Winning Fair

Trade Fair is clearly capable of upgrading his mares – so Britain’s loss is West Australia’s gain. He is currently at Alwyn Park Stud (standing in association with Lynward Park Stud) and he can only be an asset to the racing and breeding scenes in that state, writes John Berry

The collective reputation of Europe’s big-spending yearling buyers received another succession of blows with the running of Britain’s principal Guineas trials, all of which were won by horses whom the major players had passed over as youngsters.

The victorious colts (Trumpet Major and Caspar Netscher, winners of the Craven Stakes and Greenham Stakes respectively) had been bought for 20,000 euros and 25,000 gns, while Trumpet Major’s Nell Gwyn Stakes-winning stablemate Esentepe had realised 22,000 gns as a yearling. These bargains, though, pale into insignificance behind the one which got away: Fred Darling Stakes heroine Moonstone Magic is raced by her breeder Lady Marchwood, having been passed in as a yearling at Doncaster in September 2010 at 5,000 GBP. This impressively strong filly is now worth a lot more than that, while her emergence into the limelight highlights the loss to British breeding of her young sire Trade Fair, who is now permanently domiciled in Western Australia.

The development of several high-class families by Prince Khalid Abdullah’s Juddmonte operation is a commonly-recurring theme in this column. Most of the prince’s good horses trace back to broodmares whom he bought as either fillies or young mares roughly three decades ago when he was founding and consolidating his stud. Trade Fair, who was raced by the prince for four seasons in the first decade of this century, falls into this category – as did Trade Fair’s sadly-deceased sire Zafonic, brilliant winner of the 1993 2,000 Guineas in the prince’s colours and a record time. Zafonic descended from one of the first good fillies to have been owned by the prince, Mofida, a smart sprint handicapper in Barry Hills’ stable in the late ’70s, who was bought by the prince while she was still racing. Trade Fair has as his third dam Cairn Rouge, who came into the prince’s ownership after she had finished her final year of racing in 1980.

Cairn Rouge merited a passing reference in this column recently when we looked at the success of the Australian stallion Danasinga. That horse is a son of the former very fast Michael Cunningham-trained filly Princess Tracy, who spawned a mini-dynasty after her export down under. As mentioned in that feature, Princess Tracy’s arrival in Cunningham’s Co. Meath stable as a yearling in 1982 followed shortly after the departure of an even better filly: Cairn Rouge, a daughter of the 1980 King George And Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes winner Ela-mana-mou‘s sire Pitcairn. Cairn Rouge’s several top-class victories included the Irish 1,000 Guineas, Coronation Stakes and Champion Stakes in 1980. While Cairn Rouge, who proved a bargain as yearling at 3,000 Irish guineas and whose dam Little Hillshad won over hurdles, did not prove quite as influential a matron as Princess Tracy, she was still very effective in her second career. Bought privately by Prince Khalid Abdullah soon after the end of her racing career, Cairn Rouge became ancestress of some good horses to race for him. Trade Fair has to be regarded as one of the best of these.

Having been bred and trained in Ireland, Cairn Rouge spent the first part of her stud career in America before returning to Europe after she had had a few foals. She eventually produced minor winners by Sadler’s Wells and Danehill in her teens after she had been sold out of the Juddmonte broodmare band, but her most significant foals were those bred by Juddmonte in America.

Cairn Rouge’s best Juddmonte-bred colts were the Group Three place-getter Devil’s Rock and the Listed place-getter Red Victory, but more influential were her second and third foals Ajuga and Roupala, daughters of the top-class middle-distance stallions The Minstrel and Vaguely Noble respectively. Both fillies were brought to England to be trained for the prince by Barry Hills, in whose care they proved themselves to be decent fillies. Ajuga was a smart, if presumably fragile, two-year-old. In a brief first campaign, she won the Kingsclere Stakes at Newbury in June 1987 before finishing unplaced in the Chesham Stakes at Royal Ascot the following week, a run which unfortunately proved to be her last of the season. She bounced back as a three-year-old to win a seven-furlong handicap at Kempton on her first run of 1988 before going on to tackle better company, including when finishing a well-beaten fourth of the five runners in the Group Three Criterion Stakes over seven furlongs at Newmarket, ten lengths behind the top-class principals Cadeaux Genereux and Salse. Roupala won one race – or didn’t, as the case may be: her sole ‘victory’ came at Newmarket’s Guineas Meeting in 1989, when she finished first of the five runners in the Newmarket Challenge Whip, a historic race restricted to horses owned by members of the Jockey Club. Victory in this contest used not to render a horse ineligible for a maiden race, so whether it technically counted as a win is open to debate. Overall, the lesson from Roupala’s brief racing career was that she was a filly with ability, even if she ended that career having never finished in the frame in any race open to horses owned by members of the general public.

Ajuga bred two Listed winners for Prince Khalid Abdullah (Prolix and Alumni, the latter being born when Ajuga was aged 17). She also bred Bangalore, winner of the 2000 Chester Cup as a four-year-old and the 2002 Northumberland Plate (beating the subsequent Ascot Gold Cup winner Mr Dinos) aged six. Bangalore had started his racing career owned by the prince (for whom he had won a three-year-old maiden race in 1999) but had been sold prior to these valuable victories – while Ajuga’s most successful foal, ironically, was Bad Bertrich Again, a Group Two winner over 2400m in Germany in 1996 having left Juddmonte’s ownership as a yearling, sold at Fairyhouse in September 1994 for 1,900 Irish guineas.

While Ajuga was a very good matron for Juddmonte, Roupala did even better in this respect. She bred the Group Three-winning Danehill horse Vortex (who did all his winning when trained by Gay Kelleway, having been sold by Juddmonte out of Sir Michael Stoute’s stable as a three-year-old maiden) as well as the Maurice Zilber-trained quartet of her first foal Estala (a Listed-placed miler), her second foal Danefair (winner of the Group Three Prix Minerve over 2400m at Evry as a three-year-old in 1995), Erudite (a Listed-winning stayer) and Prove(a Group Three winner over 1800m at Chantilly as a three-year-old in 2001).

Unsurprisingly, several of Roupala’s daughters proved to be good broodmares, including the non-winner Sanpala, a daughter of the prince’s 1990 Prix du Jockey-Club winner Sanglamore. Sanpala was sold by Juddmonte for 46,000 gns as a three-year-old maiden in 1999 and went on to produce the Kildaragh Stud-bred Silver Touch, a Group Three winner in the Criterion Stakes at Newmarket in 2006. Roupala’s other daughters, though, remained in the Juddmonte fold, including Estala, who bred the Juddmonte-owned four-time US Grade One winner Ventura, whose eight excellent Grade One performances included second place in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint in 2009. Also remaining in Juddmonte’s ownership was Danefair, the dam of Trade Fair.

As a Group Three-winning daughter of Danehill from this good family, Danefair was clearly a very well-credentialled broodmare. One of her racecourse victims (Bordighera, who finished second to Danefair in the Listed Prix des Tuilieries and then last behind her in the Prix Minerve before embarking on a stellar stud career which has yielded the top-class pair Grandera and George Washington) proved to be a better broodmare, but Danefair still did extremely well. Sadly, she died aged only 12 so did not have the opportunity to realise her full stud potential, but she did have time to breed four winners before her death. These included the French Listed-winning filly Village Fete and the tough dual-purpose performer Hills Of Aran(a son of Sadler’s Wells who started his racing career trained for the Coolmore syndicate by Aidan O’Brien, having been a product of the joint breeding venture between Juddmonte and Coolmore which sees some of the stock racing for Juddmonte and some for Coolmore) but Trade Fair was easily the pick of them.

Born in 2000 when his dam was aged eight, Trade Fair was put into training at Beckhampton with Roger Charlton. This stable had been the home of Prince Khalid Abdullah’s first Classic winner (the 1980 2,000 Guineas hero Known Fact) when Jeremy Tree was at its helm, and Charlton had sent out many top winners for the prince since taking over in 1990 (including that year’s Derby and Prix du Jockey-Club winners, Quest For Fameand the aforementioned Sanglamore). Trade Fair did not quite measure up to that class, but for a time it looked as if he might just do so.

After being beaten on his debut as a two-year-old in a 7-furlong maiden race at Newbury in August 2002, Trade Fair clearly began to improve hugely, as is suggested by the fact that he was sent off the 1/2 favourite for his next start, another maiden race over the same course and distance four weeks later. He won that race (by six lengths) so impressively that he started favourite for Britain’s best two-year-old race, the Group One Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket, the following month. He didn’t win the Dewhurst, but he still ran well, finishing third of the 16 runners, beaten by Tout Seul and Tomahawk. This race, incidentally, had the sad distinction of being dominated by the progeny of deceased stallions. Tout Seul’s sire Ali-royal and Tomahawk’s sire Seattle Slewwere both dead by this time, as was Trade Fair’s sire Zafonic, Juddmonte’s Mr Prospector-line 2,000 Guineas winner having lost his life 42 days previously in a paddock accident at Arrowfield Stud in New South Wales, whither he had shuttled from Banstead Manor Stud near Newmarket.

Disappointingly, the pattern of Trade Fair’s two-year-old career – the exhibition of seemingly massive potential, followed by performance which was extremely good yet simultaneously disappointing – was repeated as he matured. He won his first two starts at three (a Listed race at Newmarket in May 2003 and the following month’s Group Three Criterion Stakes) extremely easily, thus ensuring that he went off favourite again when he stepped back into Group One company. However, again he was a beaten favourite at the highest level, finishing a well-beaten sixth behind Reel Buddyat weight-for-age in the Sussex Stakes over a mile at Goodwood. Dropped back to Listed company seven weeks later (in a 7-furlong race at Newbury) he again justified odds-on favouritism very easily, but sadly the pattern had been established: although remaining in training for two more seasons, Trade Fair was not able to win a really big race, even if he continued to look good when pitched against slightly weaker opposition, as in The Minstrel Stakes at the Curragh, a 7-furlong Group Three race which he won easily as a four-year-old in July 2004. He raced in America as a five-year-old in 2005, but unfortunately he proved unable to crack the really big time there too.

Much as Prince Khalid Abdullah would, no doubt, have loved to stand Trade Fair at Banstead Manor, such a move could not really have been justified. Although on his day the horse had looked to come from the very top drawer, ultimately he had proved unable to win above Group Three level. The horse thus found himself retiring to Tweenhills Stud in Gloucestershire (which, ironically, is now home to a genuinely top-class Classic winner, the 2010 2,000 Guineas hero Makfi) in 2006 at a fee of 4,000 GBP. The horse shuttled thence to Lynward Park Stud in Western Australia – and in 2010 the decision was taken that he would remain there permanently.

The reason why Trade Fair did not return to the UK at the end of 2010 was that he had not come up with the required number of stakes performers in Europe, whatever that number might be. His first crop of juveniles in 2009 had contained no such horses, while when these horses had turned three in 2010 the only stakes form had been posted by Miss Starlight (an English-trained Group Three winner in Germany who had fetched merely 1,500 gns as a yearling) and the one-time Derby hope Fair Trade, who like his sire before him had not lived up to expectations (but who had finally managed to finish third in a Group Three race at Newmarket as an autumn three-year-old). One could justifiably argue that Trade Fair had done very well for a horse who had covered very few mares with pretensions to breeding stakes performers – but, absurdly, lack of opportunity does not seem to be regarded as an excuse in the modern world of superficial judgements and snap verdicts.

Last year Trade Fair came up with his first European Group winner when his second crop son Al Rep landed the Group Three Premio Parioli (Italy’s version of the 2,000 Guineas) in Rome. Now, from his third crop, he has a Classic contender in Britain too, courtesy of the previously-ignored Moonstone Magic, who also boasts a pedigree in which ‘black type’ is scarce. Trade Fair is clearly capable of upgrading his mares – so Britain’s loss is West Australia’s gain. He is currently at Alwyn Park Stud (standing in association with Lynward Park Stud) and he can only be an asset to the racing and breeding scenes in the state. He has so far only been represented by one stakes performer in Perth (the Trevor Andrews-trained Absolute Pleasure, a place-getter in Perth’s premier two-year-old race, the Karrakatta Plate, in 2010) but there will surely be many more in the fullness of time. And it wouldn’t be a complete shock if he ultimately ranks as sire of a European Group One winner too.

story posted Tuesday 24th April 2012 by THOROUGHBRED INTERNET