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Lammtarra was an undefeated Thoroughbred racehorse who won three Group One races in 1995 and was voted the Cartier Three-Year-Old European Champion Colt. He won the Epsom Derby in record time, the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes and the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe.

The colt was owned by Saeed bin Maktoum al Maktoum, whose father, Sheikh Maktoum, bred Lammtarra at his Gainsborough Farm in Versailles, Kentuckymarker. He was sired by Nijinsky by Northern Dancer out of Snow Bride by Blushing Groom. For the latter part of his career, he was trained by Saeed bin Suroor and ridden by Frankie Dettori.

However, despite his brilliance on the racecourse, Lammtarra was tested in only four races and was one of the most lightly raced Derby winners in history.

Epsom Derby

The son of Nijinsky's thrilling Epsom Derby triumph in June 1995 came just months after the tragic fatal shooting of his young trainer Alex Scott. Scott was killed at his Newmarket stables in September 1994, at the age of just 34.

Before his untimely death, Scott had been dreaming of Epsom glory with a two-year-old colt in his care. Indeed, he was so confident of Classic success that he backed the horse before it even ran, placing £1000 at 33/1 with Ladbrokes. Lammtarra was the apple of his eye, and won his only race as a two-year-old, in the informative Washington Singer Stakes at Newbury. He was certainly bred to be an Epsom great, being a son of Derby winner Nijinsky out of Oaks heroine Snow Bride. But after the death of his handler, the colt was sent to Sheikh Mohammed's Godolphin operation to continue his career.

He was trained by Saeed bin Suroor as a three-year-old, with the Derby as his first main target.

However, Lammtarra very nearly didn't get to the Derby at all. During the early part of the season, he was a sick horse and his participation was in grave doubt. When he arrived at Epsom on the big day, it was for his seasonal reappearance and his first run in 302 days.

Lammtarra was a 14-1 shot to emulate his sire 25 years earlier, with Walter Swinburn as his jockey. The market was dominated by Andre Fabre's impressive 2,000 Guineas winner Pennekamp (11-8). Second favourite was Peter Chapple-Hyam's Spectrum (11-4), an easy winner of the Irish 2000.

There was no hint of what was to come as the field rounded Tattenham Corner, with Lammtarra stuck on the rails towards the rear of the field. With two furlongs left, Walter Swinburn managed to get clear and suddenly Lammtarra gathered speed. Frankie Dettori's swoop on 9-1 shot Tamure had seemed certain to carry him to victory, but Lammtarra quickened in devastating fashion to make up at least six lengths in the last furlong and a half. He overtook Tamure deep inside the final furlong and won going away by a length. There were emotional scenes in the winner's enclosure afterwards, as Swinburn and Sheikh Mohammed paid tribute to Alex Scott. Normally, bookmakers will cancel a bet if the person placing it dies. However, Ladbrokes were willing to let Scott's ante-post bet on Lammtarra stand and paid the winnings to his widow..

Proof of Lammtarra's ability came in the official time for the race, an astonishing two minutes 32.21 seconds, 1.53 seconds inside the previous Derby best and which still stands today.

Lammtarra had been brilliant at Epsom, but with only two races under his belt in his life there was still more to come.

King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes

His next appearance was in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot. Lammtarra had a new jockey for this race, Frankie Dettori having replaced the unlucky Swinburn. As the field began to race a couple of furlongs out Dettori started to get to work on Lammtarra. But Geoff Wragg's improving colt Pentire was cruising up on the outside, seemingly with plenty in hand.

Pentire got to the front but only briefly as Dettori summoned up all his energies and pushed furiously as Lammtarra battled back to get his head back in front and take victory. After the race Dettori said his mount had the heart of a lion. The horse would be tested just once more on a racecourse - in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp.

Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe

This was probably Lammtarra's greatest day, as he succeeded where so many Derby winners had failed. Dettori settled him in the perfect position, just off the pace. Dettori then sent the chestnut into the lead just over two furlongs out and from then on it was a battle to the line. Challengers queued up to take a shot at the English horse, but all failed. Dettori drove Lammtarra home and at the line the 21-10 favourite had three-quarters of a length to spare over Freedom Cry, with Swain two lengths further back in third.

The Arc was a fitting climax to Lammtarra's racing career, and he was sent to stud unbeaten with a high value.

Retirement

Lammtarra stood his first season at Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum's Dalham Hall Stud near Newmarketmarker. At the end of the 1996 breeding season he was sold to a group of Japanese breeders for $30 million where he initially had a stud fee of 30,000 pounds. His offspring met with limited success and his fee was reduced later to 2,500 pounds with a live foal guarantee. Although the foals have not been great performers, mares sired by him are highly sought after, due to Lammtarra's excellent bloodlines. In August 2006 it was announced that Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum had bought back Lammtarra from Japan's Arrow Stud.

Dettori said Lammtarra was "possibly" the best horse he's ever ridden. "Maybe Lammtarra is the best, because he remained unbeaten...".

Pedigree

See also



References




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