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Irish Oaks winner Lailani

by Nigel Pullen

When Imagine passed the post to win the 2001 Epsom Oaks, few could have realised that just two hours later, another Oaks winner would be making her hoofprints in the Epsom turf. Those who stayed on for the final race of the day saw the improving three-year-old filly Lailani win the ten furlong Vodafone Handicap, and thus record her fourth win of the season from as many starts. Just five weeks later, Lailani made the transition from Handicap to Group 1 company in the Irish Oaks, and battled on well to secure the classic from her stable companion Mot Juste by a neck.

Lailani now becomes the sixth Group 1 winner for her sire Unfuwain, himself a late maturing colt and a half brother to Nashwan. Five of those winners were fillies, and they included two previous Irish Oaks heroines in Bolas and Petrushka. Perhaps the reason for this bias for fillies can be attributed to the fact that Unfuwain's dam Height Of Fashion was linebred to two of the most influential broodmares in the stud book; being 5x4 to Feola and 5x5 to Rose Red. In fact Height of Fashion was 4x3 to one set of three quarter siblings in Above Board/Hypericum, and 4x3 to another in Rosetta/Borealis, these siblings being descendants of the mares Feola and Rose Red respectively. We shall see later that these two mares played an important role in the pedigree of Lailani. On the racetrack both won two races as three year olds; but Feola was undoubtedly the more talented. She had been purchased as a yearling for 3,000 guineas in 1934 for King George V, and was good enough to finish runner-up in the English 1000 Guineas and third in the Epsom Oaks.

Lailani's female family was decidedly American in origin, having been resident there since the dawn of the twentieth century. Her third dam, Minstrelete, was a daughter of Round Table, and a winner of one of her twelve starts. She was one of six winners produced by the mare Gay Violin, the best being the Jersey Stakes (G3) and Waterford Crystal Mile (G3) winner Gay Fandando (by Forli); Minstrelete's full brother Happy Strings; and Hollywood Oaks runner up Cellist (by Bagdad).

Minstrelete herself was 2x4 to Princequillo through a son and daughter. At stud, Minstrelete bred a total of nine winners, but the only one of any real quality was Punctilio (by Forli) a G3 winner in Ireland, and later a stallion in Argentina. Ultimately, Minstrelete's first foal would become her most influential. Named Carduel, she was a daughter of Buckpasser, and managed a single win from five starts.

Carduel's pedigree was pretty much an outcross with the only duplication in the first six generations being a 4x5 cross of Blue Larkspur. However, this did come through two closely related individuals in Businesslike and Blue Lu. Both were daughters of Blue Larkspur, and while Businesslike was out of a mare by Teddy, Blue Lu's pedigree featured Teddy's full brother, Adam. In a long stud career, Carduel has so far bred five winners of twelve races, with her standard bearers being her sons Always Fair (By Danzig) and Faithful Son (by Zilzal). Both were Group winners in Europe; Always Fair winning the Coventry Stakes (G3) and Prix Quincey (G3); while Faithful Son's finest hour came when beating G1 winners Chester House and Daylami in the Prince Of Wales's Stakes (G2) at Royal Ascot.

In 1990, Carduel foaled Lailani's dam, a filly by Mr Prospector called Lailati. Since she was by Mr Prospector out of a Buckpasser mare, Lailati was in fact a three quarter genetic relative to the G1 winners Mining, Miswaki and Seeking The Gold. However, she failed to live up to her regal heritage; the nearest she ever came to winning in five starts was third place in ten furlong maiden events at Sandown Park and Folkestone. Lailani is Lailati's fourth foal, her first two Look And Learn (by Rockhopper) and Copper Carnival (by Petit Loup) both winning races between a mile and a mile and a half in France.

At first glance it is all too easy to attribute the Northern Dancer/Mr Prospector cross in Lailani's pedigree as the key factor, and after all wasn't last year's English 1000 Guineas winner Lahan also by Unfuwain out of a Mr Prospector mare? However, I believe there is a much more important factor at work in Lailani's pedigree. It has already been mentioned that Unfuwain's dam Height Of Fashion was linebred to both Feola (5x4) and Rose Red (5x5). This becomes particularly significant when we consider the pedigree of Lailani's third dam Minstrelete.

Her sire Round Table was by Princequillo out of Knight's Daughter by Sir Cosmo out of Feola. This made Round Table a very close relative to the stallion Doutelle who was by Prince Chevalier out of Above Board by Straight Deal out of Feola. Princequillo and Prince Chevalier themselves both being by Prince Rose with strains of Tracery and Cyllene close up in their pedigrees. Right on cue, Doutelle is found in the pedigree of Height Of Fashion, making Lailani 5x4 to Doutelle and Round Table.

Next let us consider the stallion Turn-To, who appears in the third generation of Minstrelete. Turn-To was 3x3 to Pharos, and his granddam Lavendula II was by Pharos out of Sweet Lavender by Swynford out of Marchetta. This background is picked up in Height Of Fashion by the mare Paving Stone, the granddam of Height Of Fashion's sire Bustino. Paving Stone was by Pharos's full brother Fairway out of Rosetta by Kantar out of Rose Red by Swynford out of Marchetta. Thus the backgrounds of Turn-To and Paving Stone complement each other through the full brother Pharos/Fairway and the full sisters Sweet Lavender/Rose Red; and they appear 5x6 in Lailani's pedigree.

There is one further link between Minstrelete and Unfuwain's dam Height Of Fashion. Minstrelete's maternal grandsire Sir Gaylord traced tail female to the mare Cinq A Sept (by Roi Herode out of Rackety Coo by Corcyra out of Bill And Coo. Significantly, Height Of Fashion's grandsire Busted came from this family too, since he traced tail female to Cinq A Sept's three quarter sister Tete A Tete, who was by The Tetrarch (by Roi Herode) out of Bill and Coo.

So what we in fact have is the doubling up of the Feola/Rose Red strains in Unfuwain's dam, reinforced in Lailani thanks to Minstrelete's background of Round Table and Turn To. This is not an isolated occurrence, for a look at the Group winners sired by Unfuwain's half brother Nashwan reveals crosses with Round Table and Turn-To as well. Aqaarid and Nadia have Round Table; Bint Shadayid, Didina and One So Wonderful have Turn-To, while Bint Salsabil has both. Furthermore the sole Group winner to date out of a Nashwan mare, named Solvig, is sired by Caerleon whose own dam is by Round Table out of a granddaughter of Turn-To.

It is fascinating to consider that all these Group winners mentioned above were fillies, and this strongly indicates that both Nashwan and Unfuwain are potential broodmare sires of the future.

July 22, 2001. Copyright by Nigel Pullen 2001.