VICTORY for Silver Lady in the Group 2 Cape Verdi Stakes at Meydan was another landmark in the hugely successful stallion career of Gilltown Stud’s Sea The Stars (Cape Cross). She was his 70th individual group winner, 21 of which have won at the highest level.

Silver Lady is one of two winners out of the leading British two-year-old filly in 2015, Lumiere (Shamardal), and in the space of just over three months both of these winners have been successful at pattern level. Back in October, Silver Lady’s half-brother Highland Avenue (Dubawi) won for the fourth time, justifying favouritism when an appropriate four-length winner of the Group 3 Darley Stakes at Newmarket.

Highland Avenue and Silver Lady both carry the silks of their breeder, Sheikh Mohammed’s Godolphin, are trained by Charlie Appleby, but while William Buick was in the saddle when Highland Avenue won, the rider was beaten a neck on the hot favourite in the Cape Verdi, aboard the winner’s stablemate English Rose.

The two group winners are among the first four foals out of Lumiere, and sandwiched between them is Al Sahara (Galileo) who was sent to France in the hopes of finding a winning bracket, but she only managed to place once at the little-known Cholet. Lumiere’s fourth produce is the three-year-old Dazzling Jewel (Dubawi) who made a single start at two, running very green, and she will surely be placed to win a contest this year.

Mark Johnston

Lumiere was bred by Sheikh Mohammed’s Darley Stud out of Screen Star (Tobougg) who won on her only racecourse appearance as a two-year-old at Redcar. Trained by Mark Johnston, Screen Star was purchased by the trainer the same year that Lumiere was born, for 52,000gns, and what a shrewd investment that proved to be. More on that later.

Sent into training with Johnston, Lumiere was owned by Sheikh Mohammed’s son Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum. She was partnered throughout her first season by William Buick and made her racecourse debut in a maiden over six furlongs at Newmarket in July. Leading from the start, she accelerated away from the field approaching the final furlong and won by six lengths.

Lumiere was moved up sharply in class for the Group 2 Lowther Stakes at York, started as favourite ahead of the Princess Margaret Stakes winner Besharah, but had to settle for second, beaten two and a quarter lengths.

On her final appearance as a juvenile, Lumiere was one of eight to contest the Group 1 Connolly’s Red Mills Cheveley Park Stakes over six furlongs at Newmarket, the third choice in the betting behind Besharah and the Duchess of Cambridge Stakes winner Illuminate. Lumiere took the lead from the start, opened up a clear advantage at halfway, and won from Illuminate, Besharah and Alice Springs.

Lumiere began her second season in the Group 1 1000 Guineas but faded away quickly in the last three furlongs and finished last behind Minding. After a two-month break she was dropped in class for the Listed Sir Henry Cecil Stakes at Newmarket and posted a decisive win by six lengths. For her last two starts she finished third in the Group 3 Sceptre Stakes at Doncaster and runner-up in the Group 2 Challenge Stakes at Newmarket to Aclaim.

Screen Star

While in the ownership of Mark Johnston, Screen Star had three foals, two colts and a filly. The colts, both of whom won, were sold as foals for 70,000gns and 90,000gns, while the filly, by Shamardal (Giant’s Causeway), realised 550,000gns as a yearling in 2016. That was the year after her full-sister Lumiere won her Group 1, and the filly turned out to be Sheikha Reika, sent out by Roger Varian to land the Grade 1 E.P. Taylor Stakes in Canada.

Sheikha Reika has made a promising start at stud, her first two foals winning, and last year her son Arabic Legend (Dubawi) won a seven-furlong maiden on his debut, was beaten by the subsequent Group 3 winner Arabian Crown in the Listed Stonehenge Stakes at Salisbury, before running inexplicably badly in the Group 3 Autumn Stakes on his final outing.

Johnston cashed in on the success of Lumiere, and in 2016, two months after selling her Shamardal yearling, he also sold Screen Star herself, to Ballylinch Stud, for a whopping 675,000gns. What a canny Scot he is.

A fairytale win for Lynskey

THE result of the weekend’s Group 1 Thorndon Mile at Trentham in New Zealand was a good one for the stallion Vespa (Elusive City).

Vespa was the champion two-year-old of his year when his four victories included the Group 1 Diamond Stakes and Listed Karaka Millions. He followed up as a three-year-old with wins in the Group 2 Wellington Guineas, Listed Manawatu Flying Handicap and the Whangarei RC Challenge Stakes, as well as running second against older horses in the Group 1 Easter Handicap.

As a four-year-old, Vespa was runner-up in the Group 1 NRM Sprint before retiring to stud at Wellfield Lodge. On Saturday he sired his first Group 1 winner when the six-year-old son Puntura won the Thorndon Mile, and for good measure Vespa was also responsible for the third-placed runner, Lady Telena, also from the same crop as the winner.

Puntura was winning a group race for the third time in succession, and what a run this is proving to be. He has now been successful 11 times, these are his first three pattern race successes, and his weekend victory was the 33rd time he has raced! Maturing with age is most definitely a phrase that describes the gelding, owned and bred by Carole and John Lynskey.

A sting

In November, Puntura (the Italian word for a sting) won his first pattern race, a Group 3 over a mile at Riccarton, and the following month he was back to seven furlongs for the Group 2 Manawatu Challenge Stakes at Trentham. Now that he has shown his ability at Group 1 level, he will next head to Otaki for another, the Maori WFA Classic over a mile.

John Lynskey tells a great story about why he mated Puntura’s dam, Mumzahoney (Magic Of Sydney) with Vespa (which is the Italian for wasp). He had been gifted Mumzahoney, and had followed the career of Vespa, largely due to the fact that when he met his future wife Carole she used to ride a Vespa! You couldn’t make this up.

Mumzahoney was a useful runner, winning twice, and she has now been retired from breeding after foaling a full-brother to Puntura in 2022. She is responsible to date for four winners, one of which is the five-year-old Margherita Veloce (Vespa) who has won three and placed six times to date from 13 runs. Mumzahoney and her full-sister Lisa’s Bewitched (Magic Of Sydney) are two of the four winners from the unraced Sylvee Tee (Zabeel).

Few opportunities

Vespa had few opportunities at stud, but 45 of his 89 runners have won, and five are stakes winners. The others are Caroline Reaper (won Group 3 Auckland TR Easter Handicap), Chokito (won Listed Southland Guineas), Mackenzie Lad (won Listed Gore Guineas) and Wakari (won Listed Hawkes Bay El Roca Trophy), while another five of his sons and daughters have been stakes-placed.

Puntura’s Group 1 success capped a great day for trainer Robbie Patterson, as he also saddled Mary Louise to win the Group 3 Wellington Cup on the same card.