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Fame And Glory - Leopardstown 19.04.09

Fame And Glory: could he become the seventh Derby winner by Montjeu?

  PICTURE: Caroline Norris  

Glory all down to Harrison's persistence

Montjeu-Gryada (Shirley Heights)

AFTER the Dante Stakes at York we will know just about as much as we are going to know about the contenders for the 230th Derby until they appear in the paddock at Epsom on June 6. We can expect the odd market springer who suddenly develops wings on the gallops, but the hard evidence gleaned from competitive racecourse experience will be all but complete.

Crowded House, the winter favourite after his electrifying victory in the Racing Post Trophy, has been overtaken in the betting, first by 2,000 Guineas hero Sea the Stars, and at the weekend by Fame And Glory, who strode to the head of the market with his authoritative win in Leopardstown's Derby Trial.

There might yet be another shake-up once the Dante has been run, but it will probably take an exceptional performance to dislodge the unbeaten Ballydoyle colt from the position he has earned while treading the same path taken by Sinndar, Galileo and High Chapparal en route to their triumphs at Epsom.

Is Fame and Glory the real deal?
We will know soon enough, but we can already say that he ticks quite a few of the relevant boxes. For a start he represents a team which knows all about winning Derbys; in addition, he has a fine physique, an equable temperament, a high cruising speed, the ability to quicken off a strong pace - all attributes that we look for in a prospective Classic victor.

But before we convince ourselves that he is already home and hosed, let's acknowledge that there are some "don't knows".

He has done all his winning on ground labelled between good and heavy; he might just be vulnerable on a faster surface.

He remains unproven over both the Derby distance and the idiosyncratic course on which it is run; it is hard to conceive a failure for want of stamina, but he would not be the first colt to turn up on the day with impeccable credentials, only to be found out by the contours and gradients of Epsom.

Last, and by no means least, he is going to meet better colts than he has encountered to date; the Leopardstown race hardly amounted to more than a re-run of the Ballysax, and the Dante might well identify one or more legitimate dangers to add to the likes of Sea the Stars and Gan Amhras, who must already be considered serious threats.

Harrison: the man behind the horse
Still, many will find Fame and Glory's claims irresistible, and among those rooting for him will be the host of friends of the late Leslie Harrison, who was effectively the colt's creator.

Harrison, who died two years ago and whose name is now attached to Newmarket's Nell Gwyn Stakes, was for more than three decades the wise and immensely popular manager of Plantation Stud for LordHoward de Walden, and later for Lord Howard's widow, Gillian.

It was Harrison who found and arranged the purchase of Sayonara in Germany, and devised the mating with Shirley Heights which resulted in Slip Anchor, who realised his patron's lifetime ambition in the 1985 Derby. And in the immediate aftermath of that success another raid on Germany gathered Grimpola, that year's winner of her nation's 1,000 Guineas, into the Plantation fold.

The acquisition of Grimpoladid not produce comparably exciting results; she delivered winners, but only one who aspired even to Listed-placed status, and she was eventually sold back to Germany, where the family thrived again.

Shirley Heights mating pays off
While she was resident at Plantation, Harrison was not to be dissuaded from his original opinion that, like Sayonara, Grimpola was an appropriate match for Shirley Heights and his sons. In seven years she was covered twice by Slip Anchor, once by Darshaan, and four times by Shirley Heights himself.  

The persistence - Harrison would have admitted to cussedness - seemed to have paid off when Grimpola's last English-foaled product, the Shirley Heights filly Gryada,  won twice as a two-year-old in 1995.  True, they were just little races at Folkestone and Hamilton, but she also earned a Group 3 place in the Premio Dormello, and she was far from disgraced when sixth in the May Hill Stakes, then also Group 3, at Doncaster. It was reasonable to suppose that a filly bred that way would improve from two to three.

Sadly, that proved not to be the case, as Gryada ran unplaced in all three of her races in her second season and clearly did not train on. But she had done enough to justify her retention for the stud, and was soon delivering winners, her first two foals achieving places in Listed company.

After Lord Howard's death in 1999, Harrison continued in his role at Plantation until Lady Howard sold the property and much of the stock to Dermot and Perle O'Rourke in the summer of 2005. One of Harrison's last tasks before his retirement was to arrange the matings for that season, and he booked Gryada to Montjeu, just as he had the year before. If he had been asked the reason why, he would no doubt have responded on the lines of: "It seemed a good idea then, so why should I change my mind now?"

Gryada transfers ownership
When the O'Rourkes took over Plantation, bringing mares of their own from Ireland, it was clear that some stock would have to be moved on. They kept the Montjeu filly foal out of Gryada, but the mare herself - by now dam of four winners from as many runners - went to the December Sales, where Richard Frisby bought her for 160,000gns on behalf of Ptarmigan Bloodstock, a group of investors that he and David Loder had recruited into the business.

The plan was always to sell on quickly, and 12 months later in the same ring Gryada, now in foal to Sadler's Wells, was sold for 180,000gns, and the colt foal, who came to be known as Fame and Glory, realised 190,000gns.

Leslie Harrison's insistence that Shirley Heights was the right mate for Grimpola was eventually proved correct, and it somehow seemed fitting that the former Royal Studs stallion should chalk up his 100th Pattern race win as a broodmare sire with Fame and Glory's victory on Sunday.

As for Harrison's choice of Montjeu for Gryada, it was not such an obvious move as it might seem now. The stallion had not had a runner when she went to him for the first time - the produce, a filly called Yummy Mummy, won for the O'Rourkes and is now carrying her first foal by Dalakhani - and Fame and Glory was conceived before Montjeu developed his habit of delivering Derby winners.

For the record, Montjeu, a dual Derby victor himself, now has half a dozen among his progeny - Motivator, Authorized (both at Epsom), Hurricane Run, Frozen Fire (at the Curragh) and Nom du Jeu and Roman Emperor (Australia). Fame and Glory just might prove to be his magnificent seventh.


Sire: Montjeu
Bred by Sir James Goldsmith in Ireland.
Won 11 (1m-1m4f) of 16 races, viz. 2 out of 2 at 2 years, 5 (Prix Greffulhe-Gr2, Prix du Jockey-Club-Gr1, Irish Derby-Gr1, Prix Niel-Gr2, Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe-Gr1) out of 7 at 3 years, 4 (Tattersalls Gold Cup-Gr1, Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud-Gr1, King George VI & Queen Elizabeth S.-Gr1, Prix Foy-Gr2) out of 7 at 4 years. Also 2nd in Prix Lupin at 3, and in Champion S. at 4. RPR 113 at 2, 136 at 3, 133 at 4. Earned £2,263,831.

Tallish, well-made, but not strikingly handsome individual. Not a good mover in his slower paces, seemed unsuited by firm ground, but acted on any other, and possessed a tremendous turn of foot. One of the best 12f horses of recent times.

Well-bred. The best son of his outstanding sire. Out of a lightly-raced high-class stayer (won Prix de Lutece-Gr3, 2nd in Prix Royal Oak-Gr1), who was among the best daughters of her sire, a Prix du Jockey Club winner also responsible for Darara and Princess Pati. Grand-dam also bred multiple Pattern-winning stayer Dadarissime. Family of Gr3 winner Le Mamamouchi and Dear Doctor (Arlington Million).

Stands at Coolmore Stud at a fee of 125,000. Sire of five northern hemisphere crops of racing age, inc. notable winners: Corre Caminos (Prix Ganay-Gr1), Hurricane Run (Irish Derby-Gr1, Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe-Gr1, Tattersalls Gold Cup-Gr1, King George VI & Queen Elizabeth S.-Gr1), Montare (Prix Royal Oak-Gr1), Motivator (Racing Post Trophy-Gr1, Derby S.-Gr1), Scorpion (Grand Prix de Paris-Gr1, St Leger S.-Gr1, Coronation Cup-Gr1), Mont Etoile (Gr2), Papal Bull (Gr2), Anton Chekhov (Gr2), Authorized (Racing Post Trophy-Gr1, Derby S.-Gr1, York International S.-Gr1), Davidoff (Gr3), Macarthur (Gr2), Albisola (Gr3), Alessandro Volta (Gr3), Court Canibal (Gr3), Frozen Fire (Irish Derby-Gr1), King of Rome (Gr2), Montmartre (Grand Prix de Paris-Gr1), Fame and Glory (Criterium de Saint-Cloud-Gr1), Jukebox Jury (Gr2).

Alsosire of notable winners in Australia & New Zealand, inc. Sharvasti (Avondale Gold Cup-Gr1), Nom du Jeu (Australian Derby-Gr1), Roman Emperor (Australian Derby-Gr1).

Dam: Gryada
Bred by Lord Howard de Walden in England. Won 2 (7f-1m) of 4 races, viz. 2 out of 6 at 2 years, 0 out of 3 at 3 years. Also placed 2nd twice and 3rd once (Gr3 in Italy) at 2 years. RPR 94at 2, 66 at 3. Earned £18,087.

Quite useful 2-y-o, disappointed in Listed company up to 1m3f at 3.

Well bred. By a dual Derby winner, successful sire and broodmare sire. Sister to Listed-placed winner Golan Heights, half-sister to 3 other winners, inc. the dam of Gr2 winner Global Dream, and to unraced dam of Gr1 winner Gonbarda and Gr3 winners Gonfilia and Gonlargo. Dam won German 1,000 Guineas, 4th in German Oaks, sister to Listed winner Grimbeau.

Grand-dam is 3rd dam of recent French Gr2 winner Grandcamp. Long-established successful German family.

To stud at 4 years, and dam of: Guaranda (1998 f by Acatenango; Listed-placed winner, dam of Gr3 winner Gravitation), Grampian (1999 c by Selkirk; Listed-placed winner), Graham Island (2001 g by Acatenango; winner), Gryskirk (2002 g by Selkirk; winner), Gaze (2003 f by Galileo; winner), Yummy Mummy (2005 f by Montjeu; winner), Fame and Glory (2006 c by Montjeu; Gr1 winner), Rain Forest (2007 c by Sadler's Wells; unraced to date). Covered by Montjeu in 2008. Slipped to Kris in 2000, not covered in 2003 and 2007.

Well bred, unbeaten colt, sure to prove adept at 1m4f. An obvious legitimate Derby contender.







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