Tony Morris: Recognition at last for Unfuwain; Sire's achievement in getting 1,000 winner and third finally silences doubters.
Unfuwain could not quite match Waxy's result at the weekend, but as sire of Lahan and third-placed Petrushka, and maternal grandsire of runner-up Princess Ellen, he came pretty close.
Waxy had long been a leading sire at the time of his posthumous feat, employed by top breeders over many years in a relatively uncompetitive era.
By comparison, Unfuwain has been somewhat neglected, damned with faint praise as the good, but far inferior, half-brother of champion Nashwan, and only now-with his seventh crop of three-year-olds in action-beginning to achieve the recognition he deserves. He had just three representatives on Sunday in a field of 18.
I drew attention to Unfuwain's unsung merit two weeks ago in connection with Petrushka. The flashing burst of acceleration she had produced on rain-affected ground in the Nell Gwyn was not in evidence over the fast Rowley Mile course this time, whereas Lahan, who had laboured in the Newbury mud, was now able to quicken
impressively for an emphatic victory.
There is a message there for those who habitually declare that progeny of certain stallions act better under certain ground conditions; every racehorse is an individual, and general rules based on half of a pedigree don't count for much.
Unfuwain's career at three and four was exclusively about racing at around a mile and a half. He never exhibited a significant change of gear, his highly commendable achievements deriving from a capacity to maintain a strong gallop and force his rivals into submission.
Many people reckon that is not the sort of horse who usually makes a successful sire, and that is a rule which carries some credibility. It would be easy to compile a list of worthy performers who have failed as sires.
But it is a rule that these days is credible, largely because of the way breeders tend to behave. They do not give such horses the best of chances, so success is hard to come by.
It is unthinkable now that an Alycidon could become champion sire. And if Federico Tesio had adopted modern practice, he would never have produced Ribot, sired by a horse (Tenerani) who used to come into his element only after he had gone two miles.
We have become conditioned to believe that an Unfuwain would not
get stock capable of
quickening and making an impression at Classic level over a mile. Now we know what can still happen when that type of horse is astutely mated with mares possessing class and speed.
Petrushka's dam, Ballet Shoes, confounded her pedigree as a sprinter, apparently because she was mad and could not be trained to race beyond five furlongs. If her daughter runs truer to her heritage, her planned bid for the Oaks may still be viable.
Lahan seems more naturally a speedy type who might be expected to remain suited by a mile. That was the distance which seemed most appropriate for her dam Amanah and was predictable from her own parentage.
Mr Prospector, of course, was a leading sprinter and his influence at stud has been predominantly as a sire of speed, but many of his best performers have coped well enough with a mile, particularly in Europe.
Amanah flopped in her only sprint and her better efforts at a mile were in keeping with those of her dam Cheval Volant and the latter's half-sister Chaldea.
The family runs back to Nijinsky's grand-dam Flaring Top, but this branch seemed to have lost its potency for a while after the second place of Fanfaron (also a grandson of Flaring Top) in the 1969 Queen's Plate.
The mating of Barachois and unraced Bright Merry in 1974 linked Nijinsky's sire- and dam-line again, but initially to little purpose in the once-raced and unplaced Flight. Things looked up in the next generation, when Flight delivered a capable filly in Chaldea and a classier one in Cheval Volant.
Chaldea was probably the best and certainly the toughest daughter of Cutlass, winning Grade 3 events over seven furlongs and a mile as a six-year-old, in addition to collecting fourth place in the Grade 1 Maskette Stakes.
Cheval Volant did not last as long, but was more precocious, winning five of 11 starts in two seasons. Her major scores came at Grade 1 level in the Hollywood Starlet Stakes and the Las Virgenes Stakes, both over a mile.
Cheval Volant, carrying Amanah, was acquired by Shadwell for $1.4 million as a four-year-old. Aged 11, and dam of only minor winners, she returned to Keeneland and was sold to a Japanese buyer for $110,000.
Fortunately, Amanah was retained and, with further luck, she will be scanned in foal later this week with a Nashwan product, three-parts sibling to Lahan.
PEDIGREE ASSESSMENT - LAHAN
Bred by Hamdan Al Maktoum. Won 6 (8-12.3f) of 10 starts, viz. 1 out of 2 at 2 years, 3 (inc. Chester Vase-Gr3, Princess of Wales's S.-Gr2) out of 6 at 3 years, 2 (John Porter S.-Gr3, Jockey Club S.-Gr2) out of 2 at 4 years. Also 2nd in King George VI & Queen Elizabeth S., 4th in Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe. Earned pounds 263,936. Timeform 99p at 2 years, 131 at 3 years, 126 at 4 years.
Strong, rangy, 16.1hh, good-bodied sort, fine walker and a relentless galloper with a roundish action. Genuine and consistent, stayed 12f well and would have got extended distances. Unsuited by really fast ground and hard to train after spring at 4 years.
Extremely well-bred. By the world's leading sire, and half-brother to Nashwan. Dam a Gr2 winner, herself a daughter of multiple Gr1-winning parents.
Stands at Nunnery Stud at a fee of pounds 10,000 (Oct. 1). Sire of 8 crops of racing age, inc. notable winners: Bolas
(Irish Oaks-Gr1), Alpha City (Gr3), Mamlakah (Gr3), Alhaarth (Dewhurst S.-Gr1), Gulland (Gr3), Zahrat Dubai (Nassau S.-Gr1), Lahan (1,000 Guineas-Gr1), Petrushka (Gr3).
Bred by Shadwell Farm Inc. in Kentucky. Ran only at 3 years, won 1 (8f York maiden) of 5 starts. Also placed second twice in minor events and fourth in Listed race. Timeform 100. Earned pounds 7,959.
Strong, attractive type. Seemed well suited by a mile (never raced beyond, poor effort sprinting).
Well-bred. By an outstanding sire, and first foal of a dual Gr1 winner in USA (at 2 and 3). Sister and half-sister to three other winners. Grand-dam also bred Chaldea (by Cutlass, Gr3 winner, Gr1-placed). Family of Nijinsky, The Minstrel, etc.
To stud at 4 years. Dam of Lahan (1997 f by Unfuwain; Classic winner), Tabrir (1998 f by Unfuwain; unraced to date). Her yearling is a filly by Alhaarth, she has a Singspiel filly-foal (born March 29), and was covered by Nashwan on April 24.
Product of a specialist 12-furlong horse, but races like a natural miler and possesses abundant class.
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|Publication:||The Racing Post (London, England)|
|Date:||May 11, 2000|
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