|Monday 26th July 2021
St Mark’s Basilica May Answer Prayers as Next Super-Sire
A league of his own— Champions Series (@ChampionsSeries) July 3, 2021
How impressed were you by ST MARK’S BASILICA in the Eclipse? pic.twitter.com/dJenWRduXi
A logical next step for any Flat thoroughbred that wins the Eclipse at Sandown is the Juddmonte International at York, yet surprisingly few racehorses have completed this Group 1 double in recent years.Just five have won both prestigious middle-distance races in the same season this century. It takes a true champion to Eclipse your rivals in early July and follow-up on the opening day of the Ebor Festival come mid-August. Giant’s Causeway, Falbrav, Sea The Stars, Roaring Lion and Ghaiyyath is the kind of company that this year’s Sandown showpiece winner St Mark’s Basilica could bid to put himself among if given the green light by his Coolmore connections.Master Irish trainer Aidan O’Brien always gives his horses options. The Ballydoyle genius has saddled six winners apiece of the Eclipse and Juddmonte International but only Giant’s Causeway came over from the Emerald Isle and landed both.
O’Brien has now stressed how important St Mark’s Basilica has become to the wider operation behind the scenes. Prior to a taking success in the Eclipse over globetrotting elders Addeybb and Mishriff, his CV included the Dewhurst Stakes as a juvenile and two French Classics, the cross-Channel equivalent of the 2000 Guineas at Longchamp and Prix du Jockey Club at Chantilly.In other words, St Mark’s Basilica is future sire material with Group 1 wins to his name at seven furlongs, a mile and trips around a mile-and-a-quarter. Following his ready 3½ lengths victory in the Eclipse, he holds early closing entries for the King George at Ascot, Sussex Stakes during Glorious Goodwood, Juddmonte International, Irish Champion Stakes on Irish Champions Weekend and in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. With this particular horse, it isn’t a typical case of Ballydoyle bingo. St Mark’s Basilica has already proven himself to be highly versatile, another key element of a successful sire when his racing career comes to an end. He would not look out of place lining up in any of those assignments.The only question mark hanging over St Mark’s Basilica is whether his stamina would last a mile-and-a-half. O’Brien doesn’t have to try that out immediately, especially with just three weeks between the Eclipse and King George. That is why bookmakers have the horse a hot favourite for York instead.
St Mark's Basilica is now 6-4 favourite for the Juddmonte International
As those giving Ebor Festival betting tips and predictions have already pointed out, the Juddmonte International is six weeks out from the Arc. O’Brien has used the meeting as a steppingstone to Europe’s richest race on multiple occasions but is also just far enough from Irish Champions Weekend if that enters calculations.
St Mark’s Basilica, a colt by Siyouni out of a Galileo mare, is a half-brother to dual Group 1 winning miler Magna Grecia. That sibling landed the 2000 Guineas and is now a Coolmore stallion. Those with a keen interest in the future of the thoroughbred will be observing this bloodline closely.
Galileo is 23 but no sire can go on forever. In St Mark’s Basilica, Ballydoyle and Coolmore have good reason to believe at this stage that they may have unearthed a potential successor to their longstanding stallion of champions.
The Juddmonte International doesn’t swing the weights in quite so much favour of the three-year-olds in the Eclipse, yet the showpiece race on the card that kicks off the Ebor Festival will have a very different look to last year.