Height of Fashion’s Strong Influence

On Sunday Saint-Cloud, France, hosted three black-type races, two of which were won by horses that are related in direct line to the Champion Stakes winner and stallion at Nunnery Stud, Nayef. The Prix de Malleret (Gr.2) was won by his daughter Al Wathna, the Prix de Saint-Patrick (L) by his grandson Ghaaly, the son of the Prix Jean Prat winner Tamayuz. Through Nayef, both have in their veins the blood of one of the most successful broodmares in thoroughbred history, Height of Fashion.

photo Shadwell

Bred by the Queen and running in her silks, Height of Fashion was of an excellent pedigree. She was sired by the St Leger, Coronation Cup winner and the runner up in the “race of the century”, the 1975 King George and Queen Elizabeth Stakes, Bustino, later to become an excellent damsire. Her dam Highclere won the 1,000 Guineas and Prix de Diane and besides Height of Fashion went down to thoroughbred history as the great granddam of the Japanese superstar Deep Impact. Unbeaten at two, Height of Fashion was voted the Champion Two-Year-Old Filly, at three her best achievement was the victory in the Princess of Wales’s Stakes at Newmarket where she beat by two lengths the future champion sire in Czechoslovakia, Amyndas, with the excellent stayer Ardross finishing third. After this victory the mare was bought by the Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum for 1.5 million pounds and after two demanding Gr. 1 starts, in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes and Yorkshire Oaks, the only two races of her career where she was unplaced, she was retired to stud.

There she made an excellent performance indeed. Of her twelve progeny ten raced and eight won, six in black-type races, two more winners were black-type placed. Her most successful progeny was Nashwan by Blushing Groom who, as a three-year-old, won the 2,000 Guineas, The Derby and the King George and Queen Elizabeth Stakes. The chestnut Nashwan, however, is not the only Gr.1 winner among Height of Fashion’s progeny – Nayef by Gulch joined the ranks by winning the Champion Stakes. The brothers Unfuwain and Alwasmi by Northern Dancer were excellent too, the first of them, one of the best-rated European three-year-olds in 1988, won the Princess of Wales’s Stakes (Gr.2) and Jockey Club Stakes (Gr.2) and went to become a very good stallion, Alwasmi won the John Porter Stakes (Gr.3) and finished fourth in the St Leger, but he was significantly less successful at stud. A black-type victory and the opportunity at stud were achieved also by Mukddaam, the winner of the Fred Archer Stakes. Of Height of Fashion’s daughters it was Sarayir who performed best on the racecourse and at stud, herself a listed winner, but, above all, the dam of the 1,000 Guineas and Coronation Stakes winner Ghanaati, the Cumberland Lodge Stakes (Gr. 3) Mawatheeq and the listed winner and the third in the Oaks Rumoush. Nevertheless each of Height of Fashion’s daughters established a family that produced a black-type winner, the only exception being Deyaajeer by Davjur whose family has not produced a black-type winner so far but her great granddaughter Baresquina finished third in the Gr. 1 Alberto Solari Magnasco in Chile.

I took the pains to count all black-type winners whose pedigrees include Height of Fashion. This may come as a surprise to you but the Sunday Saint-Cloud winners were numbers 472 and 473! Given the fact that the mare left this world sixteen years ago this month, this is a very impressive number indeed.

The family established by Height of Fashion, i.e. herself, her daughters, granddaughters and great granddaughters, has contributed to this number by twenty-three black-type winners. Among them, the most important one is the above mentioned classic winner Ghanaati, the granddaughter of Height of Fashion, but the family has also produced the Argentinian Gr.1 winner Il Fornaio (whose dam is inbred to Height of Fashion), the winner of the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf (Gr.1) Lahudood, the winner of Temple Stakes (Gr.2) Hot Streak and it got in India where Allez Vite, the grandson of Height of Fashion’s maiden daughter Manwah won the Golconda Saint Leger.

Despite the achievements of the family that is still expanding into more branches, Height of Fashion’s influence in pedigrees of black-type winners is borne mainly by her sons. Although Nashwan was the most successful on the racecourse, at stud he was beaten by his one year older half-brother Unfuwain. Despite the fact that his stud career ended prematurely at seventeen, he produced forty-five black-type winners (nine more than Nashwan) and, above all, managed to produce a successful follower, the English Champion Two-Year-Old, the winner of the Dewhurt Stakes Alhaarth, himself the sire of twenty-four black-type winners and the damsire of fifty-six. Alhaarth is a good example of a fact that cannot be overlooked among the sons of Height of Fashion – they are excellent damsires, often more successful as damsires than as sires. In Unfuwain’s case it is not that apparent – at least from the perspective of numbers, since the sire of forty-five black-type winners is the damsire of nearly identical number of stakes winners – forty-three to be precise. This fact is much more pronounced with Nashwan. The brilliant racehorse stayed slightly behind expectations as a stallion, nevertheless produced a number of top horses such as the double winner of the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes Swain or the winner of the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe Bago, but while in the position of the sire he can be found in pedigrees of thirty-six black-type winners, in the damsire position the number is nearly two-fold – sixty-nine black-type winners and in the position of the granddam sire it is thirty-eight black-type winners including seven Gr.1 winners. He appears in the fourth generation of pedigrees as the great granddam sire and in this position he can be found in pedigrees of six black-type winners, including the winner of the Champagne Stakes (Gr. 1) in Australia, Pasadena Girl. We should not forget one old truth – the racing champions who disappoint as sires often become successful damsires. This is due to the fact that they get broodmares of excellent families and even if they failed to deliver on the vision as sires, their daughters, thanks to their elite families, fare well with other stallions. We would not call Nashwan a disappointing stallion but I think this fact plays a role in his case too. The case in point being Pasadena Girl, whose granddam, Nashwan’s daughter Panache Arabelle, who raced just once without success, is the daughter of the excellent dam Bella Colora, the daughter of the legendary broodmare Reprocolor.

But let us return back to Height of Fashion and bearers of her talent in pedigrees of stakes winners. As I said, it was Unfuwain who did tremendous job in spreading her influence, thanks to which we can find Height of Fashion’s blood in pedigrees of 201 black-type winners. Nashwan, despite the achievements of his daughters, granddaughters and great granddaughters, and despite the fact that six of his sons managed to produce black-type winners, is the second most important bearer of that influence with 190 black-type winners. The third is Nayef, the sire of twenty-four black-type winners, whose trump up his sleeve could be Tamayuz, who has his fourth crop of three-year-olds on the racecourse this year and has sired twelve black-type winners so far.

Tamayuz is today, together with his sire Nayef, the most influential bearer of Height of Fashion’s blood today. But the family is active too and we can even find two black-type winners (Mulaqen, Idonea) and four black-type placed horses (Whiplash Willie, Bobbyscot, Famous Warrior and Elabela), who are inbred to Height of Fashion. Simply put, the influence of Height of Fashion does not get lost.

Miloslav Vlček

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