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Special Duty - Cheveley Park stakes Newmarket - 02.10.2009

Special Duty puts herself in line for next season's 1,000 Guineas by taking the Cheveley Park Stakes at Newmarket

  PICTURE: Mark Cranham 

Special Duty: delivery
of Guineas cause

SPECIAL DUTY
2 f
Hennessy - Quest To Peak (Distant View)

A CHEVELEY Park Stakes that features the winners of the Albany, the Cherry Hinton, the Robert Papin, the Lowther and the Flying Childers can only be regarded as up to standard, so it came as no surprise that the clear-cut winner, Special Duty, was at once promoted to the head of the market for the 1,000 Guineas.

The US-sired, British-foaled, French-trained filly came to Newmarket with an impressive record, having finished second in the Listed Prix Yacowlef at Deauville on her debut, collected a Group 2 win in the Prix Robert Papin at Maisons-Laffitte next time, and been runner-up, splitting Arcano and Canford Cliffs, in a desperately close finish to the Group 1 Prix Morny back at Deauville on her most recent outing.

Commanding her field virtually from the start, Special Duty momentarily looked vulnerable when Lady of the Desert progressed to join issue approaching the final furlong, but she soon quickened away in fine style, and it was left to Misheer to chase her home, albeit at a respectful distance.

 

It was a decidedly classy display, and Criquette Head-Maarek was understandably optimistic over the chances of Special Duty emulating two of her previous Cheveley Park winners, Ma Biche and Ravinella, who returned to win the first fillies' Classic. Her confidence was no doubt boosted again when the Robert Papin runner-up, Siyouni, became a Group 1 winner in Sunday's Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere.

Special Duty comes from the tenth and penultimate northern hemisphere crop of Hennessy, who is best known here for Johannesburg, the champion two-year-old of four countries in 2001, when his top-level victories came in the Phoenix Stakes, the Prix Morny, the Middle Park Stakes, and, most significantly, the Breeders' Cup Juvenile.

His only other European Pattern winners, Perigee Moon and Set Alight, also excelled in their first season, but it would be a mistake to label him as just a sire of precocious youngsters; he hasgot tough and durable Graded performers in the States, including one, Silver Tree, who was still winning in Grade 3 company as an eight-year-old last season.

Hennessy, trained by Wayne Lukas for Bob and Beverly Lewis, raced only at two, but he packed nine races into that season, and won four of them, including a brace of Grade 2s in the Hollywood Juvenile Championship and the Sapling Stakes, and the Grade 1 Hopeful Stakes. His best display came when he ran Unbridled's Song to a neck in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile at Belmont Park, and he was game again as runner-up in the Hollywood Prevue Stakes, but he had a troubled run when a long odds-on favourite for the Hollywood Futurity, beaten ten lengths from the winner, and that turned out to be his swan-song. He had to be taken out of training as the result of damage to his near-fore fetlock joint.

Hennessy's record mirrored that of his sire as a two-year-old. Storm Cat also had a Grade 1 winbefore a narrow defeat in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, and like his son was rated close to the best of his year, with an identical assessment of 124lb on the Experimental Free Handicap. Storm Cat also ended his campaign hors de combat, having suffered bone chips that required surgery, but he was able to return to racing later, though not in the same form.

Storm Cat was already a sire in high repute by the time Hennessy retired to Ashford, so the brevity of the latter's career at the track was not held against him.

He covered 145 mares in his first season, 150 in his second, and in his fourth his book of 166 was exceeded only by that of his stud companion Tale of the Cat. In the year when Johannesburg carried all before him (2001), he was based in Japan, but he was promptly repatriated, and from his next Ashford crop came Henny Hughes, a prominent three-year-old sprinter who picked up Grade 1 honours in the King's Bishop and Vosburgh Stakes to earn a berth at stud inDarley's Kentucky operation.

Hennessy was also busily employed in Australia, where his top performer Grand Armee was a multiple Group 1 scorer, with two victories in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes among his credits, along with a title as champion older horse. There was also a Group 1 winner, Sunrise Bacchus, from the crop sired in Japan, but his foreign ventures ended sadly when he died of an apparent heart attack at the Haras La Mission in Argentina in August 2007.

Special Duty's dam Quest to Peak made only one visit to the track, and it was unsuccessful, but she was understandably retained for the Juddmonte broodmare band as a sister and half-sister to major winners from a family that has achieved rare distinction inrecent generations.

Sister Sightseek, by Sussex Stakes victor Distant View, won a dozen races in the States, seven of them at Grade 1 level, including two editions of both the Beldame Stakes and the Ogden Phipps Handicap.

She was primarily a dirt performer, finishing second in her only venture on to the grass, while half-sister Tates Creek (by Rahy) won 11 times on turf, her Grade 1 successes coming in the Gamely Handicap and the Yellow Ribbon Stakes, and was unplaced in her only effort on dirt.

Special Duty's grand-dam Viviana won three races in France, two of them in Listed company, and was second and fourth in two Group 3 events at 1m2f. Her inferior sister Willstar was the dam of Etoile Montante, who won the Prix de la Foret, and was placed in four other top-level events in France and America.

Half-sisters Revasser and Hometown Queen were both stakes-winners and Grade 1-placed before becoming stakes-producers.
The next dam Nijinsky Star was unraced, but sister to a stakes-placed winner and half-sister to two stakes-winners, more notably Six Crowns, who earned renown at stud as the dam of Chief's Crown, a champion two-year-old whose English-raced progeny included Erhaab and Grand Lodge.

Special Duty's fourth dam was Chris Evert, second-best of her age and sex as a juvenile and champion at three in a season which brought her famous victories in the Acorn Stakes, Coaching Club American Oaks andMother Goose Stakes. And her younger half-sister All Rainbows was a stakes-winner who earned further distinction at stud as the dam of Winning Colors, a rare filly successful in the Kentucky Derby.

Few thoroughbred families can match the record of this one in recent times, and it should be noted that typically its representatives train on and surpass their juvenile achievements in their second season. Special Duty seems set to add more lustre to the line in 2010.

Bred by Juddmonte Farms in England.
_______________________________________________________________________

PEDIGREE ASSESSMENT

SIRE: HENNESSY

Bred by Overbrook Farm in Kentucky. $500,000 Keeneland July yearling. Ran only at 2 years, won 4 (5-7f) of 9 races, inc. Hollywood Juvenile Championship-Gr2, Sapling S.-Gr2, Hopeful S.-Gr1. Also 2nd 3 times, inc. Breeders' Cup Juvenile. Earned $580,400.

Well bred. Son of top-class 2-y-o and champion sire. Half-brother to Gr1 winner Pearl City, Gr3 winner Shy Tom and minor stakes-winner Wild Kitty. Dam, best at 2, won 4 races and Gr1-placed, half-sister to Gr1 winner Field Cat (stayer, on grass), to South African Gr2 sprint winner Spring Leopard, and to dams of Belmont Stakes winner Editor's Note, champion US juvenile filly Family Style, and Gr3-placed European sprinter Condrillac.

Died August 2007 in Argentina. Stood last northern hemisphere season at Ashford Stud, Versailles, Kentucky, at a fee of $60,000. Sire of 10 crops of racing age, inc. Distilled (Gr2), Harmony Lodge (Ballerina H.-Gr1), Keats (Gr2), Perigee Moon (Gr3), Johannesburg (Phoenix S.-Gr1, Prix Morny-Gr1, Middle Park S-Gr1, Breeders' Cup Juvenile S.-Gr1), Orchard Park (Gr3), Sunray Spirit (Gr3), Wiseman's Ferry (Gr3), Blazonry (Gr2), Roll Hennessy Roll (Gr3), Silver Tree (Gr2), Cactus Ridge (Gr3), Heckle (Gr3), Liquor Cabinet (Gr3), Madcap Escapade (Ashland S.-Gr1), Primary Suspect (Gr3), Toasted (Gr2), Aunt Henny (Gr3), Henny Hughes (King's Bishop S.-Gr1, Vosburgh S.-Gr1), India (Gr2), Mary Delaney (Gr2), Set Alight (Gr3), Golden Dawn (Gr2), Porte Bonheur (Gr3), Dream Play (Gr2), Special Duty (Cheveley Park S.-Gr1).
Also sire of major winners in Australia, including champion older horse Grand Armee.

DAM: QUEST TO PEAK

Bred by Juddmonte Farms in Kentucky. Ran once unplaced as a 3-y-o. Earned $320.

Well bred. By a high-class miler and successful sire. Sister to multiple Gr1 winner Sightseek, half-sister to multiple Gr1 winner Tates Creek (by Rahy). Dam Listed winner, Gr3-placed, sister to dam of Gr1 winner Etoile Montante, half-sister to Gr2 winner Revasser and Listed winner Hometown Queen (also Gr1-placed).

Grand-dam unraced sister to Listed-placed winner Tournament Star, half-sister to stakes winners Six Crowns (dam of Gr1 winners Chief's Crown and Classic Crown). Third dam US champion 3-y-o filly, half-sister to stakes-winner All Rainbows (dam of Kentucky Derby winner Winning Colors). Excellent family.

To stud at 4, and dam of: Special Duty (2007 f by Hennessy; Gr1 winner). She has a yearling filly by Dansili, and a filly-foal by Galileo.

CONCLUSIONS

Won her Group 1 in fine style. Promises to be well suited by 1m. A legitimate Guineas contender.

 

 

 

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