The last 2 weeks have seen huge amounts of top level action in the UK, Ireland and France. It would be easy to simply write about one top level winner but I aim to please so here are ten items of interest from the past two weeks…….
1.Sea the Stars- His greatness is unquestioned, but is he the greatest ever?
The answer is no. Sea the Stars is undoubtedly a fantastic horse whose consistency and versatility has to admired but some of the praise has been vastly overdone. I believe that I have seen better individual performances over a mile, 10 furlongs and 12 furlongs. It is interesting to compare his level of form with that of last year’s winner Zarkava. She also won an Arc by two lengths beating Youmzain, over a mile she trounced Goldikova in the French Guineas and she was both a Group 1 winner at two and unbeaten throughout her career. However would anyone seriously suggest that she might be the greatest horse of all time,as has been mentioned in the case of Sea the Stars?
2. Mighty Mighty Montjeu.
We have learned that when Montjeu sires a good two year old, that horse becomes a top class three year old. Thus far his only Group One winning two year olds have all become Derby winners namely Authorized, Motivator and Fame and Glory. For good measure Jukebox Jury who won last years Royal Lodge has now become a Group 1 winner after narrowly triumphing in the Preis Von Europa. On Saturday 26th September at Ascot in the Royal Lodge Joshua Tree won well. The next day in the Curragh’s Beresford Stakes,St Nicholas Abbey was even more impressive and become ante post favourite for next year’s Derby. For good measure Bikini Babe was runner up in the CL Weld Stakes. As if to remind everyone that he still sires the odd decent older horse he had an Australian Group 1 winner Speed Gifted to complement Jukebox Jury’s success at the highest level. With Fame & Glory likely to stay in training it would be no surprise if he is champion sire in 2010.
3. John Oxx- You can’t get away from his influence!
Back in 2000 Sinndar gave John Oxx the best day he could ever have hoped for when winning the Arc on the same day as Namid won the Prix de’lAbbaye. In 2009 apart from Sea the Stars he won the Prix de Cadran with Alandi who spoilt Yeats farewell to racing. This was Alandi’s second major victory in three weeks following on from his Irish St Leger victory. The weekend also gave plenty of reminders of that memorable day in 2000 as Namid sired Total Victory who followed his sire in triumphing in the Abbaye and Sinndar was responsible for Youmzain who again had to settle for the runner-up spot for the 3rd successive Arc. For good measure Sinndar sired Rosanara who was quite impressive in retaining her unbeaten record in the Prix Marcel Boussac. I wrote in one of my first posts that Sinndar was badly overlooked by Irish breeders. He is now resident in France where I hope he gets the big books that he deserves as he is more than capable of siring a top horse. Total Gallery became Namid’s first Group 1 winner but he has probably arrived too late to make much of a difference to Namid’s reputation and his lack of major success saw the median for his yearlings slip to €5600 in 2008.
The Aga Khan had an incredible weekend. Group 1 successes for Shalanaya, Alandi, Siyouni, Rosanara, Varenar represent an incredible return and a vindication of his breeding policy.The sires involved Lomitas,Galileo, Pivotal, Sinndar and Rock of Gibraltar, are a decidedly mixed bunch but such success highlights the strength of his female lines.His non-conformist approach to stallion selection often sees him responsible for breeding the best offspring of many overlooked stallions. For good measure Daryakana (by Selkirk) and Manighar (by Linamix) picked up Group 2 races. Looking at some of the pedigrees involved familiar names quickly appear. The third dam of Shalanaya is Sharmeen the dam of Shergar, the dam of Alandi is a full sister to Oaks winner Aliysa, the grand-dam of Siyouni is Slipstream Queen who was dam of Slickly and was presumably purchased as part of the Lagardere purchase so it is fitting that he won the race commemorating Jean Luc Lagardere. Rosanara is out of a Linamix mare so again it can be taken that she was part of the Lagardere acquisition. Varenar is a half brother to Visindar who started favourite for the 2006 Derby on the back of an impressive win in the Prix Greffulhe and Daryakana is out Daryaba who won the French Oaks and Prix Vermeille in 1999.
5. Pivotal- another gap on the cv filled
I am a huge admirer of Pivotal and it is interesting to monitor the impact of the better mares on his results. The Prix Jean-Luc de Lagedare say a first and third for Cheveley Parks finest, comprising Siyouni and Buzzword. Interestingly both are our of Danehill mares and this is a cross that has been tried repeatedly since the success of Saoire in the Irish Guineas. Kitty Kiernan is another representative of this cross. Surprisingly it was the first time that Pivotal had sired a Group 1 winning two year old although he did have Group 2 winners previously in Captain Rio and Excellent Art.
6. Sahm- a loss
Sahm was impeccably bred being by Mr Prospector out of Salsabail. However I always felt he was at stud on the wrong continent. He has had relatively few runners in Europe and most of them were with Kevin Prendergast, who never seemed to train a bad one eg Mustameet, Adaala, Red Moloney. He also sired Maram who won last years Breeders Cup Fillies Turf. Now he has had a Group 1 winner in surprise Sun Chariot winner Sahpreasa. Sahm died in 2007 aged only 13 and before he really got to capitalise on his better than expected results.
7. Sales races- distorting the truth
There were a number of sales races over the past 8 days with the Tattersalls races at Newmarket and the Goffs races at the Curragh. Amazingly for the second year running Hawk Wing sired the winner of one of these sales races (Lucky General) to put him near the top of the two year old rankings again. This is a travesty of justice if it means that someone in the distant future comes to the conclusion that it was a mistake to banish this great racehorse but dreadful sire to Korea. Shamardal sired another Shakespearen the winner of the Goffs Million Mile and along with Arctic who was somewhat disappointing in the Middle Park he ensures that Shamardal will feature near the top of the first season sires listing. At Newmarket in the Tattersalls races Danehill Dancer sired Lilly Langtry the winner of the fillies races which means that he will now win the Anglo-Irish championship at the expense of Cape Cross.
8. Middle Park in decline
THe Middle Park stakes has been in decline for a long period. In the past twenty years only Oasis Dream and Rodrigo de Triano have gone on to Group 1 success as three year olds. This years field was small but select with all the runners having shown a high level of form. In winning Azwaan retained his unbeaten record but he wasn’t overly impressive. Alhaarth throws all sorts and this year he was very unlucky that Mourayan didn’t win thus years St Leger as he got no sort of run. In the past Alhaarth has shown his versatility by siring sprinters (Dominica), milers (Haafhd) and middle distance horses (Bandari). Accordingly it is hard to say how far Azwaan will stay but it will be a surprise if he wins next years 2000 Guineas.
9. Special Duty- omens are good
Special Duty showed a very impressive turn of foot to win the Cheveley Park. She has already been highly tried taking on colts when beating Siyouni in the Prix Robert Papin and finishing second to Arcano in the Prix Morny. She is from a top class family as her dam is a full sister to Sightseek who won 7 Grade 1’s for Juddmonte. Her sire Hennessy died in 2007 whilst on duty in South America and he is one of those sires that seemed to be around forever yet he was only 14 when he died. In Europe he is known solely for outstanding two year old Johannesburg and it is to be hoped that Special Duty trains on a little better than he did. She will most likely be targetted at the 1000 Guineas and she seems to have a good chance of giving Criquette Head her fourth success in that classic.
10. Singspiel – A value sire
I think that Hibaayeb was fortunate not to be disqualified after winning the Fillies Mile. She clearly impeded Lady Darshaan who is incidentally a half sister to Prix de l’Abbaye winner Total Gallery. However she kept the race and thereby became the 12th Group 1 winner for Singspiel and his third this year after Eastern Anthem and Dar Re Mei. Singspiel saw a significant reduction in his stud fee some years ago and he is value at £15000. Hibaayeb’s fourth dam is Oh So Fair who achieved fame as the dam of Oh So Sharp.
Horse age sex
Race and distance
Dam (broodmare sire)
|04/10/09||Total Gallery 3 c||Namid||Prix de l’Abbaye Gr 1 (5f)||Diary (GreenDesert)|
|04/10/09||Sea the Stars 3 c||Cape Cross||Prix de l’Arc Gr 1 (12f)||Urban Sea (Miswaki)|
|04/10/09||Shalanaya 3 f||Lomitas||Prix de l’Opera Gr 1 (10f)||Shalamantika (Nashwan)|
|04/10/09||Alandi 4 c||Galileo||Prix de Cadran Gr 1 (20f)||Aliya (Darshaan)|
|04/10/09||Siyouni 2 c||Pivotal||Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere (7f)||Sichilla (Danehill)|
|04/10/09||Rosanara 2 f||Sinndar||Prix Marcel Boussac Gr1 (8f)||Rosawa (Linamix)|
|04/10/10||Varenar 3 c||Rock of Gibraltar||Prix de la Foret Gr 1 (10f)||Visor (Mr Prospector)|
|03/10/09||Sahpresa 4 f||Sahm||Sun Chariot Gr 1 (8f)||Sorpresa (Pleasant Tap)|
|03/10/09||Speed Gifted 5 g||Montjeu||The Metropolitan Gr 1 (12f)||Good Standing (Distant View)|
|02/10/09||Special Duty 2 f||Hennessy||Cheveley Park Gr 1(6f)||Quest to Peak (Distant View)|
|02/10/09||Awzaan 2 c||Alhaarth||Middle Park Gr 1 (6f)||Nufoos (Zafonic)|
|27/09/09||St Nicholas Abbey 2 c||Montjeu||Beresford Stakes Gr 2 (8f)||Leaping Water (Sure Blade)|
|Jukebox Jury 3 c||Montjeu||Preis Von Europa Gr 1 (12f)||Mare Aux Fees (Kenmare)|
|26/09/09||Hibaayeb 2 f||Singspiel||Fillies Mile Gr 1 (8f)||Lady Zonda (Lion Cavern)|
|26/09/09||Rip Van Winkle 3c||Galileo||QEII Gr 1 (8f)||Looking Back (Stravinsky)|
|26/09/09||Joshua Tree 2 c||Montjeu||Royal Lodge Gr 2 (8f)||Madeira Mist (Grand Lodge)|