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Mile winner betters early expectations; Family lines suggest best is yet to come from Clive Brittain's filly.

Byline: Hibaayeb

THE first time I was let loose on a Flat racecourse, entrusted with writing a report on the day's events, was at Folkestone. And I thought I had done rather well, focusing on a performance by a juvenile that smacked of genuine quality.

My editor was not so pleased. He told me it was quite ridiculous to suggest, as I had, that a winning debutant at the little east Kent course might succeed in one of the hot two-year-old events at Royal Ascot, and reminded me, for the umpteenth time, that I had a lot to learn.

As it turned out, Falcon, the colt I'd admired, started 11-8 favourite for the New (now Norfolk) Stakes, made all the running and trotted up by four lengths. He wound up rated fourth-best of the crop, behind only Bold Lad, Royal Palace and Ribocco in the 1966 Free Handicap.

Even so, it was true then, and remains true now, that only a very rare horse stops off at Folkestone en route to stardom. Kris did, and Pivotal emulated him, but it would be hard to extend the list much further.

And at least both of those subsequent top-level colts were winners on their day trips from Suffolk to Kent. If any reporter had predicted an imminent Group 1 victory for the runner-up in the EBF Maiden Fillies' Stakes at Folkestone in August this year, I would have called the assertion irresponsible.

Hibaayeb had been comfortably beaten by Eolith and Pollenator on her debut over 7f of the Newmarket July course, and her Folkestone effort next time out, when a neck second to Creese over the same distance, did not seem to represent an improvement in her level of form.

How those performances even began to warrant her appearance in the line-up for the Group 2 DFS May Hill Stakes only Clive Brittain knew, so punters understandably dismissed her as the 40-1 outsider of the septet.

It was hard to know quite what to make of her apparently meritorious second place there, half a length behind her old rival Pollenator, but a length in front of the supposed good thing, the much-vaunted Seta. The step up to 1m had no doubt helped, but could she really have improved by the best part of two stone in under three weeks? It was tempting to believe that she was flattered by the Doncaster result.

We can read the situation differently now, recognising - as has often proved to be the case over the years - that Brittain knew more than the rest of us about the merits of his horse. Hibaayeb was better than we imagined before the May Hill, her form in that race was no fluke, and she improved again when losing her maiden tag in Saturday's Group 1 Fillies' Mile at Ascot.

It would be unrealistic to suggest that Hibaayeb's performance at the weekend matched up to some we have witnessed in the Meon Valley-sponsored event in the past. The field seemed to be below par, the pace was not strong, the come-from-behind contenders never promised to figure and another set of stewards may have taken a different view of the winner's wayward progress in the final furlong, which unquestionably did runner-up Lady Darshaan and fourth-placed Sent From Heaven no favours.

But let's be in no doubt that Hibaayeb is a game and progressive filly who has exceeded expectations by scoring at the top level as a juvenile. Her pedigree would have led many to suppose that she would not come into her own until her second season and then would need middle distances to realise her potential.

We hardly need to revise that assessment. What she has achieved so far may be counted as a bonus, and we should expect her to become more formidable as a three-year-old, with the Oaks, rather than the Guineas, as the more suitable target.

Hibaayeb comes from the ninth crop by the globetrotting Singspiel, a half-brother to Rahy who improved season to season for four years, collecting big prizes in Canada, Japan and Dubai, before reaching new peaks at home when winning twice at Group 1 level in the Coronation Cup at Epsom and York's Juddmonte International in his final campaign. He was the best son of his sire, In The Wings, who himself held sway as the foremost stallion son of Sadler's Wells until Montjeu and Galileo came along.

Singspiel's record in terms of runners to foals does not seem great, but his ratio of winners to runners is good, and he gets a high percentage capable of a three-figure RPR. In keeping with his own racing profile, his stock tend to improve for age and experience, and middle distances suit.

IN 2007 he had only three individual home-based juveniles, a tally matched in 2008, when the best of them was Dialogue, a colt out of Hibaayeb's grand-dam who has not proved typical of his sire's progeny, having performed very disappointingly this term. And while we have negative factors in mind, we should perhaps note that Kattar, the three-year-old full-brother to Hibaayeb, must currently be ranked among the worst horses in training, having finished a well-beaten fourth of four in each of his last two races, at Folkestone and Epsom.

But we may be confident that Hibaayeb is not going to emulate those close relations, and take heart from the fact that since the days of Dubai World Cup hero Moon Ballad and Gold Cup victor Papineau, from his first two crops, Singspiel has excelled with his daughters. Confidential Lady won the Prix de Diane in 2006, Lahudood scored at the Breeders' Cup in 2007, Folk Opera took the E.P. Taylor Stakes last year, and Dar Re Mi has collected a brace of Group 1s this term.

We should also note that the first runner out of Hibaayeb's dam Lady Zonda - twice successful herself - was May Meeting, a winning daughter who placed in Listed company, and many of the family's best representatives in recent generations have been fillies.

Grand-dam Zonda was out of an unraced sister to Roussalka, who won the Nassau twice and the Sun Chariot in the days when those races had Group 2 status, and was noted again at stud as third dam of the 1,000 Guineas heroine Ameerat.

Better still was Roussalka's younger half-sister Oh So Sharp, who won the Fillies' Mile in 1984 and subsequently earned distinction as the last heroine of the Fillies' Triple Crown, short-heading Al Bahathri in the Guineas, giving Triptych a drubbing in the Oaks and making her class tell against the colts in the St Leger.

It will come as a surprise if Hibaayeb reaches the heights attained by Oh So Sharp in 2010, but she is already a credit to her family and promises to enhance her reputation as a three-year-old.

SIRE SINGSPIEL Bred by Sheikh Mohammed in Ireland. Won 9 (7f-1m4f) of 20 races, viz. 1 out of 3 at 2 years, 1 (Listed) out of 6 at 3 years, 4 (Gordon Richards S.-Gr3, Select S.-Gr3, Canadian International S.-Gr1, Japan Cup-Gr1) out of 7 at 4 years, 3 (Dubai World Cup-Listed, Coronation Cup-Gr1, York International S.-Gr1) out of 4 at 5 years. Also 2nd in Coronation Cup and Breeders' Cup Turf at 4, 4th in King George VI & Queen Elizabeth S. at 5. RPR: 96 at 2, 123 at 3, 126 at 4, 130 at 5. Earned pounds 3,424,158.

Strong, medium-sized (15.3hh), lengthy type. Tough and consistent, effective on any ground, top-class from 1m2f-1m4f. Retired after having fractured off-fore cannon bone shortly before 1997 Breeders' Cup Turf.

The best runner by Sadler's Wells' successful European sire-son, half-brother to Rahy (by Blushing Groom; Gr1-placed in England, Gr2 winner in US, sire of Fantastic Light) and Rakeen (by Northern Dancer; Gr2 winner and leading sire in South Africa).

Dam best of her sex at 4 in North America, sister to Devil's Bag (champion 2-y-o) and Saint Ballado (Gr2 winner), both respectable sires.

Stands at Dalham Hall Stud at a fee of pounds 15,000. Sire of 9 crops of racing age, inc. notable winners: Moon Ballad (Dubai World Cup-Gr1), Papineau (Gold Cup-Gr1), Singhalese (Del Mar Oaks-Gr1), Confidential Lady (Prix de Diane-Gr1), Lahudood (Flower Bowl Invitational S.-Gr1, Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf S.-Gr1), Lateral (Gran Criterium-Gr1), Mulaqat (Gr3), Folk Opera (Gr2), Silkwood (Gr2), Dar Re Mi (Pretty Polly S.-Gr1, Yorkshire Oaks-Gr1), Hibaayeb (Fillies' Mile-Gr1).

DAM LADY ZONDA Bred by Mohammed Jumah al Nabouda in England. Raced only as a 3-y-o, won 2 (7f-1m) of 12 starts. Also 3rd twice. RPR 98. Earned pounds 22,626.

Tall, sparely made. Useful but not very consistent. Effective at 7f-1m. Presumably needed good or faster ground, unraced on soft.

Quite well bred. By a good miler, inconsistent sire, brother to Gone West. Half-sister to 7 other winners, inc. Listed-placed pair Zoning (by Warning) and Zambezi (by Rahy). Dam won 4 races, Listed-placed.

Grand-dam unraced sister to multiple Pattern winner Roussalka (also dam of Gr2 winner Ristna, 3rd dam of Gr1 winners Ameerat and Collier Hill), half-sister to numerous other winners, inc. Oh So Sharp (Fillies' Triple Crown, dam of Gr1 winner Rosefinch and Gr2 winner Shaima, and grand-dam of St Leger winner Shantou).Excellent family.

To stud at 4 and dam of: Miss Respect (2004 f by Mark Of Esteem; unraced), May Meeting (2005 f by Diktat; Listed-placed winner), Kattar (2006 c by Singspiel; unplaced), Hibaayeb (2007 f by Singspiel; Gr1 winner). She has a yearling colt by Halling (lot 1291 at Tattersalls, October 14) and a filly foal by Refuse To Bend.

CONCLUSIONS Broke her maiden with notable win at Gr1 level. Bred to be better over middle distances as a three-year-old.

HIBAAYEB b f 20-4-2007 Northern Dancer Nearctic Natalma Sadler's Wells Fairy Bridge Bold Reason Special In The Wings Shirley Heights Mill Reef Hardiemma High Hawk Sunbittern Sea Hawk Pantoufle Singspiel (b 1992) Hail To Reason Turn-To Nothirdchance Halo Cosmah Cosmic Bomb Almahmoud Glorious Song Herbager Vandale Flagette Ballade Miss Swapsco Cohoes Soaring Raise A Native Dancer Raise You Mr Prospector Gold Digger Nashua Sequence Lion Cavern Secretariat Bold Ruler Somethingroyal Secrettame Tamerett Tim Tam Mixed Marriage Lady Zonda (b 1999) Northern Dancer Nearctic Natalma Fabulous Dancer Last Of The Line The Axe Bryonia Zonda Habitat Sir Gaylord Little Hut Oh So Hot Oh So Fair Graustark Chandelle Bred by Rabbah Bloodstock Ltd in England.

CAPTION(S):

Hibaayeb sees off Lady Darshaan to win Ascot's Fillies' Mile, emulating distant relation Oh So Sharp
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Sep 29, 2009
Words:1757
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