Classic trials week may have lacked several of the big guns, with the likes of Auguste Rodin and Little Big Bear remaining at home and Noble Style and Sakheer – and unintentionally Chaldean – taking part in racecourse gallops. But as ever, information for the season ahead was plentiful, notably the emergence of Isaac Shelby, Remarquee, Canberra Legend and Mammas Girl as legitimate Classic candidates.

Greenham Stakes winner Isaac Shelby is one of 33 stakes winners for Night Of Thunder and like last season’s Listed Curragh Stakes heroine Mauiewowie, belongs to his sire’s fourth crop, produced when the stallion stood for a career-low of £15,000. Bred by Elaine Chivers out of Kentucky Belle, he is a first Group winner out of a mare by Heliostatic, a Group 3-winning brother to Soldier Of Fortune who stood for a short time at Oak Lodge Stud in Ireland. Such breeding, of course, means that Isaac Shelby is inbred 3×3 to Galileo. There are only seven stakes horses from 270 named foals worldwide inbred to Galileo but it’s a pattern that has proven effective with Night Of Thunder before as illustrated by the Group 1 performer Thunder Kiss and aforementioned Mauiewowie (both inbred 3×3).

Jim Bolger has never been one to shy away from Galileo inbreeding and it served him well in the case of Irish 2,000 Guineas winner Mac Swiney, by New Approach out of a mare by Teofilo. Another homebred New Variant, the easy winner of a Tipperary maiden on Thursday, is even more closely inbred, being a son of New Approach and the Galileo mare Global Reach.

Isaac Shelby: Greenham Stakes winner is inbred to Galileo. Photo: Bill Selwyn

At Newmarket, Mammas Girl’s successful finishing kick in the Nell Gwyn Stakes provided another important milestone in the fledgling stud career of the ascendant Havana Grey while a productive week for Australia was highlighted by the win of Canberra Legend in the Feilden Stakes. Indestructible also became the second Classic trial winner of the season for Kodiac following Good Guess, successful in the Prix Djebel.

Away from Newmarket and Newbury, however, and the week developed into a highly important one for the Aga Khan Studs’ Zarak.

Zarak was already one of Europe’s most sought after young sires following a first crop that not only included a sizeable group of high-class runners but also some impressive statistics. That first crop is now four and his second, which consists of 73 foals, is gaining a similar momentum, notably as the source of Crown Princesse and Village Voice, between them successful in the Prix Chloe and Salsabil Stakes last week.

Zarak was already one of Europe’s most sought after young sires following a first crop that not only included a sizeable group of high-class runners but also some impressive statistics

Crown Princesse has come a long way in a short space of time. Trained by Fabrice Chappet on behalf of her breeders Haras De Saint Julien and Regula Vannod, she made her debut at Chantilly in February, when second to the exciting Pensee Du Jour, before breaking her maiden next time out at the same track. She took another major leap forward in Friday’s Prix Cleopatre at Saint-Cloud to win by half-a-length from Elusive Princess, a third-crop daughter of the inexpensive Deep Impact horse Martinborough, despite encountering trouble in running.

Village Voice was well bought by the BBA Ireland for 38,000gns as a Tattersalls Guineas breezer, when offered by WC Equine, especially in light of a subsequent two-year-old campaign that consisted of a debut win at Thurles and third against colts in the Eyrefield Stakes. The Jessica Harrington-trained filly was back on the winning trail in authoritative style on Saturday in the Salsabil Stakes at Navan, making light of the heavy ground to quicken through Jackie Oh and Foniska to win in cosy fashion.

The week’s events brings Zarak’s record to 11 stakes winners from 159 foals in two crops of racing age. Eight are members of his first crop, among them the Pattern winners Purplepay (won Group 2 Prix de Sandringham), Haya Zark (won Group 3 Prix Exbury), Lizaid (champion two-year-old filly in Germany), Lavello (won Group 3 Bavarian Classic) and Baiykara, who rewarded the support of her breeder the Aga Khan by winning last year’s Group 3 Prix de Royaumont. Another representative, La Parisienne, ran Nashwa close in the Prix de Diane.

It’s a start that has caught the imagination of breeders, especially given that it’s been achieved off early fees of €12,000. With a very promising first crop of two-year-olds in the books, Zarak covered 165 mares at an increased fee of €25,000 in 2022, and is once again a buzz name among the European stallion ranks this season despite a sizeable rise to €60,000. Meanwhile, shares in the horse have sold for up to €460,000.

Village Voice: pictured as a two-year-old, she was one of two stakes winners last week for Zarak. Photo – Tattersalls

It is easy to say with hindsight but Zarak does make a lot of sense. He’s exceptionally well-bred as a Dubawi son of Zarkava, a brilliant descendant of Petite Etoile whose unbeaten career included wins in the Arc, Poule d’Essai des Pouliches and Prix de Diane. And in keeping with that heritage, he was talented enough to run second in the Prix du Jockey Club before breaking through at the top level in the following year’s Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud. Although inferior to his contemporary Almanzor, who had his measure on both occasions they met, he was a high-class, tough colt who finished in the frame in eight Group races.

There is perhaps another factor in play in the presence of Zamindar as his damsire. Rather like Machiavellian (the damsire of Dark Angel, Mehmas and Zoffany among others) before him, Zamindar is crafting a name for himself as a positive influence when it comes to stallion success, his daughters also responsible for Kingman (out of the Poule d’Essai des Pouliches heroine Zenda, a half-sister to Oasis Dream) and New Bay (out of Cinnamon Bay). New Bay, of course, is bred on the same Dubawi – Zamindar cross as Zarak.

Zamindar is crafting a name for himself as a positive influence when it comes to stallion success, his daughters also responsible for Kingman and New Bay

Zamindar spent much of his life in the shadow of his celebrated brother Zafonic both on the track and at stud. The son of Gone West – a sizeable individual like his brother – came close to emulating Zafonic’s success in the Prix Morny when going down by a short neck to Bahamian Bounty in the 1996 renewal, but that as it turned out was as close as he came to securing a Group 1. In 1998, he was retired to stand alongside his brother at Juddmonte’s Banstead Manor Stud, but while Zafonic was attracting Europe’s elite at £30,000, Zamindar commanded £7,000 and by 2001, was plying his trade at $5,000 in Florida. After Zafonic died in 2002 while on a shuttle trip to Australia, Zamindar was brought back to Banstead Manor, his return buoyed by the good start of his first European runners. 

They included Zenda, who initiated a theme of high-class fillies for the sire that would also come to include Darjina, Coquerelle and Timepiece in addition to the brilliant Zarkava.

Zamindar may not have left a sire son of any note but his influence in pedigrees is growing nonetheless, which in turn allows for the opportunity for inbreeding to his dam Zaizafon. A flashy chestnut similar in markings to her sire The Minstrel, Zaizafon was trained by Barry Hills to win the Group 3 Seaton Delaval Stakes as a two-year-old and run third to Shadeed in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes – then a Group 2 – at Ascot. At stud, her most productive association was with Mill Ridge Farm’s Gone West, to whom she produced Zafonic and Zamindar, but overall, they were just two of seven stakes horses out of the mare; like many of those Juddmonte blue hens, her legacy today spawns numerous good horses.

Inbreeding to Zaizafon is currently responsible for 14 stakes horses, of which Crown Princesse is one. Others include South American Group 1 winner Zuran Zuran, who is by Kingman’s talented half-brother Remote, and French Group 3 winner The Black Album (inbred 3×3 to Zafonic).

Crown Princesse’s second dose of Zaizafon comes through her damsire Zafeen, the 2003 St James’s Palace Stakes winner. A tall horse so typical of his sire line, Zafeen had a nondescript stud career in Britain and France, and indeed Crown Princesse is the first Group or Graded stakes winner to be produced by one of his daughters. The mare in question, triple winner Lovemedo, was Listed-placed and is a half-sister to Listed winner Mary’s Precedent from the Pillar Stud family of Alloy that also sits behind the top-class siblings Sottsass and Sistercharlie.

Inbreeding to Zaizafon is currently responsible for 14 stakes horses, of which Crown Princesse is one

Crown Princesse is also inbred four times to Mr Prospector, as is Village Voice. Bred by Malih Al Basti, Village Voice is out of the Street Sense mare Sensible Way, herself a daughter of Al Basti’s May Hill and Fred Darling Stakes winner Nasheej. Her family goes back to My Charmer, the dam of Seattle Slew and Lomond, via the Nijinsky mare Ghashtah, a $2.3 million foal purchase out of the Warner Jones dispersal by Shadwell Estates who never ran but later became the ancestress of Awtaad and Madhmoon.

The market has certainly put its faith in Zarak, buoyed perhaps by the fact that this is another emerging young sire from the operation that also manages Siyouni. So far, it appears well placed, for all that a Group 1 winner has yet to come his way. But surely that is only a matter of time – especially if Crown Princesse and Village Voice progress as anticipated.

Zamindar: exerting a major legacy. Photo – Trevor Jones