Sepoy on a roll with first three-year-olds
Dabyah and Khukri both struck at stakes level over the weekend
The rest of this year’s sophomore sires face something of a struggle for attention, given that the spotlight is rarely far from the mighty Frankel.
But that is not to say there is any lack of promise among the remainder - starting with Darley’s Sepoy, whose two stakes winners over the weekend included what appears to be a live Classic contender.
Though she was relatively easy to back for the Group 3 Fred Darling Stakes, those who did back Dabyah never had a moment's worry as she bounded across the Newbury turf, ears pricked and under little more than hand riding, to win by a length and a quarter.
The February-foaled filly was sourced from Book 2 of the Tattersalls October Yearling Sale by Blandford Bloodstock on behalf of owner Abdullah Saeed Al Naboodah. She is a half-sister to the fairly useful stayer Samtu out of the Machiavellian mare Samdaniya, herself a half-sister to the Group 3 winner Queen's Best.
Dabyah’s dam won over an extended 1m1f, while Queen’s Best landed the Listed Chalice Stakes over 1m4f and is also the dam of the Sir Michael Stoute-trained Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf heroine Queen’s Trust. They are grand-daughters of blue hen Lucayan Princess, who produced two Group 1 winners and two Group 1 runners-up - including their dam Cloud Castle. In more recent times the family also extends to the likes of Avenir Certain and Mehmas, so the levels of stamina and class in her pedigree certainly suggest she has all the tools to prove a genuine flag-bearer for her sire.
On most books Dabyah is now joint-second favourite for the Qipco 1,000 Guineas, although connections' post-race comments suggest she may well be destined for the French equivalent at Deauville instead.
Sepoy’s weekend got even better on Sunday when Khukri became the latest beneficiary of Jessica Harrington's magic touch, the three-year-old colt finding plenty for a Colm O’Donoghue drive to land the Listed Power Stakes over 6f at Navan on his reappearance.
The colt is out of Fraulein, a daughter of Acatenango who won the 2002 EP Taylor Stakes at Woodbine for Kevin Darley and Ed Dunlop. He was first sold as a foal for 95,000gns, to Blandford Bloodstock, before BBA Ireland parted with 130,000gns for him when reoffered at Book 1 of the 2015 Tattersalls October Yearling Sale.
Khukri is one of five winners produced by Fraulein, and the third to have scored at Listed level, as he is a half-brother to the Surrey Stakes scorer That Is The Spirit and the Eden Stakes victor Mischief Making.
His sibling’s finest moments have come over a range of distances, with That Is The Spirit’s best form coming over 7f and Mischief Making’s peak performance on Racing Post Ratings being over 2m. But Harrington seems certain that Khukri has taken after his sire, sooner than his dam, and will keep the colt to sprinting for the time being.
Besides doubling the number of stakes winners on his northern hemisphere CV, Sepoy has also in recent days supplied the likes of Nell Gwyn runner-up Unforgetable Filly, maiden winner Esprit De Corps, and the taking juvenile debutant winner Excellently Poised.
And the son of Elusive Quality's hot streak could yet be turned up a few degrees higher on Tuesday, with Charlie Appleby set to unleash Soldier Blue and Stormy Blues in Yarmouth's opening race over a mile at 1.40pm.
The former is the second-most expensive Sepoy sold in the northern hemisphere, having fetched €300,000 at Arqana's breeze-up sale in 2016. Another of the sire's progeny to have been bought by Blandford Bloodstock, he is out of a half-sister to Group 2 winner Beauty Is Truth, the dam of Group 1 winner The United States and Moyglare Stud Stakes runner-up Hydrangea.
The latter - a 160,000gns Tattersalls Book 1 yearling - boasts a stouter pedigree, being a half-brother to dual Goodwood Cup and Princess of Wales's Stakes winner Big Orange, and from the family of Red Cadeaux.
Any reverse shuttle stallion has his work cut out to capture the imagination of breeders on the opposite side of the globe, especially if they flop quite as badly as Sepoy did on his sole appearance on a British racecourse.
But he sooner earned a fee of £15,000 with four top-flight events in his native Australia, including the Blue Diamond, Golden Slipper and Coolmore Stud Stakes. And having covered 365 mares - including 77 black type performers - in the last three seasons at Dalham Hall, Sepoy now looks to be repaying the faith of a not inconsiderable number of European breeders.