In last month’s article, while musing on the thought that the more things change, the more they stay the same, I pointed out that the breeding world occasionally undergoes a major change in direction. So, after 30-plus years of stability founded largely on the father-and-son team of Sadler’s Wells and Galileo, is the scene set for more of the same, or is the time ripe for a new dynasty?
Well, it’s highly likely that the Galileo era has at least a few more years to run, even though his 2020 and 2021 crops are smaller. And it’s also possible that his exceptional son Frankel is poised to step into his shoes, now that his bigger crops are coming on line. It is easy to forget that Frankel owes his remarkable total of Group winners largely to his first four crops, which averaged fewer than 100 northern hemisphere foals.
In 2021 he will go to war with more than 160 northern-hemisphere three-year-olds and more than 140 two-year-olds, with around 130 yearlings to follow. Frankel’s 2021 crop will also be much bigger than his early crops, so his representation will be going up as Galileo’s comes down.
There is also the possibility that we are about to see the Sadler’s Wells male line facing increasingly stiff competition. Even Coolmore, which has long been the spiritual home of the Northern Dancer line, has recognised the urgent need for top-class outcrosses – a need which prompted the purchase of Wootton Bassett.
While this son of Iffraaj is by no means free of Northern Dancer, he has none of the Sadler’s Wells or Danehill blood which has been the basis for much of Coolmore’s success.
“Dubawi has few equals when it comes to percentage of black-type winners, or indeed Group 1 winners”
Arguably, though, it is Coolmore’s arch rival, Darley/Godolphin, which is ideally placed to instigate a change in the balance of power thanks to sons of Dubawi and Shamardal, two Darley stallions which often provided some of the stiffest opposition to Galileo. In fact, Dubawi has been runner-up to Galileo no fewer than five times in the last eight years, whereas Shamardal achieved a top-12 position in five of the last seven years, with his best placing being his third behind Galileo and Sea The Stars in 2019.
Needless to say, prize-money tables are not the best means of analysing a stallion’s merit and Dubawi has few equals when it comes to percentage of black-type winners, or indeed Group 1 winners. Shamardal, for his part, sired at least one Group 1 winner in each of his first 11 northern hemisphere crops, with three of these crops producing as many as three.
It is going to be interesting to see whether his last four crops, born between 2018 and 2021, can maintain that highly impressive sequence. They will be at a distinct numerical disadvantage because of the physical issues which compromised the later part of Shamardal’s stallion career, limiting his crop size to a maximum of 51. While these crops lack quantity, there was certainly no lack of quality in the mares sent to the champion son of Giant’s Causeway in his final years.
Dubawi and Shamardal also enjoyed the advantage of possessing first-rate bloodlines which weren’t exactly mainstream in Europe. Dubawi, for his part, is a son of the hugely talented but short-lived Dubai Millennium and his first three dams are daughters of Deploy, Dancing Brave and High Line. The only duplications in his five-generation pedigree are 4 x 5 to both Raise A Native and Northern Dancer.
Shamardal was also by a stallion whose exposure to the European market was limited, as his sire Giant’s Causeway was transferred to Kentucky after only one season at Coolmore. Shamardal’s first three dams were daughters of Machiavellian, the short-lived Troy and the long-lived Riverman, who spent most of his stallion career in the US. The only duplications in Shamardal’s first five generations were 5 x 4 to Halo, a dual American champion sire, 5 x 5 to another champion American sire in Hail To Reason and 5 x 5 to Natalma, dam of multiple champion sire Northern Dancer.
Born in the same year – 2002 – the two Darley stallions also shared the distinction of being unbeaten Group 1-winning two-year-olds who developed into Classic-winning milers at three. It’s therefore hardly surprising that they have shone as stallions and now appear to be poised to make a substantial impact in the role of sire of sires. It goes without saying that even stallions which achieve the accolade “sire of sires” have quite a few duds alongside their more successful stallion sons and this already applies to both Dubawi and Shamardal. There are signs, though, that both are going to make a lasting impact, extending beyond just their sons to their grandsons.
Dubawi’s potential has been highlighted by the fact that three of his sons – Makfi, Poet’s Voice and Al Kazeem – have already been represented by Group 1 winners, as has Makfi’s Classic-winning son Make Believe, sire of the 2020 Prix du Jockey-Club winner Mishriff. That said, neither Makfi nor Poet’s Voice could be considered an outright success, with Makfi being sold to Japan after a six-year innings divided between Britain and France which yielded a legacy of eight Group winners, including a second Group 1 winner in the disappointing Mkfancy.
Poet’s Voice died in March 2018 at the age of 11, by which time his fee had fallen to £6,000 from an original £12,000. His death was immediately followed by some top-class displays from his handsome son Poet’s Word, but this winner of the Prince of Wales’s Stakes and the King George was treated with scant respect after his retirement to the Nunnery Stud. His failure to win at two, coupled with his progression through handicap company and his appreciation of middle distances, were sins which today’s breeders are unlikely to forgive, especially in the son of a run-of-the-mill stallion. In next to no time, Poet’s Word was covering hundreds of National Hunt mares at Boardsmill Stud.
One son of Dubawi who promises to be anything but run of the mill is Night Of Thunder, conqueror of Kingman and Australia in the 2014 2,000 Guineas. Winner also of the Lockinge Stakes at four, Night Of Thunder suffered the sort of setbacks often inflicted on young stallions in today’s commercial market. Originally priced at €30,000, his fee fell to €25,000 in his second season and then to only £15,000 in his third and fourth. His number of mares also fell, from an initial 138 to 103, 102 and 97.
Consequently, a bit of patience may be required before we see Night Of Thunder build on the tremendous achievements of his 105-strong first crop. No fewer than eight of the 105 have become Group winners, with a further six scoring at Listed level, and they have been winning over quite a wide range of distances.
“One son of Dubawi who promises to be anything but run of the mill is Night Of Thunder”
At the top end Thunderous and Auyantepui have landed Group 2 events beyond a mile and a quarter, but the commercial market is probably more impressed by the fact that the likes of Molatham, Keep Busy, Under The Stars, Stormy Girl, Bredenbury and Lady Penelope have all shone over distances short of a mile as three-year-olds. We also saw useful displays from several members of Night Of Thunder’s 74-strong second crop, such as the French Listed winner Suesa, the Coventry Stakes second Qaader and Zamaani.
Fortunately, the exploits of Night Of Thunder’s first two-year-olds didn’t go unnoticed and the 2020 season saw him credited with covering 213 mares at a fee of €25,000. His impressive stream of black-type winners resulted in his fee soaring to €75,000 in 2021. The litmus test will come in 2023 and 2024, but the market has decided that it really likes Night Of Thunder. His third-crop yearlings, sired at £15,000, averaged more than 81,000gns, with a top price of 250,000gns, and his fourth-crop foals, also sired at £15,000, averaged more than 70,000gns.
Night Of Thunder’s fellow Classic winner New Bay is another son of Dubawi showing distinct early promise, despite not being swamped with mares in his first four years at Ballylinch Stud (also home to Dubawi’s Classic-winning grandson Make Believe). Considering that New Bay’s sole appearance as a two-year-old saw him finish only second in an ordinary-looking all-weather race in late-November, he did very well to sire a dozen first-crop juvenile winners headed by the Newmarket Group winners New Mandate and Saffron Beach.
These two come from a crop of 77 and numbers are again going to be an issue with New Bay’s second and third crops, each of which numbers around 60 foals. This mustn’t be forgotten when assessing this Prix du Jockey-Club winner, who comes from the same distinguished female line as Oasis Dream and Kingman. New Bay’s second-crop yearlings sold for up to 400,000gns, with four colts making 200,000gns or more, so there is every reason to expect more good winners by him in 2021, from each of his first two crops.
The next sons of Dubawi to face the racecourse test are his champion son Postponed and the National Stud’s Time Test.
Postponed is having to face the widespread prejudice against stallions who were suited by a mile and a half, the distance of three of his four Group 1 successes. This prejudice is evident in the way that the fee for this winner of the King George and the Juddmonte International has been in freefall, from £20,000, to £15,000, to £10,000 and now to £7,500. Some might also be tempted to brand him a late developer, but he won in August as a juvenile, when he was also second of 17 in the Tattersalls Millions 2YO Trophy.
For good measure, Postponed is a grandson of the Group 1-winning two-year-old Bianca Nera, so he could enjoy similar success to New Bay. His 79-strong first crop is followed by a small second crop, but a warm reception for some of Postponed’s first foals at the 2019 sales seems to have earned him another chance, with up to 120 mares visiting him in 2020.
Time Test was somewhat frustrating as a racehorse, never quite managing the Group 1 success promised by his Group 2 and Group 3 successes over a mile and a mile and a quarter, such as his impressive victory in the Tercentenary Stakes at Royal Ascot. However, his lack of a Group 1 win is compensated for by his physical quality and by his having a Group 1-winning dam from a first-rate Juddmonte family. Although priced at only £8,500, Time Test proved popular at the sales, with his first yearlings selling for up to 150,000gns and averaging more than 33,000gns, with plenty of good judges among the buyers.
“A warm reception for some of Postponed’s first foals at the 2019 sales seems to have earned him another chance”
Night Of Thunder has a dam by Galileo, while New Bay has a second dam by Sadler’s Wells, which arguably bodes well for Too Darn Hot and Ghaiyyath, Darley’s newest Dubawi stallions. Too Darn Hot is out of a Sadler’s Wells line mare in Singspiel’s daughter Dar Re Mi, whereas the imposing Ghaiyyath is out of Nightime, who became Galileo’s first classic winner when she landed the 2006 Irish 1,000 Guineas.
Both are extremely well qualified for stallion success, even if Ghaiyyath committed the sin of gaining two of his four Group 1 wins over a mile and a half. Too Darn Hot is arguably the nearest thing to Dubawi among all of Dubawi’s sons, both in physique and performance. An unbeaten champion at two, Too Darn Hot also shone at up to a mile at three, having run respectably over an extended ten furlongs.
Although Too Darn Hot seemed to share Dubawi’s preference for shorter distances, I expect him to sire his share of middle-distance performers, as all three of his full siblings showed they stayed at least a mile and a quarter. He also comes from the same family as Darshaan and his first two dams were Group 1 winners over a mile and a half.
Ghaiyyath not only has a Group 1-winning dam but also a Group 1-winning half-sister in the Man o’War Stakes winner Zhukova. Although he is a sizeable individual, he was sufficiently precocious to win two of his three races as a juvenile, including the Autumn Stakes, which is usually a hard race to win these days. Ghaiyyath ranks alongside Trading Leather, Kingston Hill, Best Solution and Persian King as one of five recent winners of this Group 3 race to go on to Group 1 success. Ghaiyyath might well have done so at three years had he not been side-tracked while on the Derby trail, but he later showed that he was an extremely hard horse to catch. With the similarly-bred Night Of Thunder now priced at €75,000, Ghaiyyath has to be a tempting alternative at €30,000 at Kildangan.
Moving on to Shamardal, his reputation as a sire of sires rests firmly on the shoulders of his dual Classic winner Lope De Vega. At the age of 14, Lope De Vega is already the sire of nine northern hemisphere Group 1 winners, plus another three in Australia. This string of top winners has resulted in Lope De Vega’s fee being raised seven times in the last seven years, to the extent that his current fee is ten times the €12,500 at which he stood in 2013 and 2014.
Lope De Vega’s first Group 1 winner, the Dewhurst and Lockinge Stakes winner Belardo, has also made an impressive start, with three Group-winning fillies among his first two-year-olds. Unfortunately, Belardo is another young stallion who found it hard to maintain popularity in his early years. His first crop of 93 is followed by a second crop of 69 and an even smaller third crop. This helps explain why Darley have kept his 2021 fee as low as €10,000, even though demand for Belardo’s services picked up in 2020.
The second-most successful stallion son of Shamardal is the Racing Post Trophy winner Casamento, whose team of five Group winners is led by the smart Communique, twice a Group 2 winner over a mile and a half at Newmarket. Not a bad record for a stallion who was priced at around £5,000, but Casamento left the Darley operation for Sweden and was covering sizeable numbers of National Hunt mares at Sunnyhill Stud prior to his death last year. Similarly, the admirable Eclipse Stakes winner Mukhadram has been moved to Italy.
“With the similarly-bred Night Of Thunder now priced at €75,000, Ghaiyyath has to be a tempting alternative at €30,000 at Kildangan”
The future, though, looks rosy for Shamardal’s stallion sons, as Darley have two of his fastest sons – Blue Point and Earthlight – at Kildangan and the outstanding 2019 two-year-old Pinatubo at Dalham Hall. The fact that Blue Point attracted nearly 200 mares at a fee of €40,000 in his first season highlights the appeal of Shamardal’s best sons and we can expect Pinatubo and Earthlight to be similarly in demand, especially when they have been attractively priced at £35,000 and €20,000 respectively. Pinatubo’s pedigree, which includes no duplications in four generations, and his correct physique allow him endless options and it will be disappointing if he doesn’t make a flying start to his stallion career in 2024.
The Darley stallion team also includes another son of Shamardal in Bow Creek, a Group 2 winner at around a mile in Britain, Ireland and Australia. Based in France, Bow Creek has only 23 foals in his first crop, born in 2018, but they include Breizh Eagle, who looked a colt with a bright future when he decisively won two end-of-year races over Deauville’s all-weather track.
Yeomanstown Stud, another operation with a reputation for making stallions, has added Shamardal’s royally-bred son Shaman to a team which already features Dark Angel and Camacho. A veteran of 16 starts, Shaman was a Group 3 winner over 1800 metres and a Group 2 winner over 2000 metres, in addition to finishing second in the Poule d’Essai des Poulains and Prix Jacques le Marois, so he offers a touch of class to Yeomanstown’s many clients.