Camelot- a new legend?

Camelot has delivered Montjeu, his first Guineas winner. His success didn’t look likely until inside the final furlong, but in the end he was probably worth a little bit more than his official margin of a neck.  His success confirms the greatness of both Montjeu and Aidan O’Brien.

Aidan O’Brien

Camelot was Aidan O’Brien’s sixth 2000 Guineas winner, following King of Kings, Rock of Gibraltar, Footstepsinthesand, George Washington and Henrythenavigator. All of them were making their seasonal debuts and to me the ability to get a horse fully fit on the gallops is one of the hallmarks of a top trainer. The ability to learn from past mistakes and the knowledge that comes from training a lot of the members of the same family or offspring of the same sire can give trainers that extra edge. Aidan has trained more Montjeu’s than anybody else and he was quick to acknowledge that he made mistakes in prepping a previous Racing Post Trophy winner St Nicholas Abbey for the Guineas and he clearly didn’t repeat those mistakes with Camelot.

Camelot’s pedigree

Camelot cost 525,000 guineas at the 2010 Tattersalls October sales which made him the highest priced yearling by Montjeu sold that year.  For that sort of money you would expect him to be both handsome and especially well bred. His pedigree is undoubtedly high class although in truth it has lacked a superstar until Camelot, so we can assume he was a very taking physical specimen.


Camelot’s dam Tarfah was unraced at two, won three of her 4 starts including a listed handicap at Ascot as a three year old and then continued the good work by winning the listed Snowdrop stakes and the Group 3 Dahlia stakes in her first two runs at four. She failed to trouble the judge in the Windsor Forest run at York that year when Ascot was being redeveloped and was last seen disappointing in the Princess Elizabeth Stakes at Epsom in June 2006. She was reported as having burst a blood vessel that day and was not seen again on the track but retired with a very creditable record of 5 wins from 8 starts. Tarfah’s first foal was a filly by Galileo who cost 240,000 Guineas and named Ideal.  Trained by David Wachman, from her seven starts to date she won a 10 furlong maiden at Clonmel but is clearly a long way short of top class.


Tarfah’s dam Fickle was trained by Michael Bell and ran five times as a three year old. She won her maiden at Brighton on her third start and won a listed race on her final start at Newcastle when she got the run of the race and sprung a surprise when winning at 20-1. With the black type secured it was presumably decided to retire her to the paddocks.  At stud Tarfah was by a long way her best offspring with her only other winner being the very modest Sistine who is closely related to Tarfah being by Dubai Destination (a son of Kingmambo).


Camelot’s third dam Fade was unraced but she proved a useful producer, leaving 8 winners from 8 runners including 3 other stakes performers besides Fickle in Faru (by Mtoto) , Birdie (by Alhaarth) and Fading Light (by King’s Best).

One over Parr

Camelot’s fourth dam One Over Parr (by Reform out of Seventh Bride) was very useful .  She won the Cheshire Oaks and the Lancashire Oaks, both Group 3’s and was a full sister to an Epsom Oaks winner in the 1974 winner Polygamy who gave Pat Eddery his first English Classic on the day that I was born ! As for the name One Over Parr history buffs might recall that Henry VIII’s sixth wife was called Catherine Parr hence with a dam of Seventh Bride, the name One Over Parr was very clever.


For those who really, really like to delve into a pedigree (and my thanks to the poster who notified me), Camelots 17th dam is no less than the Hungarian supermare Kincsem! Kincsem retired with a record of 54 wins from 54 starts and was dominant on the continent before crossing the Channel and claiming the Goodwood Cup in 1878. For a detailed account of her racing and broodmare career click here


Tarfah is a daughter of Kingmambo and he has combined very well with daughters of  Montjeu’s sire Sadler’s Wells.  Kingmambo has sired Henrythenavigator, El Condor Pasa and Divine Proportions on this cross and his son King’s Best has produced Workforce out of a Sadler’s Wells mare.


Camelot is an unbeaten Group 1 winner at two and now a Guineas winner at three. The next logical target is the Derby and he is already an odds on shot in most books for the Epsom showpiece.  The assumption is that being by Montjeu he should have no difficulty in staying 12 furlongs and the triple crown is also now being talked about.  However before getting carried away with the hype, it is worth remembering that neither Tarfah nor Fickle were ever asked to race beyond 10 furlongs and as racehorses themselves the sires in the lower half of the pedigree were all sprinters or milers with the exception of Persepolis who won the Prix Lupin over 10 furlongs. The slight concern is that winning a Guineas shows Camelot to be an atypical Montjeu and perhaps he will also not stay as well as the other high class Montjeu colts.  I certainly wouldn’t be rushing to back him at odds on  for the Derby, however for the sake of racing I fervently hope that he goes on to claim the holy grail that is the triple crown, and for which we have been waiting 42 years to find a successor to Nijinsky.

CAMELOT (GB) 2009 c b

(IRE) 1996
Wells (USA) 1981
Dancer (CAN) 1961
(USA) 1954
(USA) 1957
Bridge (USA) 1975
Reason (USA) 1968
(USA) 1969
(FR) 1985
Ville (IRE) 1976
Top (IRE) 1969
Ville (USA) 1968
Cy (FR) 1979
(FR) 1970
Toumignon (IRE) 1971
(USA) 2001
(USA) 1990
Prospector (USA) 1970
A Native (USA) 1961
Digger (USA) 1962
(USA) 1984
(USA) 1977
(USA) 1979
(GB) 1996
(USA) 1986
(USA) 1977
(USA) 1981
(GB) 1988
(FR) 1979
Over Parr (GB) 1972

A strange sequence of events-1000, 2000, 2010 Guineas

Our friends in the States may not agree, but they have their classic programme in the wrong order. Having the Kentucky Derby as the opening classic is like having your main course first.  In Europe, we have the Guineas for starters, building up to the main course of the Derby and then we allow plenty of time for digestion, before the dessert of the St Leger.  This years Guineas weekend belonged to the masters of fine dining, the French.

The 2000 Guineas- Derby pointers

The hope and hype from Ballydoyle was that St Nicholas Abbey would continue his unbeaten run and ultimately become the first triple crown winner since Nijinsky in 1970. Alas for his followers, the wait for a son of Montjeu who can excel over a mile will continue. However, unlike everything I’ve read elsewhere I thought he ran a perfectly satisfactory Derby prep and I think that the 4-1 now available for Epsom is good value. In fact, if he had won the Guineas I would have been a little more concerned about his chances at Epsom as then there would have been a doubt that he was not a ‘typical Montjeu’ who excelled over middle distances.

Makfi- history to date

The Guineas was won well by Makfi a son of Dubawi about whom we wrote in detail in a recent post. Amazingly in the Autumn he was sold from Marcus Tregoning’s yard and put in the October horses in training sale where he fetched 26000 guineas. This is now proven to be an extraordinarily bad piece of business on the part of Sheikh Hamdens team. At a future date I will compile a list of the worst culling decisions in memory and Makfi is sure of a place near the top. He won his maiden in November at Fontainbleu before starting this season with an easy victory in the traditional French Guineas trial, the Prix Djebel. In hindsight his starting price of 33-1 was very generous and was due to a lack of punter familiarity with his young trainer Mikel Dezangles, a lack of respect for the French form and the distorted market due to the gamble on St Nicholas Abbey.


Makfi’s pedigree is top class. His dam Dhelaal was an unraced daughter of Green Desert.  Dhelaal is however a half sister to champion two year old Alhaarth (by Unfuwain) who has a Guineas connection as the sire of 2004 winner Haafhd. Makfi is her first foal and he was followed by a filly by Nayef. Interestingly Nayef is a half brother to Unfuwain.  Makfi’s granddam Irish Valley also produced 7 other winners apart from Alhaarth including French Group 3 winner Green Pola (by Nijinsky). Her unraced daughter Dalayil (by Sadler’s Wells) is the dam of Derby third Aqaleem (by Sinndar) who recently died having been sold to Australia in the hope of winning a Melbourne Cup. Coincidentally Aqaleem was trained in England by Marcus Tregoning and he was third in the Derby to Authorized (by Montjeu ex Funsie by Saumurez) and Green Valley the third dam of Makfi is also the third dam of Authorized. Green Valley is most commonly found throughout pedigrees as the dam of Green Dancer (by Nijinsky) who won the Observer Gold Cup (now the Racing Post Trophy) and the French Guineas before becoming one of the best sire sons of Nijinsky. Green Valley has the enviable record of having 13 winners from her 14 foals and she herself is a daughter of Sly Pola who was a flying two year old who won the Prix de l’Abbaye. This is a family that keeps producing high quality performers and Makfi has certainly upheld the family tradition.

Dubawi is doing everything right as a stallion.  Makfi is his second classic winner in recent weeks as Worthadd (x Wigman by Rahy) won the Group 3 Italian Guineas and he has prospects of further classic success with recent Group 3 winner Anna Salai ( x Anna Palariva by Caerleon) in the French 1000 Guineas.

The 1000 Guineas

This years 1000 Guineas was full of controversy. There was a very significant draw bias which meant most of the field were at a huge disadvantage.  First past the post was Jacqueline Quest (by Rock of Gibraltar ex Coquette Rouge by Croco Rouge), however Tom Queally’s mount was deemed to have interfered with Special Duty (Hennessy x Quest to Peak by Distant View) and the placings were altered. Again, for those who like coincidences, Jacqueline Quest’s sire Rock of Gibraltar benefitted from Hawk Wing’s poor draw (and rider)when he won the 2002 running of the 2000 Guineas and Special Duty ‘s granddam Viviana is a daughter of the last English Guineas winner to be disqualified, Nureyev. Furthermore Special Duty’s owner, Khalid Abdullah also owned Known Fact who was awarded the race on the disqualification of Nureyev.

 I wrote about Special Duty’s pedigree and her chances in the Guineas after she won the Cheveley Park (see paragraph Special Duty- Omens are good) and oddly enough I also devoted a recent posting to controversial stewards decisions of which this Guineas will probably be added, although I feel the stewards today made the correct decision.

Channel 4’s coverage

Finally it might be worth noting  Channel 4’s television coverage of the stewards enquiry. John Francome got it spectacularly wrong with his repeated assertions that there was no way the result would be changed. Then during an interview with Jaqueline Quest’s owner Noel Martin, the presenter (Mike Cattermole, I think) was told that the horse was called after Mr Martin’s wife. The presenter then asked if his wife was at the races and he was told that “she died some years ago and is buried in my back garden”. An emotional owner then outlined some details of his extraordinary and often tragic recent past and mentioned how his life had been worsened by Channel 4 who made what he felt to be an unfair documentary about him.  When the revised result was announced the camera zoomed in on a distraught Mr Martin. This was car-crash television from Channel 4.

MAKFI (GB) 2007 c b

(IRE) 2002
Millennium (GB) 1996
The Gold (USA) 1985
Prospector (USA) 1970
Game (USA) 1974
Dancer (IRE) 1986
Dancer (USA) 1980
Aspen (USA) 1976
(GB) 1995
(GB) 1987
Heights (GB) 1975
Dangerous (USA) 1979
(IRE) 1989
Brave (USA) 1983
Tern (IRE) 1982
(GB) 2002
Desert (USA) 1983
(USA) 1977
Dancer (CAN) 1961
De Nom (USA) 1968
Courier (USA) 1979
Ivor (USA) 1965
Dee (USA) 1968
Valley (USA) 1982
River (FR) 1976
(USA) 1969
Star (FR) 1960
Valley (USA) 1967
De Loir (FR) 1959
Pola (USA) 1957

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