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Horse Racing: Former Derby hope excelling at a mile; Pedigree analysis Versatile globe-trotter comes good in Italy.

Byline: TONY MORRIS

IN the 19th century, the thoroughbred was a versatile creature and nobody paid too much attention to race distances.

It was unremarkable that Prince Charlie should come back after finishing second in the St Leger and win 19 races over the next two seasons, most of them at 5f or 6f.

And it was nothing special when Ormonde, with the 1886 Triple Crown already secured, trotted up in the following year's July Cup. After all, Tristan had won a July Cup and a Gold Cup, and had started an odds-on favourite for both.

In addition, three horses - Rosebery, Foxhall and Plaisanterie - had won both the Cesarewitch and the Cambridgeshire (in that order) in the same season. And how about Virago, who won the City and Suburban (1m2f) and the Great Metropolitan (2m2f) under a penalty on the same afternoon, then won handicaps at York over 2m and 1m4f before her victory in the 1,000 Guineas?

Things are different in our more specialised era, so that when Ajdal, beaten less than seven lengths in the Derby, proceeded to win the July Cup, the Nunthorpe and the Haydock Sprint on his next three appearances, there was general amazement. Horses are not supposed to do that sort of thing these days.

But horses can still be versatile in terms of distance if they are trained appropriately; Australian racing regularly provides examples of leading performers who are equally effective over 1m and 2m. Only the out-and-out sprinters tend to keep to a narrow range of distances.

One current horse from a European pedigree background who has shown form over a variety of trips is Linngari, and as he is by a sprinter out of a mare by a dual Derby winner who showed her best form at 1m4f that ought not to be surprising. But the fact that he has had four different trainers may also have something to do with his versatility.

By Indian Ridge, whose best win came at Group 2 level over 5f in the King's Stand Stakes, but whose progeny included plenty who proved capable at middle distances, Linngari hails from a solid Aga Khan family noted for high-class performers at around 1m4f. Sir Michael Stoute trained him as he would any of the Aga's colts, for whom the Derby is always the prime objective.

After a third on his debut, Linngari won the other two of his races as a juvenile, both at around 7f. His return at three was delayed until mid-May, but Epsom was still on the agenda, so he was pointed at the Lingfield Trial, run over half a furlong short of the Derby distance.

It could hardly be said that he did not stay, as he finished not much more than three lengths behind the winner, Kong, and the form looked better when the runner-up, Walk In The Park, went on to finish second in the Derby.

Linngari, still very much on the leg and weak, did not go to Epsom, and nor did he run over so long a trip again. Having won his last two races at three, over an extended 1m1f at Hamilton and an extended 1m in Listed company at Haydock, he departed to join Herman Brown in Dubai, where he opened his third season with a brace of wins over similar distances in races classified locally as Group 3 and Group 2.

After a dull effort in the Group 1 Dubai Duty Free he was off the scene for four months, and when he came back, in France, Diego Lowther campaigned him as a sprinter, running him at trips he had never tried before.

In all four of his races in Lowther's care - as sixth in the Group 1 Prix Maurice de Gheest (6.5f), winner of Germany's top sprint, the Group 2 Goldene Peitsche (6f), dead-heater for second in the Group 1 Prix de la Foret (7f), and close fourth in the Group 3 Prix de Seine-et-Oise (6f) - he showed that he could compete with Europe's best over short distances.

Back in the care of Brown, Linngari made unsuccessful visits to Hong Kong before and after another stint in Dubai, where he won a Group 2 over 1m and ran second, beaten only half a length by Admire Moon, in the Dubai Duty Free.

Returned to France, this time to Alain de Royer-Dupre, he has continued to race at around 1m and finally won at the top level over that trip when outpointing Golden Titus and Echo Of Light in Sunday's Premio Vittorio di Capua at San Siro.

Linngari has shown talents that he might have acquired from either parent, which is what we might expect in a situation where father and mother each contribute 50 per cent of the genes in their offspring. But what we tend to find - in Europe, anyway - is that one dominates the other in terms of distance requirement.

Indian Ridge showed early that he could get a son capable of getting longer distances than he stayed himself, when Definite Article (out of a mare by champion sprinter Moorestyle) failed narrowly in the 1995 Irish Derby.

THE stallion, who died a year ago at the age of 21, was responsible for eight Group 1/Grade 1 winners - Namid at 5f, Compton Place at 6f, Definite Article at 7f, Ridgewood Pearl, Domedriver, Indian Haven and Linngari at 1m, while Indian Ink has scored at both 6f and 1m. But his son Relaxed Gesture scored at 1m4f in the Canadian International, which ranks as Grade 1 in Canada while not featuring in the North American Graded Stakes scheme.

Linngari's dam, Lidakiya, was unraced at two and did not compete at less than 1m2f in six starts as a three-year-old. She showed decent, progressive form, winning three times, and was never out of the frame until her last race at Newcastle, a Listed handicap in which she carried top weight; she had every excuse for that failure, as her saddle slipped when she was well in contention a furlong from home.

Linngari comes from an excellent family developed by Marcel Boussac and acquired by the Aga Khan in his bulk purchase of the bankrupt textile magnate's stock in the late 1970s. The five-year-old's grand-dam, Lilissa, was bred on similar lines to Boussac's last major winner, Acamas (by Mill Reef out of Licata), who scored in the 1978 Prix du Jockey-Club, being by a son of Mill Reef out of a grand-daughter of Licata.

Licata was one of the jewels in the collection derived from Boussac, as she promptly gave the Aga winners of the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud (Akarad) and the Arc de Triomphe (Akiyda), her son and daughter by Labus. Linngari now ranks as her most distinguished descendant since those celebrities of the early 1980s.

SIRE INDIAN RIDGE

Bred by Bill & Averil Whitehead in Ireland. Ir22,000gns Goffs yearling.

Won 5 (5-7f) of 11 races, viz. 2 out of 4 at 2 years, 1 (Jersey Stakes-Gr3) out of 4 at 3 years, 2 (Duke of York Stakes-Gr3, King's Stand Stakes-Gr2) out of 3 at 4 years. Timeform 93 at 2, 123d at 3, 123 at 4. Earned pounds 111,744.

Lengthy, attractive, 16.0 hh. Excellent mover with a quick action, but a hard puller, difficult to settle. Too impetuous to get a mile, but bred to be better over shorter trips anyway.

Not excitingly bred. The best sprinter by his sire (a somewhat surprising stud success) and about his equal in merit. Out of a dual 2-y-o winner from the family of Marisela (2nd in 1,000 Guineas), Red Bishop (Gr3 winner in England, Gr1 winner in California), and Pennine Ridge (Gr2 winner in USA).

Deceased. Stood at Irish National Stud, Tully, Co. Kildare, last fee (2006) E75,000 (Oct. 1). Sire of 15 crops of racing age, inc. notable winners: Fumo Di Londra (Gr3), Island Magic (Gr3), Ridgewood Ben (Gr3), Blomberg (Gr3), Definite Article (National Stakes-Gr1), Ridgewood Pearl (Irish 1,000 Guineas-Gr1, Coronation Stakes-Gr1, Prix du Moulin de Longchamp-Gr1, Breeders' Cup Mile-Gr1), Tumbleweed Ridge (Gr3), Compton Place (July Cup-Gr1), Handsome Ridge (Gr2), Indian Rocket (Gr2), Cassandra Go (Gr2), Namid (Prix de l'Abbaye de Longchamp-Gr1), St Clair Ridge (Gr3), Indian Mary (Gr3), Nicobar (Gr2), Domedriver (Breeders' Cup Mile-Gr1), Indian Creek (Gr2), Munir (Gr2), Nayyir (Gr2), Monturaini (Gr2), Indian Haven (Irish 2,000 Guineas-Gr1), Imperial Stride (Gr2), Sleeping Indian (Gr2), Snow Ridge (Gr2), Linngari (Premio Vittorio di Capua-Gr1), Indian Ink (Cheveley Park S.-Gr1, Coronation S.-Gr1).

DAM LIDAKIYA

Bred by HH the Aga Khan's Studs SC in Ireland. Ran only at 3 years, won 3 (1m2f-1m4f) of 6 races. Also placed 2nd and 4th. Timeform 105p. Earned pounds 22,053.

Small, quite well-made sort. Useful middle-distance handicapper, stayed 1m4f well, promised to get further. Untried on really soft ground, effective on any other. Well bred. By a dual Derby winner and successful sire. Half-sister to Gr1-placed Listed winner Livadiya (by Shernazar) and to Gr3-placed Liska (by Bigstone). Dam won 2 races, half-sister to Gr3 winner Linnga and Gr1-placed Liyoun.

Grand-dam won 2 races, out of a winning half-sister to Acamas (Prix du Jockey-Club), Akarad (Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud) and Akiyda (Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe). Outstanding family, formerly in Boussac stud. To stud at 4 years, and dam of: Linngari (2002c by Indian Ridge; Gr1 winner), Liakiya (2003 f by Dr Fong; winner), Lilanda (2004 f by Grand Lodge; placed), Lidana (2005 f by King's Best; unraced to date). Barren to Galileo in 2006, but has a colt-foal by Gulch.

CONCLUSION

Well deserved Group 1 win for a horse proficient over a variety of trips.

CAPTION(S):

The Aga Khan-bred Linngari (right) has shown he can compete with Europe's best over short trips
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Oct 25, 2007
Words:1622
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