Former Darley shuttler Teofilo (Galileo) chalked up his 97th stakes winner on Wednesday when the Mark Johnston-trained Dubai Fountain (3 f ex Nafura by Dubawi) took out the Cheshire Oaks (Listed, 1m3.5f) at Chester and she will now head straight to the Oaks (Gr 1, 1m4f) at Epsom next month.
Unlucky not to win at stakes level as a two-year-old, having finished second in the Star Stakes (Listed, 7f), Sweet Solera Stakes (Gr 3, 7f) and May Hill Stakes (Gr 2, 1m), Dubai Fountain signed off her juvenile career with a fourth place finish behind Pretty Gorgeous (Lawman) in the Fillies' Mile (Gr 1, 1m) at Newmarket in October and subsequent 1,000 Guineas (Gr 1, 1m) winner Mother Earth (Zoffany) finished third in the Group 1.
However, on her first start as a three-year-old the filly showed her class when she stayed on strongly in the closing stages to post a length victory over Zeyaadah (Tamayuz), while Nicest (American Pharoah) was another four and a quarter lengths away in third.
“Franny [Norton, jockey] said it was very stop-start and he was happy to get a lead, but the pace was on and off which didn’t really suit,” said Johnston.
“He was having to wake her up and then steady her again, so he could never get her into a nice rhythm – he felt it wasn’t her best performance, but it was good enough for me, I was happy with that.
“It will be straight to Epsom now, we were saying throughout last year we thought she was an Oaks filly rather than a Guineas filly.
“She obviously failed to win a Group race last year, but she ran some great races. We’ve been thinking about the Oaks for a long time.
“She was beaten just a length by the Guineas winner (Mother Earth) over a mile last year, when we always felt she’d be better over further.
“I don’t think the key to her chance was going up in trip, she’s good enough, otherwise you’d be saying that about every horse who ran in a trial. She’s been running at that level (Group One) there’s no reason to think she’s not good enough.
“We’ll just have to hope there’s not one better!”
Dubai Fountain is one of three winners out of winning Dubawi (Dubai Millennium) mare Nafura and she is also the dam of Listed-placed Real World (Dark Angel).
Nafura herself is a half-sister to Group 1 winners Librettist (Danzig) and Dubai Destination (Kingmambo) as well as Group 2 winner Secret Number (Raven’s Pass).
Nafura is also a half-sister to the dam of Group 1 winner Royal Marine (Raven’s Pass), Group 2 winner Secret Ambition (Exceed And Excel) and Listed winner Crystal River (Dubawi) as well as the dam of Tatra (Hussonet), who landed the 2012 Sandown Guineas (Gr 2, 1600m).
Teofilo shuttled to Australia for six seasons and his progeny is headed by 21 Group 1 winners, including Melbourne Cup (Gr 1, 3200m)-winning duo Cross Counter and Twilight Payment and he now stands exclusively at Darley’s Kildangan base in Ireland.