Foaled in 1992, by Nijinsky out of Snow Bride, Harsh Thakor"
Whether Lammtarra could be considered amongst the great horses of all time is a moot point. However nothing can take away the fact that the public impact created and the sheer guts the colt displayed was truly phenomenal.
Statistically, it was a truly great achievement to win the Epsom Derby, King George and Arc and remain unbeaten. It was historically ironic that Lammtarra was foaled in the year of his sire the Superstar Nijinsky death.
Lammtarra was the son of Nijinsky, one of the greatest racehorses of the last century. Lammtarra, in his own right emulated his own father by winning the Arc, something Nijinsky failed to achieve by a head.Lammtarra's dam, Snow Bride, had won the 1988 Oaks on a disqualification. Thus the colt was perfectly bred. Sheikh Maktoum purchased him in Kentucky.
Alex Scott trained Lammtarra in 1994, as a two year old in the Oaks Stables at Newmarket.He was difficult to train. He would become lazy and on mornings simply frustrate his connections.Some mornings, he bitterly resisted walking across Newmarket from racecourse side to Bury side and would stay at the foot of Warren Hill.
It was now decided that only racing would change the colt. Lammtarra made a winning debut in the Washington Singer Stakes at Newbury in August. In the final furlong, he overtook Myself after receiving a couple of cracks of the whip.Lammtarra was now 33-1 for the Epsom Derby. His trainer Alex Scott backed him for the Epsom Derby at odds of 33-1.
Unfortunately in the next few months, Lammtarra twisted a joint and missed the rest of the season. On September 30th, Alex Scott, trainer of Lammtarra was murdered, one of racing's tragedies, with his life and career ahead.
In the 1994-95 winter, the colt was sent to Dubai and in the spring almost died from an abscess on the lung. After a slow recovery, he returned to England to be trained by Saeed Bin Suroor. Nobody even gave a remote chance to Lammtarra for the Epsom Derby in 1995.
The sensational colt was entered in the 1995 Epsom Derby. The 2,000 Guineas' winner, Pennekamp, was the favourite in a field that contained five unbeaten runners.
In the big race, Lammtarra lay in a handy position from the straight, but dropped down the field after 2 furlongs. Early in the straight, Lammtarra was 7 lengths behind the leader. Fahal led the field, followed by Tamure, Court of Honour and Riyadian. A furlong from home, in 5th place Swinburn made his bid and the colt flew like a rocket to snatch the lead in the last hundred yards.
That day viewers at Epsom saw one of the most devastating finishing bursts ever witnessed in the race. Lammtarra resembled a leopard pouncing on his prey, the way he swooped on his rivals.
Lammtarra had made history that day, breaking the 58 year old record timing of Mahmoud in 1936, clocking 2:32.1 secs.Mahmoud's record was beaten by a second and a half. Even Bustino's Course record was broken by over a second.The going not changing from good to firm until after the Derby had played a major role in the record being set. Lammtarra had also gained one of the most ironic wins in the Derby history, as 9 months back his trainer was killed ,who had backed him at 33-1 in August, that year.
In the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes, the colt fought a game battle to hold off Pentire. Early in the straight, Pentire seemed set to conquer Lammtarra, but the chestnut fought back under the capable hands of Frankie Dettori.
In a strong finish, Lammtarra prevailed by a neck. Lammtarra ran the race of his life fighting back after Pentire had produced a burst. One was reminded of the 1975 Grundy-Bustino duel and the 1989 Nashwan–Cacoethes duel. Frankie Dettori utilized all the possible reserves of energy of the great colt.
In the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, Lammtarra showed the racing world that he was truly made of steel. Lammtarra for most of the race, lay marginally off the pace and with 2 furlongs to go cruised like a missile into the lead and set for home, thwarting of any challenge.
With great courage, he defeated Freedom Cry by ¾ of a length. Dettori used the whip to an unlimited extent to win the day. Lammtarra had avenged the defeat of his great father Nijinsky. He became the first horse after Mill Reef to win the Epsom Derby, King George and the Arc. Lammtarra had shown the courage of a tiger. Greats like, Nijinsky, Troy, Reference Point, and Generous had failed to complete the treble. This was a tribute to the chestnut.
Lammtarra was retired to the Dalham Stud at a fee of 30,000 pounds.
Timeform gave him a rating of 134, which failed to class him with the greats like Nijinsky, Shergar, Troy, Alleged or Generous.
Honestly, Lammtarra ran far too few times to asses his true ability but the manner he defeated his opposition was not in the same class as a Ribot or a Nijinsky, although he completed the treble of the Derby, King George and the Arc, he hardly won as emphatically as Mill Reef in those races.
The manner the colt has proved his superiority is a vital factor in analyzing whether a champion is just a very good or a truly great racehorse, however the courage he showed could be equated with the gallantry of a soldier.
His sensational burst to win the Derby was a great achievement. Timeform states that it was impossible to accurately assess the true greatness of the chestnut as he sparingly raced. Had he raced later he may have conclusively proved he was a great racehorse.
Personally, I agree with that view, however that can't deny that Lammtarra had performed remarkably that season in 1995 and had made a sensational impact, rarely seen in flat racing. To have won three of the most important races and remained unbeaten was unprecedented in the history of fat racing.
No son of Nijinsky has paid a greater tribute than Lammtarra. Above all he made his year an epic one making Alex Scott's dream come true!