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Horse Racing: Derby trip looks beyond Post ace; Pedigree analysis Ibn Khaldun Group 1 winner's family offers no stamina guarantee.

Byline: TONY MORRIS

GOING into the weekend, Ibn Khaldun already had a claim to be regarded as the most progressive colt of his generation; after it, that can hardly be doubted.

Green as grass on his Yarmouth debut at the end of August, he broke his maiden at Leicester a fortnight later, and before September was out he trotted up in an Ascot nursery off a mark of 85. After two more weeks he took the step up to Group 3 company in his stride, looking a class above his rivals in Ascot's Autumn Stakes.

In Saturday's Racing Post Trophy he was dominant again, travelling smoothly on the heels of the leaders until quickening on demand to stretch clear and win in decisive fashion. If this was not a vintage renewal of the Group 1 contest that routinely provides pointers to the following season's Classics, its winner was surely up to standard.

A well-bred and well-made individual, Ibn Khaldun has already proved his capacity to cope with both fast and soft ground, and there is every reason to believe he will make further progress over the winter. His pedigree - in particular, a family that is essentially all about speed - provides no guarantee of stamina for the Derby distance, but the way he has finished his races over 1m suggests 1m2f should be within his compass.

Ibn Khaldun comes from the first crop of 115 sired by Dubai Destination, a son of Kingmambo who cost EUR1.5 million as a Keeneland yearling, and who ranked among the best of his generation as both a two-and four-year-old. When he sped by Rock Of Gibraltar to win the Group 2 Champagne Stakes in his first race outside maiden company, he seemed to represent championship material, but a series of mishaps befell him, and it was not until the Royal Ascot of his third season that he graduated at the top level.

The first problem, with lameness behind, caused him to miss the Dewhurst (won by Rock Of Gibraltar), and before his return to competition the following May, a bruised foot had held up his training. He was beaten in that comeback race at Goodwood, probably for want of stamina over 1m3f, and shortly afterwards damaged his near-fore, resulting in another long layoff, much of it spent in Dubai.

Patience and perseverance finally earned their rewards when Dubai Destination returned for a confidence-restoring win in a minor conditions event at Nottingham, then delivered the best performance of his career, trotting up by four lengths in the Queen Anne Stakes, newly raised to Group 1 level. On that showing he had to be considered one of the best milers around, but he failed to replicate that form, turning in below-par efforts in his remaining races, the Prix Jacques le Marois and the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes.

Clearly fragile, but capable of top-class form when fully fit, Dubai Destination had plenty of fanciers in his first season at Dalham Hall, covering a book of 140 at a fee of pounds 25,000. And there was an excellent response to the first commercial yearlings, who averaged over 84,000gns, with a top price of 625,000gns for his colt out of Maskunah, subsequently named Skycruiser, and placed at Folkestone in the Godolphin colours.

Ibn Khaldun has not been through a sale ring. He is a Darley homebred, and the product of the high-class Gossamer, who notched Group 1 wins at both two and three for her breeder, the late Gerald Leigh. An unusual type of Sadler's Wells, successful on her debut over 6f, the diminutive filly progressed to a wide-margin win over 7f in the Group 3 Prestige Stakes at Goodwood, then comfortably landed the odds in the Fillies' Mile, from Peeping Fawn's dam, Maryinsky.

Gossamer started a hot favourite for the 1,000 Guineas on her return to action the following spring, but finished only eighth on ground that was possibly too fast for her. It was a different story on a soft surface at the Curragh, where she sprinted clear of her Irish 1,000 rivals a furlong from home to win by nearly five lengths.

Gossamer did not win again. She was again compromised by firm ground when last in the Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot, but in the Prix du Moulin she finished a creditable third behind Rock Of Gibraltar, and closed her career with an honest fifth in the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf, her only start at 1m2f.

Gossamer is a granddaughter of Canton Silk, one of Leigh's foundation mares, and a seemingly unlikely source of Group 1 material when he acquired her. By 5f specialist Runnymede - third in the Nunthorpe as a two-year-old and winner of the Palace House Stakes at four - she took after her sire, scoring four times over the minimum trip, but was only of quite modest handicap class.

MANY years afterwards, Leigh admitted his good fortune in having produced high-quality runners from matings which seemed to err on the side of optimism. "I was over-breeding the mare, which experience has taught me should not have been a sensible move," he said, "but it worked out remarkably well."

Canton Silk produced eight winners in all, and from the most extreme examples of over-breeding, with Habitat, the most expensive stallion of his day, she delivered a Group 2-placed colt in Cause Celebre and a Group 1-winning filly in Brocade, successful in the Prix de la Foret as a four-year-old.

Brocade, in turn, improved the family's record to an extraordinary degree, producing four winners in Pattern or Graded company. Free At Last (by Shirley Heights), who won at Grade 3 level in California, was her first foal, multiple Group 3 winner Zabar (by Dancing Brave) was her second, and Barathea (by Sadler's Wells), successful in the Irish 2,000 Guineas and the Breeders' Cup Mile was her fourth.

Gossamer, sister to Barathea, set the seal on a fine career at stud, which also featured two other Listed-placed daughters. In 2000, Brocatelle, Brocade's unsuccessful daughter by Green Desert, realised an astonishing 1,700,000gns at the December Sales.

Although staying sires have been regularly used on the family, it has continued to be noted more for speed than stamina, and even Sadler's Wells was unable to change its character, judging by the performances of Barathea and Gossamer, neither of whom was able to win beyond 1m. Kingmambo has had his share of 1m4f performers, and Dubai Destination will not get only milers, but the Derby distance is probably going to be beyond Ibn Khaldun's reach.

SIRE DUBAI DESTINATION

Bred by Calumet Farm in USA. EUR1,500,000 Keeneland July yearling. Won 4 (7f-1m) of 8 races, viz. 2 (inc. Champagne S.-Gr2) out of 3 at 2 years, 0 out of 1 at 3 years, 2 (inc. Queen Anne S.-Gr1) out of 4 at 4 years. Timeform 119p at 2, 119 at 3, 127 at 4. Earned pounds 235,631.

Rangy, attractive sort, 16.0 hh. Injury prone, but high-class miler at his best, with an excellent turn of foot. Acted on firm and good to soft.

Well bred. By a leading sire, half-brother to dual Gr1 winner Librettist. Dam ran only twice, half-sister to top-class sprinter Agnes World (by Danzig), Japanese champion sprinter-miler Hishi Akebono (by Woodman), and US Listed winner My Sea Castles (by Polish Navy).

Granddam Gr3-placed, half-sister to 6 winners. Third dam Gr3 winner in France.

Stands at Dalham Hall Stud, Newmarket, at a fee of pounds 15,000. Sire of one crop of racing age, inc. notable winner: Ibn Khaldun (Racing Post Trophy-Gr1).

DAM GOSSAMER

Bred by Gerald W. Leigh in Britain. Won 4 (6f-1m) of 8 races, viz. 3 (inc. Prestige S.-Gr3, Fillies' Mile-Gr1) out of 3 at 2 years, 1 (Irish 1,000 Guineas-Gr1) out of 5 at 3 years. Timeform 114p at 2, 118 at 3. Earned pounds 283,988.

Small, well-made individual. High-class performer, stayed 1m2f. Acted on any going, best on soft.

Well bred. By the best sire of modern times. Sister to top-class miler Barathea, half-sister to Gr3 winners Free At Last (by Shirley Heights) and Zabar (by Dancing Brave). Dam Gr1 winner at 7f, sister to Gr2-placed Cause Celebre, half-sister to 6 other winners inc. Royal Pinnacle (Listed winner), Canton Lightning (Listed-placed; dam of US Listed winner Chenille) and Organza (Listed-placed; dam of multiple Gr3 winner Desert Style).

To stud at 4, and dam of: So Silk (2004 f by Rainbow Quest; unraced), Ibn Khaldun (2005 c by Dubai Destination; Gr1 winner). She has a yearling filly by Elusive Quality and a colt-foal by Cape Cross.

CONCLUSIONS

Emphatic Group 1 win augurs well for 2008 Classic campaign. Should stay 1m2f, but stamina for 1m4f more problematical.

CAPTION(S):

Ibn Khaldun (Kerrin McEvoy) looks a major prospect for 2008 as he lands the Racing Post Trophy in style
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Oct 30, 2007
Words:1481
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