“LAMMTARRA was the best-loved horse that I bred who was destined to be a champion which he proved ”….....Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum
By Bob Sawhny
Mumbai: In my career as a hose racing columnist for 40 years, I have had the privilege and honor of witnessing some classy thoroughbreds on the International horse racing circuit. One of the highly exemplary ones was the bred in the purple three year chestnut colt- Lammtarra who was a majestic son of the 1970 Epsom Derby winner Nijinsky by Northern Dancer out of the 1989 Oaks prima donna - Snow Bride by Blushing Groom. He was an undefeated thoroughbred racehorse who won three Group One races in 1995 and was voted the Cartier 3-year-old champion Colt. He won the Epsom Derby, the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes and the Prix de L’ Arc de Triomphe.
He possessed breathtaking speed, only made it on to a racecourse once as a 2-year-old, winning over seven furlongs at Newbury in August, 1994, and then made a late reappearance the following season at the highest level-the Derby at Epsom in June 1995-his first run after a period of 10 months. I had the privilege of witnessing the race, which I regard as one of the most spectacular ones that I have ever seen.
Competing after a long lay-off, punters ignored Lammtarra and bookmakers happily quoted him at 15-1 to win the Derby which had 15 runners. The Andre Fabre 2000 Guineas winner Pennekamp was the favorite at 2-1 and the second in demand was the Irish 2000 Guineas winner Spectrum.
As the field rounded Tattenham Corner, Lammtarra was stuck on the rails at the rear end of the field with a wall of horses in front of him. With only two furlongs left, Walter Swinburn who was astride the spectacular son of Nijinsky, luckily managed to get a wee bit of a gap of the horses in front of him and the intrepid Walter ensured that Lammtarra instantly gathered swift momentum to courageously take the slit. At this juncture, Frankie Dettori`s swoop on the 9-1 shot Tamure, seemed certain to carry him to victory, but Lammtarra soon accelerated with an electrifying turn of foot, to make up at least six lengths, in the last 1-1/2 furlongs, which saw him zoom past Tamure, deep inside the final furlong, to win by a widening one length in a record time of Two Minutes 32.31 seconds.
As per highly proficient records, about a month later, Dettori was in the saddle as Lammtarra dug deep to beat Geoff Wragg`s Pentire by a neck in the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes at Ascot, like the Derby over a mile-and-a-half (app.). The Derby and King George triumphs had come on a firm surface, so Lammtarra`s fourth career outing on ` extremely soft` going at Longchamp, represented a trip into the alien surface for him. Many brilliant Derby winners had failed to follow-up by winning the Prix de L` arc de Triomphe, but the audacious Lammtarra was sent off as the favorite ahead of Swain, Carnegie and Balanchine.
Dettori rushed out from stall seven in the 16-runner field, settled his mount in second, then kicked for home at the two-furlong pole, urging Lammtarra to show all the courage needed to hold at bay by 3/4 of a length, the pack headed by the Andre Fabre pair Freedom Cry and Swain. With the Arc in the bag, Lammtarra was retired to stud unbeaten in his career.
The great colt was owned by Saeed bin Maktoum al Maktoum whose father Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum bred at his Gainsborough Stud Farm in Versailles, Kentucky U.S.A. At the end of the 1996 breeding season, Lammtarra was sold to a group of Japanese breeders for U.S. $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. In August 2006 Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum bought back Lammtarra from the dejected Japanese breeders.
In 1999, when I was invited to write for The Dubai World Cup in various magazines and Khaleej Times, I was watching the races sitting alongside members of the Dubai Royal family. Luckily, Sheikh Maktoum cordially invited me to sit next to him and whilst we chatted mainly on horse racing matters, I asked him his opinion of Lammtarra and why and what amount he paid to get Lammtarra back in his possession. Sheikh Mohammed in a very friendly manner replied, “Lammtarra was one of the most lightly-raced Epsom Derby winner in history and the best-loved horse that I bred who was destined to be a champion- which he proved to the world. Since, the Japanese who are our regular buyers were unhappy with his performance as a stallion I bought him back for almost the same amount which they paid me”.
Race Wins of Lammtarra
Date Race Details
Aug 1994 Newbury App.1400M
Aristo Washington Singer Stakes (Listed)
June 1995 Epsom Vodafone Derby App. 2400M
July 1995 Ascot App. 2400M
King George VI & Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Stakes
October 1995 Longchamp (France)
Prix de l`Arc de Triomphe-2400M