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Hindsight proves that Nahoodh is top class; Falmouth winner proved Guineas first impression to be correct.

Byline: TONY MORRIS

UNDERSTANDING the form of racehorses was never meant to be easy; it is something that we must either accept as an endlessly fascinating challenge or give up and resort to some simpler exercise, such as cryptic crosswords or Sudoku.

After the Falmouth Stakes it seems - at last - to be clear that Nahoodh is genuinely a filly of Group 1 calibre, among the best of her age and sex. But to have had any confidence that she would do the business over the Bunbury Mile last Wednesday, it was necessary to form accurate judgements about all four of her previous losing performances in 2008.

As five of her ten rivals started at shorter odds than Nahoodh, it may be assumed that the solution to the puzzle she presented was beyond most punters, but hindsight can resolve most issues, and this is what it discloses:

On her comeback run in the Fred Darling at Newbury, she was understandably quite well fancied at 5-1, as one would expect of a filly who ended her first season with a Group 2 win in York's Lowther Stakes. Her feeble effort as tenth of 13 was down to the fact that her stable had not yet clicked into top gear, rather than the soft ground.

First impressions of her fifth, as a 33-1 shot, in the 1,000 Guineas were that she had been desperately unlucky, trapped in traffic after she had been travelling every bit as well as the winner into the final furlong. But subsequent events made many wonder whether that was the correct interpretation of what had occurred in a rather muddling contest. First impressions were right.

At the Curragh, in the Irish 1,000 the hard-luck story from Newmarket was widely credited, so she started a warm favourite at 3-1. As at Newmarket, she was ridden from off the pace, and she did make some progress towards the leaders, but the effort soon petered out and she wound up 12 lengths behind the winner, only seventh of 13. The ground was on the firm side, and she just couldn't cope with it.

Punters were losing faith in her by Royal Ascot, when she went off as a 10-1 chance for the Coronation Stakes. Along with a change of stable, she was subjected to a change of strategy, seeking to avoid traffic congestion by assuming an early lead, but she caved in tamely when the challenges came, and sixth place in a field of 11 seemed to suggest that she had been over-rated. Wrong. Fast ground and misconceived tactics were what caused her undoing.

So we have sussed Nahoodh out. She is a first-rate, come-from-behind miler with a sharp turn of foot that she can produce only when underfoot conditions are good or on the soft side of good.

Now it merely remains for her to confound the conclusions we have reached, and it's not long odds against that she will do just that. Punting is a perilous pastime, and three-year-old fillies are often particularly adept at proving the point.

If Nahoodh has seemed to be inconsistent up to now, there have been credible reasons. There was never a need to find excuses for her sire, Clodovil, in his racing days, as he remained unbeaten through his first five starts, and ran to within a pound or two of his best mark in two of his three subsequent losing efforts.

Bred by Jean-Luc Lagardere, Clodovil is one of only four greys by Danehill to win a European Pattern race - and, curiously, all four won Group 1 races at 1m.

His greatest triumph came in the Poule d'Essai des Poulains, a Classic which also fell to Aussie Rules three years later; Grey Lilas won the Prix du Moulin de Longchamp over the same course and distance, while Simply Perfect collected twice, in the Fillies' Mile at Ascot and the Falmouth Stakes at New market.

Danehill, of course, was a pure-breeding bay, unable to sire a chesnut, but there was always a chance that Clodovil would be grey, given that his dam was by Linamix, whose genetics enable him to get nothing but greys.

Clodovil won two minor races at Saint-Cloud as a two-year-old, over 4.5f and 6f, without suggesting that he was anything out of the ordinary, and his breeder did not live to see him prolong his winning sequence in the following spring.

All his races at three were over a mile, and the Poule d'Essai provided his third victory at Longchamp, after the unimportant Prix Machado and the Group 3 Prix de Fontainebleau.

It is possible that Clodovil was a shade lucky to win his Classic, as runner-up Catcher In The Rye lacked a clear passage when attempting his challenge; the two sons of Danehill (who died two days later) were separated by no more than a length at the finish.

THE impression at the time was that it had not been a vintage Poule d'Essai, and subsequent events did nothing to alter that view. Clodovil did not win again, and Catcher In The Rye did not even reappear on the racecourse.

In truth, the leading three-year-old colts over 1m in 2003 were not a distinguished group; the fillies Russian Rhythm and Six Perfections seemed to have had rather more to commend them.

After his Classic success, Clodovil ran a respectable fifth to Zafeen in the St James's Palace Stakes, ran his one real stinker in the Jacques le Marois at Deauville, but signed off with a fifth behind Nebraska Tornado in the Prix du Moulin that showed him in as favourable a light as he had ever been seen.

Clodovil was not favoured with quality or quantity in the books he covered during his first few seasons at Rathasker Stud, so it is all the more to his credit that from an initial crop of 45 foals he has been represented by a Group 1 winner in Nahoodh and last season's Group 3 Horris Hill Stakes victor, Beacon Lodge. And as his 2007 yearlings averaged more than three times his fee, he has earned respect in more ways than one.

Nahoodh's dam Mise did not race, but she comes from a respectable family - and a current one, as her four-year-old King's Best half-brother Not Just Swing won the Group 3 Prix d'Hedouville this spring.

Their dam Misbegotten was a Listed winner who also claimed four places in Pattern company, including a second in the Prix de l'Opera (then Group 2).

Nahoodh is the first from the family to notch a Group 1 victory since Mirio, out of a half-sister to Mise's grand-dam Mistreat, won the 2001 Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud.

Can she surpass Mirio with a second top-level triumph? Deauville's newly renamed Prix Rothschild will provide her first opportunity to do so.

SIRE CLODOVIL

Bred by Jean-Luc Lagardere in Ireland. Won 5 (4.5f-1m) of 8 races, viz. 2 out of 2 at 2 years, 3 (inc. Prix de Fontainebleau-Gr3, Poule d'Essai des Poulains-Gr1) out of 6 at 3 years. RPR: 117 at 3. Earned E186,220.

Smallish (15.2hh), but strong, well-made individual. Among the best of an indifferent crop of 3-y-o male milers.

Well bred. By a high-class sprinter-miler and multiple champion sire. Half-brother to other winners by Green Desert, Spinning World and Rock Of Gibraltar. Dam won 3 of 7 races, inc. Prix de l'Opera-Gr2. Grand-dam (died aged 7) Gr3 winner and Gr2-placed at 2 in England, half-sister to minor winner in England and several winners in Scandinavia. Next dam winner, out of half-sister to Falkland, Averof and Tierra Fuego.

Stands at Rathasker Stud, Naas, County Kildare at a fee of E12,000 (Oct 1). Sire of 2 crops of racing age, inc. notable winners: Beacon Lodge (Gr3), Nahoodh (Falmouth S.-Gr1).

DAM MISE

Bred by Petra Bloodstock Agency in Ireland. Unraced.

Well bred. By a high-class sprinter and successful sire. Half-sister to 5 winners, inc. Not Just Swing (by King's Best; Gr3; Gr2-placed), Minoa (by Mujtahid; Listed), and Misplace (dam of Gr3-placed Mayweather). Dam Listed winner, Gr2-placed, half-sister to Miscast (winner, Gr2- placed).

Grand-dam winning half-sister to Mira Monte (winner, dam of 7 winners, inc. Montemiro Gr3 in US, Mountjoy Listed in France and Mirio Gr1 in France).

To stud at 4 years, and dam of: Nahoodh (2005 f by Clodovil; Gr1 winner), Silver Games (2006 f by Verglas; unraced to date. She has a yearling filly by Whipper (sold E85,000, Goffs November 2007), and was covered by King's Best in 2007.

CONCLUSION

Seemed desperately unlucky in the 1,000 Guineas, but Group 1 calibre no longer in doubt, at least on good or slower ground, and should continue to hold her own against the best of her sex.

CAPTION(S):

Nahoodh: a come-from-behind miler with a sharp turn of foot on good going or softer
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Jul 15, 2008
Words:1474
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