Goodwood's Major Sprint Shows Diverse Influence of Speed in the Breed


Charlie Hills, left with Khaadem's owners Jim and Fitri Hay and Ryan Moore |


   A look back at the winners of Goodwood's King George S. illustrates how sprint lines permeate all areas of the breed, from fellow sprinters to Derby winners.

The win of Khaadem (Ire) in the G2 King George S. at the Qatar 'Glorious' Goodwood Festival has further enhanced the great record in the race of his trainer Charlie Hills, who has now saddled the winner in five of the past six years. Hills has, of course, been helped by having had the mighty Battaash (Ire) under his care, that great horse being responsible for four of those five victories. Even though Battaash at his best was in a class of his own, there are plenty of similarities between these two very fast horses, over and above being sons of Dark Angel (Ire) ideally suited by Goodwood's speed-favouring sprint course, over which Khaadem won the Stewards' Cup three years ago.  Another obvious similarity is that they are both geldings. In an age when so many fast colts are retired to stud early in life, it's no surprise to find geldings winning the King George S. However, that situation is an aberration from the race's overall profile, its roll of honour containing many horses, both male and female, who have made a sizeable contribution to the development of the breed.

First run in 1911 to commemorate the coronation of King George V, the King George S. didn't take long to produce an outstanding winner because Tetratema (Ire) (The Tetrarch {Ire}) won it as a 3-year-old in 1920 before taking the prize again the following year. He had been Britain's dominant 2-year-old of 1919, when he had been the highest prize-money earner of the season thanks to an unbeaten six-race campaign which had begun in the National Breeders' Produce S. at Sandown and ended in the Middle Park S. at Newmarket. Although his stamina limitations were exposed in 1920 in the Derby and the Eclipse S., he was outstanding at distances up to a mile, his two King George S. victories being augmented by triumphs in the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket and Fern Hill S. at Ascot at three, and the King's Stand S. at Ascot and July Cup at Newmarket at four.

Retiring to stand alongside his father at Ballylinch Stud, Tetratema became champion sire of Great Britain and Ireland in 1929. He sired numerous fast horses including the 1931 1000 Guineas heroine Four Course (GB); 1927 Irish 2000 Guineas winner Fourth Hand (Ire); the brilliant fillies Tiffin (GB) and Myrobella (Ire), both of whom completed the July Cup/King George S. double; St. James's Palace S. winners Royal Minstrel (GB) and Mr Jinks (Ire); and 1938 King's Stand S. winner Foray (GB). Longer-term, his son Theft (GB), runner-up in the 1935 2000 Guineas, was champion sire of Japan for the five seasons from 1947 to 1951 inclusive; his daughter Una (Ire) produced the great sprinter/miler and sire Palestine (Ire); and another daughter Queen Of The Nore (Ire) was the granddam of Horama (Ire) from whom the Moller brothers developed the family which is responsible for the Derby winners Teenoso and Sir Percy (GB). The aforementioned Myrobella did even better at stud than she had done on the racecourse, producing King George VI's 1942 2000 Guineas winner Big Game (GB). She subsequently became ancestress of the Classic winners Snow Knight (GB), Chamossaire (GB), Linamix (Fr), the last two of this trio became champion sires.

Outstanding though Tetratema was, his claim to being the best grey sired by The Tetrarch to win the King George S. did not last long because in 1924 the race was won by HH Aga Khan III's 'Flying Filly' Mumtaz Mahal (GB). A great racehorse, she ultimately became an even greater broodmare. Her sons included the brilliantly fast Mirza II (Fr) and the 1934 Sussex S. winner Badruddin (Fr) but ultimately it was her daughters, headed by Nasrullah's dam Mumtaz Begum (Fr), who made the most lasting impact. Her other daughters included Abernant's dam Rustom Mahal (Fr) and Mahmoud's dam Mah Mahal (Fr). In subsequent generations the celebrities descending from her have included Royal Charger (GB), Migoli (GB), Petite Etoile (GB), Nishapour (Fr), Shergar (Ire), Habibti (Ire), Octagonal (NZ), Alamshar (Ire), Zarkava (Ire), Igugu (SAf)  and Golden Horn (GB), as well as the great matriarchs Eight Carat (GB) and Alruccaba (Ire).

Further Mumtaz Mahal memories flooded back to Goodwood after the Second World War when her grandson Abernant (GB) (Owen Tudor {GB)) took the King George S. in both 1949 and 1950. In both years he preceded the victory by taking the July Cup and followed it up by winning the Nunthorpe S. at  York. Along with his older close relative Tudor Minstrel (both horses were by the Hyperion stallion Owen Tudor and both had Mumtaz Mahal's dam Lady Josephine as their third dam), Abernant was one of two brilliant horses trained in Beckhampton shortly after the Second World War. Tudor Minstrel became the more influential sire of the pair, largely through his son Sing Sing (GB) and that horse's sons Song (GB) and Jukebox (GB), who were lynchpins of British sprint breeding for years. Abernant, though, also made his mark, most notably via the Classic-winning fillies Abermaid (GB) and Even Star (GB).

Mumtaz Mahal was again invoked by the 1956 King George S. result when the prize went to HH Aga Khan III's brilliant filly Palariva (GB) (Palestine {GB}). A daughter of Nasrullah's brilliantly fast full-sister Rivaz (GB), Palariva was trained in France by Alec Head but did most of her racing in England, including winning at Goodwood as a 2-year-old (when she was awarded the Molecomb S. by the stewards after passing the post in second place) before returning to Sussex 12 months later to land the King George S. She subsequently made a massive contribution to the Aga Khan Studs as granddam of the 1973 Poule d'Essai des Poulains and Prix Jacques le Marois winner Kalamoun (GB) who was the mainstay of the organisation's sires' roster through the 1970s despite dying after only five years at stud. Kalamoun's influence has lasted well into the 21st century through his Prix Jacques le Marois-winning son Kenmare (Fr), most obviously courtesy of Kenmare's grandson Kendargent (Fr).

Several of the colts who won the King George S. from the late 1950s into the 1970s became decent stallions, most notably the Michael Jarvis-trained So Blessed (GB), successful in the race as a 3-year-old in 1968. A son of the Nasrullah stallion Princely Gift (GB), So Blessed became an excellent sire of sprinters from his base at Lord Howard de Walden's Thornton Stud in Yorkshire. One of the many fast horses whom he sired was the 1977 King George S. winner Scarcely Blessed. Trained for her breeder Tim Holland-Martin of Overbury Stud by Fulke Johnston Houghton, Scarcely Blessed was a terrific filly and then became an excellent broodmare once she returned to Overbury, most obviously producing College Chapel (GB) (Sharpo [GB}) who brought down the curtain on the long-running Vincent O'Brien/Lester Piggott Royal Ascot show with his victory in the G3 Cork & Orrery S. (now G1 Platinum Jubilee S.) in 1993.

Five years before Scarcely Blessed's victory, the King George S. had been won by a filly who became an even more notable broodmare. The redoubtable Stilvi (GB) (Derring Do {GB}) was trained in Palace House in Newmarket by Bruce Hobbs and then became a stalwart at stud for her owner George Cambanis, producing a galaxy of Hobbs-trained stars for him including the 1976 G1 Middle Park S. winner Tachypous (GB) (Hotfoot {GB}), 1978 G1 Dewhurst S. winner Tromos (Busted {GB}) and 1980 Irish Derby winner Tyrnavos (GB) (Blakeney {GB}).

The race's next winner after Stilvi was the charismatic Sandford Lad, an 1,800-guinea yearling who became a champion sprinter from Ryan Price's Findon stable. He became only modestly successful at Airlie Stud, perhaps his most notable son being Spindrifter (Ire), a 13-time winner as a 2-year-old in 1980 when trained by Sir Mark Prescott. More successful were some of the colts who won later in the '70s including Auction Ring (Bold Bidder), the Cheveley Park Stud stalwart Music Boy (GB) (Jukebox {GB}) and the remarkable Ahonoora (GB) (Lorenzaccio {GB}). The latter won the Stewards' Cup at three from Brian Swift's Epsom stable and the King George S. at four when trained in Newmarket by Frankie Durr before becoming a world-class stallion, most notably responsible for the equally influential sire Indian Ridge (Ire) and for the 1991 Derby winner Dr Devious (Ire).

The next horse to complete the Stewards' Cup (as a 3-year-old in 1982) and King George S. (at four) double was the enormously popular David Chapman-trained, David 'Dandy' Nicholls-ridden Soba (GB) (Most Secret {GB}). Bred and raced by Chapman's sister Muriel Hills, Soba showed very little as a 2-year-old, her only placing from nine starts in 1981 coming when she finished third, carrying bottom weight, in a nursery at Edinburgh (now Musselburgh) on her final run of the year. However, she improved out of all recognition over the winter, winning 11 of her 14 starts at three. She is generally held to have ended up as a disappointing broodmare but actually produced nine winners from 10 runners as well as the unraced Sadler's Wells filly Oh So Well (Ire), who became the dam of the 1999 G1 Prix Ganay and G1 Gran Premio di Milano winner Dark Moondancer (GB) (Anshan {Ire}).

Another Goodwood specialist was the 1985 King George S. winner Primo Dominie (GB) (Dominion {GB}), who had won the G2 Richmond S. at the meeting the previous year. He became a successful sprinting sire when standing alongside Music Boy at Cheveley Park Stud. The following year's winner Double Schwartz (Ire) (Double Form {Ire}) was also a terrific sprinter, going on to take the G1 Prix de l'Abbaye, while two years later the race was won by the outstanding filly Silver Fling (The Minstrel), another to follow up in France's top sprint. Her trainer, Ian Balding, subsequently won the King George S. with an even greater sprinting mare: the brilliant Lochsong, successful in both 1993 and '94 (in both of which years she too won the Prix de l'Abbaye) after taking the Stewards' Cup in 1992.

Lochsong became a useful broodmare for her owner/breeder Jeff Smith, without (inevitably) producing anything of her own calibre. That was not the case, though, for a couple of other very fast fillies who won the race soon afterwards: Land Of Dreams (GB) (Cadeaux Genereux {GB}) and Cassandra Go (Ire) (Indian Ridge {Ire}), the King George S. winners of 1998 and 2000. The former is now best known as the dam of the superb Dream Ahead (Diktat {GB}) and the latter as the dam of 2008 Irish 1000 Guineas heroine Halfway To Heaven (Ire) (Pivotal {GB}) and thus as the granddam of seven-time Group 1 winner Magical (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}) and her three-time Group 1-winning full-sister Rhododendron (Ire).

The King George S. is almost certainly in a lull as regards being a source of star producers, male and female, as eight of its last 10 runnings have been won by geldings. (The jury is still out, though, on George Strawbridge's filly Suesa (Ire) (Night Of Thunder {Ire}) who won it last year and for whom an interesting breeding career presumably awaits). However, it's still a race which highlights speed at its purest, and we can now look forward to York's Ebor Meeting where Khaadem will aim for the mighty Goodwood/York double completed in the Nunthorpe S. by so many great sprinters including Mumtaz Mahal, Abernant, Mickey The Greek (GB), Right Boy (Ire), Floribunda (GB), Polyfoto (GB), So Blessed and, most recently, Khaadem's erstwhile stablemate Battaash.

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