Remembering Nashwan

It was no easy thing to follow English racing from behind the Iron Curtain. News arrived with terrible delays and the opportunity to watch English or other races live was something that one did not even dream about. But still you could pick your favourites who you followed, albeit from distance and with delay.

One of my first favourites was the chestnut Nashwan, whom I came to like perhaps also because when he was leaving for stud, I got hold of his presentation video and was mesmerised by the style of his victories and by his exterior. I still remember the caller’s voice commenting on the final yards of The Derby, shouting in excitement “It’s a one horse race!”.

Much time has passed since then, the flow of information has sped up significantly thanks to the Internet; moreover there is no Iron Curtain to prevent fans from viewing the stars of world racing on TV channels or to go and see them live. Despite this, my memory of Nashwan’s finish in The Derby, the first one I saw, albeit with a delay of several months, remains vivid.

At stud I crossed fingers for Nashwan too and although he is sometimes assessed as “left behind expectations”, his performance was certainly not bad, especially if you take into account the fact that he had hardly 500 runners and his stud career and life was sadly ended prematurely at sixteen due to complications following an injured leg surgery. His best progeny included the two-time King George winner Swain and the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe winner Bago; among fillies a special mention deserves the winner of the International Stakes One So Wonderful. Nashwan produced a total of 38 black-type winners with a relatively high share (6.2%) of stakes winners among all foals of racing age.

His two most successful sons on the racecourse fare best at stud too, but none has made it really to the top. The already pensioned Swain produced eleven black-type winners including the Flower Bowl Invitational (Gr.1) winner Dimitrova, the Japan-based Bago has sired, among others, the 2010 St Leger winner Big Week and in the same year Oken Sakura was the runner-up in the Oak Sho (Japanese 1,000 Guineas). However, only eight of his progeny have won a stake race so the demand is decreasing and last year he had just 22 mares while in the season following his classic double he had 153 mares. Among Nashwan’s sons Eljohar fares pretty well. The son of the 1,000 Guineas winner Mehthaaf won just a maiden race but at Mukeshwar Stud, India, he produced, among others, the winner of the Bangalore 1,000 Guines (IND-Gr.2).     

Nashwan has a considerable higher impact on today’s racing through his daughters and their progeny which was proved most recently in the Hungarian Derby on Sunday. The race was won by Eminens, whose dam Equibeauta is by Nashwan. Hungarian Derby lacks the black-type status but even without Eminens Nashwan’s daughters have already produced 70 black-type winners and their daughter more 42. Even the daughters of the daughters of these daughters already produce stakes winners as is the case with the Champagne Stakes (Gr.1) winner Pasadena Girl.

It is eventually thanks to these daughters that Nashwan figures most frequently on the sire sides of black-type winners’ pedigrees. The most successful sire out of Nashwan’s daughters was foaled in a country that you would not guess – in Japan. His name is Win Legend, he is the son of Sunday Silence and won the listed Aoi Stakes in Kyoto. The son of Nashwan’s daughter Shinko Nobby, the granddaughter of the legendary Where You Lead, placed in Japan several times in stakes races, went to stud at Dashmesh Stud Farm, India, and today belongs among the most successful young sires at stud in India. His daughter Hall of Famer won the Indian Derby (IND-Gr.1) and Calcutta Derby Stakes (IND-Gr.1) this year, another daughter Angel Dust won the Derby Bangalore (ID-Gr.1) two years ago and this year Bangalore Derby (IND-Gr.1).

In Europe, the most promising bearer of Nashwan’s blood is the sprinter Bated Breath, who – however – has Nashwan only in the third generation of his pedigree. Bated Breath’s first two-year-olds look very promising and this Saturday at the Curragh, his son Beckford won the Gr.2 Railway Stakes. He thus became not just the first group winner produced by this Juddmonte sire but also the inspiration for this column. He is the first stakes horse in whose pedigree Nashwan is represented twice. The second influence is brought in by his granddam, the listed placed Whirly Bird, and Beckford is thus 4x3 inbred to Nashwan. Twenty-six years after the first progeny of Nashwan were foaled a black-type race was won by the first thoroughbred who is inbred to one of the most impressive winners of The Derby.

Miloslav Vlček

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