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Alpine Rose: Aga Khan cast-off blossoms

Alpine Rose
4 gr f Linamix-Fragrant Hill (Shirley Heights)

AS I have remarked here before on numerous occasions, it is never a bad idea to buy from the Aga Khan.

He has to cull regularly to keep his operation down to manageable numbers, and prospective buyers should be aware that whatever he sells will come from a family that has been judiciously nurtured and developed over decades, whether it was rooted in the era of the Aga's grandfather, had its source in the Boussac or Dupre studs that he acquired in the late 1970s, or came from his most recent "lock, stock and barrel" purchase of the late Jean-Luc Lagardere's bloodstock interests.

The results of Sunday's Group 1 events at Deauville illustrated the point admirably. Prix Morny hero Arcano, the new favourite for next season's 2,000gns, is the first foal out of Tariysha, an unraced daughter of Daylami who was sold at Goffs in November 2005 for €140,000.

Alpine Rose, successful in the newly elevated Prix Jean Romanet, was sent to last December's Arqana sale in Deauville, finding new owners there when knocked down for €550,000.

Arcano, who extended Oasis Dream's fantastic run of success in Pattern company in recent weeks, traces to one of the former Dupre families, descending from Texana, winner of a Prix de l'Abbaye and sister to Texanita, who won the same sprint championship event on two occasions.

Alpine Rose, the third full sibling to collect at Pattern level, is out of Fragrant Hill, who joined the Lagardere broodmare band after her purchase for 105,000gns at the 1992 Tattersalls December Sales. The mare and her dam, English Spring, had both been notable runners in the colours of their breeder, Paul Mellon.

Unraced as a two-year-old, Alpine Rose notched wins at Chantilly and Clairefontaine last year before her first venture in Pattern company, when she took a commendable third place behind Dar Re Mi and Shemima in the Group 3 Prix Minerve at Deauville.

She subsequently ran to much the same level of form when third in the Listed Prix Joubert at Saint-Cloud and fifth in the Group 3 Prix Fille de l'Airat Toulouse.

Those performances did not make Alpine Rose anything special, but when she came up from Jean-Claude Rouget's stable at that sale in Deauville last December, a pedigree page brimming with black type guaranteed that she would be in demand as a broodmare prospect.

And as she remained sound, after only half a dozen starts, there was always the chance that she might prove progressive as a four-year-old.

The filly duly fetched the top price of the Aga's 30-strong draft, buyer Patricia Boutin-Miller making the winning bid on behalf of the Ecurie des Monceaux, Skymarc Farm and the Haras de Mezeray. And in the care of Alain de Royer-Dupre she has made significant improvement this term.

Alpine Rose's first three runs in 2009 were all at Saint-Cloud. She began with a third place behind Ideal World in the Prix Phil Drake, then collected a surprising but worthy win in the Group 2 Prix Corrida, when her victims included two who had been her superiors at three, La Boum and her own stable companion and hot favourite, Shemima.

The obvious inference that Alpine Rose had made substantial improvement was put to the test in the Group 1 Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud, and confirmation came with another career-best effort.

The only filly in the field, she was never far off the pace, took command with two furlongs to run, and kept going well enough to resist all bar Spanish Moon, with odds-on Youmzain a length and a half behind her.

Alpine Rose's principal rival on Sunday promised to be Godolphin's Lady Marian, who had cost 1,800,000gns at Tattersalls last December following her fine win over Lush Lashes in the Group 1 Prix de l'Opera.

After a decent run behind Goldikova in the Prix Rothschild, and expected to be better for the extra distance, she was the obvious second favourite.

It turned out to be a close-run thing, with Alpine Rose, in front after a mile, battling well to hold the challenge of Lady Marian by a short head.

Some observers professed to disappointment over the narrow winning margin, but afterwards her trainer was still talking in terms of the Prix Vermeille and the Arc for her next assignments. If, as reported, Alpine Rose was in season, she might well be forgiven a visually unexciting performance.

Alpine Rose comes from the 14th crop by Linamix, a horse bred by Jean-Luc Lagardere, raced by him, notably for a victory in the 1990 Poule d'Essai des Poulains, and turned into a champion sire by him, virtually single-handed.

At the time when the pure-breeding grey collected his first French sires' title, in 1998, nobody other than Lagardere had managed to breed a Pattern winner by him. He had bred a dozen.

Other breeders did eventually get in the act, but another peculiarity about Linamix's stud record remains: he has had 38 individual winners of 71 European Pattern races, but none has yet scored in Britain or Ireland.

There have been odd successes in Germany and Italy, including Group 1s by Cherry Mix, but he has been very much a French phenomenon. Champion sire there for a second time in 2004, and in the top ten every year since 1995, he has also featured high in the table for broodmare sires in recent years.

Fragrant Hill was saddled by Ian Balding for a surprise victory in the Listed Lupe Stakes at three and for a respectable fifth place behind Ruby Tiger in the Nassau Stakes at four.

At stud she visited Linamix six times in all, and five stakes-winners resulted; the sole failure was her filly of 2000, Fragrancia, who made only a single start.

The first to make a mark was Fragrant Mix, who won the Prix Noailles and finished fourth in the Prix du Jockey-Club at three, but surpassed those efforts with victory in the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud the following year.

Farfala, who came next, was not up to that standard, but she did win in Listed company and had a Group 3 place in the Prix Cleopatre to her name before becoming the dam of Under The Rainbow, a Listed winner and Group2 runner-up in England.

Fascinating Mix earned Listed honours in the Prix du Lion d'Angers and was fourth in the Group 3 Prix du Lys, performances that were comfortably surpassed by Fracassant, who won the Group 3 Prix d'Hedouville and was twice placed at Group 2 level. Each of the colts found a berth at stud in France.

Fragrant Hill was one of nine winners produced by the tough and classy English Spring, whose own dam was half-sister to Run the Gantlet, and out ofa half-sister to One For All and Caucasus. A Group 1-winning mare from such a family should be an asset to any stud.

Bred by HH Aga Khan's Studs in France.  €550,000 Arqana Deauville December three-year-old.


Sire: Linamix

Bred by Jean-Luc Lagardere in France. Won 4 (8f) 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 10f well enough in the Champion. Clearly failed to stay 12f 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 ofLuna Mareza (Gr3)].

Retired, stood at Haras du Val Henry, latterly at a fee of Euros 50,000. Sire of 16 crops of racing age.

Dam: Fragrant Hill

Bred by Paul Mellon in England. Won 3 (7f-1m3f) of 12 races, viz. 1 out of 3 at 2 years, 1 (Listed) out of 3 at 3 years, 1 out of 6 at 4 years. RPR: 94 at 2 years, 101 at 3 years, 108 at 4 years. Earned £31,031. Sold out of training, 105,000gns at 1992 Tattersalls December Sales.

Lengthy, workmanlike type, indifferent walker, sometimes swished tail, stayed 1m4f. Hobdayed. Capable of smart form at middle distances on her day.

Well bred. By a dual Derby winner and successful sire. Half-sister to 7 winners, inc. Spring Oak (Gr3; Gr1-placed in US). Dam high-class performer, won 7 races, inc. Prince of Wales's S.-Gr2, Premio Bagutta-Gr3. Excellent US family.

To stud at 5 years, and dam of: Fragrant Mix (1994 c by Linamix; Gr1 winner), Fascinating Hill (1995 f by Danehill; unraced), Farfala (1996 f by Linamix; Listed winner, Gr3-placed), Fragrant Precedent (1997 c by Polish Precedent; unraced), Fascinating Mix (1998 c by Linamix; Listed winner), Fragrant Wells (1999 c by Sadler's Wells; winner), Fragrancia (2000 f by Linamix; unplaced), Fracassant (2001 c by Linamix; Gr3 winner), Fraloga (2002 f by Grand Lodge; winner, Gr1-placed), Celebre Fragrance (2003 f by Peintre Celebre; unplaced), Alpine Rose (2005 f by Linamix; Gr1 winner), Farasan (2007 c by Sinndar; unraced to date). Not covered in 2003, barren in 2006 and 2008.


Strongly progressive form this year, may still not have peaked.







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