In 2018, for the first time in its illustrious history, a Godolphin colour bearer won the Derby.
When Masar swept to victory at Epsom, it was the pinnacle of a journey that started way back in 2000, when Masar's third dam, Melikah, was purchased for a record price of 10 million francs (just over £1 million) as a yearling at Deauville.
A daughter of Lammtarra, Melikah won only one of her four races – the Pretty Polly at Newmarket on her racecourse debut – but she had plenty of class as her two-length third to Love Divine in the Oaks and her second to Petrushka in the Irish equivalent demonstrates. She retired with a Timeform rating of 116, a very respectable mark for any aspiring broodmare.
Acquiring the second foal of an Arc winner like Urban Sea always promised to pay dividends, but the family received the ultimate boost when Melikah’s year-younger half-brother by Sadler’s Wells won by 14 lengths on debut about six weeks after Melikah had run her last race.
Of course, that colt, Galileo, carried all before him the following year, remaining unbeaten right up to the Irish Champion Stakes where he went down to Godolphin’s Fantastic Light in an epic duel in a race for the ages. Up to that point in the season, he’d won the Epsom and Curragh Derbies, plus Ascot’s King George.
Remarkably, no fewer than seven of Urban Sea’s 11 foals went on to be Stakes winners, the daughter of Miswaki saving her best until the latter stages of her career.
At the age of 17 she produced an even better racehorse than Galileo. Sea The Stars, by Darley stallion Cape Cross, with his exceptional and all-encompassing unbeaten six-race three-year-old season, impressed Timeform enough to earn a rating of 140, six pounds clear of his top-class half-brother Galileo. But it was fully deserved.
After all, it takes a special three-year-old to take the Guineas-Derby-Eclipse treble and then come back for races like the International, Irish Champion and Arc de Triomphe.
Melikah had her moments as a broodmare, too. In fact, she can only be considered a success in that she can lay claim to three Group winners and another than won at Listed level.
In terms of ratings, her G3-winning Dubawi son Royal Line (Timeform 121) is her most accomplished offspring, but her Monsun colt Masterstroke won at G2 level in France and finished third in Solemia’s Arc.
Another son, Moonlight Cloud (by Cape Cross) shaped very much like a Classic contender in the early part of his career, but ultimately couldn’t improve on his G3 Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial success.
But it was Melikah’s first-born, Villarrica, a winning daughter of Selkirk, who would ultimately point the way to a third Epsom Derby victory for this illustrious family.
Her second foal, Khawlah (pictured below), the second of three Group winners by Cape Cross descending from Urban Sea, broke her maiden over a mile at Newmarket as a two-year-old before finishing third in the G3 Oh So Sharp Stakes, for which she was awarded a Timeform mark of 93p.