When Frankie Dettori celebrated his first Oaks victory aboard Balanchine in 1994, it was lauded as a landmark moment for Godolphin, for whom it was a first Classic victory.
Similarly to this year’s renewal last Friday, Epsom had received plenty of rain in the run-up to the race, prompting the field to come up stands side in the straight. Balanchine ultimately wound up as an authoritative winner but not before she had fought off the persistent challenge of John Hills’ Wind In Her Hair.
Balanchine’s win that day is widely credited as being the moment that launched Godolphin into a racing superpower. Harder to predict, however, was the importance that Wind In Her Hair would come to exert within the sport. Now 30-years-old, the daughter of Alzao is living out her days at the Northern Horse Park in Japan, where she remains a popular attraction for tourists wishing to pay homage to her place in history as the dam of Deep Impact (the Northern Horse Park regularly send out tweets on Wind In Her Hair, the most recent example being below).
— ノーザンホースパーク (@northern_horse) April 26, 2021
For so long Japan was something of a closed shop to international investors. However, the tide began to turn during Sunday Silence’s era and by the time Deep Impact retired to stand at the Yoshida’s Shadai Stallion Station following a glittering racing career in 2007, the outside world was well attuned to the possibilities that Japanese bloodstock had to offer.
For those in possession of the means and foresight to use Deep Impact, it has invariably been a rewarding exercise, not least for Coolmore, who celebrated their third Classic winner by the stallion on Friday with the record 16-length success of Snowfall in the Oaks.
It’s quite likely that Dettori will never ride an easier Classic winner than Snowfall, who had the tactical pace to hold her position as the field charged towards the stands rail and change of gear to then quicken clear into the record books. As is typical of her family and sire’s progeny, here is a filly who has made serious improvement from two three. Nor has she likely reached the zenith of her progression. After all, she is a close relation to Found, winner of the Arc as a four-year-old, and granddaughter of top miler Red Evie, successful in the Lockinge Stakes as a four-year-old in 2007.
In what was a momentous result for the family, Red Evie also deserves special recognition for not only being the granddam of Snowfall but also the dam of Oaks third Divinely – and in the same season that Found’s first foal, last year’s Vintage Stakes winner Battleground, also features strongly within Ballydoyle’s first division.
Snowfall follows Saxon Warrior, Fancy Blue and September as a Group 1 performer out of a limited collection of Deep Impact foals bred by Coolmore.
Deep Impact is often referred to today as the ‘Japanese Galileo’ in a nod to a stallion career that consists of nine Japanese sires’ championships and 20 Japanese Classic winners – less than two weeks ago, he sired his seventh Japanese Derby winner in Shahryar.
Coolmore were not among the first wave of outside breeders to use him, however. One of the first was the Wildenstein family, who gained an early reward when their homebred Beauty Parlour won the 2012 Poule d’Essai des Pouliches. It was an early feather in the cap for the young stallion and it was in the aftermath of her Classic season that Coolmore became firm and regular supporters.
Understandably, he was identified early on as a suitable outlet for Galileo-line mares, an aspect that has become increasingly important to the operation. Numbers were restricted but such has been his success for them that progeny of Deep Impact are today a regular presence within Ballydoyle’s Group 1 army.
Coolmore’s first Deep Impacts – a colt and a filly out of the top racemares Peeping Fawn and Maybe – hit the ground in 2014 and were useful; Maybe’s filly, Pavlenko, was Listed-placed while Peeping Fawn’s colt Wisconsin won at Tipperary and was highly tried thereafter.
Better was to come in the 2015 crop, a group that numbered just three foals but consisted of the 2,000 Guineas winner Saxon Warrior (out of Maybe), narrow Fillies’ Mile runner-up September (out of Peeping Fawn) and multiple winner Conclusion (out of Cherokee).
Last year’s Prix de Diane and Nassau Stakes heroine Fancy Blue, out of High Chaparral’s sister Chenchikova, followed in 2018.
Snowfall is the first of two Deep Impact foals out of Found’s Group 3-winning sister Best In The World. The second is a colt named Newfoundland who sits among a juvenile crop that also includes the filly Only, the first foal out of Classic heroine Winter, and the colt Navajo Warrior, who is out of Maybe’s winning sister Fluff.
Deep Impact died in July 2019 just as he was at the height of his international powers. A debilitating neck condition had brought a sudden halt to his covering season weeks before, meaning that his final crop numbers only a handful of foals. However, luckily for Coolmore, they do include colts out of Rhododendron, Hydrangea and Maybe as well as a filly out of Minding.
Coolmore’s association with Snowfall’s family stems from their purchase of her granddam Red Evie at Tattersalls in 2007.
Red Evie was one of the best runners sired by the top miler Intikhab, latterly a reliable and affordable sire at Derrinstown Stud, and out of Malafemmena, an Italian Listed-winning daughter of the nondescript Northern Dancer horse Nordico. In turn, she was out of Group 3 winner and Classic-placed Martinova, one of the best sired by another nondescript stallion in Martinmas.
Her dam, the winning Pavlova, was a granddaughter of the 1946 Ebor Handicap winner Foxtrot, whose five victories in a lengthy career typified the hardy nature of this family. There were, at times, also various reminders of its ability to throw the odd good horse, one of whom was Martinova’s Group 2-winning half-brother Lucky Wednesday.
Red Evie, a 58,000gns yearling purchase by Kern/Lillingston for Terry Neill, propelled the family’s fortunes to another level. Trained by Michael Bell, she won nine races, progressing through the handicap ranks as a three-year-old to ultimately land the Group 1 Matron Stakes at Leopardstown. Kept in training at four, she added further to her record by nosing out Ramonti in the Group 1 Lockinge Stakes before following up in the Group 2 Hungerford Stakes.
She was sent to the Tattersalls December Sale at the end of the year, where after failing to sell for 1,000,000gns in the ring, she changed hands to Coolmore in a private deal.
Like so many of her relations before her, Red Evie was a tough filly and aided by the class of Galileo, her progeny have tended to follow suit; of her nine foals of racing age, four are black-type performers and led by the outstanding mare Found, who won three Group 1 races and ran placed in another 12, alongside the Group 3-winning two-year-olds Magical Dream and Divinely.
The ambitiously named Best In The World, her fifth foal, broke her maiden in Listed company as a two-year-old and later held her own at Group 3 level, notably when successful in the Give Thanks Stakes at Cork. Snowfall is her first foal and in addition to the two-year-old Newfoundland, is followed by a yearling colt by Dubawi.
Exposure to Galileo and everything that comes with it has undoubtedly been a key to this family’s current upturn in fortunes, as it has been for so many other lines over the years, while the influence of Deep Impact has enhanced it even further. However, while all eyes maybe on Snowfall from now on, don’t rule out Red Evie’s clan reaching further Group 1 heights this year, whether it be through Battleground and Divinely or perhaps even something that is right now unraced.