Gone but not forgotten: Zenda's legacy in safe keeping

The news of the mare's death provided a sombre slant to a week that had shown her in an excellent light

Elite families can ebb and flow within those larger operations but the Bahamian clan has rarely been one such example, instead being admired for its consistency in throwing high-class runners alongside stallions of significance.

Bahamian entered the Juddmonte Farms fold as a yearling in 1987 following her purchase through George Blackwell for 310,000gns, no doubt with an eye towards her value as a broodmare. And well connected she was, too, not least as a member of the penultimate crop of Mill Reef, the leading British-based stallion of his time. Added to that, she was a daughter of Sorbus, whose demotion from first in the 1978 Irish Oaks had come sandwiched between runner-up efforts in the Irish 1,000 Guineas and Irish St Leger.

Bahamian did indeed go on to become the source of one of Juddmonte’s most important families but she was also pretty smart on the track for Jeremy Tree, her biggest success coming in the Lingfield Oaks Trial. Although subsequently no match for Diminuendo in the Oaks, she remained progressive throughout that autumn to record placings in the Prix de Pomone and Park Hill Stakes as Tree stepped her up in trip.

It was at stud, however, that Bahamian came into her own as the dam of seven winners, led by the 1993 Irish Oaks heroine Wemyss Bight, one of the best sired by Dancing Brave who in turn foaled Grand Prix de Paris winner Beat Hollow. Other daughters followed suit; the Listed-placed Trellis Bay foaled Group 2 winner Bellamy Cay alongside Listed scorer Cinnamon Bay, herself dam of Prix du Jockey Club hero New Bay, while minor winner Coraline foaled three excellent runners in Reefscape, Coastal Path and Martaline, all subsequently Grade 1 sires over jumps.

However, it is the branch belonging to her unraced daughter Hope, a sister to Wemyss Bight, that is proving most valuable to Juddmonte.

For starters, it yielded their champion sprinter Oasis Dream, who has supplemented his excellent racing career by becoming one of the stalwarts of the British bloodstock scene. And now it is responsible for arguably the most exciting young sire in Europe in Kingman, the best foal produced by Hope’s Classic-winning daughter, Zenda.

“Zenda’s legacy is set to be one of real significance”

Last Friday it was announced that Zenda had lost her battle with laminitis at Banstead Manor Stud at the age of 20. The news provided a sombre slant to a week that had shown Zenda in an excellent light, not just in her role as the dam of Kingman, who was to the fore throughout the Dante meeting as the sire of Musidora Stakes winner Nausha alongside the stakes-placed Twist ’N’ Shake and Surfman, but also of First Eleven, who booked his ticket to the Ebor Handicap with a game victory in the opening handicap at York, and granddam of the exciting Repartee.

Zenda was one of only three runners left behind by Hope but they were an extremely talented trio, starting with the admirable Warning gelding Hopeful Light, who won four races for John Gosden including a pair of Listed events. Zenda, from the first crop of Zamindar, was the mare’s third foal and immediately followed by Oasis Dream.

Between them, Zenda and Oasis Dream ensured it was an annus mirabilis for Hope during the course of 2002. Zenda initially was the star of the show, stepping up from a Windsor maiden win to victory in the Poule d’Essai des Pouliches in little under a month. Zenda got first run on the fast finishing Sophisticat that day and indeed, she was unable to resist the finishing kick of that Ballydoyle filly when the pair met again in the Coronation Stakes.

Best on quick ground, Zenda later ran second in the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup at Keeneland, by which time Oasis Dream had done his bit for the family by taking the Middle Park Stakes – a brilliantly quick horse, he would go on to win the July Cup and Nunthorpe Stakes the following year.

While Oasis Dream wasted little time in becoming one of the best British-based sires of the current era, Zenda endured a stuttering start to her stud career.

Zenda’s first foal, a Danzig colt named Nile Cruise, failed to win while her second, a Storm Cat filly named Rio Carnival, was afflicted by a cancer that resulted in the loss of part of her jaw and never ran; she has enjoyed some success at stud, however, notably as the dam of the stakes-placed Let’s Meet In Rio.

Few stallions have made such an impact in recent seasons as Kingman – Photo: George Selwyn

Non-winning progeny by Empire Maker and Johannesburg followed before Zenda returned to Europe. It was a move that seemed to do the trick as her next three foals turned out to be Panzanella (minor winner), Tercentenary Stakes hero Remote and Kingman.

Minor winner Present Tense has subsequently followed alongside the useful handicapper First Eleven, who added further black-type to the family when third in last year’s Cumberland Lodge Stakes.

What a difference a few years make. When Juddmonte catalogued Panzanella to the 2012 Tattersalls December Mares Sale, Zenda was credited as the dam of one winner from six foals of racing age. Just three years later and the page looked very different primarily thanks to Kingman, whose excellent three-year-old season comprised victories in the Irish 2,000 Guineas, St. James’s Palace Stakes, Sussex Stakes and Prix Jacques les Marois.

Remote had also looked a top-notcher in the making when successful in the 2013 Tercentenary Stakes at Royal Ascot but the son of Dansili was evidently hard to keep sound and ultimately made just one more low-key start before embarking on a stud career in Argentina.

“Kingman also promises to make his presence felt at Sandown on Thursday”

Few stallions have made such an impact in recent seasons as Kingman. The son of Invincible Spirit already has six first-crop stakes winners to his credit, led by recent Poule d’Essai des Poulains hero Persian King, last year’s Coventry Stakes winner Calyx, who made a scintillating winning return to action in the Merriebelle Pavilion Stakes at Ascot, and the aforementioned Musidora Stakes heroine Nausha.

Headman also looked a stakes performer in the making when carrying top weight to victory in Saturday’s London Gold Cup at Newbury, while Kingman also promises to make his presence felt at Sandown on Thursday, where he is responsible for five – Bellman, King Of Comedy, Raakib Alkawa, Roseman and Sangarius – of the 13 five-day declarations for the Heron Stakes.

It is short odds that Kingman will exert a significance presence at Royal Ascot, which is also seemingly the destination for Repartee following his excellent winning debut for Kevin Ryan at York on Thursday.

The colt, who shares his sire Invincible Spirit with Kingman, was bred by Wansdyke Farms and Joseph Burke out of Pleasantry, Zenda’s unraced daughter of Johannesburg. Pleasantry has already foaled one smart runner in Fajjaj, runner-up in last year’s German 2,000 Guineas, but judging by the way Repartee bounded five lengths clear of some well-regarded sorts at York, she would seem to be on the cusp of attaining greater heights.

Zenda’s legacy is set to be one of real significance and yet another example of the power of the Juddmonte breeding operation. Some breeders are now experimenting with inbreeding to Bahamian, which has already been advertised to good effect via Listed winners Castilion and Gobi Desert, and Kingman’s emergence as one of Europe’s leading lights now opens up the prospect of seeing more of the pattern via Hope. In the meantime, we can expect him and perhaps Repartee to add to the ever growing lustre of his family.

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