Recent weeks have showcased Sea The Stars in an excellent light.
While the Gilltown Stud stallion might be regarded as a middle-distance influence, he is also capable of throwing the odd good miler, as was confirmed late last month by the victory of Lavender’s Blue in the Celebration Mile at Goodwood and again on Sunday when Baaeed made the smooth transition to Group 1 company to take the Prix du Moulin at Longchamp. As with Zelzal, another pacey Sea The Stars who won the 2016 Prix Jean Prat, Baaeed is the product of a Kingmambo mare, in his case Aghareed. It is a Shadwell family that goes back to Height Of Fashion and therefore has roots in the Royal Studs.
It is also a long-standing Royal family that sits behind the exciting Sea The Stars two-year-old Reach For The Moon, who was slashed into 12/1 for next year’s Derby by virtue of his recent wide-margin win for John and Thady Gosden in the Solario Stakes at Sandown.
The colt was bred by the Queen out of her dual Listed winner Golden Stream, a daughter of Sadler’s Wells from a family that has been in Royal ownership for six decades. Like all families, it has ebbed and flowed over that time but right now, the branch responsible for Reach For The Moon is enjoying a rich vein of form, with the line belonging to his granddam Phantom Gold also behind Twilight Gleaming, winner of the Prix de la Vallee d’Auge and runner-up in the Queen Mary Stakes, four-time winner Wink Of An Eye and dual scorer Tynwald.
Not only that, the family was back in the news again on Saturday as Reach For The Moon’s older brother Chalk Stream landed his third consecutive race with a near five-length success in the mile and a half heritage handicap at Ascot; so impressive was the Sea The Stars gelding that a crack at the Noel Murless Stakes has since been suggested by trainer William Haggas.
This is a distinguished family of the Queen’s that came into Royal ownership back in 1961 with the purchase of Golden Stream’s fourth dam Amicable as a yearling.
Amicable was bred by Friend Sykes at his Chantry Stud out of Amy Leigh, making her a half-sister to the 1955 Queen Mary Stakes winner Weeber. Of particular Royal importance, however, was the fact she was a daughter of the Queen’s high-class homebred Doutelle, winner of the Ormonde, John Porter and Cumberland Lodge Stakes.
At the Newmarket Yearling Sales in the autumn of 1961, Amicable was selected by Sir Charles Moore, then racing manager to the Queen, and the Royal trainer Captain Cecil Boyd-Rochfort as a suitable representative of the stallion and she proved to be an excellent choice, winning the Nell Gwyn Stakes, Lingfield Oaks Trial and running a narrow second in the Yorkshire Oaks. There was also a poignancy to her achievements, with Doutelle having died at Sandringham Stud several years before aged only eight.
At stud, Amicable proved a worthy representative for her sire as well. Her second foal Amphora (by Ragusa) was sold as a yearling, won the Lancashire Oaks and was later exported to the US where she foaled a minor stakes winner.
Then came the classy sisters Example and Expansive, both out of daughters of the 1963 Arc hero Exbury, a horse the Queen had seen at stud during a tour of Normandy.
Example took time to come to hand for Ian Balding but progressed well through her three-year-old season to wind up winning the Park Hill Stakes at Doncaster and Prix de Royallieu at Longchamp, on both occasions swooping from last to first under Lester Piggott. Kept in training at four, Example added the Prix Jean de Chaudenay and may have added further to her record had she not been affected by the virus that took hold of Kingsclere that season.
Sadly, Example died after foaling her first foal, a daughter of Nijinsky. Named Pas De Deux, she was no great shakes on the track, winning once as a three-year-old. However, she went on to produce the Queen’s Italian champion Starlet in addition to the American Grade 1 winner Unknown Quantity and recently featured as the ancestress of Duopoly, winner of the Grade 1 American Oaks last December.
There was an idea that her sister Expansive, foaled in 1976, might have been even better had she not been plagued with soundness issues. As it was, she broke her maiden when successful in the 1979 Ribblesdale Stakes at Royal Ascot for Major Dick Hern. The filly didn’t run again after that win and was retired to stud, where she foaled five winners including the Group 2-placed Salient.
It is through her Northern Baby daughter Trying For Gold that the Expansive branch of the family is today at its strongest.
Foaled in 1986, Trying For Gold won a pair of mile and a half events during the second half of her three-year-old season for Hern, going on to attain a mark of 104 in the process. At stud, she foaled two excellent fillies to Machiavellian in Phantom Gold and Fictitious; Phantom Gold was consistently high-class over 1m4f and beyond during the 1995 and 1996 seasons, emulating Expansive by winning the Ribblesdale Stakes before adding the St Simon and Geoffrey Freer Stakes, while Fictitious came into her own in the US for Christophe Clement, for whom she won the Grade 3 De La Rose Handicap at Gulfstream Park.
As the likes of Phantom Gold, Expansive and Example show, this is a family that tends to enjoy a mile and a quarter and beyond, and indeed Phantom Gold’s highest-rated performer Flight Of Fancy, by Sadler’s Wells, was the fast-finishing Oaks runner-up of 2001. In turn, the best foal out of Flight Of Fancy, the Makfi gelding Fabricate, won seven races at up to 1m4f, including two renewals of the Group 3 Winter Hill Stakes over 1m2f, while her granddaughter Momentary (by Nayef) won the Swettenham Stud Fillies’ Trial Stakes over 1m2f at Newbury (and is now the dam of Wink Of An Eye).
However, nothing is ever set in stone in this business and Flight Of Fancy’s younger full-sister Golden Stream found her forte over seven furlongs, the distance over which she won the Listed Eternal and October Stakes and ran placed in the Group 3 Oak Tree and Chartwell Stakes for Sir Michael Stoute.
For all that Chalk Stream is a proven stayer over 1m4f, it is the speed shown by Golden Stream that still doesn’t make Reach For The Moon a surefire option to thrive over the Derby trip next year; indeed, another out of the mare, the Dansili horse Mainstream (later named Invictus Prince), ran second in the Group 1 Winx Stakes over seven furlongs at Randwick in Australia.
Hopefully Reach For The Moon will gain the opportunity to prove himself at Group 1 level before the season is out. Sea The Stars’ record consists of 88 stakes winners – 16 of whom have struck this year – and is highlighted by 15 Group 1 winners. In addition to Baaeed, they include the Epsom-Irish Derby winner Harzand, Oaks heroine Taghrooda, the Irish Oaks heroines Star Catcher and Sea Of Class, the wonderful stayer Stradivarius and top German colt Sea The Moon, now one of the most popular sires in Newmarket. However, missing from that record is a two-year-old Group 1 winner – in Reach For The Moon, perhaps that omission will be rectified.