A lot can change in six years. In racing terms it’s a lifetime. Back in the summer of 2006 Kauto Star had yet to run in a three mile chase, Sea the Stars was a foal frolicking in the paddocks of the Irish National Stud and Prince Khalid Abdullah was planning to send a mare called Kind to visit Galileo the following spring, from which would come the superstar that is Frankel.
Naas racecourse on 11 July 2006 witnessed the racing debut of another horse who carried the Saudi Royal’s pink, green and white silks with distinction. Famous Name won a six furlong two year old maiden at the track on that distant summer afternoon and on Saturday, more than six years later, he made the final winning appearance of a remarkable racing career.
The Dermot Weld-trained horse was a phenomenon on Irish racecourses. Flat horses generally don’t have long careers, two or maybe three seasons are the most they stick around for before they are sent to the breeding paddocks. In that context the six seasons that Famous Name raced for are remarkable enough in themselves but his career statistics are incredible.
The seven-year-old son of Dansili raced 38 times in total and won 21 of those starts. He failed to make the first three only four times in his six seasons and of his 21 victories, only his first didn’t come at listed or group level. In fact, that Naas maiden was the first and only time he raced outside of pattern company.
Racing at Leopardstown and the Curragh just won’t be the same without Famous Name next summer. He raced 17 times in all at the Foxrock venue, winning 13 of those races and failing to make the frame just once. His record at the Curragh was also impressive, with seven wins from his 12 starts at the track.
It was at the Curragh in August where he finally broke his duck at Group Two level, beating Born to Sea, the Irish Derby runner-up and half brother of Sea the Stars, in the Royal Whip Stakes.
21 wins, 11 Group Threes, eight Listed races, a Group Two, unbeaten in ten starts at a mile and four starts over nine furlongs – the statistics don’t lie but equally they don’t quite do justice to Famous Name or his trainer.
To retain not just his talent and speed for six seasons but also make sure he was happy and healthy and to keep alive his zest for racing is a truly outstanding achievement.
His retirement was announced after he won the Listed Trigo Stakes at Leopardstown on Saturday by John Osborne, Irish National Stud Chief Executive, who confirmed that Famous Name will be joining the Kildare farm’s stallion roster next year.
“We are very excited to have him and you couldn’t find a racehorse like him; he has won about Stg£1.3m in prizemoney. They’ve always loved him at Rosewell and he has been a great horse to train, is uncomplicated and sound. He has had six seasons competing at the highest level and always gave his best,” said Osborne.
In a happy twist of fate, his twoyear-old full sister Big Break won the Group Three JRA Killavullen Stakes earlier on Saturday afternoon. Weld is hoping that she will make up into a Guineas filly for next season but she will have a lot to live up to if she is to fill her brother’s shoes.