Madame Chiang-special, special, special!

The Musidora Stakes was won today by Madame Chiang, who is now unbeaten in her two runs. It was a great result for Lanwades who stand her sire Archipenko and bred her dam Robe Chinoise and granddam Kiliniski.
Madame Chiang probably goes to Epsom with a similar chance to Kiliniski who finished 4th in the vintage 1985 renewal. I wrote about the fillies in the 1985 Oaks and their subsequent achievements in this article http://www.montjeu.com/archives/547 . However it now seems I was far too hasty in dismissing Kiliniski with the one liner “In fourth was Kiliniski (Niniski-Kilavea by Hawaii) but she made no impact as a broodmare” ūüôā Homer nods.
Kiliniski should have made more of an impact as her granddam is none other than the breed shaper Special who acts as dam of Nureyev and grand-dam of Sadler’s Wells.
It is easy to imagine the fun Kirsten Rausing had in planning the breeding of Madame Chiang. Archipenko (Kingmambo ex Bound by Nijinsky) has Special as her granddam and her name appears again via Nureyev the dam of Miesque. For good measure Nijinsky appears twice as broodmare sire of Bound and as the sire of Lanwades foundation sire Niniski.
With an unbeaten Group 3 winning classic filly as the outcome she can rightly feel very pleased with herself.

 

MADAME CHIANG (GB) 2011 f b

Archipenko
(USA) 2004
Kingmambo
(USA) 1990
Mr
Prospector (USA) 1970
Raise
A Native (USA) 1961
Gold
Digger (USA) 1962
Miesque
(USA) 1984
Nureyev
(USA) 1977
Pasadoble
(USA) 1979
Bound
(USA) 1984
Nijinsky
(CAN) 1967
Northern
Dancer (CAN) 1961
Flaming
Page (USA) 1959
Special
(USA) 1969
Forli
(ARG) 1963
Thong
(USA) 1964
Robe
Chinoise (GB) 1999
Robellino
(USA) 1978
Roberto
(USA) 1969
Hail
To Reason (USA) 1958
Bramalea
(USA) 1959
Isobelline
(USA) 1971
Pronto
(ARG) 1958
Isobella
(USA) 1963
Kiliniski
(IRE) 1982
Niniski
(USA) 1976
Nijinsky
(CAN) 1967
Virginia
Hills (USA) 1971
Kilavea
(USA) 1974
Hawaii
(SAF) 1964
Special
(USA) 1969

Stewards, disqualifications and breeding- a potted history

The disqualification of Dar Re Mi after her victory in the Prix Vermeille was a decision that ignored common sense (see video www.youtube.com/watch?v=omn4ebLJoLY ). The failure of the appeal against the decision adds insult to the injury. Stacelita was awarded the race and thereby retained her unbeaten record. Cynics will argue that it is probably not a coincidence that Dar Re Mi is trained in Britain whereas Stacelita is French trained. Certainly looking at controversial disqualifications over the years it seems that throughout Europe, foreign trained runners seem to be disproportionately affected. From a breeding perspective the decision is not going to alter the mating plans for either Dar Re Mi or Stacelita both of whom are already multiple Group 1 winners and are guaranteed the best available stallions.  This is often the case with fillies, whereas for colts a Group 1 on the cv can have a huge impact on their stud prospects. It is interesting to look back and consider other ill-judged disqualifications and speculate as to the impact the stewards may have had on the thoroughbred breed.

Three of the worst stewarding decisions

1. The 1913 Derby

 The most sensational and outrageous disqualification is that of Craganour, first past the post in the 1913 Derby. The race is now remembered primarily for the death of the sufragette Emily Davison, but there was also sensational drama in the stewards room. The race was awarded to 100/1 shot Aboyeur, who like Craganour was a son of Desmond.  Craganour was an unlucky horse who had earlier been robbed of the 2000 Guineas by an incompetent judge.

The story of his disqualification in the Derby is even more unfortunate. It was a rough race that saw five horses pass the line in a blanket finish. However most accounts clearly label Aboyeur as the villain of the piece.  Aboyeur was a bad tempered brute who took a bite at Craganour, the mark of which was clearly visible on Cragnour. However amongst the stewards on the day was Eustace Loder who was determined to deny Craganour the most famous prize in racing.

His motives were complicated as ironically Loder was the breeder of Craganour. One suggestion was that he was annoyed at having sold the horse but more likely it was because he despised Bower Ismay, the owner of Craganour because of an affair between Ismay and Loder’s sister-in-law.¬†¬†Ismay was also part of the shipping family that owned the White Star Line which at the time were deeply unpopular because of the Titanic disaster.¬†Ismay was also¬†a Harrovian and all¬†the stewards were Etonians in a¬†world where¬†such¬†things mattered.¬†In a travesty of justice Eustace contrived to have the luckless Craganour disqualified and Aboyeur awarded the race. The chief¬†witness for the prosecution was the jockey William Saxby who had been jocked off Craganour,¬†so naturally his impartiality was open to question.¬†Craganour¬†was sold to Argentinan interests¬†for ¬£30,000 and never ran again (a condition of his sale). He subsequently did well in Argentina. We can only speculate how he would have fared in the UK. Aboyeur was beaten in both his subsequent starts, went to stud in Russia and disappeared after the Russian revolution. The disqualification may have been a major injustice but it probably had only a minor impact on breeding history.¬† Not surprisingly there isn’t a head on camera reel available but this link¬†shows some great footage from¬† Epsom on that fateful day http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rdz1ydrpfyI.

2. The 1981 2000 Guineas.

( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4urs_h4MeLs ). It is difficult to assess the merits of this disqualification from this video (Nureyev was placed last for bumping Posse) but it seriously annoyed Francois Boutin who felt that xenophobia played a role. Nureyev retired with nothing more lofty than a  Group 3 (the Prix Thomas Byron which he won on his 2 year old debut) on his cv, along with the Prix Djebel.

It didn’t stop¬†Nureyev becoming one of the greatest sires of the age with 135 stakes winners from just over 800 foals (17%). His sole season in France left behind Theatrical and his subsequent move to Kentucky saw him leave sire champions across a range of distances such as Miesque, Sonic Lady, Spinning World, Reams of Verse, Soviet Star, Zilzal, Fasliyev,Peintre Celebre etc. He has also become a significant broodmare sire with the likes of Big Brown, Bago, Desert King and Zabeel in the Southern Hemisphere.

In contrast, Known Fact never scaled the same heights, despite retiring as a classic winner to complement his victory in the previous years Middle Park Stakes. From a similar number of foals he left  behind 53 stakes winners (7%). He is primarily remembered for the brilliant Warning and he also sired top class Markofdistinction and So Factual.

3.The 1988 Ascot Gold Cup:

¬†Another very controversial decision. French trained Royal Gait ridden by Cash Asmussen was undoubtedly the best horse in the race but was disqualified for interference with the unplaced¬†El Conquistador. The race was then awarded to Sadeem. Royal Gait was a gelding so it had no impact on his stud career. He did achieve fame in another sphere when winning the Champion Hurdle for James Fanshawe in 1992. Sadeem won the race on merit in 1989 but failed in his attempt for further success in 1990. Sadeem did secure a place at stud but by the 1980’s stayers were deeply unfashionable for breeding purposes so having an additional Ascot Gold Cup on his cv made little difference to his prospects of stud success.

Technical Disqualifications-Major implications

1. Aliysa Affair

Outside of raceday disqualifications, disqualifications on technical grounds can often generate controversy. In recent years the most high profile incident involved the Aga Khan’s 1989 Oaks winner Aliysa. The Aga Khan subsequently produced¬† expert evidence that essentially showed that the horse doped itself and that there were flaws in the drug testing regime. However the disqualification was never likely to be reversed and Snow Bride was awarded the race. The Aga Khan withdrew all his horses from the UK and it was a number of years before he had a runner there¬†and longer still before he again had horses in training in the UK. The loss of such a major owner had huge implications for may British trainers such as Luca Cumani and Michael Stoute and it undoubtedly changed bloodstock history as the Aga Khan focused on France and Ireland. Incidentally Snow Bride entered the history books as the dam of Derby, King George and Arc winner Lammtarra and Aliysa was dam of Craven Stakes winner Desert Story and grand-dam of Irish Derby and King George winner Alamshar.

2. Chamour Affair

The disqualification that almost had the greatest impact on modern horse breeding occurred in a modest race in 1960. Chamour trained by Vincent O’Brien had just won a race won a¬†maiden but a¬†dope test showed traces of an amphetamine derivative. O’Brien was disqualified for 18 months and his reputation was in tatters. He considered never training again. However legal action led to an apology from the Turf Club, a reduction in his suspension to 12 months and a change in the rules. The testing undertaken was described as ‘a woman with a bucket’ and the supposed trace that they found was considered by many to be beyond the capabilities of the equipment available at the time. It’s easy to imagine¬†that the bowler hatted brigade were motivated by animosity towards the young genius whom they considered to be getting above his station. Vincent recounted how¬†many years later one of the stewards responsible approached him with an outstretched hand and said “O’Brien I’ll forgive you if you’ll forgive me”. Vincent left the room without a word. It is difficult to imagine what the bloodstock world would now resemble, without the influence of the Master of Ballydoyle.

3. Sadler’s Wells the unknown sire!

The most unusual disqualification in recent years concerned subsequent Dewhurst winner Prince of Dance. From the first¬†crop of Sadler’s Wells and out of Oaks winner Sun Princess he was disqualified after winning the Washington Singer Stakes. The race conditions required that the runners be sired by horses who had won over a mile and a half and as Sadler’s Wells had never won beyone 10 furlongs disqualification was automatic. It seems amazing that neither connections nor anyone on race day noticed this breach of the race conditions, particularly one involving such a prominent first season sire.

Conclusion:

Stewards are human and accordingly their impartiality can sometimes be called into question-mostly by punters talking through their pockets. That said they have a difficult job to do and they get things right more often than not.¬† The¬†standard of stewarding has definitely improved, significantly helped by improved camera technology and replays.The assistance¬†of professional stewards has also helped the situation.¬† From a breeding prespective their decisions often have enormous financial consequences so it is unsurprising that they are frequently challenged and appealed. On a light hearted note, stewards are rarely mentioned in popular culture but they¬†received a very unflattering reference in the Pogues song ‘Bottle of Smoke’!

“Stewards inquiries
Swift and fiery
I had the bottle of smoke
Inquisitions and suppositions
I had the bottle of smoke

Fuck the stewards
A trip to lourdes
Might give the old fuckers
The power of sight
Screaming springers and stoppers
And call out coppers
But the money still gleams in my hand like a light”