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

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.

Tuesday, 4 December 2018

Borderlescott The Fastest Nunthorpe Stakes Winner

Borderlescott The Fastest Nunthorpe Stakes Winner
Owned by James Edgar and William Donaldson and trained by Robin Bastiman at Goosemore Farm in Cowthorpe, near Wetherby, North Yorkshire, Borderlescott was one of the most popular horses in training in his prime. Sired by top-class sprinter Compton Place out of Jeewan, a minor race winner, but from the family of Roberto, Bordlerlescott enjoyed a long and fruitful career; when he was finally retired, for the second time, as a 13-year-old, in 2015, he had won 14 of his 85 starts and earned just shy of £800,000 in win and place prize money. 

Borderlescott recorded his first major success in the Coral Sprint Trophy, over 6 furlongs, at York on the final start of his three-year-old campaign, in October, 2015. In 2006, he carried 9st 5lb to a neck victory in the prestigious Stewards’ Cup, again over 6 furlongs, at Goodwood and, in 2007, was only headed in the final stride when beaten a short-head by Zidane, under 9st 8lb in the same race. For most of 2007, though, Borderlescott struggled to make the transition from handicaps to Listed and Pattern company and, although he finished second on half a dozen occasions, failed to win a race of any kind during that campaign.

Nevetheless, in 2008 – his six-year-old season – with Pat Cosgrave replacing his hitherto regular partner, Royston French, Borderlescott proved a model of consistency. He was narrowly beaten, once again, in the Stewards’ Cup at Goodwood, this time by a head and half a length, under 9st 10lb, but was then aimed at the Nunthorpe Stakes, run that year on the July Course at Newmarket after the Ebor Meeting at York was abandoned due to waterlogging. Although sent off only sixth choice of the fourteen runners at 12/1, Borderlescott had the race run to suit him, as first Captain Gerrard and then National Colour provided the fast pace that he typically liked to chase. In fact, National Colour looked, at one point, as if she might hold on, but Borderlescott stayed on gamely to lead inside the last 75 yards or so and win by half a length. His winning time, of 59.06 seconds, was a new course record. 

In 2009, the Nunthorpe Stakes returned to York and, with Neil Callan replacing Pat Cosgrave, at the behest of Bastiman, Borderlescott won the race for the second consecutive year. Fourth choice of the 16 runners, at 9/1, Borderlescott raced in touch in the centre of the course as Benbaun took the field along and, when switched right and asked to quicken by Callan, came with a strong run to lead close home and win by a neck. At the age of seven, Borderslescott was one of the old recent winners of the Nunthorpe Stakes and, although the race was criticised, in some quarters, for lacking strength in depth, back-to-back victories are a rare achievement. 

Indeed, in 2010, Borderlescott tried, and failed, to become just the third horse, after Tag End in 1930 and Sharpo in 1982, to win the Nunthorpe Stakes in three consecutive years, staying on at one pace to finish sixth of 12, beaten 3¾ lengths, behind shock 100/1 winner Sole Power. Nevertheless, Borderlescott was a tough, genuine and – having achieved a Timeform Annual Rating of 135 – highly talented performer.

Related stories: Scot Cops The Lot For Bastiman In Thriller

Monday, 3 December 2018

What Happened To John Fretwell? (Horse Owner)

John Fretwell Racehorse Owner
Horse racing. 

Which horse racing silks stick in your mind? The royal blue of Godolphin. I'm sure everyone has their favourites. It may be due to a horse you love, a trainer with a small string you follow, or just that crazy quilt which somehow stands out from the crowd. 

One horse owner silks that many of you will know is the lime green of John Fretwell. 

He had a number of talented two-year-olds with a number of trainers. He didn't lack an opinion and all too often these once buoyant relationships parted company. The loss of Eoghan O'Neill hit the headlines in 2008, which saw the ambitious Irishman head to France and make this racing pay across the channel. It was good to see him return to Royal Ascot with Suits You, who was later sold to Hong Kong. Fretwell had a few Group winners when the partnership was flying high. They struck with Champagne Stakes (Group 2) winner Silent Times (2005) and Richmond Stakes (Group 2) winner Always Hopefull (2005). 

Fretwell was known to like a gamble but often complained that he struggled to get more than a grand on with bookmakers. Read this interesting thread to learn more. He was also a keen seller of two-year-olds to Hong Kong and America. For that reason, he liked to have his juveniles primed to win on debut, realising that an easy winner would fetch a lot more money on the open market. 

In recent years, he has had horses in training with David Brown. 

In 2017 he had 83 runners, varying slightly with the previous year of 93. However, 2018, at the time of writing, he had just 38 runners with four winners. The helicopter-flying businessman appearing at racecourses fewer times than ever before and not interviewed by Racing UK, who loved the softly spoken but opinionated man. It is interesting to note that his best ever season was when he partnered Eoghan O'Neill back on 2005 with 28 winners from 161 runners. Total earnings over £300,000. 

Related stories: Shock Split As Fretwell Withdraws Horses From O'Neill Yard

Related stories: Whatever Happened To Eoghan O'Neill 

Relates stories: John Fretwell: ''I Started With Nothing...''

Watch the 2018 Champagne Stakes (Group 2) WINNER Too Darn Hot