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Dunlop Remembered In Regally Bred Colt

John Leeper and Stephen Nicholson | Emma Berry

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Naming a horse in someone's memory can be a risky strategy but, for Juddmonte, naming a Galileo (Ire) colt after their late American trainer Bobby Frankel was certainly no drawback. Since the outstanding Frankel (GB) retired to stud, a number of his offspring have also been named after trainers of note.

Atty Persse (Ire), took the name of the trainer of The Tetrarch (Ire) and became Frankel's first Royal Ascot winner in 2017. He was wearing the Godolphin silks by that time but he raced initially for his breeder, Bjorn Nielsen, whose love of racing history, and particularly the Derby, doubtless led to him naming another Frankel colt Ginistrelli (Ire). Edoardo Ginistrelli ranks alongside Arthur Budgett as one of only a few people to have bred, owned and trained a Derby winner. Ginistrelli's story is all the more unusual for the fact that his Derby winner was a filly, Signorinetta (GB), who followed up her 100/1 victory in 1908 by winning the Oaks just two days later.

In recent weeks a handsome dark brown colt has appeared on Newmarket Heath, where both his sire Frankel and dam Snow Fairy (Ire) (Intikhab) were trained to become champions. Born in April 2018, the colt was bred, like Snow Fairy, by Cristina Patino, who has paid a posthumous tribute to her longstanding trainer John Dunlop, who died just a few months later.

The Irish-bred colt carries Dunlop's two forenames John Leeper and is now in the hands of his son Ed, who trained Snow Fairy, now 13, to win the Oaks in England and Ireland as well as back-to-back GI Queen Elizabeth II Commemorative Cups in Japan, the G1 Hong Kong Cup and the G1 Irish Champion S.

Dunlop also has John Leeper's year-older three-parts-sister Virgin Snow (GB) (Gleneagles {Ire}), who was third in a good novice fillies' race last season behind Run Wild (Ger) (Amaron {GB}), who subsequently finished runner-up in the G3 Prix des Reservoirs.

As for John Leeper, who, like his mother, was broken in and pre-trained on the Curragh by Dick Brabazon, he appears to be settling in well to the routine on Newmarket Heath. And he has one of the most experienced riders in the town on his back in Stephen Nicholson, who has travelled the world with many of Dunlop's international runners. Nicholson struck up a long and happy partnership with the globetrotter Red Cadeaux (GB), having also ridden his sire Cadeaux Genereux (GB), who was trained by his and Dunlop's former boss Alex Scott.

As one would expect for a colt of his pedigree, John Leeper holds an entry for next year's Derby, the race won twice by his namesake with Shirley Heights (GB) and Erhaab. Dunlop also won the Oaks twice, with Circus Plume (GB) and Salsabil (GB), the latter going on to win the Irish Derby. Ed Dunlop has also won the Epsom fillies' Classic twice with Ouija Board (GB) and Snow Fairy, both of whom doubled up in the Irish Oaks.

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