THERE is no need to tell readers of this column how popular sons of Sea The Stars (Cape Cross) are proving to be with breeders, and not just on the flat.

National Hunt breeders have been supporting the likes of Group 1 winners Crystal Ocean, Harzand and Fifty Stars in large numbers, while the first-named in that group, and Affinisea, another son of the Arc hero, were mated with more than 730 mares last season.

It would seem that you cannot get enough of a good thing.

Well, the latest Group 1 winning son of Sea The Stars to join the stallion ranks in Ireland is Mekhtaal, and his first French crop have just turned three.

While this crop is small in numbers, a couple of them are with leading jumps trainers in France, and the biggest of his three crops to date are his current yearlings, conceived after he moved from the flat to a National Hunt stud in France.

Now he joins Silas Marner at Gordon Doyle’s Knockmullen House Stud near New Ross, and a fee is due to be announced shortly.

Doyle, a grandson of the legendary Michael Hickey of Garryrichard Stud fame, is delighted to have this winner of the Prix d’Ispahan available. He said: “Mekhtaal has arrived from France and I am very grateful to Al Shaqab for giving me the opportunity to stand him.

“I am really excited to have a Group 1 winner who is by the brilliant and popular Sea The Stars standing at Knockmullen. Mekhtaal was a high-class racehorse and comes from a wonderful dam line. He is a lovely horse, a real smasher! He is 16.1 and has a great walk, a lovely shoulder and bone.

Fantastic start

“Mekhtaal will be standing beside Silas Marner. He has made a fantastic start to his stallion career; his first three runners over jumps have all won - Angie, Purple Song, and Zvolkov. As the only son of Muhtathir, like Doctor Dino, at stud in Ireland he is really a rare gem. More and more people are showing interest in Silas Marner.”

Sea The Stars started 2017 with a bang when his son Mekhtaal was the latest to step up to the mark and land his maiden Group 1 success, capturing the nine-furlong Prix d’Ispahan for trainer Jean-Claude Rouget. The €300,000 Arqana yearling buy was bred in partnership by Haras du Mezeray and Skymarc Farm.

Runner-up on his previous start that season to another son of Sea The Stars, Cloth Of Stars, in the Group 2 Prix d’Harcourt, a race he won in 2016, Mekhtaal was also runner-up at the highest level when, on his final run, he was beaten half a length in the Grade 1 Northern Dancer Turf Stakes at Woodbine.

Mekhtaal is his dam’s first winner at the highest level. That dam is the Silver Hawk (Roberto) mare Aiglonne and she was no slouch herself, winning the Group 3 Prix Fille de l’Air at three in France and being placed at Grade 2 level in the USA. It is worth noting that Nathaniel is also out of a mare by Silver Hawk and his is a son of Sea The Stars’ half-brother Galileo (Sadler’s Wells).

Perfect record

At stud Aiglonne has an almost perfect record. She has 13 progeny of racing age, the last being a two-year-old colt by Cloth Of Stars. Her first dozen foals have run and all bar one have won, the odd one out having been placed but her first foal is a winner already in 2023.

In addition to being the dam of Mekhtaal, Aiglonne is responsible for another winner of the Group 2 Prix d’Harcourt in Democrate (Dalakhani), for the multiple stakes winner Aigue Marine (Galileo), and her most recent winning offspring is Group 3 juvenile winner Normandy Bridge (Le Havre). He was also runner-up in the Group 1 Criterium International.

Back to Aigue Marine for a moment. She set a course record at Delaware over 11 furlongs when winning a Grade 3 race, one of two victories she enjoyed at that level in the USA. She is now a successful producer at stud and her winners already include the listed victor and Group 2-placed Fenelon (Fastnet Rock).

Aiglonne is the best of five winners produced from the Theatrical (Nureyev) mare Majestic Role. She caused an upset when she was the 20/1 winner of the Listed Tyros Stakes at the Curragh on her debut, trained by Michael Kauntze, and she was runner-up to Coup De Genie on her next start, the Group 1 Prix de la Salamandre. Her winning daughter Gaily Tiara (Caerleon) crossed well with Silver Hawk, producing the Group 1 Prix Saint-Alary winner Germance.

Hugely successful

This is a hugely successful family and it is not surprising that it produced the Group 1 winner Mekhtaal.

Majestic Role is one of seven winners from the juvenile winner Autocratic (Tyrant) and five of these were stakes winners. One stands out and that was Fair Of The Furze (Ela-Mana-Mou). She won the then Group 2 Tattersalls Rogers Gold Cup, was runner-up in the then Group 2 Pretty Polly Stakes and third in the then Group 2 Prince of Wales’s Stakes. All have now moved up a grade.

Fair Of The Furze has made her mark at stud and she is dam and grandam of Group 1 winners in White Muzzle and Almutawakel. Her son White Muzzle (Dancing Brave) won the Italian Derby and was second in both the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe and the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes, while her grandson Almutawakel (Machiavellian) won the Dubai World Cup and Prix Jean Prat.

Not only has this family shown itself to be one of the best for producing flat winners, but smart performers over jumps also abound. They include the Grade 1 Aintree hurdle winner Pingshou (Definite Article), his Grade 2 hurdle and chase winning half-sister Magic Of Light (Flemensfirth), and the Grade 2 Gowran Champion Chase winner Cailin Annamh (Definite Article).