gustav Klimt (out of Prix Robert Papin second Massarra).
Future stallion watch
On paper, it looks like being slim pickings for stallion masters at Longchamp on Sunday.
The two fillies Enable and Sea Of Class head the betting for the Arc, while the gelded Battaash is favourite for the Prix de l'Abbaye. Another female, Polydream, is a warm order for the Prix de la Foret.
There is some intrigue on this front, though. Waldgeist, who looks to hold the best chance among the entires in the Arc, is a beautifully bred son of Galileo and has already earned the right to reproduce with two Group 1 victories.
Capri, Cloth Of Stars, Hunting Horn, Kew Gardens and Talismanic are among his rivals also equipped with striking pedigrees and attempting to enhance their stallion claims.
Prix de l'Abbaye hopefuls City Light and Havana Grey, both Group 1 performers in independent ownership, are likely to have been the subject of plenty of enquiries from stallion owners and as for the Foret – in which National Stud newcomer Aclaim rubber-stamped his credentials by winning last year – the ones to watch on this score are Gustav Klimt and James Garfield.
Coolmore would no doubt relish marketing Gustav Klimt, a son of Galileo with the speed to place in the Haydock Sprint Cup and from the family of influential sire brothers Invincible Spirit and Kodiac.
Whichever stud ends up standing James Garfield, meanwhile, will no doubt be knocked over by commercial breeders as he is a Mill Reef Stakes winner and Group 1-placed sprinter by Exceed And Excel – whose stallion sons include Excelebration (source of Barney Roy), Helmet (sire of Thunder Snow) and the exciting freshman Bungle Inthejungle.
James Garfield also hails from the family of Invincible Spirit and Kodiac. Both he and Gustav Klimt claim the winning Artaius mare Eljazzi as their third dam.
Urban Sea still the grande dame
Longchamp is really all about Urban Sea, however. The outstanding broodmare, who won the Arc 25 years ago this week, has left an indelible mark on the race.
Her son Sea The Stars landed the Arc in the same yellow silks of the Tsui family, and his daughter Sea Of Class bids to make it an extraordinary treble for both the equine and human family on Sunday.
Another son, Galileo, did not contest the race himself but did supply the first three home at Chantilly in 2016 – Found, Highland Reel and Order Of St George – while the first crop of Galileo's stallion son Nathaniel yielded last year's winner Enable.
Enable beat Cloth Of Stars, a son of Sea The Stars, into second at Chantilly with two sons of Galileo, Ulysses and Order Of St George, in third and fourth.
Then there was Urban Sea's maternal grandson Masterstroke, who finished third to Solemia in 2012.
Urban Sea's half-brother King's Best even got in on the act by siring 2010 Arc winner Workforce.
They will have to consider renaming the Arc the Prix Urban Sea.
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