This month will be fascinating, not least for the superb racing on offer, but also to see if Dubawi is able to regain his recently surrendered lead in the European sires’ table and topple Galileo from the position the reigning champion has held for the last five years.
Group 1 victories this season from New Bay, Erupt, Arabian Queen, Postponed, Night Of Thunder and Al Kazeem had boosted Dubawi to the top of the board but, if Galileo had been having a relatively quiet season by his own lofty standards, he snatched back the advantage with a brace of St Leger victories and a 1-2-3 in the Moyglare Stud Stakes on the same weekend in mid-September. (Bondi Beach lost his St Leger win after an appeal.)
With his connections and race record, Dubawi could never really have been considered an underdog – even though he stood for just £15,000 in 2009, his fourth year at stud – but set against the all-conquering Sadler’s Wells/Galileo sireline, a championship for the stocky little bay would certainly be one to cherish.
In 2002, the year after Dubawi’s sire Dubai Millennium succumbed to grass sickness, Darley published a commemorative tribute to the horse Sheikh Mohammed described as “the best I have ever owned, the best I have ever seen”, cataloguing each of his 56 foals resulting from the 65 mares he covered before his death. Being the first offspring of Sheikh Mohammed Obaid’s Oaks d’Italia winner Zomaradah, the then-unnamed Dubawi was alphabetically the final foal to appear in the book. In hindsight, it was very much a case of saving the best until last – and it was the only time Dubawi would be last.
He became his sire’s first winner on June 4, 2004, when landing a six-furlong Goodwood maiden. A little over a month later, he was Dubai Millennium’s first black-type winner in the Superlative Stakes at Newmarket’s July meeting, before rounding off his unbeaten juvenile campaign in the Group 1 National Stakes at the Curragh. That course was also the scene of his Irish 2,000 Guineas success, becoming his sire’s sole Classic winner.
Echo Of Light, Belenus, Quickfire, Antique and Oude all earned black type for Dubai Millennium but Dubawi was far and away the shining star of that one small crop. His exploits on the racecourse, however, are already being outshone by his extraordinary achievements at stud.
The Cumani connection
If not for Dubai Millennium’s untimely death, Dubawi, like all of his siblings, including the black-type trio of Emirates Queen, Princess Nada and Dubai Queen, would most likely have raced in Sheikh Mohammed Obaid’s yellow and black-spotted silks and been trained by Luca Cumani, just like the sheikh’s homebred mare Zomaradah. As it was, Dubawi sported the same royal blue as his father and proceeded to bring the glory to the Dalham Hall Stud stallion ranks that Dubai Millennium was prevented from delivering.
High-profile runners at this time of year are crucial to Dubawi’s challenge for championship honours
Of Dubawi’s British Group 1 winners, only Al Kazeem has earned more prize-money than Postponed, who consolidated his King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes win with victory in the Prix Foy, making the announcement a few days later that he would be among 35 Sheikh Mohammed Obaid-owned horses to be transferred from Luca Cumani to Roger Varian even more puzzling. As Cumani was swift to point out, it is an owner’s prerogative to have his horses trained wherever he wishes, but to wave goodbye to a long-term client on the back of a successful season, and one for whom he trained a homebred Derby winner 17 years ago, must be a bitter pill to swallow.
At the time of writing, it had just been confirmed that Postponed will not run in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe for Varian. Another Cumani exile, the Oaks-placed Lady Of Dubai, a Fittocks Stud-bred daughter of Dubawi bought by Sheikh Mohammed Obaid for 450,000gns at Tattersalls, holds an entry in the QIPCO Fillies & Mares Stakes on British Champions Day.
High-profile runners at this time of year are crucial to Dubawi’s challenge for championship honours, which would become a giant step closer should second-favourite New Bay – like Postponed, the winner of a major Longchamp Arc trial – be able to topple Treve on the first Sunday of this month. However this season ends, it’s guaranteed that among the enormous interest which will surround Frankel’s first runners next year, few will be greater scrutinised than Dubawi’s half-brother, the final foal of the now-retired Zomaradah.
As Lydia Hislop concluded in her tribute to Dubai Millennium for the Darley book, “So often the briefest flame burns brightest”. In Dubawi, at least, he left one son who can carry the torch to the highest level.