Cassandra goes from sprinter to blue hen

Rhododendron: is a granddaughter of Cassandra Go

PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos) Cassandra goes from sprinter to blue hen
By Nancy Sexton 2:22PM 13 OCT 2016

IT WAS business as usual for Galileo at Newmarket last week when he sired the first two home in the Fillies' Mile as well as the winner of the Dewhurst Stakes in Churchill.

The result of the Fillies' Mile, dominated by the Ballydoyle fillies Rhododendron and Hydrangea, marked the fifth occasion this year in which he had supplied at least the first two in a Group 1 and followed hot on the heels of his remarkable achievement of siring the first three home in the Arc.

With October yielding four European Group 1 winners for Galileo, his European earnings for the year stand at more than £14.7 million. His nearest pursuer, Dubawi, has accumulated approximately £4.9m.

It would be wrong, however, to underestimate the influence of Cassandra Go in Galileo's current purple patch.

A high-class sprinter in her day for Trevor Stewart, the daughter of Indian Ridge has become the foundation of a thriving family that is responsible for both Rhododendron and Photo Call, whose shock defeat of Tepin in Saturday's Grade 1 First Lady Stakes at Keeneland came just a day after Rhododendron's romp in the Fillies' Mile. Like Rhododendron, Photo Call is a Galileo granddaughter of Cassandra Go.

The pair are out of two of Cassandra Go's stakes-winning daughters; Rhododendron is out of Halfway To Heaven, who swept the Irish 1,000 Guineas, Nassau and Sun Chariot Stakes for Aidan O'Brien in 2008, while Photo Call is out of Group 3 winner Theann. She is another current credit to her breeder Evie Stockwell following the exploits of Brave Anna.

All of which bodes well for the prospects of Cassandra Go's high-class Invincible Spirit daughter Tickled Pink. Retained by Stewart, she is the dam of a Dark Angel colt who was sold through Ballyhimikin Stud for 500,000gns to Shadwell Estates at Tattersalls last week.

Stewart's involvement with the family began in 1996 with the purchase of Cassandra Go as a foal through Joss Collins of the BBA for 82,000gns. It was a particularly live family at the time since her dam Rahaam had been represented earlier that year by Coventry Stakes winner Verglas and Prix la Sorellina winner Persian Secret.

"Joss bought her as a foal for me and she came back to Corduff Stud," says Stewart. "The idea was to pinhook her, so she came back to the Houghton Sale as a yearling."

By that stage the family had been further enhanced by Verglas's runner-up performance to Desert King in the 1997 Irish 2,000 Guineas. Thus the Indian Ridge filly out of Rahaam headed to the sales as a half-sister to a current Classic performer only to be bought back at 200,000gns.

"I'd always followed Geoff Wragg as I liked the way he trained," says Stewart. "So I went up to him at the sale, introduced myself and said ‘I've just bought back this filly and my wife isn't talking to me. Can you take her for me and help me out'?"

Retaining Cassandra Go, named in honour of London jeweller Cassandra Goad, turned out to be a blessing in disguise when Wragg went on to train her to win six of 17 starts.

A brief flirtation with racing over a mile ended in disappointment but that prompted a switch back to sprinting, a division in which she became a potent force, winning the King George and Lansdown Stakes as a four-year-old and the King's Stand and Temple Stakes during an excellent season at five.

"She was my first decent horse," says Stewart. "Geoff said early on that she was above average but sore shins held her up a bit. We ran her first time in the Houghton Sales race and we thought she'd be in the first four. So we were a little depressed when she finished 16th.

"Then she won what is usually a very good maiden at Newmarket's Craven meeting and I said then that we'd like to target the Irish Guineas. She was third next time at Ascot but then did some extraordinary work before the Curragh so we gave it a go."

Cassandra Go didn't cover herself in glory that day, finishing 16th behind Hula Angel. But given a break, she returned reinvented as a sprinter and the rest, as they say, is history.

Cassandra Go spent her last season racing while in foal to Green Desert. She went out on a high, taking the Temple and King's Stand Stakes before finishing second to Mozart in the July Cup.

"After she won the King George Stakes as a four-year-old we were going to head to the Nunthorpe," says Stewart. "But she had a setback and couldn't run for the rest of the year. So playing it safe, I had her covered the following season just in case things didn't work out.

"There's no doubt she improved with age and perhaps she improved for being in foal."

Cassandra Go's first foal, Neverletme Go, won twice for Stewart and has since bred German Listed winner Best Regards. Her third foal, Theann, was one of the auction highlights of Rock Of Gibraltar's first crop, selling for €400,000 to John Magnier, while Demi O'Byrne signed at €450,000 for Halfway To Heaven, her next yearling through the ring. More recently, John Ferguson paid 1,700,000gns for her Shamardal colt, the placed Chess Master.

"I'd kept the first two so the decision to sell Theann and Halfway To Heaven was commercial," said Stewart. "Tickled Pink was always going to be kept after the success of those fillies."

Sent to Sir Henry Cecil, Tickled Pink peaked at four when successful in the 2013 Abernant Stakes – one of the last racecourse appearances made by her iconic trainer – and the Sprint Stakes.

Tickled Pink has a "very smart" Shamardal colt and is in foal to Gleneagles. Stewart also has Cassandra Go's unraced Pivotal daughter Allez Alaia, who is in foal to Kingman.

As for Cassandra Go, she has an Iffraaj yearling colt set to be named Scooter who is going to Roger Charlton and an Invincible Spirit filly foal called Holly Golightly.

"Ballyhimikin Stud has done a marvellous job with Cassandra Go," says Stewart. "She's been managed very well and looks great for a 20-year-old."

Stewart also has another talented descendant of Rahaam in Swish, a Listed-placed two-year-old for John James Feane this season.

Photo Call is the sole stakes horse from six foals out of Theann. The emergence of Rhododendron, however, has served to underline Halfway To Heaven's status as an important producer for Coolmore.

She has visited Galileo throughout her stud career and Rhododendron is her second foal to score at Pattern level following Flying The Flag, the 2013 International Stakes winner.

He wasn't disgraced when beaten six lengths in the Derby but ultimately proved most effective over 1m2f. Given the amount of speed on the page, perhaps 1m4f will end up stretching Rhododendron as well.

Cassandra Go 

(96 Indian Ridge-Rahaam, by Secreto)

Won Temple S-Gr2, King's Stand S-Gr2, King George S-Gr3, Lansdown S-L; 2nd July Cup-Gr1, Palace House S-Gr3, Ballyogan S-Gr3. Dam of:

Halfway To Heaven

(05 f Pivotal)

Won Irish 1,000 Guineas-Gr1, Nassau S-Gr1, Sun Chariot S-Gr1. Dam of:

Rhododendron

(f Galileo)

Won Fillies' Mile-Gr1, Debutante S-Gr2; Flying The Flag (c Galileo) won International S-Gr3; sire in South Africa

Theann

(04 f Rock Of Gibraltar)

Won Summer S-Gr3. Dam of:

Photo Call

(f Galileo)

Won First Lady S-Gr1, Rodeo Drive S-Gr1, Orchid S-Gr3, Violet S-Gr3

Tickled Pink (09 f Invincible Spirit) won Sprint S-Gr3, Abernant S-Gr3

Neverletme Go

(02 f Green Desert)

Winner. Dam of: Best Regards (10 f Tamayuz) won Hoppegartener Fliegerpreis-L

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