St Trinians: daughter of Piccolo is on course for a crack at the Santa Anita Handicap following an impressive win in the Santa Maria Handicap
St Trinians: consistent Piccolo hits heights with rags to riches tale
ST TRINIANS (5 m Piccolo - Cherrycombe-Row by Classic Cliche)
IT is hard to envisage a Wolverhampton handicap winner becoming quietly fancied to overturn one of the greatest horses in American history but that could well happen if Saturday's impressive Grade 2 Santa Maria Handicap winner St Trinians takes on Zenyatta in the near future.
Immediately after St Trinians' win at Santa Anita, a clash in next month's Santa Margarita Invitational - scheduled to be Zenyatta's seasonal debut - was suggested. However, that is unlikely to take place after connections switched their focus to an equally ambitious assault on the Santa Anita Handicap, a race which no filly has ever won.
St Trinians is the latest in a long line of European imports to thrive in California since the installation of artificial surfaces three years ago, a point which was highlighted again on Monday when the 2008 Irish 1,000 Guineas fourth, Tuscan Evening, ran away with the Grade 2 Buena Vista Handicap, also at Santa Anita.
Due to her less than perfect conformation, which is evident in her curious, crab-like action, St Trinians didn't reach the track until mid-summer of her three-year-old year. But she made up for lost time quickly, sauntering home by four lengths on her second start for breeder Emma Hunter and trainer Ed Vaughan en route to running third on her only try on turf in a Ripon handicap.
Two more impressive successes at Wolverhampton followed before a creditable third at the same track under a burden of 9-12, and within four months, the mare was racing in California for Dan Capen and Laura Chavers under the tutelage of Mike Mitchell.
St Trinians has since racked up four consecutive dominating successes, a tally which could have been greater had a condylar fracture not forced her to the sidelines after her US debut. So impressive was she in the Paseana Handicap last time out that punters sent her off favourite for the Santa Maria over lastyear's Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic heroine Life Is Sweet, who was forced to give her market rival 7lb.
As expected, St Trinians made the most of her concession to swoop on the final turn and win going away by just under two lengths.Given that she owns a powerful turn of foot and has yet to be really tested in the US, it would be surprising if a Grade 1 wasn't within her reach.
St Trinians' win came during the same weekend that her sire, Piccolo, was represented by the Kingmaker Novice Chase runner-up Joe Jo Star. St Trinians' exemplary record over 1m1f and Joe Jo Star's aptitude for jumping alone would give Piccolo the reputation of being a versatile sire, but essentially he is a sprint sire. Jo Jo Star is Piccolo's only jumper of any note and the product of a mare by champion jumps sire Old Vic while St Trinians is out of a mare by Ascot Gold Cup winner Classic Cliche and one of only two stakes winners by Piccolo at beyond 1m.
Piccolo himself flirted with distances beyond 6f, most notably when a distant second to Royal Abjar in the Mehl Mulhens Rennen, but he was most effective when sprinting as victories in the Nunthorpe Stakes - won on the disqualification of Blue Siren - and King's Stand Stakes illustrate.
Although consistent, Piccolo was lucky to complement his win in the 6f Chipchase Stakes as a three-year-old with a success in the Nunthorpe Stakes. Blue Siren crossed the line one-and-a-half lengths in front of Piccolo but only after a maneuvre by her jockey, Michael Hills, had momentarily knocked Piccolo off his stride. As a result, Blue Siren was demoted and Mick Channon's colt awarded the race.
A three-year-old landing a Group 1 sprint against his elders is always a worthy achievement but even so the 1994 Nunthorpe was not a vintage renewal, and was again weakened when the favourite Lochsong lost all chance following her headstrong antics in the preliminaries.
Lochsong was on her best behaviour when she met Piccolo again in the Prix de l'Abbaye and consequently nothing was able to live with her, but in between Piccolo had silenced his doubters when running second in the Haydock Sprint Cup. A victory in the following year's King's Stand Stakes and second in the July Cup confirmed his place among the best sprinters before a hind joint fracture hastened his retirement to Lavington Stud at a fee of £3,500.
Today, Piccolo, who is a new recruit to Throckmorton Court Stud this season, remains a solid option for the smaller breeder, especially as he contains no Northern Dancer or Mr Prospector blood. Although his forte is in producing large numbers of winners rather than a constant flow of stakes-calibre horses, it must be remembered that he has never stood for more than £5,000 or covered three figure books of mares. But as St Trinians proves, the ability to get the big horse is there, and despite his moderate fees, he is part of an elite group to have sired Group 1 winners - in his case La Cucaracha and Picaday - in both hemispheres.
Piccolo has done well with Forli line mares and, in Australia, those containing Star Kingdom blood. There has also been success with Northern Dancer, primarily through St Trinians' maternal great grandsire Salse. There are only two Piccolo offspring worldwide out of mares by sons of Salse but both are Group winners; St Trinians and the Australian Express Wish, whois a daughter of a mare by Air Express.
Cherrycombe-Row was one of only two juvenile winners from the first crop of dual-purpose sire Classic Cliche when taking a 7f nursery at Newbury on heavy ground. Although she didn't win again, she showed fair and consistent form in handicaps at up to 1m2f, especially when encountering her favoured soft ground.
Hunter's homebred mare is the only winner in Britain out of Key In The Heart but the daughter of Pyjama Hunt has madeher mark abroad, not least as the dam of Hungarian champion Kulcskiralyno.
One of the most interesting aspects of Cherrycombe-Row is that Derring-Do appears twice in her pedigree, a pattern which also appears in the background of the blazingly fast Perryston View and Group 3-winning stayer Orchestra Stall.
Without St Trinians, the immediate generations of this family would struggle to gain commercial acceptance but there was a time when it regularly enjoyed its spot in the limelight, notably through the 1978 1,000 Guineas winner Enstone Spark, who is a granddaughter of Courting, and the brilliant Vaguely Noble.
Bred by Mrs E. L. Hunter in Britain
Bred by Stanley Estate and Stud Co. in Britain. 18,500gns Tattersalls October yearling. Won 4 (5-6f) of 21 races at 2-4 years, viz. 1 (conditions race) out of 6 at 2 years, 2 (inc. Nunthorpe S. - Gr1 on disqualification of Blue Siren and Listed Chipchase S.) out of 11 at 3 years and 1 (King's Stand S - Gr2) out of 4 at 4 years. Also2nd Haydock Sprint Cup - Gr1, July Cup - Gr1, Mehl Mulhens Rennen - Gr2 and Phoenix Sprint S. - Gr3. RPR 106 at 2 years, 114 at 3 years and 122 at 4 years. Earned £410,170.
Strong, compact individual. Tough and genuine, perhaps a notch below the very top of his generation but a consistent high-class runner who was still progressive at the time of his career ending injury as a four-year-old. Won as a two-year-old on good to soft but overall more effective on a sound surface, a Group 2 winner on firm.
Quite well-bred. From the first crop of a champion miler and later successful sire and fair sire of sires in Europe and latterly Japan. Half-brother to 8 winners including Listed winner Tahilla (f; Moorestyle)and Gr3-placed Mummy's Favourite (f; Mummy's Pet). Out of a dual-winning two-year-old, further family of Australian Group 1 winners Onemorenomore and Casino Prince, and Group 2 winner and moderate sire Head For Heights.
Stands at Throckmorton Court Stud at a 2010 fee of £3,000. Sire of 11 crops of racing age inc. notable winners La Cucaracha (Nunthorpe S. - Gr1), Ajigolo (Gr2), St Trinians (G2), Winker Watson (Gr2), Pan Jammer (Gr3), Pickle (Gr3) etc. Also sire of notable southern hemisphere winners Picaday (T. J. Smith H'cap - Gr1), Express Wish (Gr2) etc.
Bred by D. Rigby in Britain. £2,800 Brightwells yearling. Won 1 (7f) of 16 races at 2-3 years, viz 1 (nursery) out of 5 at 2 years and 0 out of 11 at 3 years. Placed 5 times. RPR 77 at 2 years and 79 at 3 years.
Fair handicapper. Seemed best on good to soft to heavy although also effective on Polytrack. Stayed 1m2f. Twice wore cheekpieces. Earned £13,819.
By a St Leger winner and King George runner-up who later became a useful sire under both codes. Half-sister to 5 winners inc. champion Hungarian three-year-old filly Kulcskiralyno (f Faustus). Dam unraced half-sister to German Listed winner Baby Bourbon. Further family of 1978 1,000 Guineas winner Enstone Spark, Vaguely Noble and Lombard, tracing to 1931 Oaks winner Brulette.
To stud at 4 years and dam of: St Trinians (05 f Piccolo; G2 winner). She also has a yearling colt by With Approval, a colt foal by Bachelor Duke and is due to visit Archipenko. Her 2004 filly by Danetime and 2006 colt by Namid both died as foals. Aborted to Compton Place in 2006.
Another fine advertisement for her consistentsire and looks a likely candidate to make the successful transition to Grade 1 company.