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

New season, old stories

The Craven meeting at Newmarket is all about looking ahead to future classics, but it can also remind us of past glories. The highlight of the first day was the very impressive performance of Fantasia in the Nell Gwyn stakes.  In winning, Fantasia became the first winner of the race for Sadler’s Wells. The King of Coolmore may be retired but he still has plenty of runners to come and he could still conceivably challenge for a 15th sires title.

Fantasia is another success for the Sadler’s Wells-Darshaan cross. From 158 foals,  24 (15%) were black type winners and 8 were Group 1 winners. Standouts included High Chaparral, Islington, Milan,  Ebadiyla, and Septimus. However, impressive as these figures seem, they are only marginally better than the great sires overall record.

It would be easy to assume that the Oaks would be the natural target for Fantasia, but that would be to ignore the other influences on her family. Fantasia’s dam Blue Symphony ran 13 times for Ed Dunlop and Gainsborough Stud (the name for Sheikh Maktoum bin Rashid al Maktoums interests), managing just one win as a three year old in a 10 furlong Brighton maiden. She was decidedly moderate and at her best was rated 67.  Blue Symphony was deemed surplus to requirements by Gainsborough and was eventually submitted to the Tattersalls November sales where she fetched 250,000 Guineas.

As such a price indicates there was more to like about Blue Symphony than a Brighton maiden win. The attraction was Fantasia’s grand dam Blue Duster who was a brilliant unbeaten two year old for David Loder. Amongst her four victories were the Queen Mary at Royal Ascot and the Cheveley Park. At three her best run was a second in the Haydock Sprint Cup. The furthest she ran was the six and a half furlongs of the Prix Maurice De Gheest.  Remarkably her brother Zieten was also an unbeaten two year old, who won four times  and he won the Middle Park stakes which is the colts equivalent of the Cheveley Park. Kept in training for two more years he failed to significantly enhance his reputation although he did manage a victory in the Challenge Stakes (again at Newmarket).

Blue Duster’s aptitude for sprint distances was hardly surprising for a daughter of Danzig and the Habitat mare Blue Note.  Blue Note was a top class performer who also won the Prix Maurice de Gheest (back when it was a Group 2) and the Prix de la Porte Maillot.  Her dam Balsamique was a multiple winner in France and interestingly also won twice over jumps,something we can confidently say Fantasia will not be asked to emulate.

Fantasia was a top class two year old winning the Prestige Stakes and running second to Rainbow View in the Fillies Mile at Ascot for trainer Luca Cumani. She was subsequently purchased by George Strawbridge who has decided that he will not run her against Rainbow View (whom he also owns) and instead will target the French Guineas. There is little doubt that she will handle the mile but the question is whether she will get further? Bookmakers seem to think she will and she is currently favourite for the Oaks at 5-1. Those looking to back her for the Oaks (and who believe in such things) would also find some reassurance from her dosage index of 1.0 with a centre of distribution of +.13. However looking at the turn of foot she showed at Newmarket I will be surprised if she stays the Oaks trip. I expect her to be best at a mile like King of Kings, Gossamer and Barathea who were by Sadler’s Wells out of speedy Habitat mares.  That said I would be delighted if she makes a fool of me and gives Sadler’s Wells his sixth Oaks winner.

Regardless of how far she eventually stays, she is an ultra desirable broodmare combining pedigree and performace. The three great European broodmare sires of the modern era Sadler’s Wells, Darshaan and Habitat are all close up in her pedigree. At the end of her racing career George Strawbridge faces a wonderful dilemma in choosing her first mate. Some might think such speculation is premature, but as already stated, classic trials are all about looking to the future….


FANTASIA (GB) 2006 f b

Wells (USA) 1981
Dancer (CAN) 1961
(USA) 1954
(ITY) 1935
Angela (USA) 1944
(USA) 1957
Dancer (USA) 1950
(USA) 1947
Bridge (USA) 1975
Reason (USA) 1968
To Reason (USA) 1958
(USA) 1952
(USA) 1969
(ARG) 1963
(USA) 1964
Symphony (GB) 2000
(GB) 1981
Heights (GB) 1975
Reef (USA) 1968
(GB) 1969
(FR) 1972
(FR) 1959
(FR) 1965
Duster (USA) 1993
(USA) 1977
Dancer (CAN) 1961
De Nom (USA) 1968
Note (FR) 1985
(USA) 1966
(FR) 1973