Milnerton trainer Patrick Kruyer will have nothing but fond memories of the admirable racemare Kournikova, whom he trained for owner-breeder Frank Sharp more than a decade ago.
One of a trio of Gr1 winners sired by Sportsworld, she tasted success at the highest level, landing the Gr1 Triple Tiara at Turffontein and reaching the frame in all of the SA Fillies Classic, SA Oaks and Summer Cup.
Exported to Ireland upon retirement, Kournikova has gone on to carve a successful broodmare career as a dual stakes producer for renowned Airlie Stud in Ireland.
At Saturday’s Newmarket meeting, she tasted further success when her Irish-bred son Spark Plug (Dylan Thomas) charged up the stands’ side rail under jockey Jimmy Fortune to capture the prestigious and valuable Cambridgeshire Handicap over 1800m.
The time-honoured event was first staged in 1839, the same year as another major handicap at racing’s British headquarters, the Cesarewitch. The two races came to be known as the Autumn Double and invariably draw massive fields.
This was the fourth and most lucrative victory for the five-year-old Spark Plug, who had suffered a crashing fall when clipping heels with a rival in the Royal Hunt Cup at Royal Ascot.
In addition to Spark Plug, Kournikova is also dam of the stakes winning fillies Pearl Of Africa (Jeremy) and Sleight Advantage (Peintre Celebre).
The former, a multiple Gr3-placed stakes winner in Ireland, earned additional black type in Dubai when runner-up in both the Gr2 Balanchine and Cape Verdi, while Sleight Advantage crossed the Channel to lift the Listed Preis der Silbernes Band des Rheinlandes at the Cologne racetrack in Germany
Kournikova is a half-sister to speedy Princess Faberge (Jallad), who scored a career-best in the Gr3 Magnolia Handicap and also bred Gr3 Algoa cup winner Forest Of Dean (Silvano).
Kournikova’s third dam is the famed broodmare Saturna, best known as the dam of brilliant sprinters Harry Hotspur and Rotterdam and ancestress of the ilk of champion Kiss Of Peace and graded stakes winners At The Savoy, Magnolia King, Kiss Me Quick and Mason Dixon.