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Alastair Down on Friday: King of the stayers in safe pair of hands.

Byline: Alastair Down

FEW stallions carry a more impressive combination of pedigree and enduring racecourse achievement off to the covering shed than Kayf Tara, now settling in at the famous Overbury Stud near Tewkesbury in Gloucestershire.

Overbury has produced the likes of Grundy, Mummy's Pet and College Chapel and now the Holland-Martin family have leased 160 acres to Chris Sweeting and his son Simon, who is returning to his Gloucestershire roots to run the stud and establish Kayf Tara in his new career.

Simon Sweeting, now 34, could hardly have had a better grounding, having spent three and a half years as assistant to Henry Cecil and three to Luca Cumani (yes, you do get less for murder). In addition he spent time with US trainer Johnathan Sheppard in the days of Flatterer, and with Aussie legend Colin Hayes. He also ran a satellite yard for Bobby Frankel in New York and spent stud seasons at Coolmore and with Timmy Hyde.

If he doesn't know anything after that little lot then he ain't been paying attention.

Furthermore, he is bred to the breeding business, father Chris being one of the great champions of two things in racing-the value of loyalty and decency in the sport, and the maintenance of a strong jumps stallion presence in this country. Chris has stood Sunyboy, Kinglet, Balinger and Relkino at his Conduit Stud near Chipping Norton, which currently houses Petoski, Gildoran and Master Willie.

Sweeting sr also has the distinction of having the worst handwriting not just in racing, but in Western Europe. When his learned letters used to arrive at The Sporting Life, office juniors were despatched either to the British Museum to borrow the Rosetta Stone or down to Boots to get it filed as a prescription.

When Kayf Tara's career came to an end the Maktoum family refused to sell him, despite a host of offers, and they have entrusted him to Simon Sweeting on an income-sharing basis.

Sweeting says: "He is an exceptional horse and this is a fabulous opportunity. Kayf Tara won four Group 1s and four Group 2s and is by Sadler's Wells out of an Irish Oaks winner from a famous family.

"Initial reaction has been excellent and we already have Lady Carla's dam booked to him. Establishing a stallion is all about impact and getting the foals on the ground.

"He has settled in really well and is very straightforward. He hasn't had a bridle on him since coming down to my father's stud, and when he arrived here at Overbury on Monday he just walked five yards, put his head down and had a pick of grass.

"My father and I have been trying to get Kayf Tara for some time.

"Not only is he immaculately bred, but he looks the part and his racecourse record was outstanding. He was that genuine rarity-a stayer with a real turn of foot, and he will appeal to a lot of breeders.

"The Maktoums rightly didn't want to sell him as he has been very much one of their stars, and the current arrangement suits everyone down to the ground. All I have got to do is go out and sell, but it will be my fault if I can't, because he's got everything."

Simon's ambition from childhood was to train, but the realist in him won through. He says: "I could have set up with about 20 to 30 horses and, if everyone paid their bills, then it would have been fine.

"But a virus or a bad payer could have knocked it sideways in the first year and I simply didn't have the resources to weather that.

"I have got a number of friends who have set up training and, believe me, it isn't as much fun as people crack it up to be."

One of the most equable characters you could come across, the only criticism you'll ever hear of Sweeting is that he is too decent a man to train racehorses for a living -although there are worse things to have chiselled on your gravestone.

Nor is he short of a sense of humour, pointing out that the week after he joined estate agents Knight, Frank (and poor old Rutley before he got jocked off), the property market crashed; while he was at Henry's, Sheikh Mohammed left, and then he was Luca's right hand when the Aga disappeared over the horizon. He stresses that he had nothing to with the Millennium Dome, did not launch the Euro and wasn't in control of the flood defences in York! Nor can the Sweeting-Darley team be accused of being grasping over Kayf Tara's fee which, at an astoundingly fair pounds 3,000, should prove appealing to a great number of Flat breeders.

Kayf Tara has the potential to become an outstanding dual-purpose sire in time, and in Simon and Chris Sweeting he could not be in two safer pairs of hands.


Simon Sweeting with Kayf Tara at the Overbury Stud yesterday
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Nov 17, 2000
Previous Article:Alastair Down on Friday: Westwood building on racing success.
Next Article:Aga's reward for 40-year-old decision.

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