With promising Group 2 winner Laughing Lashes entered in the English One Thousand Guineas (G1), Runnymede President Brutus Clay and Vice President Martin O’Dowd seized the opportunity to attend the classic weekend at Newmarket, visit some of the internationally renowned studs in the area and check on a pair of juvenile colts in training with David Lanigan.
Although the Rowley Mile course left baked by an unseasonable dry spell did not suit Laughing Lashes, the Mr. Greeley filly bred by Runnymede in partnership with Robert P. Levy, the rest of the excursion was an unqualified success.
The juveniles, a bay by Rock of Gibraltar out of Tis Me and a chestnut by Danehill Dancer out of Capilla Bonita, made a strong impression while galloping up Warren Hill on the day that will be remembered as the coronation of Frankel in the Two Thousand Guineas (G1).
“Seeing the athleticism and fitness level of the colts galloping up that four-furlong hill, I was struck of the majestic beauty of the horses in this awe-inspiring setting,” said Clay, who was making his first trip to Newmarket. Both colts were bred by Runnymede and will race for farm Chairman Catesby W. Clay.
A highlight of the morning was the chance to chat with ten-time champion British trainer Henry Cecil just hours before Frankel, who is named for the late five-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer Bobby Frankel, cruised to an impressive six-length victory. Also notable was the sight of Lanigan’s string of two-year-olds winding their way through the streets of Newmarket on their way to and from the gallops.
“I was intrigued with how the horses are immersed in the community,” Clay said. “It was quite a sight to see 20 horses trained by David walking single file through the middle of town. You can’t help but think this is healthier as the horses get assimilated to traffic and people.
“And seeing Frankel win the Two Thousand Guineas and seeing the heartwarming response of the crowd for the horse and for Henry Cecil was remarkable,” Clay said. “The only other time I have witnessed such excitement for a horse was when Zenyatta ran for her 20th win in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) last year. Just like at Zenyatta’s Breeders’ Cup race, the roar of the Newmarket fans was for the sake of history. It was truly a moving experience.”
The Runnymede team also visited Prince Khalid Abdullah’s Banstead Manor Stud, where they inspected leading sires Oasis Dream and Dansili as well as second year stallion Champs Elysees, Dansili’s full brother who was the 2009 Canadian Horse of the Year.
Following the visit to Banstead Manor was a stop at Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum’s Dalham Hall Stud, home to world-leading third-crop sire Dubawi as well as other promising young stallions such as classic winners New Approach and Authorized. Stud Director Liam O'Rourke gave the Runnymede team a tour of the stallion complex and discussed the accomplishments of the horses.
Runnymede patronized Dubawi in his first season at stud and also has bred mares to New Approach and to Oasis Dream.
Sheikh Mohammed’s filly Blue Bunting eventually claimed victory in the One Thousand Guineas for his Godolphin stable, and her owner was on hand to accept the trophy with his wife, Princess Haya bint al Hussein of Jordan.
“In addition to the invaluable experience of seeing these exceptional stallions, we were able to speak with many people that Runnymede has done business with in the past or plans to connect with in the future,” Clay said. “The hospitality that David Lanigan and his wife, Amy, as well as our European trainers Brian Meehan and Jessica Harrington, and Banstead Manor, Dalham Hall and Newmarket Racecourse provided to us during our stay was incomparable. It was definitely a trip to remember.”