Saturday sees the running of the Gr1 Qipco 2000 Guineas, the first of five British classic races to be run this season.
There should be plenty of interest in the Newmarket showpiece, as the likely favourite Auguste Rodin has strong pedigree connections to South Africa.
A winner of three of four starts at two, Auguste Rodin won both the Gr1 Vertem Futurity Trophy and Gr2 KPMG Champions Juvenile Stakes in 2022 and he already looks to have earned a berth at Coolmore.
He shares his legendary sire Deep Impact with very promising South African stallion Danon Platina, currently one of the Leading First Season Sires by winners this season thus far.
Deep Impact sire sons have enjoyed a tremendous run of success of late.
Not only is the Deep Impact sire Satono Aladdin sire of 2023 Gr1 winners Pennyweka (New Zealand Oaks, Australian Oaks) and Tokyo Tycoon (Sistema Stakes), another Deep Impact sire son, Saxon Warrior, made a flying start with his first crop headed by Gr1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf victor Victoria Road.
Bred on the same Deep Impact/Galileo cross as British classic winners Saxon Warrior (Qipco 2000 Guineas) and Snowfall (Cazoo Oaks), Auguste Rodin is out Galileo’s top-class daughter Rhododendron.
The latter won Gr1 races at two (Dubai Fillies’ Mile), three (Prix de l’Opera) and four (Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes), and was also second to the legendary Enable (Nathaniel) in the Gr1 Investec Oaks of 2017.
Rhododendron is a full-sister to an even better racemare in the form of Magical, with the Galileo daughter winning seven Gr1 races including back to back runnings of the Gr1 Irish Champion Stakes, a race won previously by the likes of Sadler’s Wells, Giant’s Causeway and Sea The Stars.
Rhododendron and Magical were produced by the Pivotal sired Irish 1000 Guineas/Sun Chariot Stakes/Nassau Stakes winner Halfway To Heaven, whose Galileo sired son Flying The Flag is now standing at Riethuiskraal Stud.
Winner of three races including the Gr3 International Stakes, Flying The Flag made local news recently when his three-year-old son Strawberry Bear downed Equus Champion Cousin Casey to land the Gr3 Byerley Turk at Hollywoodbets Greyville.
Another 2000 Guineas contender with a South African connection is Chaldean (Frankel), whose dam Suelita was sired by dual Gr1 winning two-year-old Dutch Art (Medicean). The latter, in turn, was produced by Halland Park Lass, whose Irish 2000 Guineas winning sire Spectrum ended his stud career in South Africa.
Chaldean, who is bidding to give his legendary sire a first winner of the 2000 Guineas, won three group races, including the Gr1 Darley Dewhurst Stakes last season, but unseated his rider when jumping out the stalls in this year’s Gr3 Watership Down Stud Too Darn Hot Greenham Stakes.
Another likely 2000 Guineas starter with a South African connection is promising Gr2 Dubai Duty Mill Reef Stakes winner Sakheer (Zoffany), a winner of two of just three starts.
Sakheer’s fourth dam All Rainbows (Bold Hour) not only produced Kentucky Derby winning filly Winning Colors (Caro) but also former South African stallion Assail, while yet another Guineas hope Royal Scotsman (Gleneagles) hails from the same female line as former local sire, and very successful broodmare sire Qui Danzig, as well as Gr1 SA Oaks third Patchit Up Baby (Ideal World).