Twenty-four hours after his younger half-brother Sea The Stars (Ire) was represented by his first Classic winner in Taghrooda (GB), the name Galileo (Ire) was back in the spotlight at Epsom as his son Australia (GB) confirmed the Ballydoyle team’s belief in him with a superlative performance in the Investec Derby.
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UK Thoroughbred Breeding
“For the past three years we’ve been ringing the South African alarm bells about the numbers of mares going out of production, reminding our readers that in the three or four major economic downturns we’ve known in our thirty-five years in business here, we’ve been ‘investors’ rather than ‘reducers’.”
Summerhill CEOA headline like this in this part of the world generally harks back to the Anglo-Zulu Wars; this is not about that, nor is it about the rather ignominious defeat the English cricketers succumbed to in their battle with the Netherlands in Bangladesh yesterday, though the measure of that has parallels in what happened in these parts at Isandlwana on the 22nd January, 1879. No, not at all: this is about the haemorrhage in British breeding.
The British Horse Racing Authority has just become aware of something we’ve been banging on about for years now. Their racehorse supply base is “in a critical state because of alarming reductions in the numbers of foals being produced”. The knock-on effect is the impact it will have on the United Kingdom’s racing fixtures, which in turn affects betting turnovers.
The British breeding industry is estimated to be worth £281million per annum (R5.5bilion), which contributes to the support of 86,000 jobs within in racing, most of which are located in rural communities, and is “in desperate need of fresh investment if it is to meet the needs of the existing programme,” according to a recent economic impact study conducted by PriceWaterhouseCoopers LLP.
There is nothing new in any of this for us, as followers of these columns will attest. For the past three years we’ve been ringing the South African alarm bells about the numbers of mares going out of production, reminding our readers that in the three or four major economic downturns we’ve known in our thirty-five years in business here, we’ve been “investors” rather than “reducers”. In each of these instances, we and our clients have been the substantial beneficiaries of having trading stock on hand when the cycle has turned. It’s a fact of economic life that markets tend to be undersupplied in good times, and oversupplied in tough times, more so the world of racing where a large proportion of the productive livestock (mares) are owned by “cheque-book” or “armchair” breeders who generally rely upon discretionary funds to acquire and maintain their breeding interests: when times are good, they get in, and when they’re tough, they bail. It’s little different in the stock markets, where instead of investing in down markets and either holding or selling in “bull” times, “trendy” investors follow the herds.
Breeding is a longer term investment, with relatively long leads and lags, and it invariably favours those who invest against the trend, not unlike our local farming colleagues who’ve prospered by planting soya beans when others are going wholesale into maize, for example, and have capitalized from the resulting shortages in those commodities when they materialize. There is a telescopic impact in horse breeding, because it takes years to turn around, and therefore the benefits endure for much longer.
There are more than a few similarities between ourselves and British breeding, which is becoming increasingly dependent on exports from Ireland and France to fulfil its day-to-day requirements, not that those countries haven’t also witnessed similar reductions in numbers: the whole world has. What sets horse breeding apart from most industries, and even that of conventional crop farming, is the “lead” time. There’s a space of between 36 and 48 months between its conception and a racehorse getting to the races, which means that the discovery of an over-or-under supply situation only becomes apparent to the casual bystander much later. That means that addressing either of these maladies, takes much longer, and therein resides the opportunity.
According to Prof. Martin Schulman, and the fellows from the Equine Research Centre, (responsible for the micro-chipping, identification and DNA’ing of foals) the current yearling crop numbers just over 2000. Even allowing for a few late-comers, measured against historic, foal crops of 5000-odd and more recently, of the order of 3500, South African racing faces a substantial shortfall in the numbers of animals necessary for the sustainability of viable betting fields.
As an industry, we face a massive challenge in rebuilding our inventories, as breeding stocks take years to turn around, and short of supplementing the ranks with large numbers of imports (financially unlikely given the Rands weakness), it’s a matter of finding ways of encouraging, and (possibly incentivising) breeders to considerably supplement their herds.
In all of this, we see opportunity rather than foreboding, and we’ve been encouraged by the fresh investors who’ve come forward recently and taken advantage of the soft market in broodmares. How long it will last is anybody’s guess, but we’d think the time-frame will be shorter than you’d expect. The market has been down for several years now, and as soon as we see the benefits of undersupply for producers in sharply rising prices, you can bet on it, the buyers will be back; even then, it’ll be five or six years before we even reach an equilibrium.
South Africa has its own unique problem however, and that rests in the fact that on a growing basis we’re seeing smaller breeders marginalised by the build-up in the scale and stock of establishments belonging to the mega-rich. While most of these latter farms will one day hope to make a profit, that is not necessarily the imperative. The South African breeding landscape is increasingly populated by the “who’s who” of the business world, many of whom make the Sunday Times “rich list” most years, and these farms are more in the nature of trophies than business enterprises. It was thus all the way back to the days of Sir Henry Nourse, Sir Abe Bailey, Sir Richard Southey, Sir Alfred Beit and Cecil John Rhodes who first began breeding in earnest in the Karoo in the mid 1800s, and thereafter the Oppenheimers, the Ellises, the Hurwitzes, Labistours, Tathams and Barnetts. The difference was they bred to race, not to sell, whereas every large breeder in South Africa today (with the notable exception of Sabine Plattner) produces horses for the sales ring. Wealth means that the new generation of big money breeders are able to patronise the “sexiest” and most expensive stallions, and hence they’ve taken up the commercial space traditionally occupied by “farmer” breeders, who often enough, simply can’t afford to compete.
Apart from those armchair breeders who can afford to keep their mares under the umbrellas of high profile commercial farms, and are able to dispose of their stock that way, there is scant protection for the little guys. Whichever way you look at it, the parable tells us this: if you like racehorses, get in now. Otherwise, acquire the means of making them.
(Images : Meon Valley Stud)
High Top (IRE) - Reprocolor (GB)
The Bloodhorse.com reports that Colorspin, a major producer for Meon Valley Stud in England, has died mid-August at age 29. The KwaZulu-Natal connection with this great mare is in sire Mullins Bay (GB); Colorspin is a half-sister to his dam, Bella Colora.
Bred in France by Meon Valley, Colorspin (High Top - Reprocolor, by Jimmy Reppin) was a two-time stakes winner, with her biggest score coming in the 1986 Gilltown Stud Irish Oaks (Ire-I) for Helena Springfield Ltd.
“She leaves an outstanding legacy, and we have lots more to look forward to with Zee Zee Top and her daughter Izzi Top,” Meon Valley owner Mark Weinfeld told the Racing Post. “Her son Kayf Tara has established himself as a leading National Hunt sire, and Opera House has also been a success at stud.”
Opera House, by Sadler’s Wells, was a European champion as well as a champion in England, Ireland, and France. His major win came in the 1993 King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes (Eng-I). Opera House contested the 1993 Breeders’ Cup Turf (Gr. IT), finishing sixth.
Kayf Tara, a long-distance specialist, also was a European champion and one in England and France. A full brother to Opera House, Kayf Tara won the Ascot Gold Cup (Eng-I) and the same race again when it was run as the Gold Cup.
Zee Zee Top, by Zafonic, scored her major win in the Prix de l’Opera Casino Barriere d’Enghien Les Bains (Fr-I). Izzi Top, by Pivotal, also was group I winner, capturing the Barclays Bank Ireland Pretty Polly Stakes in Ireland July 1.
Mullins Bay was the best racing son of sire of sires Machiavellian in the world in 2006, and earned a Timeform Rating of 121. A 525,000 guineas yearling, he raced in the UK and UAE, achieving 3 wins over distances of 1800-2000m from 3 to 4 years old. He had 14 starts and took home 12 cheques, including a Gr 3 win at 3 years old, and placing in Group and Listed races seven times. He is a half-brother to three Bold Black Type horses, Alkaadhem, Stage Craft and Hyabella.
Mullins Bay stands at Champion breeders’ Summerhill Stud, he is by Machiavellian out of Bella Colora by Bellypha. He has had two winners and 10 places coming from his first crop to race at the track - his two winners being Croke Park (bred by Somerset Stud) and Gitiano (bred by Valjub CC).
Stage Craft (by Sadler’s Wells) was the highest weighted older Horse in Europe and is now a sire.
Another of Colorspin’s daughters, Spinning The Yarn, is the dam of Irish champion Necklace.
The National Stud 2011 Graduates
(Photo : The National Stud)
THE BRITISH NATIONAL STUD
DIPLOMA IN STUD PRACTICE AND MANAGEMENT
Most young thoroughbred breeding and racing enthusiasts dream of doing a season at The National Stud in Britain and completing the Stud’s well respected Diploma in Stud Practice and Management. For the top student graduating from the Al Maktoum School of Management Excellence, based at Summerhill Stud, in December, this dream is a reality.
The National Stud origins date back to 1916 when Colonel Hall Walker (later Lord Wavertree) presented his Thoroughbred stallions, mares, yearlings, foals and horses in training to the British Government and the nation as a gift on the condition that they bought his land at Tully, Co Kildare, Ireland. In 2008 ownership of the Newmarket-based Stud transferred to the Jockey Club. The internationally renowned programmes give young people entering the Thoroughbred breeding industry top class training opportunities.
The Childwick Trust was established in 1985 by Mr. H. J. (Jim) Joel who was a highly successful bloodstock breeder based at his Stud on The Childwick Bury Estate in Hertfordshire. He and his father Jack won many Classic races and Jim Joel was one of only a handful of owners to have won both the Derby (in 1967) and the Grand National (in 1987) with Royal Palace and Maori Venture respectively.
Mr. Joel never married and following his death at the age of 97 in March 1992, all funds from the sale of his estate were channeled into the Trust.
The Joel family had extensive business interests in South Africa since 1880 and as a consequence a core policy of the Trust is to reflect that involvement through The Jim Joel Education and Training Fund in Johannesburg.
A chance stopover at Summerhill by Trustees Anthony Cane and John Wood, who were visiting South Africa earlier this year to oversee some of the projects funded by The Childwick Trust, led to the prospect of a scholarship for a graduate from the School of Excellence.
The South African connections run deep, and the Late Mr. Joel, who raced horses with doyenne of Racing, Mary Slack (Oppenheimer) locally, gifting her the famous black-with-scarlet-cap silks.
About The Jockey Club
- Jockey Club Racecourses : Responsible for the operation of a diversified portfolio of 14 racecourses in Great Britain : Aintree, Carlisle, Cheltenham, Epsom Downs, Exeter, Haydock Park, Huntingdon, Kempton Park, Market Rasen, Newmarket, Nottingham, Sandown Park, Warwick and Wincanton.
- The group stages four of the five ‘Classics’ of Flat racing (the Derby and the Oaks at Epsom Downs and the 1,000 Guineas and 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket), as well as the Cheltenham Festival and the Grand National at Aintree.
- Jockey Club Estates : The property and land management company responsible for the management and administration of more than 5,000 acres of land in and around the racing training centres of Newmarket and Lambourn, as well as an extensive property portfolio, including the Jockey Club Rooms.
- The National Stud : Transferred from Government to The Jockey Club in 2008, The National Stud is a commercial thoroughbred breeding enterprise with a commitment to provide training and educational programmes. The Diploma in Stud Practice and Management celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2011 and has celebrated alumni including Teddy Grimthorpe and Ed Dunlop.
- Racing Welfare : A racing charity and company limited by guarantee with The Jockey Club being the sole member. The principal objective of Racing Welfare is to provide help to those in need who work or have worked in the thoroughbred industry, and their dependants.
In accordance with its objectives in the Royal Charter, The Jockey Club reinvests its profits in British racing and promotes measures to sustain and enhance the long-term success of the sport.
Press Release from The British National Stud
Click above to watch the Coolmore Stud Documentary 2011
(Image and Footage : Coolmore)
“Who’s Who in the Zoo?”
The battle for international supremacy in the thoroughbred world has developed a real “one-round-to-you, one-round-to-me” look to it. Ever since the official declaration of war by Dubai’s ruler, Sheikh Mohammed, on their arch opponents, the Coolmore operation in 2006, some heavy punches have been traded.
The first three years undoubtedly belonged to Coolmore, and for as long as the dominance of their Emperor stallions, Sadler’s Wells and Danehill persisted, and for as long as this blood was denied to the Maktoums, it looked like one-way traffic (in Europe at any rate, the main theatre of battle). Nothing in the thoroughbred world though is forever, and with his strategies spanning both sides of the Atlantic, the emergence of Street Cry looked like pulling things back for “Sheik Mo”, though it has to be said, Coolmore still have on their hands, the champion sire of that realm, Giant’s Causeway. Enormous investment on the part of Dubai in the best prospects of their more recent generations in the United States, must have equipped Darley’s armoury in that part of the world with some real possibilities, but with the exception of Bernardini, who is an emerging force in his own right, the jury will have to wait. If we were in the tipping game, we’d have a few bob on Street Sense, the only horse in history to have won both the Breeder’s Cup Juvenile and the Kentucky Derby.
Back in Europe though, out of the blue came Dubawi and Shamardal for Darley, and they look like two of the best young sires around right now. Their supremacy with their first three year olds last year suggested an overwhelming dominance of the older division in 2011 Europe, but, we shall have to wait and see if that’s going to be the case. On the evidence alone, of this year’s three year old Classics, it seems the pendulum may have swung back Coolmore’s way, with four of the six “Guineas” contested in England, Ireland and France, falling to sons and daughters of Bill Oppenheim’s “best stallion in the world”, Galileo.
On Saturday, the Coolmore outfit’s dominance of this crop was as blantly evident as ever, in the renewal of the Investec Derby, in which Coolmore-connected horses landed first, second and fourth placings, though it should be noted the Queen’s third placed Carlton House is a son of Street Cry, gifted to her by Sheikh Mohammed. For the time being at least, the initiative lies in Ireland, though we suspect that Dubawi and Shamardal are that good, they won’t be lying down for long. Either way, it makes fascinating watching.
(Painting : Susan Crawford)
County Tipperary, Ireland
And living in County Tipperary, Ireland. And by all accounts, he remains the king, despite the fact that it’s several seasons now since he last covered a mare. With sons of the ilk of Galileo, Montjeu and High Chaparral around him (not to mention our own Fort Wood,) his legacy is set to endure for a long time yet. A TDN survey has just announced a list of the leading sires of Group/Grade One winners in the Northern Hemisphere, and Sadler’s Wells stands clear with a remarkable 74 winners (Coolmore claim 76,) at the highest level. The great Danzig is next on 46.
Among active stallions, A.P. Indy remains the “Emperor” with 24, followed by Dynaformer (18) and a remarkable 17 for Giant’s Causeway, who is still a relatively young horse with plenty of large crops to come. With just six crops to represent him, Street Cry already sits on 10, and is another to have put up his hand, particularly as he tops the percentage Grade One winners among American based stallions.
ACTIVE NORTH AMERICAN STALLION LEADERS
BY GRADE 1 WINNERS
Street Cry (IRE)
ACTIVE EUROPEAN STALLION LEADERS
BY GROUP 1 WINNERS
Danehill Dancer (IRE)
Statistics courtesy of Thoroughbred Daily News
(Photo : Bloodlines)
“International victories tougher to come by
for North American horses.”
American-bred horses are gradually disappearing from the winner’s circles of European group stakes races.
So far this year less than 7% of the group stakes in England, Ireland, France, Germany, and Italy have been won by horses bred in the United States compared with 30% in 1985 and 32.8% in 1990. The ability of American-bred horses to compete among the most elite European runners has suffered just as much. American-breds have accounted for only 3.8% of group 1 wins this year through Aug. 30. In 1985 American-bred horses won 37.1% of the European group 1 races, according to data supplied by The Jockey Club Information Systems.
Several breeders and trainers on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean said the reasons behind this trend are no mystery. American breeders don’t support stallions whose progeny are likely to be successful in Europe running a route of ground on the grass. An equally significant change is that Kentucky no longer possesses the same status it once had as the hub of the world’s Thoroughbred breeding industry because the quality of stallions has improved substantially in other countries.
“(Coolmore Stud managing partner) John Magnier told me if a horse like Sea The Stars had dominated racing 15 years ago, it would have been assumed the horses would have stood in Kentucky,” said Garrett O’Rourke, manager of Juddmore Farms near Lexington. “The difference between the 1950’s and today is the strength of the U.S. economy. At that time they could offer prices the European breeders could not refuse. Now the quality is more spread out, and you can’t do that as much anymore.”
America’s Thoroughbred breeding began growing in international stature in the 1950’s when Arthur “Bull” Hancock Jr. started acquiring top stallions from Europe. Hancock shipped their leading English sire Nasrullah and French champion and top sire Lebhuleux to Claiborne Farm, believing that sires from around the world would add vigor on American blood-sires. Hancock’s son Seth continued the tradition, bringing over 1970 European Horse of the Year and top sire Kinsky II. The 1970’s John Gaines began building his own internationally renowned stallion station called Gainesway and introduced more prominent European sires to the North American market than any other breeder. He acquired, Lyphard, Riverman, Blushing Groom, Green Dancer, Irish River, Sharpen Up and Vaguely Noble, who were all either European champions or major stakes winners. John T.L. Jones Jr. did his part too, standing European champions Alleged and Nureyev at Walmac International, while John Galbreath imported the undefeated champion Ribot to stand at Darby Dan Farm.
Part of what has kept top European runners out of the United States has been described as the “Coolmore-Darley influence.” Coolmore Stud and Darley have build up substantial stallion operations in Ireland, England, France, and Australia. Coolmore Stud, which is based in Ireland, has 19 stallions standing in Ireland, 11 at its U.S. Ashford Stud operation, and 15 in Australia, of which 10 are shuttlers from the U.S. and Europe. Sheikh Mohammed, the ruler of Dubai, has done even more to build up stallion operations under his Darley brand. Darley owns 63 stallions : nine in Great Britain, eight in Ireland, seven in France, 27 in Australia (including 13 that shuttle from the U.S. and Europe), 16 in the U.S., and nine in Japan.
The decline in the U.S. Thoroughbred market makes it even harder for U.S. farms to recruit the next big horse. And even though E.P. Taylor proved he could stand the best horse in the world - Northern Dancer - in Maryland, the competition for stallions is remarkably stronger now around the globe.
Purses aside, the U.S. Thoroughbred breeding market has been profoundly shaped by the commercial market that offers a premium of the progeny of sires that excelled on dirt tracks. Bloodlines that promise precocious early speed are also desirable. European-type stallions - again, think turf runners with stamina - are decidedly non-commercial.
John Gosden said he sees two key problems with the American breeding industry as it relates to the rest of the world : the emphasis on dirt and speed, and the emphasis on breeding for the commercial market.
“The issue of the commercial world itself is the tendency, and we have seen it in Europe, to see breeders breeding to sell rather than to race. When you breed to sell rather than to race, you raise the horses a little differently, and I’ll leave it at that. I will say I think breeding to sell has been to the detriment of the breed.”
John Sikura of Hill ‘n Dale agreed the American breeding industry faces some challenges because of different cultural attitudes about horse racing. Overseas, horse racing is more about sport and there is status associated with owning a horse. In America, the attitude is more businesslike and less cultural, according to Sikura.
“America for better or worse is the purest capitalist country in the world,” he said. “It is easy to like the horse business when you are selling million-dollar horses. It tests your commitment when that horse sells for $200,000. There are a lot more people in the industry in this country that have an exit strategy.
A continued decline in European bloodlines in American stallions is expected to shrink future demand for all American-bred horses offered at auction because it eliminates the incentive for overseas buyers to travel to U.S. Sales.
Gosden Predicts America’s breeding industry has had its time at center stage and that the market will now shift elsewhere.
“In 10-15 years I would expect the strongest racing will be in the Far East. Continously we are suffering by being marginalized in both America and Europe. It is something we are all keenly aware of.”
“The American dirt horse is a very noble creature, but it’s not terribly relevant to the rest of the world. There has been something of a seismic shift,” Gosden said.
Extract from Blood Horse
“THE BREEDING SUPERPOWERS”
It seems we unearthed something of a hot potato when we penned our column, Changing Of The Guard, just over a week ago. The ink was scarcely cold, and John Berry penned an intriguing story on the same topic on Thoroughbred Internet. While what’s happening on two sides of the northern hemisphere bridges of the Atlantic might appear to be remote, the reality is, they inform the course of events the world over. As breeders, we have to maintain a currency in the genetics we employ, especially if we want to keep breeding at the top end. What is interesting about the emergence of the new stars in the Darley firmament, Street Cry and Dubawi, is that both descend from the Mr Prospector male line, a direction Summerhill has firmly pursued for close on a decade now. Where our stallions are not descended from the great American champion, more often than not, they carry his strain in their female lineage.
John Berry writes as follows :
“With Darley and Coolmore seeming nowadays to be breeding superpowers as separate as America and Russia used to be in the days of the Cold War, it has been interesting to observe Darley’s attempts to break into Coolmore’s erstwhile dominance of the European stallion market. Coolmore’s recent position of strength was built on the stud’s two former dominant stallions Sadler’s Wells (who was pensioned in 2008) and Danehill (who died in 2003); nowadays it maintains its strength thanks to the next generation, such as the Sadler’s Wells stallions Montjeu, Galileo and High Chaparral, as well as Danehill’s son Danehill Dancer. As it currently seems to be Maktoum policy not to send mares to Coolmore stallions nor to buy yearlings by such stallions, it has thus not been easy for Darley to acquire potential heirs to the two patriarchs. However, purchasing high-class proven colts by Coolmore sires (such as Authorized, Teofilo and New Approach) has seemed not to be off limits for Darley, thus giving Sheikh Mohammed’s breeding operation the chance to recruit potentially top-class Sadler’s Wells-line sires. Set against this background, it must be particularly pleasing for Sheikh Mohammed to have unearthed two seemingly world-class stallions from a different sire-line and without having to buy from anyone else : in America his homebred Street Cry has already proved himself to be a stallion from the very top drawer, while in Europe the early evidence is that another homebred, Dubawi, is set for an equally glittering stud career.
Dubawi’s first batch of two-year-olds in 2009 did extremely well, but his results this year with his first three-year-olds have been even better. He enjoyed a great start to the current season when his son Makfi won Britain’s first Classic of the year (the 2,000 Guineas) back in the spring and he landed a second Classic a week later when his son Worthadd won the Italian Derby. Later in the month, the stallion came within a head of a Classic treble, his daughter Anna Salai being touched off in the Irish 1,000 Guineas. More recently, Makfi has claimed the scalps of Goldikova and Paco Boy in the Prix Jacques le Marois; while most recently, in a bid to claim his third Group One victory of the season, he started hot favourite for the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot. However, that proved to be a bridge too far - not that that was a problem for his sire, whose other runner in the race, the Darley-bred colt Poet’s Voice, carried the blue Godolphin silks to a splendid victory over the previous year’s winner Rip Van Winkle.
Dubawi’s success as a stallion must be doubly pleasing for Sheikh Mohammed, the horse being a member of the only crop sired by the Sheikh’s all-time favourite horse Dubai Millennium. That magnificent horse was an outstanding galloper who won all but one of his ten races (his only defeat coming when he patently found the 12 furlongs of Oath’s Derby too far for him) and who posted his best performance in the race dearest to his owner/breeder’s heart, the Dubai World Cup in 2000. Sadly, Dubai Millenium raced only once after that superb victory, dominating Royal Ascot’s Prince Of Wales’ Stakes with equal panache three months later. Having sustained a career-ending injury in trackwork later that summer, Dubai Millennium was duly retired and was favoured with a stellar book of mares for his first season at Dalham Hall Stud in 2001. Tragically, his first season at stud also proved to be his last because the son of the Mr Prospector sire Seeking The Gold died of grass sickness on 29 April 2001.
Bearing in mind the love and respect which Sheikh Mohammed clearly held for Dubai Millennium, there was a colossal weight of expectation on his one and only crop of foals. It is likely, though, that Dubawi was initially not one of those for whom the highest hopes were held, because he is far from his father’s son in appearance. While Dubai Millennium was a mighty horse in every respect, Dubawi is a small, compact horse, much less like his father than were some other members of the crop; for instance, while fellow young Darley sire Echo Of Light is clearly his father’s son on physique, there is little in Dubawi’s appearance to give the clue to his paternity. Although, however, Dubai Millennium did not bequeath to Dubawi his size and shape, he certainly passed on to him much of his ability.
Dubawi comes from a family which has generally raced for Sheikh Mohammed’s friend and relative Sheikh Mohammed Obaid al Maktoum. Dubawi’s dam Zomaradah, a daughter of the impeccably-bred Shirley Heights stallion Deploy, was bred by Sheikh Mohammed Obaid and carried his colours when, trained by Luca Cumani, she won the Italian Oaks in 1998. The same year saw another Cumani-trained member of this family, also bred and raced by Sheikh Mohammed Obaid, win the Derby : High-rise, a half-brother to Zomaradah’s dam Jawaher. It seems likely that, had he been a son of any stallion other than Dubai Millennium, Dubawi would too have joined Cumani’s stable under the ownership of Sheikh Mohammed Obaid - but, under the circumstances, it was understandable that Dubai Millennium’s sons would join the Godolphin fold. It did not take long before Dubawi began to make a good impression there : he was one of Godolphin’s first two-year-old runners the next year, making his debut in a six-furlong maiden at the evening meeting at Goodwood on Oaks Day 2004. Despite his patent greenness, he won so well there that he went off the solid 15/8 favourite for the Group Three Superlative Stakes over seven furlongs at Newmarket’s July Meeting on his next start. He won that too before graduating to Group One company on his third start when he justified odds-on favouritism in impressive style ten weeks later in the National Stakes over seven furlongs at the Curragh.
Resuming as a three-year-old, Dubawi lost his unbeaten record first up in the 2005 2,000 Guineas, in which he finished fifth to Footstepsinthesand. He soon made amends for that defeat, however, by winning the Irish 2,000 Guineas three weeks later, beating Foostepsinthesand’s stablemate Oratorio (subsequently winner of the Eclipse and the Irish Champion Stakes) by two lengths. Although his chunky physique and quick action suggested that Dubawi might emulate his sire in finding the Derby too stiff a test of stamina, he took his chance at Epsom, which seemed fair enough bearing in mind that his dam had won the Italian Oaks and that he was closely related to High-Rise, as well to the 1983 Park Hill Stakes victrix High Hawk, herself the dam of Sheikh Mohammed’s Breeders’ Cup Turf winner and top stallion In The Wings - and it seemed an even more justifiable challenge when, despite appearing to struggle with the extra distance, he ran his heart out to finish an honourable third behind the Montjeu colts Motivator and Walk In The Park.
After the Derby, Dubawi reverted to a mile, which saw him further enhance his already impressive racing record. At Deauville’s August meeting he echoed his father’s victory in the 1999 Prix Jacques le Marois by beating the top-liners Whipper, Valixir and Divine Proportions in France’s premier 1600m race, while he again followed in his father’s footsteps by contesting the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes. In this case, though, history did not repeat itself: the race was run at Newmarket rather than Ascot (because of Ascot being closed for its costly overhaul) and Dubawi did not win it. Although, however, he was beaten, Dubawi emerged from the race with his reputation further enhanced, thanks to the splendid duel up the Rowley Mile to which he and Starcraft treated racegoers. Neither deserved to lose; and Dubawi, dwarved by the massive NZ-bred five-year-old Starcraft, showed his courage as, seemingly taking two strides to Starcraft’s one, he went down by only three-quarters of a length.
After the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, Dubawi’s career diverged further from the path formerly trodden by his father : whereas Dubai Millennium had stayed in training to garner further laurels as a four-year-old, Dubawi was retired to Dalham Hall Stud, where he started covering in 2006 at a fee of 25,000 pounds. Predictably, Dubawi started off with a great book of mares, many owned by Darley but with plenty of outside mares too. This, of course, gave him a good start, but it was certainly no guarantee of success : the history books are choc-full of stallions who have been given every chance to succeed but who have still failed. Happily, Dubawi’s name will not be among them because last summer he began to sire winners with regularity, and stakes winners with remarkable frequency.
Under normal circumstances, Dubawi would have been champion first season-sire of Britain and Ireland last year, his total of 593,693 pounds representing an outstanding season for his first two-year-olds, 26 of whom won a total of 32 races within the British Isles. However, he had to cede the title to his contemporary, former stablemate, and fellow Darley sire Shamardal, 18 of whose sons and daughters won 25 races in Britain and Ireland between them and who collectively earned the astonishing total of 1,338,214 pounds. The bulk of this sum was snared by Shamardal’s Group Three-winning son Shakespearean, who picked up nearly a million pounds for winning the Goffs Million Mile.
Dubawi’s tally of Group winners from his first European two-year-olds was good, with Sand Vixen and Poet’s Voice each winning a Group Two race (the Flying Childers and the Champagne Stakes respectively). This year, his results have been even better, with Makfi and Poet’s Voice both winning Group One races, Worthadd winning the Group Two Italian Derby, Monterosso winning the Group Two King Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot, the Spanish-trained juvenile Irish Field winning the Group Two Prix Robert Papin at Deauville, Astrophysical Jet winning two Group Three races, and Anna Salai, Prince Bishop and the promising two-year-old filly Majestic Dubawi each winning one Group Three race. Furthermore, his first crop of Australian-conceived two-year-olds (like so many Darley sires, Dubawi has shuttled between Darley’s studs in Europe and Australia) included the likes of South African Group One winner Happy Archer, New Zealand Group Three winner Cellarmaster and Australian Listed winner Golden Millennium.
All told, therefore, Sheikh Mohammed is entitled to be delighted with the stud career to date of Dubawi, who looks set to confirm himself among Europe’s elite sires. It may prove to be the case that one of the Sheikh’s unproven sires, such as New Approach, might enable Darley to break Coolmore’s stranglehold on the best of the Sadler’s Wells line. In the meantime, thanks to Dubawi (and Street Cry in America), Darley, despite the death in 2004 of Street Cry’s sire Machiavellian, is in a very strong position as regards offering breeders access to the Mr Prospector line. This situation has come about at a time when Coolmore, after being the first to introduce this line to Europe via the hugely disappointing 1979 William Hill Futurity (now Racing Post Trophy) winner Hello Gorgeous, has chosen more recently to eschew Mr Prospector’s blood : every sire currently on Coolmore’s Irish roster is a male-line descendant of Northern Dancer. Were Coolmore to wish to dip its toe into Mr Prospector’s water again, what better way than buying a few sons of Dubawi? That would surely be a nice way of breaking the ice!”
The Balance of Power
(Photo : Pontus Edenberrg/Jean Scheijen/Chapman Arts)
Perhaps at last, there exists a mythbuster
in the ranks of American Sires…
At a time when Great Britain and most of Europe were embroiled in world and other internecene wars, across the Atlantic another game was playing itself out. The American dollar was on the rampage, as the economy of the land of the brave raged like a bushfire, heralding an era in which the custodianship of the best genetics in the world passed from the British aristocracy to American stud farms, funded largely by the enterprise of successful entrepreneurs. Wave after wave of Europe’s best racehorses found their way into the holds of the big ocean liners, and the likes of Herbager, Sir Gallahad III and Bull Dog among the earlier ones, Nasrullah, Royal Charger and Princequillo in the intermediate brigade, and at its zenith, Blushing Groom, Vaguely Noble, Lyphard and Riverman, joined the throng. There were many more, and once it became apparent through the exploits of superstars such as Sir Ivor and Nijinsky, that the best horses in the world were to be found in the United States, any owner with aspirations of winning the best races in Europe, made it his business to dabble in the American market.
Remarkably, though all these stallions had earned their reputations through their exploits on turf, a bias soon developed among European horsemen for what became commonly known as “turf” sires, as opposed to those that were regarded as distinctly “dirt” horses. It wasn’t long before the same people developed an antipathy towards the progeny of Seattle Slew, and perhaps slightly less so, for the Mr. Prospector tribe, believing that these horses were primarily sires of dirt horses. While there is possibly some basis for such an argument, it soon manifested itself in an apathy for the progeny of the sons and the grandsons as well, a case of once the label was on, it stuck. And so it was quickly assumed that, for example, a horse of the stature of the A.P. Indy, (a son of Seattle Slew) was bound, like his sire to fall into the same category. While there are many instances of Graded stakes turf winners emanating from the A.P. Indy male line (more than 80 Graded stakes winners to date) as well as what we’ve seen in South Africa in the achievements of Jay Peg and Consensual (two Group One winning champions from the relatively modestly performed Camden Park), there remains a doubt in the minds of many Europeans about the suitability of this male line for their turf.
We forget of course that Northern Dancer and Danzig, arguably two of the best stallions the world has known, were strictly dirt performers, yet in their era, they stood head and shoulders above the world with their turf runners.
Domestically, our own history of top stallions is replete with horses whose greatest racecourse moments were recorded on the dirt, beginning with Jungle Cove, Plum Bold, Western Winter and Muhtafal. This past weekend witnessed a Graded Stakes winner in the UK and several other promising performances from the first crop of the quality racehorse, Bernardini (a son of A.P. Indy), afforded the opportunity to race in Europe largely because of the influence of Bernadine’s owner, Sheikh Mohammed. Perhaps at last, there exists a mythbuster in the ranks of American sires, a myth buster which could upset the bias against the A.P. Indy’s forever.
What is apparent though, is that in the matter of stallion power, the pendulum has swung eastwards again, and the momentum now rests firmly with Europe and Great Britain. As much as anything, this has probably been a result of the sustained purchase of the best American bloodstock over the years by the Ballydoyle and Maktoum empires. The loss of Storm Cat and Kingmambo in America leaves only A.P. Indy, Giant’s Causeway and Street Cry as legitimate breed shapers, while Europe’s loss of Sadler’s Wells and Danehill has been compensated for through the emergence of his sons Galileo and Montjeu, as well as Pivotal, Oasis Dream, Dansili and Danehill Dancer.