Sky Lantern is a well-bred filly – a half-sister to no less than nine winners including a handful of useful types – so the €75,000 she cost as a yearling did not look expensive. And so it has proved.
Immediately off the mark when making all the running for an easy success in a Goodwood maiden race on May 24 2012, she recouped a fair chunk of her purchase price when returning to her native Ireland three weeks later and landing a valuable Listed race at Naas.
Stepped up to Group 3 company, she tasted defeat for the first time in two different races during the month of August yet ran with great credit on both occasions.
The first of those contests saw her beaten just a length by the subsequent Group 1 winner, Certify, while the second, when runner-up as the odds-on favourite in the Prestige Stakes at Goodwood, was run on ground that was softer than she prefers.
She crossed the Irish Sea once more to run in the Group 1 Moyglare Stud Stakes at The Curragh on September 9 and, back on a sound surface, quickened away in the closing stages to register a brilliant two and a half length victory.
Her final start of 2012 is best forgotten. She travelled all the way to the west coast of America to dispute the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf at Santa Anita. But her pilot, Richard Hughes, endured a nightmare passage against the inside rail and she only found daylight once the race was over.
Despite many observers feeling that she was beaten fair and square by Hot Snap in her 2013 comeback, the Group 3 Lanwades Stud Nell Gwyn Stakes at Newmarket on April 17, Hughes again blamed himself for her two and a quarter length defeat by Hot Snap. The Champion Jockey felt that, fearing that Sky Lantern would be in front too long, he had restrained his mount just as she was hitting top gear and she was unable to quicken again once Hot Snap went by.
Hughes was proved correct in handsome style at the same course two and a half weeks later as, brought with one sustained run, Sky Lantern stormed up the final hill to beat Just The Judge by half a length in the QIPCO 1000 Guineas.
She followed that with a quite brilliant victory in the Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot, scorching clear to win by four lengths from Kenhope, with Just The Judge a neck away in third. She has clearly improved considerably and her jockey is convinced she’ll stay further – maybe even a mile and a half – so she has a string of options for the rest of the season as she looks prove herself the best filly in Europe.
She stayed at a mile for her next start and tasted defeat in controversial circumstances in the Etihad Airways Falmouth Stakes. She was carried across the course by the winner, Elusive Kate, and beaten a neck, but after a stewards’ enquiry and a subsequent appeal, the result was allowed to stand.
She stepped up to a mile and quarter next time in the Markel Insurance Nassau Stakes at Glorious Goodwood, but Richard Hughes was stuck behind horses and when finally about to make his challenge, his path was blocked. It’s not certain she would have won, but she very likely would have done. Instead she finished fifth.
She made for it in style next time though, coming from last to first to win the Kingdom of Bahrain Sun Chariot Stakes, taking revenge on Elusive Kate. Her season ended at Sha Tin in the Hong Kong Mile in December where she finished last of the 14 runners with jockey Richard Hughes easing her down once her chance had gone.
She started 2014 at Royal Ascot with a penalty in the Duke of Cambridge Stakes and finished fifth before fifth again in the QIPCO Falmouth Stakes when the soft ground was against her. She had a long lay-off and reappeared i the Kingdom of Bahrain Sun Chariot Stakes (Group 1) at Newmarket, but after mounting a challenge, she faded to finish second last.
She has now been retired to stud.