Blue Point and Too Darn Hot have never lacked for opportunity at stud, as befits a pair of well-bred multiple Group 1 winners standing under the Darley banner. But with such support also comes the weight of expectation. 

There are numerous examples of horses for whom expectation becomes a burden, even if they ultimately prove to be perfectly capable in their second career. Golden Horn, a horse who headed to stud with a depth of backing at an opening fee of £60,000 only to be subsequently left in the cold by the commercial Flat market, is a case in point; now serving in a dual-purpose role at Overbury Stud, he could be a Classic-producing sire this time next week if Voyage obliges in the Derby.

In the cases of Blue Point and Too Darn Hot, however, the trajectories to the top have been pretty smooth. 

Blue Point ended 2023 as the champion first-crop sire by winners and earnings in both Britain and Ireland and Europe. Among the haul were two Group 1 winners in Big Evs and Rosallion; not since Sadler’s Wells 35 years previously had a sire thrown two winners at the top level in his first crop.

Too Darn Hot’s first runners also laid an impressive foundation for the future. They were slower to get going than Blue Point, perhaps unsurprisingly so given the pair’s respective profiles, but his first winner was none other than Fallen Angel, whose late May debut win at Haydock was followed by victories in the Sweet Solera and Moyglare Stud Stakes. Her trainer Karl Burke has turned out to be crucial in Too Darn Hot’s initial success since his yard also houses Darnation, another talented one by the sire whose juvenile season took in victories in the Prestige and May Hill Stakes.

Carolina Reaper also took a Group 3 in Germany while among the colts, Shadwell’s Alyanaabi beat Boiling Point to lead home a one-two for the sire in the Somerville Tattersall Stakes.

No sooner had Blue Point recorded his first Classic winner courtesy of Rosallion in Saturday’s Irish 2,000 Guineas at the Curragh, then Too Darn Hot followed suit in the fillies equivalent

The books for both Blue Point and Too Darn Hot this season were reportedly finely managed in line with Darley’s overall policy. “We’re determined not to cover too many, both for the benefit of the horse and those breeders who have got mares in foal,” Darley’s director of stallions Sam Bullard told the Owner Breeder earlier in the year. “The aim is 150 but not more than 160. But I’m also a huge believer in taking stock of what the breeders have to think. Those who regularly breed horses, and good ones, well let’s use their brains.” All of which means that those lucky enough to have got mares into Blue Point and Too Darn Hot this spring are likely to be extremely happy with how both have more or less picked up where they left off from last year.

No sooner had Blue Point recorded his first Classic winner courtesy of Rosallion in Saturday’s Irish 2,000 Guineas at the Curragh, then Too Darn Hot followed suit in the fillies equivalent, although in his case the emphatic win of Fallen Angel followed hot on the heels of Darnation’s success in the German 1,000 Guineas earlier in the day at Dusseldorf.

Fallen Angel: seen here winning the Moyglare Stud Stakes, she is the highlight of a successful first crop for Too Darn Hot.

Rosallion heads a group of three European stakes winners for Blue Point so far this year alongside Big Evs, who made a sparkling return to defy a penalty in the Westow Stakes at York, and Raqiya, who handed her sire a big-race double in the Cathedral Stakes at Salisbury just hours after Rosallion’s Classic success. 

Too Darn Hot, however, just has the edge in terms of European stakes winners on four. What is also impressive is how well his progeny are faring in different jurisdictions. Shuttle trips to Australia have yielded another Group 1 winner in Broadsiding, recent winner of the Champagne Stakes, as well as a trio of Group-placed two-year-olds in Arabian Summer, Silmarillion and Too Darn Lizzie. As a result, Too Darn Hot is on course to be the champion first-crop sire of Australia and New Zealand. 

There has also been success in Japan, where he is the sire of Group 2 winner and Japanese 1,000 Guineas fifth Etes Vous Prets.

It is also noticeable how more forward Too Darn Hot’s second crop of juveniles are compared to last year’s group. Hot Darling got the ball rolling when winning her debut on April 26 at Chantilly for Amy Murphy and has since followed up in the Listed Prix des Reves d’Or at Vichy. The Ed Walker-trained Red Sand also ran out the easy winner of a 6f maiden at Goodwood last week. There have also been several notable results at this year’s breeze-ups led by a filly who made €800,000 to Amo Racing at the recent Arqana May Sale. 

Crucially for Darley, Blue Point and Too Darn Hot bring differing aspects to the table, making them both of great appeal to breeders. Blue Point is foremost a speed influence, in keeping with his own profile, but the fact that he has already thrown a Group 1-winning miler will stand him in excellent stead going forward. Nor was Too Darn Hot short of pace, ultimately proving best over 7f and a mile despite being from an excellent middle-distance family. And his better progeny are so far following suit – all of his stakes winners to date have come at a mile or below.

Thus Too Darn Hot has already placed himself near the head of the Dubawi movement, something that is also being promoted to great effect this season by fellow Darley stallion Night Of Thunder. His 2021 crop, sired in his final year at €25,000, includes some of the best three-year-olds around in Dante Stakes winner Economics, American Grade 2 winner Dynamic Pricing and Classic-placed Vespertilio. His fee jumped to €75,000 for 2021 and that resulting crop of juveniles already contains three winners from as many runners led by Fairy Godmother, who booked her ticket to Royal Ascot last week with a victory in the Naas Fillies Sprint Stakes.

Night Of Thunder’s fee jumped to €75,000 for 2021 and that resulting crop of juveniles already contains three winners from as many runners led by Fairy Godmother

One of the interesting aspects to Too Darn Hot is his pedigree. Bred and raced by Watership Down Stud, he is out of their star mare Dar Re Mi, herself a Singspiel daughter of blue hen Darara and granddaughter of Darshaan’s dam Delsy. He is also inbred to Sunbittern, fourth dam of Dubawi and second dam of Singspiel’s sire In The Wings (Space Blues, another Group 1-winning son of Dubawi on the Darley roster, is also inbred). Reinforcing important mares has long been utilised by successful breeders over the years and in the case of Fallen Angel’s background, further positive weight is added to the theory in the double presence of Delsy.

Too Darn Hot: made an impressive start to his stud career. Photo – George Selwyn

There are 20 stakes winners worldwide inbred within five generations to the mare, who originally found fame as the dam of Darshaan. Fallen Angel is arguably the best of them but the list also includes Australian Group 1 winners Best Of Days (by Azamour) and Rock On Wood (by Redwood). Western Hymn (by High Chaparral), the winner of five Pattern races for John Gosden, is also inbred to Darshaan, and thereby Delsy, as is French Group 2 winner Shankardeh (by Azamour) and Group 3 winners Alla Speranza (by Sir Percy), Caught U Looking (by Harzand), Only Mine (by Pour Moi), Perfect Thought (by So You Think) and Zannda (by Azamour).

Too Darn Hot obviously offers easy access into the family as a third generation descendant of Delsy and chances are that it will be a pattern worth keeping an eye on with him since in addition to Fallen Angel, it sits behind another of his six winners including Red Sand and the ill-fated Newmarket maiden winner Point Sur.

Foaled in 1972, Delsy was incorporated into the Aga Khan Studs fold with the lock, stock and barrel purchase of the horses belonging to textile tycoon Marcel Boussac, himself a breeder with a penchant – often successful – for repeated inbreeding to some of his best stock.

Darara with Watership Down Stud Manager Terry Doherty

By Abdos and a direct descendant of Boussac’s important producer Tourzima (herself inbred 2×2 to the sisters Durban and Heldifann), Delsy was inbred to the influential mare Astronomie and showed all her best form at 12 furlongs, winning one race at Chantilly and running third in the Prix de Pomone. Darshaan, her fourth foal, was from the second crop of Derby winner Shirley Heights and under the care of Alain de Royer-Dupre, was one of the middle-distance stars of 1984, his career capped by that famous Prix du Jockey Club victory over Sadler’s Wells and Rainbow Quest.

Darshaan’s subsequent success for the Aga Khan at stud, whether through the various sons that became stallions or his brilliance as a broodmare sire, has ensured that his line remains an important part of today’s thoroughbred. Meanwhile, Delsy continues to become more influential through her Top Ville daughter Darara, the 1986 Prix Vermeille winner. Darara was well bought by Watership Down through Charlie Gordon-Watson for Ir470,000gns out of the Aga Khan Studs’ draft in November 1994; in the years following that sale, she foaled the Group 1 winners Diaghilev (a 3.4 million gns yearling), Rewilding and Dar Re Mi, who is now forging her own legacy as the dam of Too Darn Hot. Another stallion son of Dar Re Mi, De Treville, is also showing promise at Sumbe in France where he is the sire of Group 3 winner Gregarina from limited opportunities.

Fallen Angel’s female family adds in Delsy via Dalakhani, the last major son sired by Darshaan who appears as the sire of her granddam Anice Stellato. Out of a Key Of Luck half-sister to Irish Derby runner-up Definite Article and the David Elsworth-trained Group winners Salford City and Salford Express, Anice Stellato was trained by Ralph Beckett to win a pair of races, including her sole two-year-old start at Newmarket, for Steve Parkin’s Clipper Logistics. Clipper sold the mare at the end of her career but delved back in through Eddie Lynam when her first foal, Agnes Stewart, came under the hammer as a yearling. Bought for €24,000, the Lawman filly went on to win the 2014 May Hill Stakes and run second in the Fillies’ Mile. As an aside, the winner that day was Together Forever, the dam of City Of Troy, while back in third was Winter’s Moon, the dam of Earthlight. Now as the dam of Fallen Angel, Agnes Stewart has not been left behind.

The sadness is that Fallen Angel is the final foal out of Agnes Stewart, who succumbed to colic aged nine in 2021. Each of her four foals are winners and also include the talented Frankel filly Divine Jewel, who was beaten a head into second in last year’s Group 3 Stanerra Stakes over 1m6f at Leopardstown. That in itself, alongside her own running style, suggests that further than a mile should be in reach for Fallen Angel if connections choose to go that route.

Three Group 1 producers: from left to right, Agnes Stewart (dam of Fallen Angel), Winter’s Moon (dam of Earthlight) and Together Forever (dam of City Of Troy) fight out the finish to the 2014 Fillies’ Mile. Photo – Bill Selwyn