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Filly who shone all summer in the year of the French.

IWAS just a lad, a schoolkid new to long trousers, when French horses dominated in Britain in 1956, carrying off the Derby (Lavandin), Oaks (Sicarelle), Gold Cup (Macip), Coronation Cup and Eclipse (Tropique) and St Leger (Cambremer). It was no consolation that they did not also win the King George, because invincible Ribot claimed that for Italy.

Exactly 20 years later, by which time I was a seasoned racegoer, a similar Gallic invasion proved no less successful, inducing widespread gloom among home fans. It was necessary to abandon national pride and jingoistic tendencies to recognise the merits of the raiders who came and conquered through the campaign.

The French haul that year included the 1,000 Guineas with Flying Water, the Derby with Empery, Oaks and King George with Pawneese, Gold Cup with Sagaro, St Leger with Crow, and Champion Stakes with Vitiges. Britain kept the Prince of Wales's Stakes and Eclipse at home only because French-trained Trepan, seemingly ready winner of both, forfeited those victories after positive dope tests.

At season's end Daniel Wildenstein, whose colours were carried by Flying Water, Pawneese and Crow, headed the list of winning owners, his company Dayton Ltd, which bred all three, topping the breeders' table. The Wildenstein trainer, Chantilly-based Angel Penna, despite limited representation, ranked a close third to Sir Henry Cecil and Peter Walwyn.

France never had such a year of high-profile success internationally, collecting rich pickings additionally in Ireland, where Malacate won the Derby and Joe McGrath Memorial and Lagunette took the Oaks, in Italy, where Rouge Sang and Infra Green were Group 1 scorers and, after his notable victories at home, Youth ventured triumphantly to Canada and the United States.

It has to be said that we did not see the stellar performances of those Wildenstein fillies coming - on the basis of their two-year-old efforts at least. Flying Water did win her only juvenile start, in July at Chantilly, but then threw a splint and became forgotten; Pawneese finished second and fourth in unimportant events at two, attracting no attention.

The diminutive, wiry Flying Water came for the Nell Gwyn Stakes the following spring, readily disposed of the defending team with the result that she started a hot favourite on Guineas day. Under an extremely confident ride by Yves Saint-Martin, she duly won the Classic, coming from far back in a field of 25, her winning margin of a length providing no measure of her real superiority.

In the winner's enclosure Flying Water's owner confided to the assembled press that he had one better for the Oaks, identifying that filly as the previously unheralded Pawneese, who was no longer a maiden, having been out twice, and won twice, in March. Both successes had come at Saint-Cloud, first in the 1m Prix La Camargo and later over 1m21/2f in the Group 3 Prix Penelope.

The form didn't begin to approach what Flying Water had now demonstrated, but it seemed prudent to take note of Wildenstein's words.

A little over two weeks after the Guineas Pawneese was given her Oaks prep. It came in the Prix Cleopatre, back at Saint-Cloud over the same trip as the Penelope, and she was required to give weight to all but one of her 12 rivals. Having started at a shade of odds-on, she made every yard of the running and won as she liked.

Yes, Pawneese was now a legitimate Oaks contender, although there were a few in the home team who had shown promise and were expected to improve. Sarania's Newbury win in the Sandleford Priory looked good and she had the pedigree for the distance; the trip was also going to suit African Dancer, who had won the Cheshire Oaks by ten lengths; and though Heaven Knows was a daughter of miler Yellow God, her Lingfield Trial victory proclaimed that she owned sufficient stamina for the job.

But nothing was going to threaten Pawneese for favouritism in the Oaks, and after Empery had taken the Derby to France, the only debating point was whether she would start at odds-on. First sight of her in the Epsom paddock did not inspire as she was light of frame and easily outshone by several of her rivals, but so what? Flying Water had not impressed on looks at Newmarket, yet she had proved herself in a different class.

Reflecting on that Oaks afterwards, it had to be acknowledged that the fillies lined up against Pawneese at Epsom formed a less than vintage collection. But that still could not detract from the impression she created in turning a Classic into a solo exhibition. Thirty-five years on, it remains the most dominant Oaks performance in my experience.

Pawneese was in front after little more than a couple of furlongs, travelling well within herself, and by the time she reached the top of the hill her evident stroll in the park contrasted sharply with the strenuous efforts her rivals were having to make to stay in touch. If her stamina - not fully proven of course - did not give out, the contest was already over.

While she skimmed merrily down the hill, with Saint-Martin just a carefree passenger, all the jockeys in pursuit were frantically at work, their tasks obviously hopeless. Once in the straight Pawneese effortlessly increased her advantage, her rider never needing or bothering to ask her a question. She passed the post with five lengths to spare, and it might easily have been 25. And punters had been able to back her at 6-5!

IT HAD been the plan for Flying Water to represent the Wildenstein team in the Prix de Diane, but she came back unsound after defeat by the still unbeaten Riverqueen in the Prix Saint-Alary. There were only nine days between the Oaks and the equivalent French Classic, but as Pawneese had not been required to exert herself at Epsom, why not let her have a crack at a double that had not been accomplished since Fille De L'Air in 1864? Most Chantilly punters sided with Riverqueen, figuring that her proven acceleration would count for more than her rival's stamina over the shorter trip. They were wrong because Pawneese led every step of the way, quickened to leave the favourite flat-footed early in the straight, and though the expected challenge did materialise, it never looked like causing Saint-Martin ant concern.

When the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes came along, few believed that the great prize would remain at home. Youth was the best three-year-old colt in France and clearly superior to his stablemate the Derby hero Empery. In his impressive Prix du Jockey Club triumph, Youth had left Malacate, soon to win the Irish Derby, toiling in third place. He appeared to be head and shoulders above the best of the rest in Europe and it was hard to see him being beaten at Ascot, though some thought it might be significant that Pawneese was also making the trip from Chantilly, set for her first race against colts and older horses.

To the consternation of favourite backers, Youth ran deplorably, veering left when his challenge appeared to be imminent, and defying Freddy Head to straighten him out and bring him back into contention. Meanwhile, Pawneese, who had been in front from the off, was making the best of her way home, resisting the efforts of those close enough to get in a blow and never seeming in danger of defeat. It was not as emphatic as her Epsom and Chantilly performances, with little more than two and a half lengths between first and fifth, but the competition was naturally tougher and she saw it off decisively enough.

We couldn't suspect it then, but it turned out we had seen the best of Pawneese. She had thrived through the long, dry spring and summer months, but when the autumn rains came and soft ground ruled at Longchamp, she ran like a shadow of her former self - a miserable seventh at 1-2 in the Prix Vermeille, and a distant 11th in the Arc.

British racing scribes forgave Pawneese those late failures, naming her their Horse of the Year by a wide margin. They could hardly have done otherwise, though in the years that followed many found fault with both Daniel Wildenstein and son Alec, who acquired a reputation for being poor losers, apt to make offensive remarks about others in the industry - and not just those whom they employed and had supposedly let them down.

Personally, I never had a problem with either of them, though I am still wondering why it was that Alec faxed me from New York, asked me to meet him at his hotel in London the following week, and when I got there spent two hours showing me photographs of the wild beasts which roamed his vast ranch in Kenya.

In fact I had enormous respect for both father and son, because they were extraordinarily successful breeders - of racehorses rather than rhino - who routinely produced star performers by stallions that their competitors had written off as failures. Pawneese was one such example. Who could name another runner of any note by Carvin? PAWNEESE bay filly, born April 5, 1973 Pedigree Worden Marino Buena Vista Car vin (b 1962) Fine Top Coraline Copelina Vieux Manoir Le Haar Mince Pie Plencia (ch 1968) Nordiste Petite Saguenay Ballynash Bred by Dayton Ltd in Ireland Race record Ran 10 Won 6 2nd 1 3rd 0 Earned pounds 239,309 Big races won Prix Penelope, Prix Cleopatre, Oaks, Prix de Diane, King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes Your recollections of last week's giant, Teenoso I was cheering for a pounds 20 each-way double in 1983, Lester and Teenoso in the Derby with Seve Ballesteros in US Masters; Seve won at 11-2 and I took Teenoso at 6-1 for the Derby. Happy days. bobmorris I remember Teenoso finishing like a train into second in a maiden at Haydock. I drove down to Epsom from Leeds in torrential rain wondering if the race would go ahead. Result was never in doubt, with Lester a passenger. mark176 Final month at university and I was refused a pounds 50 overdraft in morning, then won pounds 50 in a straight forecast Teenoso and Carlingford Castle in afternoon. majbpa Tell us your recollections of Pawneese on


Pawneese and Yves Saint-Martin make all the running to hold off the grey Bruni and Lester Piggott in the 1976 King George at Ascot
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Aug 13, 2011
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