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Flanders – going strong 23 years on from Super Sprint glory

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The Weatherbys Super Sprint has been a race dominated by fillies – in its 29 runnings the race has been won 18 times by fillies; in the race’s first decade, seven renewals went the female way.

Trainer Tim Easterby is the second-most successful Super Sprint trainer with three victories, level with Richard Fahey and Richard Hanon Jnr but behind Richard Hannon Snr’s seven, and all three of Easterby’s wins have come courtesy of fillies

His first Super Sprint success came in 1998 with a daughter of Common Grounds named Flanders.

She was a 21,000 Gns Doncaster St Leger Yearling Sale purchase by Easterby and, as one of the more expensively bought runners in that year’s field, was allotted 8st 11lb, one of the higher weights. 

By mid-July Flanders was already the winner of three races from three career starts, her victories including the now Listed Windsor Castle Stakes at Royal Ascot so her the weight burden was not seen as a hinderance by punters and she was sent off the 6/5 favourite to land the cash.

Ridden by Lindsay Charnock, she jumped the stalls well, used her natural speed to make all, was never headed and won by a neck to pick up a winning prize fund of £68,860 for owner Mrs Jean Connew. 

After Newbury she went on to pick up a third in the Group 2 six furlong Lowther Stakes, a second place in the Doncaster £200,000 St Leger Yearling Sales race and then finished down the field in the Group 1 Cheveley Park Stakes.

As a three and four-year-old she raced another 12 times, mainly over five furlongs. She hit a career-high BHA mark of 113, which remained above 100 for the whole of her racing career, she won the Listed Scarborough Stakes and finished second in the King’s Stand Stakes, then a Group 2 and now a Group 1. She was retired with race earnings of £238,287, nearly £140,000 of that picked in her juvenile year with her Super Sprint win and her runner-up spot in the Doncaster sales race. 

At the end of her career she was bought privately as a breeding prospect for a partnership put together by the Kavanagh family of Kildaragh Stud, County Kildare and the Hayes family of County Limerick’s Knocktoran Stud.

“She was very quick and very good,” says Brendan Hayes of Knocktoran Stud. “She is good-looking, she has a good hip, a good head and is very strong. I also particularly liked her because she looks a ‘double’ of the stallion Lyphard, who is in her third generation – I had flown with him to Gainsborough Stud in Kentucky in 1977. She has also been a remarkably fertile mare.”

The last statement is something of an understatement. The mare is now 25 years old, she has had 19 foals and bred 13 winners.

“Shas been very prolific, she is as tough as teak and her progeny has been similar,” adds Peter Kavanagh of Kildaragh, the farm now owning the mare outright. “Her first foal Louvain had a heart of a lion – she has been a super broodmare and she has bred a Classic winner.”

Flanders has produced four black-type runners – that first foal Louvain won a US Grade 3, her 2007 Oasis Dream filly Desert Poppy was Group 3 and Listed-placed, her 2008 Azamour gelding named Laajood was a Listed winner, while her 2011 foal named G Force tops them all and boasts sprint success at the highest level.

By Tamayuz, he was awarded the title of the 2014 European champion three-year-old sprinter after a career highlight which saw him win the Group 1 Sprint Cup at Haydock from the likes of Gordon Lord Byron, Music Master, Sole Power and Pearl Secret. 

His racecourse success was subsequently reflected in the auction prices achieved by Flanders’ progeny –¬ her yearlings sold at the Tattersalls October Book 1 Yearling Sale in 2014 and 2015 fetched 400,000 Gns and 300,000 Gns apiece.

This year Flanders has produced an Awtaad filly, who will be retained by Kildaragh to carry on the line, and despite her advancing years she is still full of life.

 “She is great shape,” smiles Kavanagh. “She is easy on herself and looks after herself, she loves a routine, I’d love one or two more like her!”