Ghanaati and the sport of Queens

The 1000 Guineas was meant to be a coronation for Rainbow View. She was the best two year old filly of her generation and the Guineas seemed to be at her mercy. Her most obvious challengers Fantasia and Proportional were both waiting for the French Guineas albeit for very different reasons. However Rainbow View never really looked like she was going to follow the script and in the end she finished a disappointing fifth, three lengths behind 20/1 shot Ghanaati. 

Ghanaati was also making her seasonal debut and indeed her first ever appearance on turf. Her two year old campaign was restricted to two appearances at Kempton -finishing third on her debut and then impressively winning her maiden by six lengths. In the Guineas she was always prominent and she could be called the winner two furlongs from home. Her victory was a surprise but with the benefit of hindsight, history and pedigree analysis it was an obvious outcome 🙂

 The family of Ghanaati has lots of links with the Newmarket Guineas. Both of Ghanaati’s parents contested a Guineas at Newmarket. Giant’s Causeway was second to King’s Best in 2000 and Sarayir finished 9th behind Sleepytime in 1997.  Coincidentally Sarayir also started at 20-1 in her Guineas which was a fair representation of what she had achieved to that point, winning both her starts at two including a listed race at Newmarket. She ran four more times after Newmarket including when last in both the Ribbesdale at Royal Ascot and the Sun Chariot at Newmarket before winning a handicap at Newcastle. Sarayir was trained by Dick Hern who enjoyed Guineas success with Sarayir’s outstanding half brother Nashwan in 1989. This was in keeping with the family tradition, for their granddam Highclere had provided him and Highclere’s owner the Queen, with success in the 1974 1000 Guineas. For good measure, Highclere was also successful in the French Oaks, just as Nashwan added a second classic in the Derby. Nashwan bettered his granddam in winning a King George whereas she was runner-up to Dahlia. Highclere was a daughter of Queens Hussar who is best remembered as the sire of Brigadier Gerard.

Ghanaati’s granddam Height of Fashion was a top class racehorse as well as a phenomenal producer. She was joint top rated two year old after winning the May Hill Stakes and the Hoover fillies mile back when they were both Group 3 events. At three she won a Princess of Wales stakes and she seemed destined to make a valuable addition to the Queens broodmare band. However she accepted a reputed £1 million pounds (did she need the money…. 🙂 ) from the representatives of Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum and thereby thoroughbred history was changed. 

 It’s not often that somebody pays a million for a piece of horseflesh and gets an absolute bargain but such was the case with Height of Fashion. Aside from Nashwan (by Blushing Groom), she produced Nayef (by Gulch) who won four Group ones including a Champion Stakes, a Juddmonte International,Sheema Classic and Prince of Wales Stakes. Better still he is a a very promising young stallion with the likes of Tamayuz and Lady Marian to his credit and he represents one of the few top class stallions in Europe free of Northern Dancer blood. Height of Fashion also produced Unfuwain (by Northern Dancer) who emulated his granddam by finishing second in a King George and emulated his mother in winning the Princess of Wales Stakes. He compiled a very respectable stud record before his death in 2002 siring the likes of Alhaarth and more especially a host of top fillies including classic winners Lailani, Lahan, Bolas, Petrushka and Eswarah. She also produced another Group winner in Alwasmi (by Northern Dancer) who won the John Porter stakes and finished fourth in an Irish Leger and Listed winner Mukddaam (by Danzig) who was also second in the King Edward Stakes at Royal Ascot. Another foal Bashayer a full sister to Sarayir achieved fame of a sort when finishing second in the Cheshire Oaks. Her rider that day Willie Carson dropped his hands prior to the line and rightfully earned the wrath of punters and the stewards. Another full sister Wijdan finished second in the 1994 Pretty Polly Stakes (run on Guineas day) where she was defeated by Wind In her Hair (by Alzao). Coincidentally Wind in her Hair was another granddaughter of Highclere and she did her bit for the family legacy by finishing second in the Oaks, winning a Group one in Germany and becoming dam of Japanese superstar Deep Impact (by Sunday Silence) who will be having his first runners next year. Wind in her Hair is also granddam of Jeremy (by Danehill Dancer) who won the Jersey Stakes and the Group 2 Betfred mile. He is now standing at the Irish National Stud.

Giant’s Causeway

Ghanaati’s sire Giant’s Causeway is a sire that divides opinion. What is not in dispute is that he has been an incredibly profitable sire for Coolmore. He is now standing at $125,000 having reached a high of $300,000. He has over 1100 foals of racing age and he also shuttled to Australia but made a limited impact down under. With typical hyperbole Coolmore describe his as ‘the best young sire in the world’. He certainly made the right start to his career getting Shamardal who won a Dewhurst, French Guineas, French Derby and the St James Palace Stakes, Footstepsinthesand who won the 2000  Guineas and Maids Causeway who won the Coronation Stakes from his initial crop who were conceived in Ireland. His second crop conceived in Ashford contained First Samurai who was dual Grade 1 winning two year old and had Coolmore hope that Giants Causeway was that most valuable of commodities, a sire who could get top class dirt and turf runners. Interestingly considering his own reputation for toughness Shamardal, Footstepsinthesand,Maids Causeway and First Samurai all had truncated careers due to injury.

Giant’s Causeway went through a bit of a barren patch in Europe and wasn’t represented by another Group 1 winner until Intense Focus battling win in last years Dewhurst and now Ghanaati’s Guineas victory. In the meantime he had a number of top performers in the States such as Aragorn, Heatseeker and My Typhoon. Interestingly many of his US performers need time to produce their best and Aragorn was best at 4, Heatseeker at 5 and My Typhoon at 5. Giants Causeway has also benefitted from the move to synthetic surfaces and his runners seem to like both very fast ground or synthetic surfaces. He works well with Mr Prospector line mares and aside from Ghanaati, Aragorn is out of a daughter of Mr Prospector and Shamardal ,My Typhoon, Carriage Trail and Heatseeker are all out of Mr Prospector line stallions. Giant’s Causeway is well capable of siring a top class performer at up to 10 furlongs but his percentages are such that he was massively overpriced at 300k and even at 125k another price reduction might be in order. He is still a young stallion but he needs a top dirt performer to retain his position in the elite of US stallions. My view is that he should be returned to Ireland where his most successful first crop was conceived.

Conclusion. Ghanaati’s pedigree is nicely balanced with no duplication in the first five generations. Giant’s Causeway may not be the best young sire in the world but he is a capable sire and he works well with Mr Prospector line mares. Sarayir is a representative of one of the most successful European classic families of the past two decades.  Ghanaati is merely upholding a fine family tradition.


GHANAATI (USA) 2006 f b

Causeway (USA) 1997
Cat (USA) 1983
Bird (USA) 1978
Dancer (CAN) 1961
Ocean (USA) 1967
(USA) 1976
(USA) 1970
Saint (USA) 1969
Storm (USA) 1991
(USA) 1985
Groom (FR) 1974
Song (USA) 1976
(USA) 1979
(USA) 1969
(USA) 1967
(USA) 1994
Prospector (USA) 1970
A Native (USA) 1961
Dancer (USA) 1950
You (USA) 1946
Digger (USA) 1962
(USA) 1952
(USA) 1946
Of Fashion (FR) 1979
(GB) 1971
(GB) 1963
Yard (GB) 1963
(GB) 1971
Hussar (GB) 1960
(GB) 1958

Who said it’s difficult to breed a classic winner?

It used to be said that the fittest horse wins the Guineas, the luckiest horse wins the Derby and the best horse wins the St Leger. Whatever about being the fittest, Sea the Stars was the best bred horse in the Guineas field coming from a truly outstanding female line that produce top racehorses with remarkable regularity.  This was not rags to riches but untold riches to further riches.

Sea the Stars is the remarkable fourth Group 1 winner produced by surprise Prix de l’Arc winner Urban Sea. At the time of her conception she would have been described as having an unremarkable pedigree but all has changed utterly in the past two decades. Her dam Allegretta was a German bred who finished second in the Group 3 Lingfield Oaks Trial. Allegretta comes from an unfamiliar background being by Lombard who won a German 2000 Guineas and German St Leger among 20 races over five seasons.  Allegretta’s brother Anno ended up being rated champion three year old in Germany in 1982, winning the German St Leger but in recent years the success has moved to a different level.

Allegretta must be almost unique as being the dam and granddam of a 2000 Guineas winner for she was the dam of King’s Best who comprehensively defeated Giant’s Causeway in the 2000 Guineas of the year 2000.  Her Prix Flore winning Riverman daughter Allez Les Trois became the dam of Anabaa Blue who won the 2001 Prix de Jockey Club (back in the good old days when it was over 12 furlongs). Allez les Trois is also granddam of Tamayuz who was an outstanding miler last year winning the Prix Jean Prat and Jacque le Marois and is now at stud in Derrinstown. Allegretta is also grandam of Anzillero (by Law Society) who was a 12 furlong Group 1 winner at Dusseldorf in 2001.  Urban Sea was similar to Kings Best in producing one outstanding performance (in her case the Arc, in his the Guineas) but at stud she has been remarkably consistent.

Her first foal was the lazily named Urban Ocean who won the Gallinule Stakes for Aidan O’Brien. He subsequently lost his form but he is now operating as a National Hunt stallion.

Her next mate was the newly retired Lammtarra, who had just completed a scintillating career winning a Derby, King George and Prix de l’Arc. The filly called Melikah was unraced at two and her entire career encompassed only 4 races. She won the Pretty Polly stakes before finishing third in the Oaks to Love Divine and then second in the Irish Oaks. At stud she is the dam of 2 winners including Valedictory (by Dubai Destination) who was very impressive in winning his sole start last year at Saint Cloud and who could yet add further lustre to the family.

Urban Sea then made four consecutive visits to Sadler’s Wells. The results were outstanding, headlined by the outstanding Derby winner and now outstanding sire Galileo. His younger sibling Black Sam Bellamy was Group one placed at two, won the Group 1 Gran Premio del Jockey Club at three at looked a star in the making when winning the Tattersalls Rogers Gold Cup at 4. He then ran well in the Coronation Cup but failed to shine in his subsequent outings. He retired to stud in Germany and although there was some promise in initial results he was brought back to Shade Oak Stud in the UK where he will fulfill a dual purpose role. The third foal Atticus was unraced but the next foal All Too Beautiful won her first two races before finishing runner-up to Ouija Board in the 2004 Oaks.  In one of those neat twists of fate it was that winning performance of Ouija Board that was almost certainly the inspiration for the mating with Cape Cross. Ouija Board added an Irish Oaks and a Breeders Cup Fillies and Mare Turf to her haul that year and although there were other stakes winners from that first crop, it was Ouija Board who propelled Cape Cross to the top table.

Urban Sea was then sent to another hot freshman sire in Giant’s Causeway. Their filly foal My Typhoon was sold for a record 1.8 million guineas and although she was never going to earn that amount on the track she managed 4 stakes wins including a Grade 1 as a five year old.

Urban Sea paid two visits to Cape Cross’s sire Green Desert with slightly disappointing results.  Her 2004 filly Cherry Hinton retired a maiden but she did finish second in the Group 3 Blue Wind Stakes and ran a creditable fifth to Light Shift in the Oaks. Still at least she made the track unlike Sea’s Legacy who was unraced for John Oxx. Sea’s Legacy was sold for 10,000 Guineas at last years Tattersalls October Sales. It would be no surprise to see him appear as a stallion somewhere in the near future.

That leads us to Sea the Stars. As already mentioned he is a product of the better mares received by Cape Cross post Ouija Board. Cape Cross has lacked a follow up superstar in Europe but did enough with decent performers such as Rising Cross, Sabina Perdida, Halicarnassus and others to remind us that he was a more than capable sire. Many of his progeny stay better than he did and they generally prefer good or better ground. His record will improve as the offspring of the better mares he received over the last few years come on stream. Although Cape Cross was a miler the aformentioned Ouija Board (broodmare sire Welsh Pageant) won an Oaks and Rising Cross (broodmare sire Nomination) was placed in an Oaks. These give hope that Sea the Stars can follow his many siblings who all stayed middle distances well. He is around 4-1 for Epsom which is a fair price as he showed such class at Newmarket that if he stays he wins. The Guineas Derby double has not been done since Nashwan in 1989 but Galileo’s son New Approach came within a nostril of achieving it last year.


Normally we tend to focus on the stallion and assume that he is at least 50% responsible for the ability of the offspring.  However in the case of Sea the Stars and with no disrespect to Cape Cross (whom I like as a stallion) this success was all about the dam.  Looking at this female line it makes you question how much we really know about genetics and how many of our assumptions are incorrect. Urban Sea has produced top performers to a variety of stallions even as she aged. Her dam Allegretta has seem her influence on the stud book grow dramatically and even her grandson Anzillero (who is by Law Society out of a Plugged Nickel mare) has rightfully earned his place at stud.   We might have to wait a few years for science to unravel some of the mysteries of hereditary but it only took 24 hours for another reminder of the power of certain female families. The  1000 Guineas was won by Ghanaati a descendant of Highclere and as remarkable a producer as Allegretta, of which more anon.


Urban Sea’s Foals of Racing Age

Name Foaled sex Sire Best Result
Urban Ocean 1996 c Bering Gr3 winner (Gallinule Stakes)
Melikah 1997 f Lammtarra 2nd Irish Oaks, 3rd Oaks
Galileo 1998 c Sadler’s Wells Grp 1 winner Derby,Irish Derby, King George
Black Sam Bellamy 1999 c Sadler’s Wells grp 1 winner*2 incl Tattersalls Rogers Gold Cup
Atticus 2000 c Sadler’s Wells unraced
All too Beautiful 2001 f Sadler’s Wells 2nd Oaks
My Typhoon 2002 f Giants Causeway Grade 1 winner
Cherry Hinton 2004 f Green Desert 5th Oaks, 2nd Gr 3
Sea’s Legacy 2005 c Green Desert unraced
Sea the Stars 2006 c Cape Cross 2000 Guineas winner


SEA THE STARS (IRE) 2006 c b

Cross (IRE) 1994
Desert (USA) 1983
(USA) 1977
Dancer (CAN) 1961
De Nom (USA) 1968
Courier (USA) 1979
Ivor (USA) 1965
Dee (USA) 1968
Appeal (IRE) 1982
(GB) 1975
(IRE) 1965
Nichols (GB) 1966
(IRE) 1973
(IRE) 1966
(GB) 1968
Sea (USA) 1989
(USA) 1978
Prospector (USA) 1970
A Native (USA) 1961
Digger (USA) 1962
(USA) 1971
(USA) 1963
Bower (USA) 1958
(GB) 1978
(GER) 1967
(GER) 1955
Lady (GB) 1961
(GER) 1969
(USA) 1958
(GER) 1962