First Group 1 winner for Frankel
Taken from the Thoroughbred Daily News, 12th December 2016:
Peerless champion Frankel has enjoyed a remarkable 2016 with his first-crop two-year-olds, and Shadai's homebred filly Soul Stirring put the cherry on top by providing her sire with a first Group 1 winner in Japan's Hanshin Juvenile Fillies on Sunday (11th December).
Unbeaten in two prior outings heading into this championship event, Soul Stirring - a daughter of French Classic winner and multiple Group 1 winner Stacelita (Monsun) - jumped well from gate two and stalked the pace on the fence under Christophe Lemaire about three lengths off the lead of the front-running Arinna (Matsurida Gogh).
Sticking to the inside path as the field straightened for the stretch run, Lemaire appeared confident at the top of the lane, stealing a glance back before giving Soul Stirring a slight shake of the reins. That was all it took for the dark bay to burst clear. She opened up a two-length lead in the final furlong and was never truly threatened by Lys Gracieux (Heart's Cry), who came with a late drive to close the gap to 1 1/4 lengths.
Soul Stirring was making a rather rare move in the juvenile realm by stepping back in distance for her Group 1 debut on Sunday, her first two winning efforts having both come over nine furlongs. The dark bay scored by a neck in her initial outing at Sapporo on 31st July before advancing to take a Tokyo allowance by 1 3/4 lengths on 22nd October, with Christophe Lemaire in the saddle on both occasions.
Lemaire noted the poignancy of Sunday's accomplishment when saying: "I'm ecstatic. It's so special because I used to also ride her dam Stacelita and Soul Stirring is out of her and by that great horse Frankel. I was confident from the beginning and we were in a good position and she was relaxed. She easily hit the front at the stretch and with her big strides and stamina, I think she can go a little bit further in distance."
Stacelita was purchased privately by Shadai off the back of a racing career that included six transatlantic Grade/Group 1 wins. She won three straight Group 1s as a three-year-old in France in 2009 - the Prix Saint-Alary, Prix de Diane and Prix Vermeille (via disqualification) - before checking in seventh behind Sea The Stars (Cape Cross) in the Gr.1 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe. She added the Gr.1 Prix Jean Romanet in 2010 but went winless in her next four outings, after which she was switched to the care of American trainer Chad Brown.
Stacelita regained her form in the second half of 2011 with wins in the Gr.1 Beverly D Stakes and Gr.1 Flower Bowl Invitational and, despite beating just one home in the Gr.1 Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf, earned that year's Eclipse award as U.S. champion grass mare.
Stacelita was purchased privately by Shadai upon the conclusion of her racing career, and her first foal is the British-bred filly Southern Stars (Smart Strike), who is now three and was a maiden winner in April for trainer John Gosden.
Soul Stirring becomes the sixth stakes winner - and first Group 1 winner - worldwide from the first crop of Frankel. Those stakes winners also comprise four Group 3 winners and Group 2 winner Queen Kindly. Soul Stirring is his second stakes winner in Japan, the first being TDN Rising Star Mi Suerte, winner of the Gr.3 Kyoto Sho Fantasy Stakes.
Click here to watch the race.
Frankel is now the leading sire in the Northern Hemisphere by two-year-old Group winners.