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Irish 1000 Guineas heroine Imagine

by Nigel PullenŠ

The victory of the three-year-old filly Imagine in the G1 Irish 1000 Guineas gave trainer Aidan O'Brien his second Irish classic victory of the season, following the success of Black Minnaloushe in the previous day's Irish 2000 Guineas. This was not the only common thread between the two races, for both saw Aidan O'Brien trained horses finishing first and third, and both winners had half-brothers who had already won a European Classic race, Imagine's illustrious half-brother being the English and Irish Derby winner Generous.

Imagine (by Sadler's Wells - Doff The Derby by Master Derby - Margarethen by Tulyar) had been the third top rated juvenile filly in Ireland last season, when she had raced consistently; winning twice and earning places in the G1 Ascot Fillies Mile and G2 Rockfel Stakes.

Her granddam Margarethen was a wonderfully tough race mare. She stayed in training for four seasons, winning sixteen of her sixty-four starts, including five stakes events. Her pedigree had plenty of interest, as it featured the half brothers Bois Roussel and Sir Gallahad III 3x3, and the three quarter relatives Neocracy and Nasrullah 2x2. Neocracy and Nasrullah were both by Nearco, and their dams were daughters and granddaughters of Blandford respectively. These two sets of genetic relatives were themselves linked by virtue of the fact that Plucky Liege, the dam of Bois Roussel and Sir Gallahad III, possessed a similar Spearmint/St Simon cross to Nearco's dam Nogara.

Toughness was certainly the trademark of Margarethen's offspring when she retired to stud. Her second and third foals, Dunkirk (by Prince John) and Margravine (by Hail To Reason), proved useful winners in France, but it was her 1974 produce by Hail To Reason that really epitomised her. Named Trillion, she won nine of her thirty-one races in the four seasons she raced. Amongst these victories were seven Group/Graded events, climaxed by the G1 Prix Ganay; and she also finished second in ten G1 events, including the Prix de L'Arc de Triomphe, French Oaks and Washington D C International Stakes.

At stud Trillion produced an even more remarkable performer in the shape of the filly Triptych (by Riverman). She raced for five seasons, scoring in fourteen of her forty-one starts. In that time she always raced in top company winning at least one G1 event in each of her five seasons, and her nine G1 victories covered a host of top races, namely the Prix Marcel Boussac, Irish 2000 Guineas (beating the colts), English Champion Stakes (twice), International Stakes, Coronation Cup (twice), Irish Champion Stakes and Prix Ganay. Just as remarkable was the fact that she was placed in a further eighteen G1 events.

In view of this record it is a shade ironic the Margarethen name may ultimately survive in future pedigrees via her unraced daughter Doff The Derby. The latter was sired by Preakness Stakes winner Master Derby, and was unraced as a result of fracture, not as one might suppose to her leg, but to her tail. Since the tail is an important piece of equipment in balancing and steering it is understandable that she never ventured on to a racetrack.

Master Derby may have been a pretty ordinary sire, but his pedigree certainly had elements to reinforce the background of Margarethen. For instance, he added a third daughter of Plucky Liege in the shape of Sir Gallahad III's full brother Bull Dog; making Doff The Derby 5x4x4 to sons of that mare. In addition, Master Derby supplied Crafty Admiral, whose sire Fighting Fox was a full brother to none other than Margarethen's granddam Marguery, while Crafty Admiral also added a further strain of Bull Dog.

One other important feature concerning Marguery was that her third dam Seraph (by St Simon - St Marina by Janissary by St Marguerite) was a three quarter sister to the mare Roquebrune (by St Simon - St Marguerite). The latter was the dam of Rock Sand, who was not only present in Crafty Admiral's pedigree, but was also found 3x4 in Eight Thirty (sire of Master Derby's maternal grandsire Royal Coinage).

As there was no chance of Doff the Derby racing, she was actually covered as a two-year-old by the stallion Jaklin Klugman, and the resultant filly, Windy Triple K, won five of her forty nine starts in America before being exported to New Zealand.

Between then and the appearance of Imagine, Doff the Derby has produced four above average performers. Her second foal, Wedding Bouquet (by Kings Lake), won G3 races in both Ireland and America; and her next foal, Generous (by Caerleon) proved himself a horse of the highest class with four G1 victories. After springing a surprise in the G1 Dewhurst Stakes at two, Generous went on the following season to win the mid-summer G1 treble of English Derby (by five lengths), Irish Derby (by three lengths) and King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes (by seven lengths). He now stands as a stallion in New Zealand after a stint in Japan.

Doff The Derby's other offspring worthy of a mention were the Japanese winner Osumi Tycoon (by Last Tycoon) and Irish 1000 Guineas runner-up Strawberry Roan (by Sadler's Wells), the latter, of course, being a full sister to Imagine.

When considering the pedigrees of many of the descendants of the mare Margarethen, the one common thread always seems to be the build up of the mare Plucky Liege, together with that of Rock Sand and his close genetic relative Seraph. With this in mind the key strain supplied by Imagine's sire Sadler's Wells could be Hail To Reason, the sire of his maternal grandsire Bold Reason.

A look at Hail To Reason's pedigree reveals that he was 3x3 to Plucky Liege's sons Admiral Drake and Sir Gallahad III; while his dam Nothirdchance was 3x4 to Man O'War (whose maternal grandsire was Rock Sand). Furthermore, Hail To Reason traced tail female to the mare Trefle, who was by Sainfoin - Cimiez by St Frusquin (by St Simon) - Antibes by Isonomy - St Marguerite. This has a familiar ring to it, as Trefle was bred on very similar lines to Sainfoin's son Rock Sand, and Cimiez was a three quarter sister to the aforementioned Seraph.

It is worth recalling that Hail To Reason was also the sire of Margarethen's daughter Trillion. There is yet a further twist, for Sadler's Wells had two more sources of this potent genetic background in his pedigree, namely Nantallah, the sire of his third dam Thong; and Abbots Trace, the sire of Nearctic's third dam. Nantallah's dam Shimmer was 3x3 to Sir Gallahad III, once via Gallant Fox, who was a full brother to none other than Fighting Fox and Marguery. While Abbots Trace was 4x3 to Rock Sand's granddam St Marguerite and her full sister St Honorat. It is surely no coincidence that Hail To Reason, Abbots Trace and Gallant Fox were also present in the pedigree of Generous's sire Caerleon.

All this opens up some intriguing possibilities for Imagine when she retires to the paddocks, but before that she will attempt to follow in the hoofprints of her half brother Generous at Epsom Downs, where the Oaks is her next target.

Copyright Nigel Pullen 2001.