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Chinchon: sire Marju's excellent year gets better

Chinchon
5yo b h Marju - Jarama (Hector Protector)

ON one of the web groups to which I belong there was recently quite a lively discussion on the subject of American trainers, and, more specifically, on the matter of whether they had lost the art of preparing horses for staying races.

The general consensus among the group, which is made up principally of American racing and breeding enthusiasts, was that Europeans were significantly better in that regard, and many contributors deplored the fact that a number of major US events, formerly contested over staying trips, had been reduced in distance in recent years.

The most commonly cited example was inevitably that of the Jockey Club Gold Cup, which regularly determined championships when staged over 2m, was cut back to 1m4f in 1976, and since 1990 has been run at 1m2f.


It remains an important event and retains its Grade 1 status, but it is almost always overshadowed now by the Breeders' Cup Classic, staged over the same distance. 

It was in the 2m Jockey Club Gold Cup that Kelso underlined his entitlement to the Horse of the Year crown for five consecutive seasons in the1960s, and, just to emphasise the point that it was not a race for plodders, Forego was the nation's champion sprinter when he won the penultimate renewal at 2m in 1974.

Among the other races affected by the increased concentration onspeed are the principal fillies' Classic, the Coaching Club American Oaks, reduced from 1m4f to 1m2f (for the second time) in 2004, and the Brooklyn Handicap, down since 1994 to 1m1f and deprived of its former Gr1 standing.

It might be argued that the changes to these and the other prestige races whose distances have been clipped have affected only a small minority of horses, but the true impact is inevitably much greater.

Fewer incentives and opportunities at longer trips for the better horses have made track racing secretaries reluctant to programme races that demand a measure of stamina at any level, their fear being that they would not fill. Their job is to produce fields that provoke competitive racing and maximise betting revenue, something more readily accomplished by a regular schedule of sprints and mile events.

By and large, trainers are getting what they want in the plethora of races over short distances, and anyway, breeders long since ceased to try to produce stock who stay, so racing and breeding are pretty much of one mind on the matter.

A rare example of a major race which has had its distance increased in recent years is that of the United Nations Stakes, which was staged over 1m1f110y at Atlantic City from its inauguration in 1953 until its final running there in 1997. It lapsed for a year before finding a new home at Monmouth Park, where it has been run at 1m3f on the turf course since 1999.

The race enjoyed a fine record in its former incarnation, having been won twice by such as Round Table, Mongo and Manila, and by others in high repute like T.V. Lark, Assagai, Dr Fager, Hawaii, Fort Marcy, Run the Gantlet and Steinlen.

Nowadays it is one a select group of races which enables America to identify its most likely contenders for the Breeders' Cup Turf, and it has served that purpose rather well. English Channel won both races in 2006, andPresious Passion, after his second Monmouth win last year, subsequently finished runner-up to Conduit in the big one at Santa Anita.

Let there be no doubt that American trainers, for all that their routine work involves preparing their charges for tests of speed, can ready them for stamina events when required, but it came as no surprise when the internet debate was revived within a few minutes of the running of the 2010 United Nations Stakes last Saturday. Chinchon, trained in Franceby Carlos Laffon-Parias, put one over the locals for his career-best win and a purse of $450,000.

The Irish-bred five-year-old had made one trip to the States before, finishing a respectable fourth to Gio Ponti in the Man o' War Stakes at Belmont Park last July, so Monmouth punters granted him some respect, sending him off third favourite, but when he trailed the field through the first mile it looked as though his trip would be in vain.

In fact, jockey Garrett Gomez was never short of confidence. His mount was always travelling smoothly, and he felt sure there would be a ready response when he asked the question.

Taken to the outside and given his head early in the straight, Chinchon fairly flew home with an impressive last-to-first burst that brought him victory by a length and a half over the Todd Pletcher-trained favourite, Take the Points, with Winchester half a length away, edging Straight Story for third by a nose.

It seems fair to say that Chinchon has never been considered quite top class in Europe, but he has regularly run to an RPR in the 110s, he has finished in the frame in 17 of his 19 starts, and he has given his running under a variety of ground conditions, from heavy to firm.

His two Pattern victories in France have been at Group 3 level in last year's Coupe de Maisons-Laffitte and the Prix Exbury this spring, his two off-the-board finishes coming in Group 1 as fifth in the 2008 Prix du Jockey-Club and sixth in this year's Prix Ganay.

Chinchon, who was one of this season's unluckiest losers, hopelessly boxed in on the rail and only fourth of five in the Group 2 Grand Prix de Chantilly last month, is probably better now than at any stage of his career. He is guaranteed a run at the Breeders' Cup if his connections choose to go that route, and if he remains fit and well in the autumn that will seem a logical target.

Chinchon is contributing to an excellent year for his recently-retired sire Marju, whose daughter Bethrah delivered him Classic success in the Irish 1,000 Guineas, and who features as broodmare sire of Canford Cliffs, currently the best three-year-old miler in Europe.

Although his dam Jarama  was a modest runner who won only once from seven runs in France and granddam Tijuana Tango never even managed a place, Chinchon has an intriguing pedigree with a brother and sister featuring in the third generation, in the top and bottom lines. Marju's paternal grandsire is Try My Best, while Jarama's maternal granddam is that horse's sister, Northern Prancer.

We cannot begin to know whether this unusual pattern is a major contributory factor to his success. What we can note with interest is that Germany's seven-time Gr1 winner and successful sire Lando came from an identical background, with Literat on top and his sister Liberty at the bottom in his third generation.   


PEDIGREE ASSESSMENT

Sire: Marju

Bred by Kilcarn Stud. Ir440,000gns Goffs yearling. Won 3 (7-8f) of 7 races, viz. 1 (graduation race, York) out of 1 at 2 years, 2 (Craven S.-Gr3, St James's Palace S.-Gr1) out of 6 at 3 years. Also 2nd in the Derby (to Generous). RPR: 110 at 2, 126 at 3.Earned £282,640.

Had an abbreviated first season owing to a slight setback, in-and-out at 3 because of a persistent stifle problem, and eventually lost his action completely. Good-bodied, lengthy, short-legged, showing quality.

Among the best sons of his sire (also got Ezzoud, Bigstone, Taipan and Mahogany). Half-brother to 10 other winners, inc. Salsabil, Danse Royale, Song of Tara and Flame of Athens. Out of a top-class 1m-1m4f runner, from an extremelysuccessful family.

In retirement at Derrinstown Stud, Co. Kildare, having covered in 2010 at a fee of €20,000. Sire of 16 crops of racing age, inc. notable winners: My Emma (Prix Vermeille-Gr1, Yorkshire Oaks-Gr1), Sil Sila (Prix de Diane-Gr1), Della Scala (Gr3), Mahboob (Gr3), Oriental Fashion (Gr2), Miletrian (Gr2), Naheef (Gr3), Marbye (Prix d'Astarte-Gr1), Soviet Song (Fillies' Mile (Gr1), Falmouth S.-Gr1 [twice], Sussex S.-Gr1, Matron S.-Gr1), Stormont (Gr2), Brunel (Gr2), Red Feather (Gr2), Bobs Pride (Gr3), Chinchon (United Nations H.-Gr1), Enroller (Gr3), Love Intrigue (Gr3), Marjalina (Gr3), Remarque (Gr3), Watar (Gr2), Bethrah (Irish 1,000 Guineas-Gr1). Also sire of major winners in Hong Kong, Australia and New Zealand.

Dam: Jarama

Bred by Airlie Stud in Ireland. 15,000gns Tattersalls December foal. Won 1 (9.5f) of 7 races, viz. 0 out of 1 at 2, 1 out of 6 at 3. Also placed 3 times. Earned Euros 12,300.

Just a modest performer, but quite well bred. By a top-class miler (5 Gr1 wins). Half-sister to winners Miguel Torres (by Distant Relative) and Linares (by Marju). Dam unplaced half-sister to 4 winners, inc. stakes-placed Tandra Gee. Granddam sister to Try My Best and El Gran Senor, half-sister to Solar. Excellent family.

To stud at 4 years and dam of: Chinchon (2005 c by Marju; Gr1 winner), Funes (2006 c by Iron Mask; winner), Espartaco (2007 c by Leadership; placed), Erkios (2008 c by Leadership; unraced to date). She has a yearling colt by Leadership.

CONCLUSIONS

Tough, honest campaigner, up to competing with the best anywhere in the world.

 

 

 

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