On an action-packed weekend of racing in Europe, the Darley stallions – particularly Shamardal – posted a truly outstanding set of results on the track.
Their winning run began further afield on Saturday, 11 May when Raven’s Pass’s talented son Tower Of London notched his third Group win (and second at G2 level) in the Keio Hai Spring Cup at Tokyo. The four-year-old Godolphin colt took a full tenth of a second off the seven-furlong track record, winning more easily than the three-quarter-length margin would suggest. He could now head for the G1 Yasuda Kinen on Sunday, 2 June where he is likely to face Japanese superstar Almond Eye.
Raven's Pass also looks to have a European Classic contender in the form of Shining Pass. Now unbeaten in two starts (including over 10 furlongs in Germany on Sunday), she is entered in the German and Italian Oaks.
Later on Saturday, Shamardal sired the first of his three Group winners of the weekend when Tarnawa prevailed in a close finish in the G3 Blue Wind Stakes. She could now head for the Oaks at Epsom at the end of this month.
Meanwhile at Haydock, Safe Voyage (Fast Company) earned himself a step up in class to Group company, overcoming traffic issues in the home straight to run out the convincing winner of the Listed Spring Trophy. He holds an entry in the G3 Ballycorus Stakes at Leopardstown in a month’s time.
Saturday also saw first-season sire Night Of Thunder record his first winner in exciting fashion, when Expressionist took the five-furlong maiden at Ascot. A 300,000gns breeze-up purchase, he won under hands a heels and is now likely to head to return to the Berkshire course for the Royal meeting.
While the focus was on Longchamp on Sunday, 12 May, Shamardal was responsible for another Irish Group winner early in the afternoon when Hazapour confirmed to his connections that a mile is his trip, easily winning the Amethyst Stakes. A homebred for His Highness the Aga Khan (like Tarnawa), Hazapour was fifth in Masar’s Derby last year and a step back up to the highest level beckons for this talented colt.