The transfer of the peerless Frankel from the racing stable to the stallion barn will have set the hearts of those charged with planning future trysts for their mares both alight and aflutter. Those outside the bloodstock business might wonder what any fuss is about – he's a champion horse, so his offspring will be the same, right? – but it is not quite as simple as that. The Aga Khan, arguably the world's most successful breeder, describes the pursuit of excellence as a game of chess with nature.
The events of the weekend were a pretty good illustration of the cerebral challenges and frustrations involved. For a start, Frankel's year-younger brother Noble Mission was in action at Newbury, where he slogged on dourly through the mud to mark himself as a decent staying prospect for next year. Same mating, but different aptitude and level of talent.
At Leopardstown another pair of Khaled Abdullah-bred siblings were both in victorious action, the seven-year-old Famous Name and his baby sister Big Break. Famous Name is now off to start his own life at stud after an illustrious career that brought 21 victories, 13 of them at Group Two or Three level but never, despite nine attempts, in the top tier. Big Break may outclass big bro, having made a significant move up the betting for next year's 1,000 Guineas after putting some useful colts firmly in their place in the Killavullan Stakes.
Early days for her, though. And also for Gevrey Chambertin, though at Chepstow he at least did better than his top-class older sibling Grands Crus, one of the favourites for the King George VI Chase, by winning on his first start over hurdles.
And who knows what should be made of the shared family history of Kingsbarns and For Non Stop, who won within half an hour of each other at Doncaster and Aintree respectively? The two-year-old colt, trained by Aidan O'Brien and bred by his wife Anne Marie, put himself right in line for next year's Classics with a smooth, impressive success in the last Group One of the domestic Flat season, the Racing Post Trophy; the seven-year-old gelding, from Nick Williams's yard, looks a lively Cheltenham Festival prospect after running away with the first graded contest of the emerging jumping campaign, the Old Roan Chase.
Their joint heritage goes back three generations, to a useful Irish performer up to a mile during the Seventies, House Tie, who was herself a daughter of the top juvenile filly of 1963, the speedy Mesopotamia. House Tie, by champion sprinter Be Friendly, had 10 foals, of whom nine reached the track and six won, the best being the Listed winner Tea House. One of the least of her runners was Ittisaal who, given her chance as a broodmare and mated with Belmez, produced Beltisaal, the non-winning dam of Kingsbarns.
The one of House Tie's offspring who did not race, Twine, achieved fame as the dam of Alderbrook, hero of the 1995 Champion Hurdle and sire of For Non Stop. So the winter favourite for the Derby and the Ryanair Chase contender share one of their four great-grand-dams.
It is not the first time House Tie's descendants have shone under different codes. Tea House, by Sassafras, is dam of the Danehill filly Danish, a US Grade One winner; of her brother Ace, runner-up in a Prince Of Wales's Stakes and a Breeders' Cup Turf; and of Sybillin, by Henbit, a top-class two-mile chaser. And another daughter, Jamaican Punch, is maternal great-grand-dam of top-class miler Rip Van Winkle.
Beltisaal joined the O'Brien broodmare band 11 years ago, snapped up for just £6,500 at auction. Kingsbarns, by Frankel's four-time champion sire Galileo, is a lovely, scopey youngster with a rough-hewn white diamond between his eyes and may yet prove a another gem for his family. But his older brother Egyptian Warrior has yet to race. You can mate the best to the best – but after that you have to just hope for the best.
Chris McGrah'S Nap: Bell'arte (4.20 Leicester)
A mile in heavy ground seemed beyond her last time and she drops in class and distance today. She is still lightly raced and there is surely more progress to come.
Next best: Medici Dancer (12.40 Redcar)
Her two latest battling narrow defeats are an indication that she has the ability and character to cope with testing conditions.
One to Watch:
Nampour (Colin Tizzard) has not scored for more than three years but shaped well on this season's debut at Aintree on Saturday and is still on a handy mark.
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