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Sarafina wins the Prix Saint Alary Longchamp 23.05.2010

Sarafina wins the Prix Saint-Alary from supermare Hasili's daughter Deluxe

  PICTURE:Scoop Dyga  

Sarafina: could help her sire return to big time

3yo b f Refuse To Bend - Sanariya (Darshaan)

WHEN the klaxon sounded to signal an enquiry into the result of the Prix Saint-Alary, it seemed that for the third time in a month a Group 1 event for three-year-old fillies might result in the disqualification of the winner – with Khalid Abdullah as the owner to benefit on each occasion.

But this was not to be a ‘threepeat' of the Newmarket and Longchamp Guineas, when Jacqueline Quest and Liliside were demoted in favour of Special Duty. Sarafina had undoubtedly hampered the unplaced T'As D' Beaux Yeux as Gerald Mosse sought an opening for her challenge, and the stewards took their time over the decision, but they eventually allowed the result to stand.

Runner-up Deluxe, who had suffered no interference, would have to wait for another day to become the sixth top-level winner for her dam, Juddmonte's supermare, Hasili.

Was Sarafina lucky? A stricter interpretation of the rule on interference might have resulted in her demotion, but she was presumably exonerated on the grounds that she made no contact with her victim. She would have been extremely unlucky to forfeit the prize, as she was clearly the best filly on the day.

Never mind her wayward passage through the field. Here was a filly who had not made a racecourse appearance until three weeks earlier, when she had trounced a group of other debutantes at Chantilly, yet she made light of her abrupt promotion to Group 1 level, displaying a decisive change of pace to win comfortably, without her rider ever having recourse to his whip.

Of course, it might be argued that the Saint-Alary is a bogus Group 1, treated by most trainers as merely a trial for the Prix de Diane, but there was a previous Group 1 winner on parade in third-placed Hibaayeb, and it will come as a surprise if, over the next few months, Sarafina fails to prove that she belongs among the best of her ageand sex over middle distances in Europe.

Sarafina's rapid rise to prominence should represent a fillip for her sire, Refuse To Bend, whose stud career has not developed as his keenest fanciers hoped it would, and who is in need of some rehabilitation in market terms. Nothing less than instant success is demanded of a young stallion in the current harsh commercial world, and slow starters are invariably penalised.

Refuse To Bend, lest we forget, was a top-class racehorse, winning Group 1 events in each of his three seasons in training. He was unbeaten at two, when he added a National Stakes victory to his initial score in a Gowran Park maiden, and he remained undefeated while collectinga Listed win in Leopardstown's Guineas Trial and securing Classic honours over the Rowley Mile, where he quickened to order and ran on strongly for a half-length verdict over Zafeen.

After his Newmarket triumph some dared to think of Refuse To Bend as a prospective Triple Crown winner. After all, he was a son of Sadler's Wells, who had Derby and St Leger winners on his cv and was primarily an influence for stamina. Unsurprisingly, he was sent off as 11-4 favourite to become his sire'sthird consecutive Derby winner, after Galileo and High Chaparral.

Refuse To Bend looked in top condition in the paddock at Epsom, but he became geed up when mounted and took a firm tug on his way to the start. Perhaps the preliminaries took too much out of him; he held a forward position early, but came off the bit on the descent to Tattenham Corner and soon dropped out of contention.

There was surely more to that debacle than simple want of stamina, but it was understandable that he was kept to the distance over which he had previously excelled for the rest of the season. An easy win in the Group 3 Desmond Stakes hinted that he might be returning to his best, but poor displays in the Prix du Moulin and Breeders' Cup Mile raised doubts again.

Refuse to Bend left Dermot Weld at the end of that season, resuming for Saeed bin Suroor as a four-year-old. He failed to regain his consistency in that final campaign, winning only twice from seven efforts, but the victories both came at Group 1 level, and in those – the Queen Anne and the Eclipse – he gave the two best performances of his life. On his day he was very good, and effective up to 1m2f.

When he retired to Kildangan Stud at a fee of €20,000 in 2005, the jury was still out over Sadler's Wells as a sire of sires in Europe. He was effectively replacing the recently deceased In The Wings, to that point the most successful of them, but if there were doubts about Refuse To Bend's prospects, they were not reflected in his initial book of 132.

The rise to stud stardom of Montjeu and Galileo did him no harm at all; three-figure books became the norm, and the dire failures of other Guineas winners by Sadler's Wells in Entrepreneur and King Of Kings were forgotten. When his first (2007) yearlings averaged over 61,000gns, he seemed to be on his way to commercial success.

But only two years later his yearling average was down to 17,529gns, a dozen foals were sold at an average well under the covering fee, and he left Kildangan, to find a new base at Whitsbury Manor and serve at a much reduced fee of £5,000.

Is there a way back for Refuse toBend? Stallions who go cold in the marketplace do sometimes generate heat again, and Sarafina can only help toward that end. A few more of similar calibre would be welcome, and he will not lack representation from the products of well-credentialled mares.

Sanariya, the Darshaan mare who produced Sarafina, was no great shakes as a runner, her best effort being a second in a Yarmouth fillies' maiden, but she has excelled at stud with winners all the way. Her Barathea filly was a Listed winner and runner-up in the Prix Saint-Alary four years ago.

Sarafina comes from a family introduced to the Aga Khan Studs in the autumn of 1977, when the bloodstock interests of the late Mme Dupre came into the fold. Included in that package were the yearling Top Ville, winner of a Prix du Jockey-Club and the broodmare sire of Sanariya, and the mare Sursum Corda, now the fourth dam of Sarafina.

Sursum Corda provided the Aga with a dual Group 1 winner in Sumayr, successful in the 1985 Grand Prix de Paris and Preis von Europa, but 25 years were to pass before Sarafina returned the family to top-level glory.


Sire: Refuse To Bend

Bred by Moyglare Stud Farm Ltd in Ireland. Won 7 (7f-1m2f) of 15 races, viz. 2 (inc. National S.-Gr1) out of 2 at 2 years, 3 (2,000 Guineas-Gr1, Desmond Stakes-Gr3) out of 6 at 3 years, Queen Anne S.-Gr1, Eclipse S.-Gr1) out of 7 at 4 years. Also 3rd in Queen Elizabeth II S. at 4. RPR: 113 at 2, 123 at 3, 126 at 4. Earned £780,896.

Medium-sized (15.3hh), well made, quite attractive individual. Top-class performer over 1m/1m2f on his day, but lacked consistency. Acted on fast and dead ground, possibly not on sof, despite rather round action.

Very well bred. Brother to Gr2-placed winner Domestic Fund, half-brother to Media Puzzle (by Theatrical; won Melbourne Cup). Dam won 5 races, Gr3-placed, half-sister to Gr1 winner Twilight Agenda, and to minor winner Irish Edition (dam of Belmont S. winner Go and Go, and third dam of Gr1 winner Casual Conquest). Granddam Classic-placed Gr2 winner who raised the status of her family.

Stands at Whitsbury Manor Stud, Fordingbridge, Hampshire at a fee of £5,000. Sire of 3 crops of racing age, inc. notable winners: Grace O'Malley (Gr3), Neon Light (Gr3), Sarafina (Prix Saint-Alary-Gr1).

Dam: Sanariya

Bred by HH Aga Khan Studs in Ireland. Ran only as 3-y-o, placed 2nd once (Yarmouth 1m2f maiden) from 5 starts. RPR: 64 at 3. Earned £1,452.

Modest performer, but well bred. By a top-class runner, sire and broodmare sire. Dam winner and Listed-placed, half-sister to 2 other winners. Granddam Listed winner, half-sister to Gr1 winner Sumayr (Grand Prix de Paris, Preis von Europa) and Listed winner Samata.

Third dam winner, Listed-placed, half-sister to Altissima (Poule d'Essai des Pouliches). Good family.

To stud at 4 years and dam of: Sanada (2001 f by Priolo; winner), Sanagora (2002 f by Mujadil; winner), Sanaya (2003 f by Barathea; Listed winner, Gr1-placed), Sanjida (2005 f by Polish Precedent; Listed-placed winner), Sanabrya (2006 f by Kahyasi; unraced), Sarafina (2007 f by Refuse to Bend; Gr1 winner), unnamed (2008 c by Dr Fong; unraced to date). Barren to Night Shift in 2004, not covered in 2008.


First-class effort to win Group 1 on second outing. Promises to establish herself as one of the best of her age and sex at middle distances.






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