vendredi 20 janvier 2012

Hoping for a Surrey Storm in Cagnes

Surrey Storm, "Milly", and Sunrise at "galop de chasse"

It's little Milly's turn today at Cagnes-sur-Mer in her first race in France since her arrival with Satwa Sunrise from the fall sales at Newmarket. She runs in the Prix Cheret, and at 3 years old, the daughter of Montjeu and Dansili mare Dont Dili Dali, she's the baby of the yard. In just two of those names, there are enough stories to fill several months of posts. I would hardly know where to start, or, possibly worse, where to stop.

To call Montjeu "father" is already impressive, but her trainer, Gina Rarick, places still more weight on the mare's line, and here Milly holds up to as much scrutiny of her papers as you care to give them. Over the last few years, her damsire Dansili, champion sire in France in 2006, has stepped into the shoes of his father, Danehill, as an international top stallion for Saudi Prince Khalid Abdullah's Juddmonte Farms.

Given the synthetic fibersand surface in today's race, it's interesting to note in Juddmonte's "in-depth analysis" that Dansili was a champion sire of all-weather performers in two consecutive seasons, 2005-06 and 2006-07. One hopes that Dont Dili Dali had something of this element in her to pass along to her daughter Surrey Storm, foaled in 2009.

Montjeu sire is Sadler's Wells, by Northern Dancer out of Bold Reason mare Fairy Bridge, a filly who won the only two races she ever ran prior to becoming a broodmare. Bred by a Guggenheim (Harry), Bold Reason's sire is Hail to Reason, the 1970 Leading sire in North America, who himself ran 18 races in the first nine months of his second year and won nine of them, including setting a track record in the Hopeful Stakes at Saratoga Racetrack ridden by Bobby Ussery, before he threw a shoe in a September morning exercise session and broke both his sesamoid bones in the front near foot.

Bold Reason raced in the 1971 Triple Crown series, taking third in the Kentucky Derby, fifth in the Preakness Stakes and another third place in the Belmont Stakes. Retired to stud, he was Great Britain and Ireland's top broodmare sire in 1984; his daughter Fairy Bridge produced his most important offspring, Sadler's Wells; the third stallion to carry the name, Sadler's Wells ran in 11 races for 6 victories and 4 places.

Montjeu shot to glory in his 3-year-old year with his victories in the Prix du Jockey Club at Chantilly, having already threaded the little pearls of victories in the Prix de Greffulhe at Saint-Cloud and the Prix Lupin at mythic Longchamp. After taking top honors in the Irish Derby, in the fall, he ran to victory in the Prix Niel at Longchamp, launching himself from there, to go on to race in the glorious Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, chasing down El Condor Pasa to victory and making of himself the top 3-year-old in Europe in 1999.

In 2000, we will recall, entering the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe as the favorite, Montjeu was -- sadly for some, not so sadly for others, depending on the lines of the horse you own, outpaced by the sire of Surrey Storm's yard mate Deep Ocean, Sinndar.

There's a lot of greatness in this little girl, who has run four races in her 2-year-old season in England prior to her entry today, with one fourth place finish and two 3rd places finishes, including one at storied Epsom Downs. Perhaps today she will begin a turn-around in the series of unfortunate horse racing-related events in owner Steve Collins' recent past (another horse in which he has a leg fractured her coffin bone a few weeks back, for one) and make her other owner Michael Brief's trip over to France's southernmost coast from the farthest coast of the United States worth his name being left off the program by France Galop, and help to salve the wound of the recent loss of Satwa Sunrise to trainer Patrick Monfort's yards.

I make this small gesture of mention on his behalf, from another future France Galop registered owner.

Training jockey, Agata, with Milly, November 26, 2011

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