Pedigree notebook: Tahiyra, Paddington turn Irish Guineas double for Siyouni

May 30th, 2023

In this regular feature, we highlight a wide range of pedigree musings.

When Tahiyra quickened out of a pocket in Sunday’s Irish 1000 Guineas (G1), she capped a classic double at the Curragh for her sire, Siyouni. The Aga Khan’s homebred stallion was also responsible for Saturday’s Irish 2000 Guineas (G1) hero, Paddington.

The two took different routes to their respective Guineas. Tahiyra ranked as Europe’s champion two-year-old filly for Dermot Weld, who also trained her Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1)-winning half-sister, Tarnawa. Paddington, on the other hand, has been brought along steadily by Aidan O’Brien.

With their weekend sweep, the duo further enhanced Siyouni’s profile as a classic sire. Siyouni is now responsible for eight European classic winners, although he himself peaked as a juvenile and did not win at three!

Let’s look at Tahiyra and Paddington before rewinding to Siyouni’s background.

Tahiyra’s contrasts with half-sister Tarnawa

Tahiyra romped on debut at Galway, where Weld likes to unveil his smart prospects, including Tarnawa. It’s significant that the younger filly was able to dominate her seven-furlong maiden; Tarnawa was third in her corresponding introduction at the 2018 Galway Festival, and that’s the first point of contrast.

While Tarnawa ran well at two, she didn’t break her maiden until her three-year-old season, and she excelled at four and five. Her 2020 Breeders’ Cup Turf coup over males concluded a top-level hat trick comprising the Prix Vermeille (G1) and Prix de l’Opera (G1), and she just missed in the 2021 Irish Champion (G1) and Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (G1).

Tarnawa, by the Giant’s Causeway stallion Shamardal, improved with maturity like their dam, the stamina-laden Tarana. But Tahiyra took more after her sire, inheriting Siyouni’s speed and precocity.

Last summer, Weld told that Tahiyra was also a bit smaller than the robust Tarnawa. But otherwise, Tahiyra “has a lot of the characteristics of her sister; she’s very similar in many ways.”

Given her profile, Tahiyra climbed the class ladder a lot faster. She graduated straight into Group 1 company on Irish Champions Weekend and delivered an outstanding victory over Meditate in the Moyglare Stud (G1). Tahiyra was put away for the winter with an eye toward the classics.

Weld was forthright that Tahiyra wasn’t fully cranked for Newmarket’s 1000 Guineas (G1) on May 7. The venerable horseman said going into the race that she was just coming to herself, as fillies tend to do in the spring, and a little more time would have been desirable. Tahiyra ran her heart out to miss by a half-length to Godolphin’s scrappy, and race-fit, Mawj (a half-sister to champion Modern Games.)

Three weeks later at the Curragh, Tahiyra was in full bloom. She overcame a potentially tricky rail draw by exploding when a sliver of room appeared, beating old foe Meditate again. Now Tahiyra could get a rematch with Mawj in the June 23 Coronation (G1) at Royal Ascot.

Tahiyra and Tarnawa’s dam, multiple stakes-winning and Group 3-placed Tarana, is by Cape Cross. Best known as the sire of the great Sea the Stars and Ouija Board, Cape Cross is also making his mark as a broodmare sire. Ouija Board is the dam of fellow dual classic winner Australia, who turned the Epsom/Irish Derby (G1) double in 2014. Another high-profile daughter of Cape Cross, 2011 UAE Derby (G2) winner Khawlah, produced 2018 Epsom Derby star Masar.  

Tahiyra is not the first classic winner bred on the cross of Siyouni over Cape Cross. Laurens is likewise by Siyouni out of a Cape Cross mare, and her trajectory is informative. Also a top two-year-old who won the 2017 Fillies’ Mile (G1), Laurens garnered five more Group 1s from a mile up to about 1 5/16 miles, the distance of her Prix de Diane (French Oaks) (G1). That’s just more evidence supporting Tahiyra’s ability to stretch out in the future.

Paddington takes low-key track to classic destination

The master of Ballydoyle knows more than one way to prepare a classic winner, and the “babyish” Paddington required a softer approach. The €420,000 Arqana October yearling purchase accordingly took incremental steps up in class.

After an immature fifth on debut Sept. 2 at Ascot, Paddington rolled by five lengths in an Oct. 13 Curragh maiden. It would have been rushing him to wheel back before the season ended, so O’Brien was happy to wait.

Paddington resurfaced when Irish turf racing resumed on the Flat, the last weekend in March. He picked up right where he left off, successfully carrying top weight of 135 pounds in a seven-furlong premier handicap at Naas. Although he had options for a classic trial abroad, Paddington stayed nearer home in the May 1 Tetrarch S. at the Curragh, where he passed his next test over a mile.

The Irish 2000 Guineas represented a significant class hike, on the quickest ground he’d encountered yet. But his upwardly-mobile appeal, for powerhouse connections, propelled him to 3-1 second favoritism, behind only Royal Scotsman, who placed in Newmarket’s 2000 Guineas (G1).

Paddington obliged, despite showing signs of lingering greenness. Breaking a tad slowly, he had the tactical speed to secure a tracking position, and eventually he figured out to deploy his change of gear late. He had to survive a stewards’ inquiry into his brief waywardness down the lane.

The postrace quotes from O’Brien and jockey Ryan Moore noted that Paddington is still learning and developing. His trainer said that he could go further as well.

Bred by the Wildenstein family’s Dayton Investments, Paddington is out of Modern Eagle, who scored her stakes win at about 1 9/16 miles. She has produced a real staying type in the multiple stakes-placed Masterpiece (by Mastercraftsman), and the marriage with Siyouni furnished much-needed speed.

Modern Eagle is a daughter and granddaughter of Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe winners, being by Montjeu and out of a Peintre Celebre mare. Her dam, Millionaia, was the 2004 French Oaks runner-up who produced a marathoner in Mighty Blue. Millionaia is herself out of the Alysheba mare Moonlight Dance, the 1994 Prix Saint-Alary (G1) victress and ancestress of Heartbreak City, second in the 2016 Melbourne Cup (G1).

Paddington is now the headliner for the Siyouni/Montjeu cross. Hitherto the best runner bred along that specific pattern was multiple Group/Grade 3 hero Sacred Life. But Siyouni’s 2020 E.P. Taylor (G1) winner, Etoile, is out of a mare by Montjeu’s son Authorized.

Siyouni on the racecourse

Siyouni was a high-class operator throughout his two-year-old campaign that began in May 2009 and culminated in the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere (G1). It’s poignant that he scored his signature win in that event, since he descends from the late Lagardere’s bloodstock acquired by the Aga Khan.

Trained by Alain de Royer-Dupre, Siyouni won his first three starts at about five furlongs, including the Prix La Fleche. He lost his unbeaten record when runner-up to champion Special Duty in the Prix Robert Papin (G2), and he played second fiddle to another smart type in Buzzword in the Prix la Rochette (G3). But Siyouni turned the tables on Buzzword in the Lagardere on Arc Day, where he also defeated future dual classic star, champion, and noted sire Lope de Vega.

Siyouni’s three-year-old season was anticlimactic, but he still placed in such majors as the Prix Jean Prat (G1) and Prix du Moulin (G1).

Siyouni’s pedigree

Siyouni had the genetic material, however, to sire horses with the scope to progress. From the Nureyev branch of the Northern Dancer sire line, Siyouni is a son of the brilliant sprinter Pivotal, hero of the 1996 King’s Stand (then a Group 2) at Royal Ascot and the Nunthorpe (G1) at York.

Pivotal became a prolific sire of major winners who stayed much further than he did, including globetrotting celebrity Addeybb and Farhh, both heroes of the Champion (G1); 2009 Epsom/Irish Oaks (G1) victress Sariska; African Story, winner of the last Dubai World Cup (G1) on Meydan’s Tapeta in 2014; and U.S. champion turf mare Golden Apples. Pivotal’s record as a broodmare sire is at least as impressive; suffice to say that he factors in that role for such standouts as Cracksman and Magical.

Siyouni is a half-brother to Grade/Group 1-winning highweight Siyouma, whose major scores came as a four-year-old in the 2012 Sun Chariot (G1) and E.P. Taylor. They were the first two foals from their dam, Sichilla. By supersire Danehill, Sichilla raced only three times as a sophomore in 2005, but won twice, notably the about seven-furlong Prix Amandine.

After her sensational start as a producer, with Siyouni and Siyouma, Sichilla went on to deliver a pair of listed stakes winners in Siyenica and Sayana, both multiple Group-placed performers. Siyenica has preserved the flame by producing 2019 Prix Saint-Alary queen Siyarafina (by Pivotal and therefore closely related to Siyouni).

Sichilla is herself a half-sister to four-time Group 1 winner and multiple highweight Slickly as well as to No Slip, who captured the 2001 Oak Tree Derby (G2). Their dam, the multiple stakes-placed Slipstream Queen, is by 1982 Horse of the Year Conquistador Cielo and out of Grade 1 winner Country Queen.

Siyouni’s leading progeny

Siyouni is tapping into that heritage at stud, transmitting his quality speed while allowing for greater aptitude among his progeny. Leading his list are superstars Sottsass and St Mark’s Basilica.

Sottsass, record-setting winner of the 2019 Prix du Jockey-Club (French Derby) (G1), crowned his career in the 2020 Arc. The O’Brien-trained St Mark’s Basilica reigned as European champion at both two and three. Turning a classic double in the Poule d’Essai des Pouliches (French 2000 Guineas) (G1) and French Derby, St Mark’s Basilica beat his elders in the Eclipse (G1) and rebuffed Tarnawa in the aforementioned Irish Champion.

Both Sottsass and St Mark’s Basilica are out of high-profile Galileo mares. Sottsass is a half-brother to U.S. champion Sistercharlie, and St Mark’s Basilica is a half to Magna Grecia, the 2000 Guineas scorer in 2019. Their cross is similar to Paddington’s, since Montjeu and Galileo are sons of Sadler’s Wells.

Aside from Laurens, Siyouni’s classic-winning fillies include his first-crop daughter Ervedya, heroine of the 2015 Poule d’Essai des Pouliches (French 1000 Guineas) (G1) as well as the Coronation and Moulin; Dream and Do, who won the 2020 Pouliches; and Txope, victorious in last year’s German 1000 Guineas (G2).