One of the more successful mating patterns of recent years has been that of putting mares by Sadler’s Wells to Kingmambo. The ploy paid off first with the outstanding Japanese runner El Condor Pasa, who raided France for a victory in the 1999 Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud and later that year gave Montjeu a tremendous run for his money in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.

Since then the match has produced a number of other top-class performers, including Virginia Waters, Divine Proportions, Thewayyouare, Queen Cleopatra, Campanologist and this season’s dual Classic-winning miler Henrythenavigator. Between them those celebrities have accounted for 18 European Pattern races – 11 in Group 1, four in Group 2 and three in Group 3.

In addition, Kingmambo’s brother Miesque’s Son clicked with a Sadler’s Wells mare to get Whipper, who won three times at Group 1 level and once in Group 3. And Sadler’s Wells mares have produced high-class winners by sons of Kingmambo, notably Group 2 winner Best Alibi and Creachadoir (one Group 1 and three in Group 3), both by King’s Best, and Ibn Khaldun (one Group 1 and one Group 3), by Dubai Destination.

That impressive array of talent amounts to strong evidence that there is something about the conjunction of those factors that delivers high quality performance, and a cursory glance at the pedigrees offers what might seem a plausible explanation. Kingmambo was produced by Miesque, the most brilliant daughter of Nureyev, and Nureyev is closely related to Sadler’s Wells.

Nureyev was by Northern Dancer out of Special, whereas Sadler’s Wells is by Northern Dancer out of Special’s daughter, Fairy Bridge. Thus we find that when Kingmambo (and Miesque’s Son, of course) is mated with a daughter of Sadler’s Wells, the product has the three parts brothers close up in its pedigree – Nureyev in the third generation on the sire’s side, and Sadler’s Wells in the second on the dam’s side.

The explanation is plausible, but perhaps no more than that. Kingmambo has two parents, and it is not possible to ignore the fact that his sire is Mr Prospector, himself a hugely influential factor in pedigrees, hardly less so than Sadler’s Wells. Both became dominant influences because they crossed successfully with mares from a wide range of backgrounds.

What is more, Sadler’s Wells and Mr Prospector feature together in the pedigrees of numerous major winners, not least those of Group 1 winner Johann Quatz and the full siblings Galileo, Black Sam Bellamy and All Too Beautiful, all products of mares by Mr Prospector’s son, Miswaki.

All the examples of prominent runners with both Nureyev and Sadler’s Wells close up in their pedigrees also feature Mr Prospector, and in the case of Henrythenavigator there is even inbreeding to Raise a Native, the sire of Mr Prospector. It seems that for the three-parts brothers to combine successfully, that other factor needs to be present.

It would be fascinating to know how many times Nureyev and Sadler’s Wells have been coupled in matings involving a closer connection than the 3 x 2 represented by the appearance of Kingmambo. Chances are that there have been few instances of 2 x 2 inbreeding, even allowing for the fact that many breeders, obsessed with the fashionable, might have used the ploy unwittingly. How many would have consciously constructed a pedigree with Nureyev and Sadler’s Wells both in the second remove?

Certainly, there has been no example of a European Pattern winner by a son of Nureyev out of a daughter of Sadler’s Wells. And until Monday there had been no instance of a European Pattern winner by a son of Sadler’s Wells out of a daughter of Nureyev. The ground-breaking individual who may just have initiated a trend is Incanto Dream, the four-year-old colt who turned in an impressive display to win the Group 2 Prix Maurice de Nieuil on Longchamp’s Bastille evening card.

My inference that the union between Galileo and Atlantic Blue did not represent some slavish adherence to fashion, but a very deliberate – and, as it turned out, successful – experiment to involve their closely related sires in the closest possible juxtaposition is reinforced by the knowledge that Atlantic Blue is herself inbred to Rough Shod, the tap-root of their exceptional family.

Rough Shod (Gold Bridge Dalmary, by Blandford), whose only success on the racecourse came in a race of little consequence at now defunct Bogside, became a broodmare of immense importance after her acquisition for 3,500gns at the 1951 Newmarket December Sales and her transfer to Claiborne Farm in Kentucky. Her first foal born at Claiborne was the high-class two-year-old stakes winner Gambetta (My Babu), whose branch of the family became noted for celebrities like daughter Gamely (Bold Ruler), grand-daughter Drumtop and grandsons Cellini and Take Your Place (all by Round Table).

But it was Rough Shod’s four products by Nasrullah’s son Nantallah – a non-stakes-winner – who were to make greater impressions. The colts Ridan and Lt Stevens both became high-class performers, the former winning 13 of his 23 starts and the latter notching nine times from 26 runs, and in due course both earned further measures of fame at stud.

The mare’s two daughters, Moccasin and Thong, contrived more enduring influence, the former after having compiled a formidable racing record (named Horse of the Year as a juvenile in one poll), the latter after a three-season career that brought her five victories from 22 races. Although none came in stakes company, she was placed three times in races that at a later date were designated as Graded events. Moccasin was to produce seven stakes winners from her nine foals, headed by Apalachee (Round Table), the European champion two-year old of 1973, while Thong distinguished herself as the dam of outstanding miler Thatch (Forli) and his sister Lisadell, and their halfbrother King Pellinore (Round Table).

Thong’s branch flourished further through her onceraced (and successful) daughter Special, a sister to Thatch and Lisadell, famously dam of Nureyev, and granddam of the brothers Sadler’s Wells and Fairy King (all by Northern Dancer). As Moccasin was noted more for her sons than her daughters, it was perhaps not surprising that her branch of the family did not assume immediate comparable distinction, but it cannot be ignored now. The best of Moccasin’s daughters at the track was her last foal, Flippers.

Although she was by the disappointing sire Coastal (Majestic Prince), Flippers was a Listed winner, placed twice in Grade 2 company, and earned nearly $250,000. In her long innings at stud Flippers produced just one runner of any note, but that one was Hail Atlantis (Seattle Slew), who won the Grade 1 Santa Anita Oaks in 1990, and she has enhanced the family’s reputation as the dam of highly regarded sire Stormy Atlantic (Storm Cat) and grand-dam of three colts who have lately distinguished themselves on the racecourse. Divine Dixie (Dixieland Band) is the dam of Bandini, the son of Fusaichi Pegasus who won the 2005 Blue Grass Stakes; Helstra (Nureyev) produced Stern Opinion, a son of Mizzen Mast who last week claimed his third place at Pattern level in France; and Helstra’s sister is Atlantic Blue, whose gelded son Atlando (Hernando) is a Grade 2 winner in the States, and whose latest star is our subject, Incanto Dream (Galileo).