Foaled in 1986, by Blushing Groom out of Height of Fashion, Harsh Thakor
Nashwan was a spectacular mover, posessing a ground-devouring graceful action. Nashwan galloping style reminded one of the grace of a seagull flying or a seal swimming. Nashwan was bred in Kentucky by his owner Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum.
His sire Blushing Groom was one of the greatest postwar sires being a champion 2 year old and a favourite for the Epsom Derby. He was Champion 2yo in France in 1976 and Champion Miler in Europe in 1977. Seven wins, including five Group 1 (Grand Criterium, Prix de la Salamandre, Prix Morny, Prix Robert Papin and the Poule d'Essai des Poulains.
Blushing Groom was sire of the winners of more than 1,000 races and some 92 Stakes winners, including Group 1 winners, Nashwan, Rainbow Quest, Arazi, Blushing John, Mount Livermore, Snow Bride, Groom Dancer, Baillamont, Sillery, Rahy, Al Bahathri, Crystal Glitters, etc.
His dam Height of fashion was by the champion filly Highclere and she had been bred and raced by her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.She died in Kentucky in July 2000 at the age of 21. It surely entitled Height Of Fashion to enter racing's pantheon of broodmares. Indeed eight of her 11 named foals have won or been placed in Group or Listed races. Between them are Alwasmi (John Porter Stakes, and placed in seven Group races), Unfuwain (winner of 6 of his 10 races, including Chester Vase, John Porter Stakes, Jockey Club Cup and the Princes of Wales's Stakes), Nayef (Petros Rose Of Lancaster Stakes, Select Stakes, Cumberland Lodge Stakes, Champion Stakes, Dubai Sheema Classic and Juddmonte International Stakes) and obviously, Nashwan.
Height Of Fashion was a daughter of English St. Leger and Coronation Cup winner, Bustino, a horse who will probably be best remembered for his epic but unsuccessful duel with Grundy in the 1975 King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes.
As a 2 year old, Nashwan showed promise winning against a big field on his debut in the EBF Yattendon Maiden Stakes over 7 furlongs at Newbury, and in October, winning the Red Oaks Autumn Stakes at Ascot by 4 lengths.
As a 3 year old, this great colt suffered a setback one month before the 2000 Guineas. He was unable to participate in the Guineas trials, however in the morning gallops Nashwan performed outstandingly well, simply outpacing his opponents.
In the 2,000 Guineas, Nashwan revealed to the racing world his great talent and won in a most decisive manner. He spared a length to Exbourne and Danehill at the winning post. The colt recorded the fastest time since the electrical timing had been introduced in the fifties 1:36.44 secs.
Nashwan was now clear favourite for the Ever Ready Derby in Epsom.On his pedigree, it was suggested that Nashwan would stay the Derby distance.
The Epsom course normally suited handy, medium-sized quick-actioned horses, rather than big, rangy, long-striding horses like Nashwan. This created doubts in the minds of Racing fans of Nashwan's chances in capturing Racing's Blue Riband. Yet both his jockey (Willie Carson) and trainer (Dick Hern) placed full faith in his ability to stay the big race.
On the day of the race, Nashwan only faced 11 opponents. Chester Vase winner, Old Vic, skipped the race as his connections wanted him to run in the Prix du Jockey Club. Nashwan's main danger was Cacoethes, who gained a smashing win in the Calor Derby Trial Stakes at Lingfield by 4 lengths.
Cacoethe's pacemaker, Polar Run set a scorching pace until the top of the hill where Tourjoun took over the running. Approaching Tattenham Corner, Nashwan who was well settled in the middle of the field improved to 4th position.In the straight, Nashwan switched towards the inside. For a while, the colt struggled, but with 2 furlongs to go after receiving a few cracks with the whip, he simply strode away like a gazelle in the manner of a true champion winning by 5 long-looking lengths.
Watching this colt's great strides was a truly magnificent sight for those present on Derby day. There may have been more impressive winners of this great race. Nashwan's strides were reminiscent of a pianist tapping the notes of a piano or an artist painting a picture.
A month later, Nashwan simply devoured his rivals in the Coral Eclipse Stakes at Sandown. His principal opponents were Indian Skimmer and the top miler Warning. In the race, both these horses ran below there true form.Opening Verse set the pace and attempted a start to finish win opening up a 6 lengths win and mantaining a big lead in the straight. With 2 and a half furlongs to go, Willie Carson pushed his mount and Nashwan flew to the front sparing 5 lengths at the winning post. It was one of the greatest performances in the big race and racing fans were now comparing this colt with the likes of Mill Reef or Nijinsky.
In the King George and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes, Nashwan was given the race of his life from Cacoethes, whom he vanquished at Epsom. Nashwan battled on gamely after the 2 horses drew clear over the rest of the field, prevailing by a neck. The field include the Italian Derby winner Tisserand and the Coronation and Grand Prix de Saint Cloud winner, Sherrif's Star.Sadly, Irish Derby winner, Old Vic, had to miss the race as a result of injury.
Nashwan had now made racing history becoming the first horse to win the 2,000 Guineas, Epsom Derby, Eclipse Stakes and the King George. It was one of the most combative battles witnessed in the King George reminding people of the 1975 battle for supremacy between Bustino and Grundy.
It was a sad moment for racing fans when Nashwan's owner Al Maktoum decided doen's run him in the St.Leger Stakes, thus preventing him from having a crack at the Triple Crown. Had he accomplished this he would have become the first horse since the great Nijinsky to achieve it.
Nashwan was targeted for the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe and he was to run in the Prix Neil as a preperation. Sadly in this race the great colt as beaten into third place behind Golden Pheasant. Nashwan appeared to be losing the shine of his normally gleaming coat, but blood tests were satisfactory and 10 days before the Arc he ran a tremendous gallop at Newbury.
Strangely Nashwan was withdrawn from the Arc and the Dubai Champion Stakes was made the prime objective. On the day of that race Nashwan had fever and had to be withdrawn. It was a sad day for his supporters who o dearly wanted to see this champion not only win with superlative authority but also in the most graceful manner possible.
Nashwan was retired to the Nunnery Stud where he sired 25 stakes winners and about another 25 stakes-placed performers, from a reported 405 foals in his first nine crops (1991-99).
His best son was Swain (dual winner of the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes at Ascot, Irish Champion Stakes, Coronation Cup, 2nd in the Dubai World Cup, 3rd in the Breeders Cup Turf) and One So Wonderful (Juddmonte Stakes), Kilting (winner of the Ascot Fillies Mile at 2), Kahtan (winner of the Bahrain Trophy), Bint Salsabil (Rockfel Stakes, 2nd in the Nell Gwyn) and Haami (Darley Stakes).
Nashwan retired as Horse of the Year and was syndicated for a European record of eighteen million pounds.
On 21st July 2002, the Hamdan Al Maktoum-owned colt was put down on Friday after suffering complications from what had been expected to be a minor operation on his right hind leg. It was sad that his true potential could not be realized at Stud.
Nashwan could be ranked perhaps a not behind the superhorses like Mill Reef or Nijinsky.
Timeform gave him a rating of 135, which did not classify the colt with the other greats like Troy, Grundy, Crepello or Generous, who were rated below, but comparable to the Mill Reef or Dancing Brave.
Personally, I rate Nashwan a more talented horse than Generous or Troy.Timeform states that Nashwan never had truly top opposition, as the French Champion, Old Vic was not pitted against him. It must be remembered that Willie Carson who also partnered Troy thought Nashwan was the best horse he had ever ridden, while his trainer Dick Hern, who also trained Brigadier Gerard thought Nashwan was the best horse he had trained.
Willie Carson remembered him with these words:
"Nashwan was a great horse with a lot of speed and a lot of class, and I remember giving him my own nick-name which was 'Nash The Dash'. It was always a joy to go out to The Major's at West Ilsey and ride him in work, which I did more than on most of the horses there. He had that lovely long stride that would grab the ground and enable him to quicken in an instant."
And his trainer, Dick Hern said:
"Although he had a shorter career than many of the other top horses I have been fortunate to train, I still regard Nashwan as the best."
Nashwan also achieved one of the best ever combinations of a racehorse being the only horse ever to win the 2,000 Guineas, Epsom Derby, Eclipse and King George in the same season.If he had won the Arc, statistically he would have surpassed Mill Reef, while if he had won the Arc and the St.Leger, he would have surpassed Nijinsky's achievement.
It is certain that the impact he created on the racing public and the popularity he gained was incredible, however what the racing world would miss most was the colt's graceful action which was truly majestic. Memories of the grace in this colts strides will be remembered till Racing Exists.
|Height of Fashion