True blue hens

Helen Street: a stallion family from Street Cry to Shamardal with Territories the next set to shine

1985 was a banner year for three-year-old fillies in Europe. The accompanying table (below) underscores the sheer quality and depth of the Classic generation back in the mid-1980s. The leader among a stellar group of fillies was Oh So Sharp, winner of the 1,000 Guineas, Oaks and St Leger in the colours of Sheikh Mohammed. This top-class filly, rated 131 by Timeform, was acquired as part of the bloodstock package that came with Sheikh Mohammed’s purchase of Dalham Hall Stud in the early 1980s. Was there ever a more promising candidate to underpin a new breeding operation?

Thirty-five years later, history recounts that Oh So Sharp did indeed have her moments in the spotlight – she produced a G1 winner and was grandam of a St Leger winner – but it was another three-year-old filly of 1985 that would eventually contribute even more to the rich history of Godolphin.

The Sir Michael Sobell-owned Helen Street, bred at the famous Ballymacoll Stud, was only the joint-fifth highest rated three-year-old filly in Europe in 1985. But, at 123, she still had plenty of talent. That level of form is good enough to be the highest rated filly in the Europe on a number of occasions in the past ten years. Helen Street emulated her dam Waterway by winning the G3 Prix du Calvados at two, before finishing second to Oh So Sharp in the G3 Fillies’ Mile at Ascot. She then progressed to add the G1 Irish Oaks to her resume at three, her only victory in seven outings that year. But she put in some sterling efforts in defeat too, notably when finishing fourth in both the G1 Champion Stakes and G1 Washington DC International.

Being a product of the famous Ballymacoll nursery, Helen Street was well connected. Her dam, the Riverman mare Waterway, also third in the French 1,000 Guineas, was rated 112 and her grandam Boulevard, winner of the Listed Princess Margaret at Ascot, earned a Timeform mark of 114. Boulevard was a half-sister to the excellent miler Sun Prince, whose main claim to fame was that he won at Royal Ascot three years running, taking the Coventry at two, the St James’s Palace Stakes at three and the Queen Anne at four in the early 1970s. An exceptionally handsome horse, Sun Prince was syndicated for around £650,000 and retired to Castle Hyde Stud but in due course would fail to make a name for himself as a stallion. Another branch of the Boulevard clan flourished in Japan, producing the Satsuki Sho-Tokyo Yushun winner Neo Universe.

Given that she was a Classic winner with such a fine heritage, it was perhaps a surprise that Ballymacoll sold Helen Street Sheikh Mohammed. And for a number of years, it looked like the right decision as none of Helen Street’s first seven foals amounted to much on the racecourse, despite visits to the likes of Danzig (twice) and Sadler’s Wells. It was her visit to Dalham Hall resident Machiavellian in 1992 that offered the first glimmer of hope. The resultant progeny, Helsinki ran third in a 2,000-metre Listed race in France and prompted a second visit to Machiavellian five years later, from which came the top-class Street Cry, winner of the Dubai World Cup. Another Stakes winner, Historian (by Pennekamp) followed a year later.

She may not have bestowed much racing ability in most of her immediate progeny, but Helen Street certainly passed on the family recipe for success to her daughters. Helsinki went on to produce Shamardal, a Champion two-year-old and Classic winner, plus – following her sale for $3.6 million after Shamardal’s Dewhurst win – G2 Beresford Stakes winner Geoffrey Chaucer (by Montjeu). Meanwhile, Historian carved out her own niche, producing the dam of G1 Prix Jean Luc Lagardere winner Victor Ludorum, a son of Shamardal and therefore inbred 3x3 to Helen Street. Another Helen Street daughter, Grecian Slipper produced the G3 winners Graikos and Magna Graecia, herself the grandam of current Darley stallion Territories, who first runners are eagerly awaited this year.

Territories will be hoping to follow the paths of Street Cry and Shamardal. Both have been exceptional sires, Street Cry amassing 131 Stakes winners and his nephew Shamardal 146. Shamardal, who passed away last month, certainly went out at the top of his game, having sired a record three G1-winning juvenile colts last season, including Godolphin’s best-ever youngster Pinatubo, plus Blue Point, the only horse ever to win three G1 sprints at Royal Ascot. Remarkably, Shamardal’s top two runners on the Timeform scale – Pintatubo (134) and Blue Point (131) – are precisely matched by Street Cry’s best two – Winx on 134 and Zenyatta on 131.

If there is such a thing as a stallion family, then Helen Street’s clearly fits the bill.