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Main Aim - Haydock 30.05.09

Main Aim: could be Oasis Dream's first Stakes winner beyond 7f - unless Oaks runner Midday beats him to it

  PICTURE: EDWARD WHITAKER  

Main Aim: dream colt
onfast track to top

Main Aim
Oasis Dream-Orford Ness (Selkirk)

WHEN I was growing up, and horses like Gladness and Morecambe were around, it was not unusual to find top-class horses running in handicaps, and putting up outstanding performances in them.

In 1958 Gladness won the Gold Cup and the Goodwood Cup in fine style, and if she had gone for the Doncaster Cup, the result would have been a foregone conclusion. Instead, Vincent O'Brien sent her for the Ebor under top weight of 9st 7lb, and she trotted up by six lengths, giving a display that put her previous successes in the shade.

A few weeks later came the Cesarewitch, a race in which only three previous winners in nearly 120 years had carried more than the 9st 1lb Morecambe was set to shoulder. After Sam Hall's marvellous five-year-old had won in a canter by ten lengths, we had to wonder what kind of weight would have stopped him.

Of course, things are different these days, and the coming of the Pattern in 1971 has had something to do with that. There was one apparent aberration in 1974, when according to the official rankings Take A Reef was Britain's champion three-year-old after his victories in the Magnet Cup and Extel Handicap, but it was hard to find anyone who agreed with that assessment.

Handicaps used on the route up
Proven top-class horses never run in handicaps now, though obviously there are many instances of horses competing in handicaps on their way to becoming top-class. But an unproven horse putting up a Group 1-calibre performance in a handicap? That is rare.

Yet that is what many felt they had seen when Main Aim burst clear of his rivals, most of whom were receiving lumps of weight, in a handicap at Newbury last month. This was not some kind of no-account contest at a gaff track, and while winning any 6f event by seven lengths is unusual, doing so there in such style, displaying an exceptional turn of foot, was something else again.

Main Aim still has to prove himself at the top level, but on Saturday, in his first test in Group 3 company, he again gave every indication that he belongs among the best. He had some smart experienced rivals to contend with in the Timeform Jury Stakes, but he won as he liked, quickening to assume command over two furlongs from home and always travelling so well thereafter that no threat was ever going to materialise.

Where now for Main Aim?
But the question now arises - what should be the main aim for Main Aim? He has won twice over 6f and three times over 7f, and is clearly equally at home at either distance. When winning over the longer trip he has given the impression that 1m might also suit him. So should he go for the Golden Jubilee, or should the Queen Anne (for which he would need to be supplemented) be his Royal Ascot target?

On the available evidence there is no way of knowing what Main Aim's optimum trip might be, or even whether he has one. It is true that in recent times horses generally have become less versatile, as breeders have concentrated their efforts on producing stock for specific aptitudes, but Nature frequently confounds their intentions, shuffling the genes unpredictably. And, in any case, we have seen plenty of high-class horses - such as Thatch, Last Tycoon and Royal Academy immediately spring to mind - who could be truly categorised as sprinter-milers.

What clues does Main Aim's pedigree give us?
What does Main Aim's pedigree tell us? Not a lot that we can be dogmatic about is the short answer. There is - as with most pedigrees - conflicting evidence, and where his sire is concerned such evidence as we have is limited for the simple reason that he had his first runners as recently as 2007.

Oasis Dream was the best sprinterof his generation at both two and three. He took three starts to break his maiden, and when he did that, against four rivals at Nottingham, he did not impress as anything special. But we saw a much improved colt at Newmarket, where he won the Middle ParkStakes in exemplary fashion tyo claim recognition as the fastest of his generation.

As a three-year-old he was slow to come to hand and palpably short of his best for his reappearance in the King's Stand Stakes, where Choisir and Acclamation led him home. But convincing victories in the July Cup and the Nunthorpe Stakes took him back to the top of the sprinting division, and the downpour on watered ground was the only reason why he failed to cope with Somnus in the Haydock Sprint Cup.

Soft ground at Longchamp meant that he missed the Prix de l'Abbaye, but a firm surface at Santa Anita did not help him in the Breeders' Cup Mile; he ran too freely and dropped out of contention in the final furlong. He retired with a record of four wins - one at 5f and three at 6f - from nine starts, was second in his only try at 7f and unplaced in his solitary effort at 1m.

More to Oasis Dream than just sprinting
That summary describes a sprinter, pure and simple, but there were aspects to his pedigree to suggest that he would not just be a sire of sprinters. He was half-brother to a Classic-winning miler in Zenda, his dam was a sister to an Irish Oaks winner in Wemyss Bight, and she was the dam of Beat Hollow, who ran third in the Derby.

These are still early days for Oasis Dream, and a score of eight individual Pattern winners from his first two crops to date is highly respectable, but he has not yet got one beyond 7f, although several have been out of mares by staying sires, such as Rainbow Quest, Slip Anchor and Kahyasi. The picture will surely change in time - perhaps as soon as tomorrow, when Midday contests the Oaks - but thus far Oasis Dream appears to be principally an influence for speed.

Orford Ness: a miling winner
Main Aim's dam, Orford Ness, did all her winning over 1m, the Group 3 Prix de Sandringham included, and the first three winners she produced were all successful beyond 1m, including Weightless, a triple Pattern winner best at 1m2f. Track back through three generations in the female line and a successful sprinter is a rarity; the vast majority of those who have made any kindof impact on the racecourse owned stamina in excess of speed.

Orford Ness's dam Nesaah was second in the Galtres Stakes (1m4f), was half-sister to Privity, whose Group 2 win came over the same distance. Their dam Sylph won the Princess Royal Stakes, also at 1m4f, and was third in the Park Hill Stakes, run over the Leger trip. Sylph's brother Leading Counsel won the Irish St Leger.

The pedigree clues only confuse, and the horse himself will have to provide the answers. Over to you, Sir Michael!

Bred by Juddmonte Farms in England

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Pedigree Assessment

Sire: Oasis Dream

Bred by Juddmonte Farms in England. Won 4 (5f-6f)of 9 races, viz. 2 (inc. Middle Park S.-Gr1) out of 4 at 2 years, 2 (July Cup-Gr1, Nunthorpe S.-Gr1) out of 5 at 3 years. Also 2nd in Haydock Park Sprint Cup, 3rd in King's Stand S. RPR 121 at 2, 131 at 3. Earned £433,737.

Smallish (15.3hh), strong, attractive individual. Top class sprinter, best of his age in Europe both seasons in training. Below form only effort over 1m at Breeders' Cup. Best suited by fast ground.

Very well bred. Probably the best sonof his sire, a high-class sprinter, now successful as a sire of sires (Cape Cross, Invincible Spirit, Desert Style, Kheleyf, etc). Half-brother to Poule d'Essai des Pouliches winner Zenda (by Zamindar). Dam once-raced sister to Irish Oaks winner Wemyss Bight, herself dam of Beat Hollow. Grand-dam daughter of Sorbus (placed 2nd in 3 Classics). Same family as Weaver's Hall (Irish Derby) and Sixpence (champion 2-y-o filly in Ireland).

Stands at Banstead Manor Stud, Cheveley, Newmarket ata fee of £30,000. Sire of 3 crops of racing age, inc. notable winners: Aqlaam (Gr3), Captain Gerrard (Gr3), Main Aim (Gr3), Starlit Sands (Gr3), Visit (Gr3), Young Pretender (Gr3), Naaqoos (Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere-Gr1), Sri Putra (Gr3).

Dam: Orford Ness

Bred by Juddmonte Farms in England. Won 3 (all 1m) of 10 races, viz. 1 out of 3 at 2 years, 2 (inc.Prix de Sandringham-Gr3) out of 2 at 3 years, 0 out of 5 at 4 years. Also placed 3rd and 4th in Gr3 at 4 years. RPR 90 at 2, 103 at 3, 107 at 4. Earned £42,670.

Well bred. By a top-class miler and successful sire. Half-sister to Gr2-placed winner Aware (by Kenmare) and Listed-placed winner Legion (by Kris), and to the dam of Gr2-placed winner Molomo. Dam won 2 races, Listed-placed, half-sister to 8 winners, inc. Privity (Gr2) and Zindari (Gr3), and to the dam of Gr1 winner Price Tag.

Grand-dam Gr3 winner, Gr2-placed, half-sister to Gr1 winner Leading Counsel.

From a family prominent in Europe, USA and South America.

To stud at 5 and dam of: Weightless (2000 g by In the Wings; Gr2 winner), Castle Rising (2001 c by Indian Ridge; winner), Home Affairs (2002 c by Dansili; Listed winner, Gr3-placed), Codename (2003 f by Sadler's Wells; unraced), Change Course (2004 f by Sadler's Wells; placed), Main Aim (2005 c by Oasis Dream; Gr3 winner), Simulate (2006 c by Dansili; unraced), unnamed (2007 c by Singspiel; unraced to date). Barren to Dansili in 2008, and covered by Oasis Dream.

Conclusions
Well bred, highly progressive colt, probably capable of competing with the best from 6f-1m.

 

 

 

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