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Monday 4 February 2019

Bahamian Pirate Wins Nunthorpe Stakes Group 1

Embed from Getty Images Foaled in Kentucky on March 3, 1995, Bahamian Pirate was a son of Housebuster, who won the Eclipse Award for Male Sprinter in 1990 and 1991, and is the horse for whom his sire is best known in Europe. Owned by Lucayan Stud, under the auspices of the late Edward St. George, in whose famous black-and-white colours he ran, Bahamian Pirate began his racing career, as a three-year-old, with the late Con Collins at Conyngham Lodge Stables in Maddenstown, Co. Kildare, Ireland. 

However, after two unplaced runs, over 7 furlongs and a mile, Bahamian Pirate was transferred to the late David ‘Dandy’ Nicholls, a.k.a. ‘The Sprint King’, at Tall Trees Farm in Sessay, near Thirsk, North Yorkshire. Even so, it was over a year, and half a dozen runs, later that Bahamian Pirate broke his duck, making virtually all to win a maiden stakes race, over 5 furlongs, at Ripon under Nicholls’ wife, Alex Greaves, despite hanging right from halfway. 

Bahamian Pirate wasn’t seen again until May, 2000 and, although finishing only twelfth of 24, beaten 6¼ lengths, on his handicap debut, over 5 furlongs, at Thirsk, apprentice Clare Roche was suspended for eight days for making ‘insufficient effort’. Six days later, under Nicholls’ son, Adrian – at that time, himself still an apprentice – Bahamian Pirate won a lower grade handicap, over 6 furlongs, at Carlisle. Indeed, that year proved to be the most successful, numerically, of his career, with four more wins, including the Ayr Gold Cup and the Bentinck Stakes at Newmarket. 

Thereafter, though, Bahamian Pirate was campaigned almost exclusively in Listed and Pattern company for the next three seasons and, while he suffered a few agonising ‘near misses’ – he was second in the Prix de l’Abbaye de Longchamp in 2001 and second in the July Cup, behind stable companion Continent, in 2002 – he won just one race in that period. His sole success came, by a short head, in the Phoenix Sprint Stakes, over 6 furlongs, at Leopardstown in August, 2001, and was followed by a 26-race losing streak that would last until he made his seasonal debut, as a nine-year-old, in March 2004. 

Nevertheless, on his return from a 178-day break, Bahamian Pirate demonstrated his well-being by winning a small conditions race – in which he was, very much, favoured by the race conditions – over 5 furlongs at Nottingham. He again failed to make impression in Listed and Pattern company, but did win two more small conditions races, both over 5 furlongs, at Beverley and Newmarket, in May and July, respectively. In fact, on the latter occasion, he beat the 115-rated three-year-old, Balmont, who’d finished third in the July Cup on his previous outing, to whom he was conceding 8lb. 

The pair met again in the Nunthorpe Stakes at York but, despite being 6lb worse off for the neck he finished behind Bahamian Pirate at Newmarket, Balmont remained the better fancied, at 13/2 joint-fourth favourite, with Nicholls’ veteran only eighth choice of the twelve runners at 16/1. Nevertheless, in the hands of Seb Sanders, who was riding him for the first time, Bahamian Pirate stayed on well to lead inside the final furlong and was driven out to win by a neck from The Tatling with the strong-finishing favourite, One Cool Cat, a further length away in third place. In so doing, he not only provided Nicholls with his second win in the Nunthorpe Stakes – after Ya Malak dead-heated with Coastal Bluff in 1997 – but became the oldest winner of a Group One race in Britain.