Dark Angel speedsters – Aged to perfection

Galileo is undeniably the modern-day King of Stallions, but if it’s a sprinter you’re looking for, there’s no better sire than Yeomanstown Stud inmate, Dark Angel.

Retired somewhat prematurely after a successful juvenile campaign, this son of Acclamation has become an outstanding sire of high class speedsters. The all too brief racing career came in 2007, when trained by Barry Hills. He proved to be a high-class youngster, winning four of nine starts including the six-furlong Group One Middle Park Stakes.

An instant hit in his new profession, Dark Angel resides at Yeomanstown Stud near Naas, just a stone’s throw from Dublin. Established in 1923, the business has been in the hands of the Callaghan family since 1981. A famous name in Ireland’s breeding industry, generations of Callaghan’s are famed for producing top class racehorses. Gay and Annette have now handed the running of their business to son David. And speed is certainly the name of the game at Yeomanstown, with Scat Daddy’s son El Kabeir, a Sandy Lane winner Camacho and former top-class juvenile sprinter Gutaifan, all keeping Dark Angel company.

But it’s the latter that has certainly produced the goods in recent times. Two current stars of the speed division look set to further enhance the stallion’s reputation over the summer. Battaash and Harry Angel will head to Royal Ascot in a couple of weeks as strong fancies to land the most prestigious sprint events. Though somewhat disappointing as a juvenile, Battaash stormed onto the scene at three, winning four from five starts, culminating in the demolition of a high-class field at Chantilly when landing the Prix de l’Abbaye. His seasonal return was impressive, and he now heads the market for the King’s Stand Stakes.

Harry Angel only ran twice at two, though one was a victory in the Group Two Mill Reef Stakes. He too came to the fore as a three-year-old, winning three of his six starts, including a pair of Group Ones. Also impressive on his return to the track, he is currently favourite for the Diamond Jubilee at Royal Ascot, though interestingly he’s yet to win at the course despite visiting on four occasions. He only has four career defeats.

Mecca’s Angel was another top-class Dark Angel progeny. She was also something of a slow burner during the early part of her career. Winner of a Group Three at three, she stormed to prominence as a four-year-old, landing the Group One Nunthorpe at York. She was just as impressive at five, again winning the Nunthorpe in sparkling fashion.

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But it was very much Lethal Force that began the Dark Angel dynasty when hitting the racetrack in 2011. He too followed a similar path of being somewhat underwhelming as a juvenile. That’s not to say that he didn’t hint at a bright future, finishing fourth in the Coventry Stakes at the royal meeting and filling the same berth in the Group Two Vintage Stakes. As a three-year-old the progression continued, capturing the Group Two Hungerford at Newbury, though it was at four that his career truly took off. During a thrilling campaign, he mixed it with the elite sprinters, winning the Diamond Jubilee and the Darley July Cup.

These four have certainly advertised the stallion’s influence in the sprint division, though he is also responsible for last year’s QEII winner Persuasive, along with other familiar names in Gabrial, Sovereign Debt and Bronze Angel. He’s also the sire of this year’s 2000 Guineas runner-up Tip Two Win. Trained by Roger Teal, we are yet to discover this classy three-year-old’s optimum trip, though he is being primed to take in the St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot, and with his Guineas nemesis missing (Saxon Warrior), he must stand a great chance of going one better.

There’s little doubt that in the coming months others will showcase the appeal of the Dark Angel pedigree. Lansky is an interesting three-year-old. Now with sprint guru Robert Cowell, the young colt showed a decent level of form as a juvenile, and as we’ve seen, the progeny usually improve significantly with age. He’s entered in the Wokingham at Royal Ascot and could be a horse to follow.

Yafta won a couple of low key events as a juvenile and is another progressive looking sort, having won well last time at Newmarket. He’s another to keep on side and is likely to be running at Newmarket on Saturday. Trained by Richard Hannon and owned by Hamdan Al Maktoum, he looks Pattern class and could have a productive summer ahead.

Though it seems the offspring are not always reliable as juveniles, any that land a prominent finish in a Group event ought to enter the notebook. Tom Dascombe’s Jackstar may be a youngster to keep an eye on. His absence of late suggests he may have met with a setback, but he’s already proved on the track that he has a fair level of ability. The same can be said of the Mark Johnston-trained Deep Intrigue. He defeated a nice juvenile of Richard Fahey’s last time at Beverley. He could prove to be a tasty sort.

I’ll also be interested to see how Paddy Twomey’s Decrypt progresses during the campaign. A fine second on debut at the Curragh last time, he looks sure to improve plenty for the outing and had several Ballydoyle runners in behind.

I’d be cautious at getting heavily involved in Dark Angel juveniles at Royal Ascot. It seems clear that his progeny progress steadily with racing and are likely better followed at three or even four. Nevertheless, the notebook will be readied, and should one make eye-catching progress in the latter stages of the Coventry or the Queen Mary a record will be made. Dark Angel speedsters can be exceptional.

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