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Gelding a match for any miler in action; High-class winner for under-rated sire Lear Fan.

Byline: TONY MORRIS

WE have witnessed a number of fine performances from milers in the western hemisphere this year, capped by Goldikova's brilliant tour de force at the Breeders' Cup. It was hard to imagine that a display of comparable quality at the distance would be seen within a few weeks, but that is exactly what Good Ba Ba produced in Sunday's Group 1 Hong Kong Mile at Sha Tin.

The gelded six-year-old had thwarted European raiders Creachadoir and Darjina to record his hard-fought win in the 2007 edition, but he was far more impressive in disposing of an equally distinguished international group this time, delivering a devastating burst of acceleration that propelled him to an emphatic victory by two and a half lengths in course record time.

Four-time Pattern winner Spirito Del Vento did best of the European challengers in fourth place, with Major Cadeaux, Pressing, Natagora and Laa Rayb far in arrears, while American contenders Kip Deville and Awesome Gem were never in the hunt, both clearly unable to cope with the right-handed turns.

After his win in this race last year, Good Ba Ba added three more Group 1 successes - in the Stewards' Cup, Queen's Silver Jubilee Cup and Champions Mile - but he was off the board when venturing for the Yasuda Kinen in Tokyo in June, and lacked his usual sparkle on his return after a four-month break, finishing no nearer than sixth in the Listed Sha Tin Trophy.

Good Ba Ba was unconvincing again when only third in the International Trial Mile on November 23, but after that run his work left trainer Andreas Schutz in no doubt that he was returning to peak form.

Sunday's exhilarating display, under a suitably impressed Christophe Soumillon, more than confirmed that view; the gelding is evidently a match for any miler in the world on his day.

With durability to match his talent, Good Ba Ba has now won 14 of his 30 starts, and has been placed six times.

He was a graduate of the 2003 Keeneland September yearling sale, where Cash Asmussen bought him for EUR85,000, and was acquired by his present owner, John Yuen Se Kit, for HKEUR1.7 million when reoffered at the Hong Kong International Sale as a two-year-old.

Along with Rob Roy, who won at Group 2 and Group 3 level for Sir Michael Stoute, Good Ba Ba comes from the 17th of 20 crops sired by Lear Fan, who was retired from breeding after the 2004 season and died in July this year at the age of 27.

The 17 yearlings by Roberto sold at auction in America in 1982 averaged EUR246,029, with a top price of EUR1.3 million for a colt, Tapping Wood, who eventually showed decent form in the States, winning a restricted stake, running third at Listed level and fourth in Grade 3 company.

Lear Fan was the only Roberto yearling from that crop to be sold in Europe, in the Haras d'Etreham draft to Tattersalls Highflyer auction, and it did not seem to help that his sire had been conspicuously represented at the top level in Europe that season by such as Real Shadai, Silver Hawk, Slightly Dangerous and Touching Wood. James Delahooke was able to buy him for only 64,000gns on behalf of Ahmed Salman.

Two of the colts purchased at Saratoga for substantially higher sums were to distinguish themselves in Europe, Bob Back (EUR150,000) famously embarrassing Pebbles and Commanche Run in a memorable Prince of Wales's Stakes at Ascot, and At Talaq (EUR800,000) notching a win in the Grand Prix de Paris before his transfer to Australia, where he won the Melbourne Cup in the following year.

Lear Fan was a better bargain, and a better runner, than either of them.

Guy Harwood sent Lear Fan out three times as a two-year-old, and the outcome was three resounding victories - by eight lengths in a 7f maiden on Newmarket's July course, by the same margin in a 1m event there soon afterwards, and by three lengths in the Group 2 Champagne Stakes at Doncaster.

An accurate appraisal of his merit at that age was impossible, but the official handicapper made him third-best of his year behind only El Gran Senor and Rainbow Quest, the first two home in the Dewhurst.

In the following spring, Lear Fan went into the first Classic still unbeaten, having given Rainbow Quest 5lb and a short-head beating in the Craven Stakes, and he had that rival behind him again on Guineas day, but the pair were only third and fourth behind El Gran Senor and Chief Singer in the best-contested edition since Brigadier Gerard beat Mill Reef and My Swallow in 1971.

Defeat in that company was no disgrace, and, on his belated reappearance in the Prix Jacques le Marois, Lear Fan earned Group 1 glory with a scintillating display, trouncing Palace Music and Siberian Express by four lengths and more.

That career-best effort underlined his class and established him as Roberto's outstanding miler, but there were disappointments to follow, when softer ground proved his undoing as runner-up to Mendez in the Prix du Moulin de Longchamp, and he could not cope with Hollywood Park's tight turns at the inaugural Breeders' Cup.

IN his long innings at Gainesway, Lear Fan was never the height of fashion, and although he stood at EUR40,000 in his first two seasons, more often than not in subsequent years he covered at less than half that sum. He never promised to establish a branch of the Roberto male line, his top earner in America, Sarafan, being, like Good Ba Ba, a gelding, while many of his best runners, such as Verveine, Windsharp and Ryafan, were fillies accomplished on grass courses.

Good Ba Ba comes from a distinguished family, although his dam Elle Meme was just a modest winner in France and his grand-dam Holy Tobin never ran. We do not need to delve much further to locate high-class performers and producers in this female line.

Holy Tobin's half-brother Silver Supreme was one of the better US four-year-olds of 1982, when he won the Brooklyn Handicap and was placed in three other Grade 1 events, and in the same year half-sister Pasadoble became a dual Listed winner in France. Their dam Santa Quilla was an unraced half-sister to Comtesse De Loir, who won the Prix Saint-Alary and was placed in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe as both a three-and four-year-old.

Pasadoble became the dam of Miesque, a great racemare who has earned equal fame as a broodmare, with East Of The Moon, Kingmambo, Miesque's Son and Rumplestiltskin's dam Monevassia among her brood, and her unraced daughter Yogya delivered the outstanding filly Six Perfections.

SIRE LEAR FAN

Bred by C.P. Karpidas. 64,000gns Tattersalls Highflyer yearling. Won 5 (7-8f) of 8 races, viz. 3 (inc. Champagne Stakes-Gr2) out of 3 at 2 years, 2 (Craven Stakes-Gr3, Prix Jacques le Marois-Gr1) out of 5 at 3 years. Also 2nd in Prix du Moulin de Longchamp, 3rd in 2,000 Guineas. Timeform 130 at 2, 127 at 3. Earned pounds 117,141. Strong, good-bodied, rangy individual, 16.1 hh, with a powerful, long-striding action. A hard puller, seemingly ideally suited by 1m on fast ground. Very well bred. The fastest son of his excellent sire, himself a Derby winner, and out of a winning sister to the dam of Alysheba (Kentucky Derby, former world's leading earner). Died July 2008. Stood at Gainesway Farm, Lexington, Kentucky, last covering fee (2004) EUR15,000. Sire of 20 crops of racing age, inc. notable winners: Run Don't Fly (Gr2), Sikeston (Gran Criterium-Gr1, Premio Parioli-Gr1, Premio Vittorio di Capua twice-Gr1, Premio Presidente della Repubblica twice-Gr1, Premio Roma-Gr1), Super Fan (Gr3), Corrupt (Gr2), Fanmore (Gr2), Glaieul (Criterium de Saint-Cloud-Gr1), Verveine (Gr2), Lear White (Gr3), Windsharp (San Luis Rey S.-Gr1, Beverly Hills H.-Gr1), Labeeb (Hollywood Derby-Gr1), Loup Solitaire (Grand Criterium-Gr1), Fantastic Fellow (Gr3), Ryafan (Prix Marcel Boussac-Gr1, Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup S.-Gr1, Yellow Ribbon S.- Gr1, Matriarch S.-Gr1), Tiraaz (Prix Royal-Oak-Gr1), Lear Spear (Gr2), Sarafan (Eddie Read H.-Gr1), Dublino (Del Mar Oaks-Gr1), Good Ba Ba (Hong Kong Mile-Gr1 twice), Rob Roy (Gr2), Vacare (Queen Elizabeth II Invitational Challenge Cup S.-Gr1), Lear's Princess (Gazelle S.-Gr1).

DAM ELLE MEME

Bred by Delsol Farm & Gainsborough Farm in Kentucky. Won 2 (7f-1m) of 10 races, viz. 1 out of 3 at 2 years, 1 out of 2 at 3 years, 0 out of 5 at 4 years. Earned EUR33,270. Just useful form in France up to 1m, modest efforts later in US on turf and dirt. Quite well bred. By a top-class miler. Sister to 1 winner, half-sister to 6 winners, inc. Gr3-placed Sakura Bering (by Bering) and Listed-placed Vittoria Collona (by Stately Don). Dam unraced half-sister to 6 winners, inc. Silver Supreme (Gr1) and Pasadoble (Listed; dam of Miesque, herself dam of Kingmambo, etc). Grand-dam unraced halfsister to 7 winners, inc. Comtesse de Loir (Gr1, twice placed in Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe). Excellent family. To stud at 5 years and dam of: Squire Michael (2000 c by Affirmed; placed), Orangina (2001 f by Quiet American; placed), Good Ba Ba (2002 g by Lear Fan; multiple Hong Kong Gr1 winner), Quai d'Orsay (2003 c by Dynaformer; unraced), Ruban Bleu (2004 f by Broken Vow; Listed-placed winner), Quiet King (2005 c by Quiet American; winner), Tintim Por Tintim (2006 c by Broken Vow; unplaced). Her yearling is a filly by Saarland, and her foal is a filly by Aldebaran.

CONCLUSION

High-class miler, perhaps the last major winner for his often under-rated sire.

CAPTION(S):

Good Ba Ba and Christophe Soumillon land the Group 1 Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Mile on Sunday PICTURE: HKJC
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Dec 18, 2008
Words:1630
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