In an age when commercial breeders have become so infatuated with precocity that the retirement of a two-year-old colt to stud is barely met with a raised eyebrow any more, the breeding of Jack Hobbs is refreshing in its bias towards pure middle-distance class and later maturation.
Saturday's impressive Dubai Sheema Classic winner is doing just what he was engineered to do by proving to be a top-class horse long after many of the best of his age group have started their stallion careers.
Jack Hobbs was bred by former champion jockey Willie Carson and his wife Elaine at their Minster Stud in Gloucestershire and, as a son of Halling out of a Swain mare, boasts two brilliant and battle-hardened Godolphin colts as sire and damsire.
The early career of Halling was overseen by Jack Hobbs' handler John Gosden, who sent him out to win three handicaps, culminating in a decisive victory in the Cambridgeshire. He subsequently joined Godolphin, for whom he completed the Eclipse-Juddmonte International double at both four and five. In all, he won 12 of his 18 starts.
There were several quirks to the stallion career of Halling, who died aged 25 last year. First, it took him an inordinately long time for him to be represented by a first top-flight winner; it was Cavalryman, from the sire's ninth crop, who broke the duck when he won the Grand Prix de Paris in 2009.
Halling had been a little unlucky not to have put a Group 1 winner on the board before then. Norse Dancer managed to finish in the first four in ten races at the highest level, while Hala Bek must rank as one of the best horses of recent times not to have gained black type, having finished a close fourth after veering right in the closing stages of Sir Percy's Derby and winning a maiden and conditions race in good style in his three starts.
Halling's progeny record also features a remarkable gender bias, featuring as it does only two female Pattern-winning offspring – Eastern Aria and Havant – compared with 25 sons who achieved the same. That is all the more surprising when you consider Halling's sire Diesis was renowned for the success enjoyed by his daughters such as Diminuendo, Love Divine and Ramruma.
One characteristic shared by many of Halling's progeny is their durability. Cavalryman developed into a high-class stayer and had won ten of his 38 previous starts before he was fatally injured in action at Meydan in 2015.
He is one of ten among Halling's 20 best offspring by Racing Post Ratings who chalked up 20 or more starts in their career, along with Norse Dancer (35), Opinion Poll (27), Parasol (33), Chancellor (45), Dandoun (22), Franklins Gardens (22), Empoli (21), Hattan (52) and Vanderlin (62).
They were built to last on the maternal side of Jack Hobbs' family, too.
His dam, Swain's Gold, won three races in the US and has also produced Niceofyoutotellme, a useful handicapper for Ralph Beckett who has made 33 starts, Mrs Greeley, who won on three of her 19 trips to the track, and Manson, whose third placing in a valuable Kempton handicap this month came on his 14th run.
Swain made his debut in the May of his three-year-old season for Andre Fabre and was unbeaten until he finished third to Lammtarra in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe.
Like Halling, he later became a regular face in top-flight contests and won two renewals of the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes and one each of the Coronation Cup and Irish Champion Stakes. He also distinguished himself on dirt with a short-head second to Silver Charm in the Dubai World Cup and a third placing behind Awesome Again in the Breeders' Cup Classic among 22 runs.
Swain's Gold is out of the Don't Forget Me mare Golden Pond, who ran 24 times and marked herself down as a tough customer by making most of the running to win at Nottingham and Ascot and the Listed Prix de la Cochere at Saint-Cloud before heading to America where she landed the Grade 2 Orchid Handicap and Grade 3 Suwannee River Handicap.
With all those durable performers in his pedigree, Jack Hobbs should be seen on racecourses for a long time yet, as long as he is kept sound after recovering from the hairline fracture to his pelvis he suffered in the Jockey Club Stakes last year.
He could be considered a throwback to the golden age of Godolphin when Halling and Swain would regularly deliver big-race victories carrying the royal blue silks.
Jack Hobbs serves as a reminder that horses bred for middle distances can eventually be as lucrative as those bred to show speed early in their two-year-old careers. Bought as a yearling by Blandford Bloodstock for 60,000gns, he will have generated a healthy profit for his original owners, a partnership that included Gosden's wife Rachel Hood, after being bought into by Sheikh Mohammed's operation after winning a Sandown handicap by a street and finishing second to Golden Horn in the Dante Stakes.
When the time comes, a long way down the road presumably, it will be interesting to see how his stallion career is handled and whether he will be granted a decent chance of producing high-class middle-distance horses in his own image, even though he offers little hope of producing early two-year-olds.
FIVE OF HALLING'S HARDEST-WORKING SONS
Runs: 39; Wins: 10
Became an overdue first top-flight winner for his sire when he landed the Grand Prix de Paris and ran a cracker when third to Sea The Stars in the Arc. Developed into a top stayer, winning the Goodwood Cup and Dubai Gold Cup.
Runs: 47; Wins: 6
Hailed from the first crop of Halling and proved a good advert for his sire by winning the Sandown Classic Trial. Went on to win the Royal Whip and the Gordon Richards Stakes twice and was still going at the age of nine.
Runs: 52; Wins 6
Given an ambitious campaign typical of trainer Clive Brittain and broke his maiden by winning the Chester Vase. Not disgraced when sixth in Motivator's Derby. Found a second wind on the all-weather later in life, winning the Winter Derby and September Stakes at big prices.
Runs: 35; Wins: 4
Jeff Smith's enigmatic colt ran well in Group 1 races time after time without ever winning one. Best efforts included runner-up finishes to Azamour in the Irish Champion Stakes and King George.
Runs: 27; Wins: 10
As was the case with Halling and Jack Hobbs, graduated from handicaps to Pattern company. Won the Goodwood Cup and the Lonsdale Cup twice, and also finished second in the Gold Cup twice, an unlucky runner-up to Colour Vision in 2012.