Thursday, 20 December 2018

Habibti Wins Nunthorpe Stakes For John Dunlop 1983

Habibti Wins Nunthorpe Stakes For John Dunlop 1983
Foaled in Ireland on March 29, 1980, Habibti was a daughter of Habitat, a sire renowned for speed and precocity, out of Klairessa, a full-sister to D’Urberville, who won the King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot in 1968. As a yearling, she was bought for 141,011 guineas by Kuwaiti Mohammed Mutawa – ‘Habibti’ is, in fact, an Arabic term of endearment, which translates as “my darling” – and subsequently put into training with the late John Dunlop at Castle Stables in Arundel, West Sussex. She would be ridden for most of her career by Willie Carson. 

Unbeaten in three starts as a juvenile, including the Lowther Stakes at York and the Moyglare Stud Stakes at the Curragh, both over 6 furlongs, Habibti started her three-year-old campaign in the Fred Darling Stakes, over 7 furlongs, at Newbury. Despite starting favourite, she weakened in the closing stages to finish fifth of nine, beaten 5 lengths, behind Goodbye Shelley. Stepped up to a mile, Habibti was fourth past the post – subsequently promoted to third – in the 1,000 Guineas at Newmarket and only ninth, on soft ground, in the Irish equivalent at the Curragh just over three weeks later. 

However, John Dunlop took the – what, in hindsight, proved to be inspirational – decision to switch her back to sprinting and Habibti next lined up, against the older horses, in the July Cup, over 6 furlongs, at Newmarket. In that race, she met the prolific four-year-old filly, Soba, trained in Yorkshire by David Chapman and dubbed ‘Queen of the North’ after winning 11 races, including the Stewards’ Cup at Goodwood, in her three-year-old season, for the first time. Ridden by regular partner, David ‘Dandy’ Nicholls, Soba forced the pace on the far side rail at Newmarket, but was overwhelmed in the closing stages by Habibti, who produced a strong finishing burst to win comfortably by 2½ lengths. 

The following month, the pair met again in the Nunthorpe Stakes, or the William Hill Sprint Championship, as the race was known at the time, over 5 furlongs, at York. Soba was, in fact, 2lb better off at the weights and strongly fancied to beat Habibti, who was tackling the minimum trip for the first time. The fillies dominated once again; Soba led by two lengths or so approaching the final furlong, but in the closing stages was soon joined, and passed, by Habibti, who was eased down close home to win, comfortably, by 1½ lengths, with a yawning 6-length gap to the third horse, Fine Edge. In fact, not only was Soba beaten, but also later suffered the ignominy of being disqualified and placed last, after causing interference early in the race. 
Habibti emphasised her dominance of the European sprinting scene by beating Soba twice more in 1983, by 7 lengths in the Vernons Sprint Cup, back over 6 furlongs, at Haydock in September, and by a length in the Prix de l’Abbaye de Longchamp, over 5 furlongs, in October, breaking the course record in the process.

At the end of her three-year-old campaign, Habibti was awarded a Timeform Annual Rating of 136, which was, at the time, the highest awarded to any filly or mare aged three years or above since Timeform ratings were first published in 1948. In fact, Habibti remains the joint highest-rated filly or mare, alongside Allez France and Black Caviar, of the Timeform era. She was, unsurprisingly, named Timeform Horse of the Year in 1983.

Related stories: John Dunlop's Most Notable Horses

Related stories: Kyllachy Win Nunthorpe Stakes For Henry Candy 2002

Thursday, 13 December 2018

Kingsgate Native Wins Nunthorpe Stakes (Group 1)

Kingsgate Native Wins Nunthorpe Stakes
Foaled in Ireland on February 20, 2005, Kingsgate Native was sired by Mujadil, a prolific source of precocious, speedy types, out of Native Force, by high-class sprinter Indian Ridge. Owned by former bookmaker John Mayne and trained, initially, by John Best at Scragged Oak Farm in Hucking, near Maidstone, Kent, Kingsgate Native missed his intended racecourse debut twice, at Goodwood because of a passport irregularity and at York because of a waterlogged track, before connections decided to send him straight to the Windsor Castle Stakes, over 5 furlongs, at Royal Ascot. 

Ridden by George Baker, Kingsgate Native belied odds of 66/1 by finishing second of 20, beaten just a head, by Drawnfromthepast, trained by Jamie Osborne. Consequently, on his next start, in the Molecomb Stakes, also over 5 furlongs, at Goodwood the following month, he lined up as 4/1 second favourite behind 5/2 favourite, Starlit Sands, trained by Sir Mark Prescott, who’d been beaten just half a length in the Queen Mary Stakes at Royal Ascot on her previous start. 

The field split and jockey George Baker, having initially headed for the far side, realised his mistake and belatedly switched to the stands’ side at halfway. Kingsgate Native disputed the lead inside the final furlong but, despite running on well in the closing stages, was held in the last 50 yards or so and beaten a neck by subsequent Cheveley Park Stakes runner-up Fleeting Spirit, trained by Jeremy Noseda. 

Despite still officially being a maiden, in August, Kingsgate Native was stepped up to Group One level in the Nunthorpe Stakes, again over 5 furlongs, at York. He was described by Timeform as a ‘strong, lengthy’ colt and was clearly precocious, so lacked nothing in terms of the size or maturity required to take on older horses at the early stage of his career. His connections were also, no doubt, tempted by the generous 24lb weight allowance offered to two-year-olds in the Nunthorpe Stakes. 

Carrying just 8st 1lb, and ridden for the first time by lightweight jockey Jimmy Quinn, Kingsgate Native was sent off 12/1 seventh choice of the 16 runners in the Nunthorpe Stakes behind 9/4 favourite Dandy Man. He took a keen hold in the early stages but, having chased the leaders, led in the centre of the course approaching the final furlong and, despite edging left in the closing stages, kept on strongly to beat Desert Lord by 1¾ lengths. In so doing, Kingsgate Native caused a considerable upset and became the first two-year-old to win the Nunthorpe Stakes since Lyric Fantasy in 1992. 

Having beaten the older sprinters, at the highest level, on just his third start, Kingsgate Native proved his Nunthorpe Stakes win was no fluke by finishing second, after missing the break, to Benbaun in the Prix de l’Abbaye de Longchamp on the final start of his two-year-old season in October and by winning the Golden Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot the following June. He subsequently ran in the Nunthorpe Stakes another five times, in 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2013, but never won the race again. 

His best subsequent finish came in 2008, when he finished third, beaten 1½ lengths, behind Borderlescott in a rescheduled race run on the July Course at Newmarket. Indeed, in 2009, Kingsgate Native was bought by Cheveley Park Stud and retired from racing, but returned to training with Sir Michael Stoute after proving infertile. That year, he finished sixth, when favourite, behind Borderslescott again, in 2010 he finished sixth behind shock 100/1 winner Sole Power, in 2011 he finished fourth behind Margot Did and, in 2013, on his final attempt, when trained by Robert Cowell, he finished fifth behind lesser-fancied stable companion Jwala.

Related stories: Man Vs Horse (No contest) 

Lochsong Wins Nunthorpe Stakes (Group 1) In 1993

Lochsong Wins Nunthorpe Stakes (Group 1) In 1993
Bred and owned by Jeffrey C. Smith, in whose familiar purple and light blue colours she raced, Lochsong was one of the top sprinters in Europe in the early Nineties. Foaled on 26 April 1988, Lochsong was a daughter of Song, a noted sire of sprinters, and between August 1991, and November 1994, won 15 of her 27 races, including the Nunthorpe Stakes and two consecutive renewals of the Prix de l’Abbaye de Longchamp. Her trademark fast-starting, front-running style earned her the nickname of ‘Queen of Speed’ and huge public acclaim. 

Lochsong arrived at Park House Stables in Kingsclere, near Newbury, Berkshire as a big, backward youngster, but was sent home by trainer Ian Balding, as a three-year-old, before she had even set foot on a racecourse. Thankfully, she thrived sufficiently to return to training and made her racecourse debut in a maiden stakes race, over 7 furlongs, at Salisbury, in August 1991. She finished second on that occasion, but she won her maiden, over 6 furlongs, at Redcar in October and followed up in an apprentices’ handicap, over 7 furlongs, at Newbury.

In April 1992, on her four-year-old debut, Lochsong was beaten 1¼ lengths in a lowly 0-80 handicap, over 6 furlongs, at Pontefract, off a handicap mark of 72. However, as she reached physical and mental maturity, later that year she won the Stewards’ Cup at Goodwood, the Portland Handicap at Doncaster and the Ayr Gold Cup – the first time all three had been won by the same horse in the same season – before earning her first ‘black type’ by finishing second in the Diamed Stakes at Ascot on her final start of the season. 

On her five-year-old debut, in May 1993, she was beaten half a length by Paris House, trained by Jack Berry, in the Palace House Stakes, over 5 furlongs, at Newmarket and finished 3 lengths behind the same horse, when the favourite, in the Temple Stakes at Sandown two starts later. However, on 4lb better terms, Lochsong reversed the earlier form when the pair met again in the King George Stakes at Goodwood in July, beating Paris House by a head. 

Lochsong subsequently stepped up to Group One level for the first time in the Nunthorpe Stakes at York, a race in which she met Paris House for the fourth time that year, but on 8lb worse terms compared with Goodwood. Favourite for the Nunthorpe Stakes, despite never having run, never mind won, over 5 furlongs, was College Chapel, trained by Vincent O’Brien and Lester Piggott, at 9/4, with Paris House sent off at 4/1 second favourite and Lochsong 10/1 sixth choice of the 11 runners. 

Ridden for the fourth time in her career by Lanfranco ‘Frankie’ Dettori, who’d won on her on her two previous starts, Lochsong made all the running, was always going well and quickened away in the closing stages to readily beat Paris House by 1½ lengths, with College Chapel a never-nearer third, a further three-quarters of a length away. On her final start of the season, in the Prix de l’Abbaye de Longchamp, Lochsong confirmed her status as virtually unbeatable over 5 furlongs, when on song, by again making all to win unchallenged by 6 lengths. In fact, that year she was named Cartier Horse of the Year, making her the only sprinter of the Nineties to receive that accolade.

Monday, 10 December 2018

Dayjur Wins The Nunthorpe Stakes For Major Dick Hern 1990

Dayjur Wins The Nunthorpe Stakes For Major Dick Hern
Owned by Sheikh Hamdan Al-Maktoum and trained by the late Major W.R. ‘Dick’ Hern, Dayjur was one of two extraordinary sprinters ridden by Willie Carson. The other was, of course, the filly Habibti, trained by the late John Dunlop, who also won the Nunthorpe Stakes, the Ladbroke Sprint Cup and the Prix de l’Abbaye de Longchamp in her three-year-old campaign. 

Foaled in Kentucky on February 6, 1987, Dayjur was bred to be exceptionally smart. He was, in fact, descended from two of best stallions ever produced in America. His sire, Danzig, was a son of Northern Dancer, the most influential sire of the twentieth century, and an outstanding stallion in his own right, while his dam, Gold Beauty, was a daughter of Mr. Prospector, another superb stallion, and was named Champion Sprinter of 1982.

Dayjur raced just twice as a juvenile, easily winning the EBF Kennett Maiden Stakes, over 6 furlongs, on his racecourse debut at Newbury in June, 1989 at odds of 8/15, before being beaten half a length by Rushmore, trained by Clive Brittain, in the Manton Rose Bowl Stakes, over the same course and distance the following month, at odds of 8/13. His defeat in the latter contest was blamed on a wind ailment and, after remedial ‘Hobday’ surgery, he reappeared in the European Free Handicap – regarded as a Classic Trial at the time – over 7 furlongs at Newmarket the following April. Despite starting 4/1 favourite, Dayjur was never able to challenge and eventually finished seventh of ten, beaten 6¼ lengths, behind Anshan, who subsequently finished third in the 2,000 Guineas 17 days later. 

Dayjur subsequently ran in two minor conditions races, the Headingley Stakes at Nottingham and the HueWilliams Stakes at Newbury, both over 6 furlongs. In the former, he only had to be pushed out in the final furlong to win by 2 lengths, but in the latter, despite running on well in the closing stages, was beaten a head by 20/1 outsider Tod, trained by Jack Berry. 

Nevertheless, ten days later, Dayjur tackled the minimum trip, older horses and Pattern company for the first time in the Sears Temple Stakes at Sandown Park. He was, in fact, the only three-year-old in the field, but made all and ran on well to beat the four-year-olds Tigani and Statoblest – who’d finished fourth and third, respectively, in the William Hill Sprint Championship at York the previous August – by 2 lengths and half a length. 

Dayjur would go on to win four more Pattern races that season, the King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot, the Nunthorpe Stakes at York, the Ladbroke Sprint Cup at Haydock and the Prix de l’Abbaye de Longchamp, all with plenty in hand, and was unlucky not to win the Breeders’ Cup Sprint at Belmont Park on the final start of his career. In the latter contest, having seemingly taken the measure of the reigning U.S. Champion Sprinter, Safely Held, Dayjur inexplicably fly-jumped shadows twice in the closing stages and was beaten a neck.

Dubbed ‘the fastest horse in the world’ by the Racing Post, Dayjur produced his most memorable performance on British soil in the Nunthorpe Stakes at York on August 23, 1990. Sent off favourite, at 8/11, despite tackling Group One company for the first time, he once again made all the running, as he had at Sandown and Ascot, and stayed on strongly in the final quarter of a mile for a very impressive 4-length win over his old rival Statoblest. In so doing, Dayjur not only set a course record, of 56.16 seconds, which still stands, but also recorded a time figure equivalent to a Timeform Annual Rating of 142. At the end of his career, he had won seven of his 11 races, finished second three times and earned just over £327,000 in prize money.