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Ashalanda - Newmarket - 17.10.2009

Ashalanda continued a purple patch for the Aga Khan in the Pride Stakes

  PICTURE: Mark Cranham  

Ashalanda: sire Linamix breaks British duck

3 gr f Linamix - Ashaninka (Woodman)

THE Aga Khan'stremendous run of successes this autumn shows no signs of abating.

After his fabulous Arc weekend, when he collected five Group 1 wins and two more at Group 2 level, his colours were again to the fore at Newmarket on Saturday, when Ashalanda got up in the last stride to deprive Crystal Capella of what had seemed a certain repeat triumph in the Pride Stakes.

The Group 2 event was named in honour of the Royer-Dupre stable's 2006 Champion Stakes heroine, and it was always going to be a target for the Chantilly trainer, if he had a suitable candidate.

As it turned out, the race fitted neatly into Ashalanda's schedule, and with Pride's former partner, Christophe Lemaire, in the saddle, she was the subject of several hefty bets as a well-backed second favourite.

Victory looked anything but likely once last year's winner assumed command just over two furlongs out and dashed clear under Ryan Moore, but Lemaire refused to acknowledge a lost cause, drove his mount in pursuit, and little by little Ashalanda pegged her rival back, finally nailing her in the shadow of the post.

This was clearly a win which gave enormous pleasure to both jockey andtrainer, with the latter enthusing that he had found a new star - one that he was looking forward to training for major middle- and long-distance events in 2010.

Ashalanda is certainly entitled to come back stronger and better as a four-year-old. She did not race at two, and has had only four starts this season, showing strongly progressive form. It is not hard to imagine her becoming a legitimate candidate for Group 1 honours next term.

Ashalanda began 2009 in thecare of Jean-Claude Rouget, and she made a winning start in a minor 1m1f event at obscure Langon, south of Bordeaux. But there was nothing about that performance to suggest that she might be anything out of the ordinary; she was getting 6lb from the runner-up and won by only a length and a half.

So when, a week after her transfer to the Royer-Dupre stable, she turned out for the Group 2 Prix de Malleret over 1m4f at Saint-Cloud, what was anyone to suppose? She was surely there just toset the pace for her owner's Shamakiya, who had been runner-up in the Group 3 Prix de Royaumont last time out.

Missing the break was not a good start to her pacemaking role, but nothing else wanted to lead, so she was allowed to go tothe front and set just a steady gallop.

The challenges were a long time coming, but come they did in the last furlong, three of her rivals bearing down on her, but Ashalanda had just enough left to hold on, all out, by a short neck. Shamakiya was one of the dead-heaters for third place, half a length further back.

Because of the way the Malleret was run, there had to be suspicions about the value of the form, but while Ashalanda had a break from competition, Shamakiya won a Listed event at Longchamp and Kalla, the other dead-heater for third, collected in the Group 3 Prix Minerve at Deauville. If Ashalanda had won on merit, she had to be smart.

When she finally reappeared, for the Group 3 Premio Federico Tesio over 1m3f at San Siro, in mid-September, it became clear that she was smart. She went under by only a head to the experienced older colt Voila Ici, who was winning for the sixth time in his last seven races.

Ashalanda posted a new best RPR of 115 in her Newmarket victory at the weekend, having improved for every run to date, and there is every reason to suppose that she will make further progress as a four-year-old. She gets 1m4f well whilepromising to stay further; there are going to be plenty of options for her, among her own sex or in mixed company.

The Pride Stakes was a landmark occasion not just for Ashalanda's trainer and jockey. The filly comes from the 15th crop of her now-retired sire, Linamix, who was twice champion in France and has been responsible for winners of 73 European Pattern races, but this was the first such success to be registered on an English course.

Recognition of Linamix'smerits on this side of the Channel has been long overdue, the lack of success here stretching back as far as his own racing days. Francois Boutin brought him to England three times as a three-year-old in 1990, for ninth place in Quest For Fame's Derby, asixth behind Markofdistinction in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes, and a second to In the Groove in the Champion Stakes.  

Back home Linamix had a fine record. He won the Group 3 Prix La Rochette and was runner-up in the Group 1 Grand Criterium at two, and in the following season he took the Group 3 Prix de Fontainebleau en route to a course record Classic triumph in the Poule d'Essai des Poulains. He subsequently filled second place in both the Prix Jacques le Marois and Prix du Moulin de Longchamp.

All Linamix's wins came over 1m, but he clearly stayed 1m2f well in the Champion Stakes, and at stud he delivered high-class performers over a variety of distances, with a rare sprinter in Garnica at one end of thespectrum and stout Group 1 performers such as Amilynx, Lord du Sud and Reefscape at the other.

Arc victor Sagamix and four-time Group 1 winner Slickly, both now doing stud duty in France, stand out among the dozen individuals who havescored at the top level.

Linamix was made, virtually single-handed, as a sire by his breeder, Jean-Luc Lagardere, who collected well bred mares for him, often for high prices at American auctions, and whatever their background, his stallion always seemed to suit them.

Ashalanda's dam, Ashaninka, was one such acquisition, bought at Keeneland for $220,000, and she was covered by Linamix for four consecutive seasons before the Aga Khan became the owner of all the Lagardere bloodstock interests in the spring of 2005.

Ashaninka has since been culled, but Ashalanda's full sister Ashalina, three times a winner in the French provinces, remains in the Aga's broodmare band, where she will no doubt be joined by the Pride Stakes heroine in 2011.

Like so many of Lagardere's purchases in the States, Ashaninka was a modest performer and out of a mare, Intriguing, who was certainly no better. But invariably those buys came from families which had produced top-class runners in recent generations, and Linamix was generally able to spark them into life again.

Intriguing was a half-sister to Quiet American, a Grade 1-winning miler and sire of dual US Classic victor Real Quiet, and there were other celebrities close up, including Dare And Go, who famously thwarted Cigar in the 1996 Pacific Classic, and the leading sire Fappiano.

Bred by HH The Aga Khan's Studs in France


Sire: Linamix

Bred by Jean-Luc Lagardere in France. Won 4 (all 1m) of 10 starts, viz. 2 (inc. Prix La Rochette-Gr3) out of 3 at 2 years, 2 (Prix de Fontainebleau-Gr3, Poule d'Essai des Poulains-Gr1) out of 7 at 3 years. Also 2nd in Grand Criterium, Prix Jacques le Marois, Prix du Moulin de Longchamp and Champion Stakes (all Gr1). Earned Ff3,151,854. RPR: 115 at 2 years, 127 at 3 years.

All his wins came over 1m, but stayed 1m2f well enough in the Champion. Clearly failed to stay 1m4f when 9th as 2nd favourite for Quest for Fame's Derby. Big, angular, round-actioned, free-running sort; not the best of forelegs.

The best European-bred son of his sire, a well-bred, top-class and somewhat headstrong miler, exported to Japan after only 2 seasons at stud in France.

Half-brother to 7 other winners, inc. Luna Wells (Gr1), Long Mick (Gr2), Moonbeam (Listed), Luna Blue [dam of Lorymaya (Gr3), Luazur (Gr2) and Lunafairy (Gr3)] and Luna Maya [dam of Luna Mareza (Gr3)].

Retired, stood at Haras du Val Henry, latterly at a fee of Euros 50,000. Sire of 16 crops of racing age. Champion sire in France 1998 and 2004.

Dam: Ashaninka

Bred by Keswick Stables in Virginia. $270,000 Keeneland November foal. Won 1 (1m1f) of 9 races, viz. 0 out of 2 at 2 years, 1 out of 7 at 3 years. Earned Euros 39,800 + $49,520. Sold $220,000, carrying first foal, at 2001 Keeneland November Sale.

Modest performer. Placed twice in France and twice in US before winning Hollywood Park maiden.

Quite well bred. By an inconsistent sire who could get high-class stock. Dam placed 4 times, half-sister to Gr1 winner and effective sire Quiet American (by Fappiano) and to minor stakes-winner Kapalua (by Caro). Grand-dam won 2 races, half-sister to Gr2 winner Virilify and Gr3 winner Agacerie, and to minor winner Partygoer (dam of Gr1 winners Dare And Go and Go Deputy, grand-dam of Gr3 winners Quiet Royal, Acago and Sandwaki.

Next dam 2-y-o winner, half-sister to major stakes-winners Hot Dust and Ruffled Feathers, third dam of Gr1 winners Fappiano and Torrential.

To stud at 4 years, and dam of: Asagild (2002 c by Gilded Time; winner), Ashamika (2003 f by Linamix; unraced), Ashalina (2004 f by Linamix; winner), Ninka (2005 f by Linamix; placed), Ashalanda (2006 f by Linamix; Gr2 winner), Ashtarana (2007 f by Dalakhani; unraced to date). Not covered in 2007, sold Euros 22,000 at 2007 Arqana December Sale.


Well bred, high-class filly, still lightly raced. Promises to rank among the best of her sex as a four-year-old.






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