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Horse Racing: SPRINTER? NOT LIKELY! Pedigree analysis Greenham hero Red Clubs stakes his Guineas claim.

Byline: TONY MORRIS

RED CLUBS had an active first season, packing in nine races between April and October, so we had plenty of opportunities to gauge his aptitude. And when he bowed out as fourth in the Dewhurst, beaten more than five lengths by Sir Percy and Horatio Nelson, nothing seemed more obvious than that the seventh furlong had found him out.

He had managed three good victories before that at Goodwood, Newmarket and in the Group 2 Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot at York, and he had been runner-up in both the Gimcrack and the Middle Park. Six furlongs suited him best, and it seemed reasonable to conclude that he would be a sprinter at three.

But we saw a different Red Clubs when he made his seasonal reappearance in Saturday's Group 3 Greenham Stakes. Instead of weakening at the end of the sixth furlong, he quickened up decisively to establish his supremacy and he was still full of running at the finish, when Michael Hills was easing him down.

Before the race, many felt that his entry in the Guineas might be classed on the foolhardy side of optimistic' afterwards it seemed entirely realistic.

His trainer, who won the 2,000 with Tap On Wood and Haafhd, has always insisted that Red Clubs possessed sufficient stamina for a mile, and others are understandably prepared to agree with him now.

Those with long memories will recall that Tap On Wood, an even busier juvenile than Red Clubs, finished a long way behind Kris in the Horris Hill Stakes, the last of his 13 races at that age' on Guineas day, as a 20-1 shot, he extinguished Kris's unbeaten record with a clear-cut victory by a length and a half. If history is any guide, Sir Percy had better beware.

The idea that Red Clubs might 'just' be a sprinter did not spring only from his apparently failing to get home in the Dewhurst. His distaff pedigree, in several areas, suggested that speed would be his forte, and, in fact, allowed little optimism that he would own a degree of stamina.

His dam, Two Clubs, was a six-furlong specialist, beaten the only time she tried seven in Europe, and the best effort by her Bairn half-brother Gipsy Fiddler was as third in the Phoenix Stakes, also over six.

Her sire did all his winning at six furlongs, though he did run respectably up to a mile as a three-year-old' and his maternal grand-dam, if perhaps herself most effective at seven furlongs, was a sister to Petong, whose best performances brought him victories in the Stewards' Cup and Haydock Sprint Cup, and fourth places in both the Prix de Meautry and Diadem Stakes, all contested over six.

All of that indicates that Two Clubs was true to her inheritance in the racing aptitude she displayed. But let's not ignore the facts that she showed more merit than most in her female line, and that she constitutes only half of the pedigree of the Guineas aspirant who is her son.

Two Clubs, a 10,500gns purchase as a yearling at Doncaster, was trained by Julie Cecil at two and by William Jarvis at three. Each achieved considerable success with the daughter of First Trump, and though she did not achieve the cachet of a Pattern victory, unlike her sire's other notable fillies, Mrs P and Torosay Spring, she was probably the best of the trio. Two Clubs won three of her four starts as a juvenile, including the Listed Doncaster Stakes, and ran creditably in the Redcar Two-Year-Old Trophy, taking fourth place after a tardy start.

She seemed certain to improve at three, and she did, adding further wins in a rated stakes event at Newmarket and a Listed race at Maisons-Laffitte, but she perhaps looked even better in defeat, when Pipalong, at level weights, thwarted her by a short head in the Listed Wentworth Stakes at Doncaster.

By the end of that year, the 10,500gns yearling had become a 100,000gns horse in training, sold for export to the States.

As it turned out, the American excursion proved an unproductive exercise in terms of racing, as she started only twice, both times on grass, and failed to reach a place. But the trip also meant that her stud career began in Kentucky, and her second mating was with Red Ransom, then covering at Vinery for a fee of $50,000. She returned to Europe with Red Clubs inside her.

If we knew nothing of Red Ransom's record as a sire, we might jump to the conclusion that his mating with Two Clubs was most likely to deliver a sprinter.

His brief career, ended by injury when he suffered his first defeat in only his third race, featured nothing more exciting than a six-furlong allowance race win at Belmont Park.

But his pedigree had never marked him down as one likely to excel as a pure sprinter, and because he had earned rave reviews for his exploits in training, his lack of a stakes victory did not inhibit him on his retirement to stud' he served 96 mares in his initial season.

Of course, those were not starry mares, as his $7,500 fee had been set to attract quantity rather than quality, but from a daughter of Naskra he got Bail Out Becky, a Grade 1 winner in the Del Mar Invitational Oaks, and from mares by Sportin' Life and Val de l'Orne he got Grade 3 winners in Petrouchka and Upper Noosh.

No less significantly, he sired Sri Pekan, a triple Pattern-winning juvenile in England from a daughter of Son Ange. All scored their major wins on grass, as did Trail City and Wandering Star, the best of his second crop.

Red Ransom cannot boast the most even of stud records over the years, but that is not something we should necessarily expect of a horse whose fee has fluctuated between $7,500 and ten times that amount.

Still, it was disappointing that only two Grade 3 winners - Comic Strip and Stay Sound - emerged from the huge crop of 138 that resulted from his final season at the lowest amount, and that nothing of Graded calibre has yet appeared from the group of 60 born in 2002, which were conceived in his only year at $75,000.

Still, we need be in no doubt that Red Ransom is capable of getting winners in top company - Bail Out Becky, Perfect Sting, Ekraar, Casual Look and Electrocutionist have all scored at Grade 1 or Group 1 level.

Electrocutionist is a rare one to have mastered dirt as well as grass, while the record shows that distances beyond a mile suit most. If Red Ransom was the dominant partner in his mating with Two Clubs, their son may well relish the Rowley Mile.

SIRE RED RANSOM

Bred by Paul Mellon in Virginia. Won 2 (5-6f) of 3 starts, 2 out of 2 at 2 years, 0 out of 1 at 3 years. Earned $34,400.

Strong, 16.1hh, well-made sort. Speedy and precocious, but seemed likely to stay beyond a mile and establish himself in top-flight company until injury cut him short.

Well-bred. By a Derby winner and major sire, out of a winning half-sister to multiple Gr1 winner Winter's Tale. Grand-dam a winner, strongly inbred to brothers Pharos and Fairway.

Family of Classic winners Juliette Marny, Julio Mariner and Scintillate,

plus Be Careful, Showdown, Matatina, etc.

Stands at Dalham Hall Stud, Newmarket, at a fee of pounds 25,000. Sire of 13 crops of racing age, inc. notable winners: Bail Out Becky (Del Mar Oaks- Gr1), Petrouchka (Gr3), Sri Pekan (Gr2), Upper Noosh (Gr3), Trail City (Gr2), Wandering Star (Gr2), Intikhab (Gr2), Rojo Dinero (Gr3), Comic Strip (Gr3), Stay Sound (Gr3), Crystal Symphony (Gr3), Perfect Sting (Garden City H.-Gr1, Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup S.-Gr1, Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf-Gr1), Pico Teneriffe (Gr3), China Visit (Gr2), Ekraar (Gran Premio del Jockey Club-Gr1), Shining Hour (Gr3), Slew the Red (Gr3), New Economy (Gr2), Mr Mellon (Gr2), Van Rouge (Gr3), Cassis (Gr3), Casual Look (Oaks S.-Gr1), Fairly Ransom (Gr2), Ransom o' War (Gr2), Electrocutionist (Gran Premio di Milano-Gr1, York International S.-Gr1, Dubai World Cup-Gr1), Western Ransom (Gr3), Red Clubs (Gr2).

DAM TWO CLUBS

Bred by Messinger Stud Ltd in Britain. 10,500gns Doncaster St Leger yearling. Won 5 (6f) of 14 races, 3 (inc. 1 Listed) out of 4 at 2 years, 2 (inc. 1 Listed) out of 8 at 3 years, 0 out of 2 at 4 years. Also placed 2nd twice, 3rd once, 4th twice. Earned pounds 64,137. Timeform 100p at 2, 111 at 3.

Smart, honest and consistent sprinter in England and France. Never ran on really fast ground in Europe. Sold 100,000gns 1999 Tattersalls December Sales, unplaced in both races in US at 4. Good-bodied sort with a quick action. Probably the best runner by her sire, a 2-y-o Gr1 winner who retained his form at 3. The best of 8 winners from her dam, a sister to Petong (Gr2 winner at 6f, useful sire) who won 6 races, was placed 9 times, and also delivered Gr1-placed winner Gipsy Fiddler (by Bairn). A speed-oriented family. To stud at 5 years and dam of: Russian Hill (2002 g by Bahri' unraced), Red Clubs (2003 c by Red Ransom' Gr2 winner), Elusive Hawk (2004 c by Noverre' 170,000gns Tattersalls October 2 yearling, unraced to date). Her yearling is a colt by Hawk Wing, and she was covered by Fasliyev in 2005.

CONCLUSIONS

Won his Classic trial with a decisive turn of foot. Stamina for the Rowley Mile still problematical, and may depend on sire's influence

CAPTION(S):

Red Clubs: sprint-bred but showed at Newbury that the Guineas mile would be well within his compass
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Apr 25, 2006
Words:1640
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