One of the great attractions of this game has always been the idea that everyone participates with some kind of a chance. Yes, there will always be a certain level of domination from the big players but the fact remains a good horse can spring from anywhere, allowing others to benefit from any updates left in its wake.
The story of Mehdaayih, whose romp in last week’s Cheshire Oaks marked her down as a serious Oaks candidate, is not of a humble nature. Bred by Rabbah Bloodstock, she is owned by Nasser Lootah, the owner of prominent Australian operation Emirates Park, and is from the third crop of Frankel, bred when he stood for £125,000. And as befits a daughter of Frankel, she is classically connected on her dam’s side as a granddaughter of the brilliant Sayyedati.
So how did Anthony Mithen of Rosemont Stud in Australia come to buy her dam Sayyedati Symphony for just €8,000 less than six months ago?
Sayyedati Symphony came under the hammer last November at Goffs as part of the Rabbah Bloodstock draft within the Godolphin consignment. Then aged 13, she had not produced a live foal since Mehdaayih in 2016, was listed as having foaled two minor winners from six foals of racing age and was barren to Australia. However, Mithen was alive to the fact that Mehdaayih had broken her maiden for John Gosden only four weeks before at Yarmouth (form that subsequently looks very strong given the recent exploits of the third home that day, recent Pretty Polly Stakes winner Maqsad). Nor did it matter that she was empty when that meant she could be shipped out almost immediately to Australia.
Mithen wasn’t the only one to strike gold that day at Goffs, however, since the Godolphin draft also included another barren half-sister in Lonely Ahead. By Rahy and rated 100 in her pomp, the mare was picked up by Ana O’Brien for just €6,500.
Sayyedati spent the entirety of her stud career in Kentucky and left behind five winners
Judging by the way Mehdaayih quickened clear at Chester, the Emirates Park filly could be on the cusp of becoming the most accomplished descendant of Sayyedati. Flashes of talent have been exhibited within this family over the past two decades – the mare’s own son Almushahar looked particularly promising in a career that was restricted to just two starts for David Loder back in 2003 – but until now, little has come close to mirroring Sayyedati’s achievements for Clive Brittain during the early 1990s.
Mohamed Obaida’s filly was the second foal out of Italian champion Dubian, the Premio Lydia Tesio winner of 1986 and a half-sister to three-time Champion Hurdle hero See You Then. A daughter of stamina influence High Line, Dubian would later throw a 12-furlong horse of real significance to Danzig in Golden Snake. Sayyedati, however, was more reminiscent of the miling brilliance of her sire Shadeed, the 2,000 Guineas winner of 1985. Shadeed ultimately wound up as a disappointment at stud, in keeping with a number of sons of Nijinsky, but in his defence he did leave behind two stars of the early 1990s, with Sayyedati’s Classic season following not long after that of another Group 1-winning miler, Shadayid.
Clive Brittain was never one to shirk a challenge during his lengthy training career and in Sayyedati, he had a filly with which to go to war early during 1992.
There was a suggestion that she had bumped into one when second to Sumoto, a much hyped filly trained by Geoff Wragg, on debut at Ascot. Undeterred, Brittain next sent Sayyedati to the Cherry Hinton Stakes at Newmarket, in which she duly obliged as favourite, before saddling her to win the Moyglare Stud and Cheveley Park Stakes; the latter was billed as a major clash between Sayyedati and the pocket rocket Lyric Fantasy, fresh off her victory against older horses in the Nunthorpe Stakes, but the result was never really in any doubt as Sayyedati made all to win easily.
That end of season flourish was enough for Timeform to rate Sayyedati as their leading two-year-old filly of 1992 and there was more of the same the following year as she went on to add the 1,000 Guineas and Prix Jacques les Marois to become the year’s champion three-year-old filly.
It would be disappointing if Mehdaayih didn’t turn out to be the best of the group
Rather unusually for a Classic winner, she remained in training over the next two years, during which time she won the Sussex Stakes and ran placed in the Breeders’ Cup Mile and another two renewals of the Prix Jacques les Marois.
A tough filly whose 22-race career took in starts across Europe, North America and Japan, she retired having won five Group 1 races with placings in a further seven.
Sayyedati spent the entirety of her stud career in Kentucky. She left behind five winners, of which Almushahar was by far the best; the Silver Hawk colt entered Classic calculations when taking the 2002 Champagne Stakes at Doncaster for David Loder but was never seen again following his switch to Godolphin. The aforementioned Lonely Ahead also showed good form for Clive Brittain, notably when fourth in the 2005 Lowther Stakes. Thus, there was something rather unsavoury about Sayyedati’s entry as a 16-year-old to the 2006 Keeneland November Sale; thankfully she was withdrawn.
Several of her daughters naturally received some excellent opportunities at stud, so there was always going to be a fair chance that this line would gain greater standing as time went on. One such daughter was Djebel Amour, a minor winner by Mt Livermore who foaled the Group 3-placed Smart Coco. Another was Sayyedati Storm, subsequently responsible for the Cumberland Lodge Stakes winner Star Storm – in another boost for the family, her two-year-old filly by Sea The Stars made €520,000 to John and Jake Warren at last week’s Arqana May Breeze-Up Sale.
It would be disappointing, however, if Mehdaayih didn’t turn out to be the best of the group.
She is one of 41 stakes winners out of the first three crops by Frankel, also the sire of Saturday’s impressive Lingfield Oaks Trial heroine Anapurna. Both fillies now trade at under 10/1 for the Oaks.
Frankel’s stud career has played out amid exceptionally high expectations, as you would expect for a horse so dominant himself on the track. In turn, his books have comprised some of the best mares available worldwide – indeed, Mehdaayih is one of five stakes winners by the horse produced by a non stakes-winning or producing mare. But while the wait for a first European Classic winner continues, he did become the fastest European-based stallion last year to hit the landmark of 20 Group or Graded stakes winners. He is also currently operating at a very good stakes winners to foals of racing age ratio of 10%.
Interestingly, many of Frankel’s progeny seem to stay better than he did himself. Mehdaayih is one example, despite the miling influences within her female family, and such has been her recent progression that she surely heads to the Oaks with a seriously live chance of adding that much anticipated first European Classic winner to her sire’s record.