Seven Days: Out of the Frying Pan

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Five-time Group 1 winner Alpinista with owner/breeder Kirsten Rausing, right, nest to trainer Sir Mark Prescott | Racingfotos.com

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Sir Mark Prescott will happily recount the story of the time he bashed his former pupil assistant William Haggas over the head with a frying pan for oversleeping. He will also reflect with pleasure on the great pride he felt when Haggas won the Derby in 1996 with Shaamit (Ire).

When it comes to being a benevolent dictator, the Prescott pendulum has, by his own admission, swung more from dictatorship towards benevolence in recent years and, more than anyone involved in British racing, the master of Heath House cares deeply for the history of the sport, its milestones, and its continuing traditions.

Prescott will certainly be enjoying the fact that Haggas currently has the best horse in the world in his clutches, Baaeed (GB) (Sea The Stars {Ire}), who notched his perfect ten in the Juddmonte International at York on Wednesday, earning a provisional Timeform rating of 137 with his imperious six-and-half-length romp over last year's winner, Mishriff (Ire) (Make Believe {GB}).

But when it came to moments of exultation on the Knavesmire last week, there was as much jubilation for the victory of the Prescott-trained Alpinista (GB) (Frankel {GB}) in the Yorkshire Oaks as there was for Baaeed. Alpinista had been runner-up to the Oaks winner Love (Ire) in the Yorkshire Oaks of 2020 and, despite adding British Listed and Group 2 victories to her tally since then, her big-race successes had all come overseas until last Thursday.

Even if Kirsten Rausing's grey mare had retired last year at the end of her 4-year-old season she would still have been a treble Group 1 winner who had  achieved the remarkable feat of emulating her own grand-dam, Albanova (GB), by winning the Grosser Preis von Berlin – famously beating subsequent Arc winner Torquator Tasso (Ger) – then the Preis von Europa and Grosser Preis von Bayern. But we were treated to an extra season, and what a year it has been so far for the current star of the prolific Lanwades breeding programme. Two-for-two in the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud and Yorkshire Oaks, Alpinista looks set for a rematch with Torquator Tasso at Longchamp on the first weekend of October. Whether or not she will also face Baaeed in the Arc remains in doubt. The crowd are certainly baying for it, and indeed the manner in which the Shadwell homebred won the Juddmonte International did nothing to suggest he would not see out another two furlongs. Haggas raised the idea that the Irish Champion S. could be the colt's next port of call for what looks likely to be his penultimate race, but wherever and however he ends his career Baaeed will surely be Horse of the Year.

Maybe because he didn't race at two and isn't a Classic winner, Baaeed is somehow not afforded the level of adulation deserving of a horse of his calibre, which is a shame, because let's face it, he's bloody brilliant. Naturally he is most often compared to two previous winners of the International in his own sire Sea The Stars, for whom it was one of six consecutive Group 1 wins in 2009, starting with the 2,000 Guineas and ending with the Arc, and Frankel, who brought York to a standstill a decade ago with his seven-length victory.

The debate will rage endlessly among racing folk as it which of those two greats was the greatest, but it doesn't really matter. What is more important is that both Sea The Stars and Frankel have gone on to be important sires in their own right, with their offspring lighting up racecourses around the world, just as Baaeed and Alpinista did last week at York.

And in the case of those two most recent Group 1 winners, equally important is that they both represent families which have been the cornerstone of their respective breeders' empires for generations. From Sheikh Hamdan's purchase of Height Of Fashion (Fr) from the Queen in 1982 stems Baaeed, while the purchase of Alpinista's fourth dam Alruccaba (Ire) in 1985 by Kirsten Rausing and Sonia Rogers from the Aga Khan has resulted in an impressive dynasty being assembled largely, but by no means solely, at Rausing's Lanwades Stud. Alpinista's run of success is all the more special to those who enjoy the continuity of the great families for it being the centenary of the Aga Khan Studs, an operation which owes much of its own success to her tenth dam, one of the greatest greys of all time, Mumtaz Mahal (GB), who was born 101 years ago and still exerts such influence over the breed.

Trevaunance at the Double

On the subject of anniversaries, the 60th year of Moyglare Stud continues to be marked with great success on the track. As well as an Irish 1,000 Guineas victory for Homeless Songs (Ire) (Frankel {GB}), and racing the top stayer in Europe, homebred Kyprios (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}), in partnership with Coolmore, Eva-Maria Bucher-Haefner's operation celebrated back-to-back group wins for Trevaunance (Ire) in the G2 Prix de la Nonette. Trained by Jessica Harrington, the daughter of Muhaarar (GB) had previously won the G3 Prix de Psyche at Deauville's opening meeting 18 days earlier.

Trevaunance marks the blending of two notable Irish stud farms. Her dam Liber Nauticus (Ire) (Azamour {Ire}) was bought by Moyglare from the Ballymacoll Stud dispersal of 2017, and is from a celebrated family which includes dual Breeders' Cup hero Conduit (Ire) (Dalakhani {Ire}) and Irish 2,000 Guineas and Champion S. winner Spectrum (Ire) (Rainbow Quest).

Never Again – and Again

Nine years ago No Nay Never bounced from victory in a Keeneland maiden to the G2 Norfolk S. followed by the G1 Darley Prix Morny, and he is now the sire of a Morny winner following the success of Blackbeard (Ire) on Sunday.

It has to be said that a five-runner Prix Morny with no French-bred or -trained horse was a little disappointing, but there is nothing disappointing about the winner himself, who has had a busy first campaign and has now won five of his seven starts for Aidan O'Brien, including the G2 Prix Robert Papin. 

Twenty-four hours earlier, No Nay Never had been represented by a Group 2 juvenile double at the Curragh, courtesy of the exquisite-looking Meditate (Ire) and Aesop's Fables (Ire), both Ballydoyle stable-mates of Blackbeard and the G1 Keeneland Phoenix S. winner Little Big Bear (Ire). No Nay Never is steaming ahead as the leading sire of juveniles in Europe this year, with Whitsbury Manor Stud's freshman Havana Grey (GB) in determined pursuit.

Deauville's other group races on Sunday fell to Richard Hannon, with the Rathasker Stud-bred Aristia (Ire) (Starspangledbanner {Aus}) going one better than her finish behind Nashwa (GB) in the G1 Nassau S. to win the G1 Prix Jean Romanet, and to William Haggas, who completed a fantastic week in style with simultaneous victories in the G2 Prix de Pomone with Sea La Rosa (Ire) (Sea The Stars {Ire}) and G3 Tally-Ho Stud Ballyogan S. at Naas with Perfect News (GB) (Frankel {GB}). 

Sea La Rosa also brought up an impressive double for both her dam Soho Rose (GB) (Hernando {Fr}) and breeder Guy Heald following the win of her brother Deauville Legend (Ire) in the G2 Dante S. at York. 

Only Yann Barberot managed to keep a group race at home for the French trainers this weekend, and that has been a theme in Deauville again this summer, with 13 of the 17 group races having been won by British or Irish trainers, including all five Group 1 contests.

Golden Moments

Both Nathaniel (Ire) and Golden Horn (GB) have covered a number of National Hunt mares this year, and indeed the latter is now officially standing as a dual-purpose sire at Overbury Stud from next season. But both are still eminently capable of getting decent Flat runners, as exemplified by results at York this week.

Godolphin's Trawlerman (GB) landed the valuable Ebor H. under Frankie Dettori, while Haskoy (GB) became the second of Golden Horn's daughters to win the Listed Galtres S. The Juddmonte-bred filly, who was making just her second start, is out of a mare by Nathaniel, who also featured as the damsire of G3 Solario S. winner Silver Knott (GB) (Lope De Vega {Ire}), the first foal of Group 1 winner God Given (GB).

Meanwhile, though the G2 Lonsdale Cup was drastically depleted by the defections of Stradivarius (Ire) and Trueshan (Fr), there was plenty to enjoy about the emphatic victory of Nathaniel's five-year-old son Quickthorn (GB) for his owner/breeder Lady Blyth.

While we are handing out bouquets, the mighty mare Highfield Princess (Fr) (Night Of Thunder {Ire}) deserves an extra-large one for winning back-to-back Group 1s in Deauville and York within 12 days, to take her tally to 11 wins from 29 starts for her owner/breeder John Fairley and trainer John Quinn.

Another should go to the Whitsbury Manor Stud broodmare Suelita (GB) (Dutch Art {GB}), who added the G3 Acomb S. winner Chaldean  (GB) (Frankel {GB}) – a rare non-homebred runner for Juddmonte – to her list of black-type performers which now numbers five and includes the G2 Mill Reef S winner Alkumait (GB) (Showcasing {GB}). 

Finally, one trainer who almost certainly hasn't been bashed over the head with a frying pan by Sir Mark Prescott, but who, like Haggas, has enjoyed a fruitful week, is Ralph Beckett. Within five minutes on Saturday his stable was represented by the G2 City of York S. winner Kinross (GB) (Kingman {GB}) and Listed Chester S. victrix River of Stars (Ire), who was one of five stakes winners for Sea The Stars last week. Beckett's good week also included the aforementioned Haskoy among his seven winners.

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