St Leger winner Galileo Chrome comes from a successful family of middle-distance performers and stayers. But in winning the oldest classic, he succeeded where two of his near relatives had failed in recent years. And he bucked another trend, as for the most part it has been the female descendants of his fourth dam Alruccaba who have been the big-race winners in recent decades.
Alruccaba raced only four times for the Aga Khan and Michael Stoute as a two-year-old, winning a six-furlong maiden at Brighton and finishing fifth in a nursery at Catterick on her final start. Her sire Crystal Palace won the Prix du Jockey Club and came from the sire line of Nasrullah’s son Grey Sovereign, as did Zeddaan, the sire of Alruccaba’s dam Allara. That made Allara a three-parts sister to the 1978 Poule d’Essai des Poulains winner Nishapour, he too a son of Zeddaan.
Descendants of Nucciolina, grandam of both Alruccaba and Nishapour, remain in the Aga Khan’s studbook to this day. Members of this branch of the family include Alandi, winner of the Irish St Leger (as a four-year-old) and Prix du Cadran, and the Irish Derby and King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes winner Alamshar whose grandam Aliysa was controversially disqualified after passing the post first in the 1989 Oaks, having tested positive for a prohibited substance.
Nucciolina, in turn, is just one of the important broodmares among the many descendants of her fourth dam Mumtaz Mahal who has featured at thebreedingshed before. As well as being Nasrullah’s grandam, Mumtaz Mahal is an ancestress of Oh So Sharp whose 1985 St Leger victory put her in the history books as the most recent to complete the fillies’ triple crown. Oh So Sharp’s grandson Shantou won the St Leger himself eleven years later.
But another famous descendant of Mumtaz Mahal, Shergar, had a less happy St Leger experience, finishing only fourth to Cut Above when sent off the 4/9 favourite. An earlier Aga Khan Derby winner from the family to come unstuck at Doncaster was Mahmoud who finished third in the St Leger; the 1936 Derby winner was a grandson of Mumtaz Mahal and a half-brother to Nucciolina’s grandam.
Returning to Alruccaba, she was bought for 19,000 guineas at the end of her two-year-old season and became a foundation mare for her joint-purchasers, Kirsten Rausing of Lanwades Stud and Sonia Rogers of Airlie Stud. Mrs Rogers explained in a 2016 interview with Irish Thoroughbred Marketing how Alruccaba’s purchase had come about, despite Michael Stoute’s then assistant, James Fanshawe, describing Alruccaba as ‘the slowest thing in the yard’.
‘Kirsten and I never usually told each other what we were interested in, but I think we must have gotten an inkling that year that we were both after the same animal. She asked me if there was anything I was interested in and I said yes, that it was in a back stable and out-of-training. She replied, “Oh.. What colour is it?” I told her that it was grey. She replied with a few more “Oh’s” and then we twigged that we were after the same mare, so we decided to buy her together. I had to leave the sales and leave Kirsten to do the bidding. Kirsten says that when asked how much to bid to for the mare, I said “Well just buy it!” I can’t believe I said that, it sounds very unlike me, but she said “We’ll go up to 40,000gns together and after that, you can have her.”
Mrs Rogers described Alruccaba as ‘very French, in the way that she was quite old-fashioned looking, and many of her offspring have taken after her in that way.’
Not the least remarkable aspect of Alruccaba’s stud career was that all bar two of her thirteen foals turned out to be fillies, ensuring plenty of potential to found her own dynasty. Nishapour, incidentally, was added to Lanwades’ stallion roster not long after the purchase of Alruccaba.
Four of Alruccaba’s daughters are of particular note, starting with her fourth foal, Alouette. By Darshaan, she was a full sister to the listed winner and Irish Oaks third Arrikala. Alouette was likewise a listed winner (Oyster Stakes at Galway) and Group 1-placed, finishing third in the Moyglare Stud Stakes. Alouette’s nine winners (again, mostly fillies) have helped Lanwades’ ‘AL’ family proliferate, in particular the Alzao-sired sisters Alborada, dual winner of the Champion Stakes, and Albanova, winner of three Group 1 contests in Germany in 2004.
Among Alborada’s descendants are the 2017 Park Hill Stakes winner Alyssa (a great granddaughter), the 2019 City of York Stakes winner Shine So Bright (a great grandson) and Alyssa’s half-sister Albaflora, runner-up in this season’s Musidora Stakes.
As well as the listed-winning fillies Alwilda and All At Sea, Albanova’s winners include Algometer, winner of Newbury’s Group 3 Arc Trial, and Alignak, whose biggest win came on the same afternoon Galileo Chrome won the St Leger when successful in the listed Stand Cup at Chester. Alwilda’s daughter Alpinista won the listed Upavon Fillies’ Stakes at Salisbury earlier in September after finishing second in the Yorkshire Oaks.
Alouette is also the grandam of Dragon Dancer who came within a short head of losing his maiden tag in the 2006 Derby (won by Sir Percy, one of Lanwades’ current stallions).
Alruccaba’s other daughter by Darshaan, Jude, showed much less on the racecourse (for Fahd Salman) than either of her two sisters but founded a successful branch of the family at Coolmore. Repeat matings with Sadler’s Wells resulted in the likes of Irish 1000 Guineas winner Yesterday and Moyglare Stud Stakes winner Quarter Moon. Both those fillies were runner-up in the Oaks, and a third sister, All My Loving, was third in the same race. All My Loving became dam of Hardwicke Stakes winner Thomas Chippendale, while Quarter Moon produced the Pretty Polly Stakes winner Diamondsandrubies and is grandam of the Prix Guillaume d’Ornano winner Eminent.
The stoutest stayer among Alruccaba’s daughters was Alleluia (by Caerleon) whose sixth and final win as a three-year-old in Sonia Rogers’ colours came over two and a quarter miles in the Doncaster Cup. Sent to Galileo for her first mating, she produced a still better stayer in Allegretto who was bought by Cheveley Park Stud for 415,000 guineas as a yearling. Allegretto’s Group 1 win came in the Prix Royal-Oak, while her other wins included the Goodwood Cup, Lancashire Oaks and Park Hill Stakes. Allegretto’s current three-year-old Cabaletta won the listed Aphrodite Stakes at Newbury in the summer before finishing second in the three-runner Lillie Langtry Stakes at Goodwood.
Galileo Chrome is a descendant of Alruccaba’s best daughter Last Second who is his great grandam. A daughter of Alzao, like Alborada and Albanova later on, Last Second was secured with a timely bid (hence her name) by Fahd Salman’s brother Faisal Salman for whom she won the Nassau Stakes (a race Alborada also won) and Sun Chariot Stakes when both races were still Group 2 contests.
Last Second went on to enjoy a productive broodmare career, with her best foal being the Danehill colt Aussie Rules, winner of the Poule d’Essai des Poulains and Shadwell Turf Mile. Jointly-owned by Faisal Salman with Sue Magnier and Michael Tabor, Aussie Rules began his stallion career at Coolmore but was bought to join the Lanwades roster in 2012 in partnership with Faisal Salman’s Denford Stud.
Last Second’s other foals included the Darshaan fillies Approach and Intrigued, Darshaan having already had success with Last Second’s dam Alruccaba. Approach won the listed Ballymacoll Stud Stakes at Newbury. Her two best offspring both contested the St Leger without success. Midas Touch (a Coolmore-owned son of Galileo), earlier winner of the Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial and runner-up in the Irish Derby, finished second in the 2010 St Leger won by Arctic Cosmos. Seven years later the Dubawi filly Coronet, in the Denford Stud colours, finished fifth in the St Leger to Capri having won the Ribblesdale Stakes earlier in the season.? She went on to dual Group 1 success in France as a five-year-old when winning the Grand PrIx de Saint-Cloud and Prix Jean Romanet.
Intrigued, who was fourth in the Prix Marcel Boussac at two and listed-placed as a four-year-old, also had a son by Galileo placed in the St Leger. That was Michelangelo who was third behind Encke and the Joseph O’Brien-ridden Camelot in the 2012 St Leger in which the latter was bidding to complete the Triple Crown. Michelangelo won the listed Cocked Hat Stakes at Goodwood earlier that season, a race also won by his Kingman half-brother Private Secretary in 2019.
Their half-sister Curious Mind (by Dansili) managed just two starts, winning a mile maiden at Southwell on her debut in December of her three-year-old season. Galileo Chrome is Curious Mind’s second foal after a filly by Makfi named Florencia who has seemingly won in Tunisia.