For all that Shamardal has long operated at an elite level, 2019 will nevertheless go down as an annus mirabilis for the Darley stallion.
It is well documented that his current crop of two-year-olds are the products of a first privately bred book that contained 109 mares belonging to the Maktoum family and their associates. In recent years, his books have dwindled further to around the 60-mark. Thus, the stallion does not own the juvenile firepower of some of his contemporaries.
Juvenile representation for Shamardal across Europe this season has been minimal at 19 runners (compare that to Kodiac on 102). Yet that group includes Europe’s three top colts in Pinatubo, Earthlight and Victor Ludorum. Each is unbeaten for Godolphin and between them they have won four Group 1 races. Another representative, Royal Crusade, has also run second in both the Champagne Stakes and Prix Thomas Bryon. As a result, Shamardal remains Europe’s leading two-year-old stallion by prize-money.
In a normal year within the Godolphin juvenile division, Victor Ludorum’s cosy Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere victory would mark him down as the leading colt for his owner. But the Middle Park Stakes winner Earthlight has proven to be an exceptional force over 6f while offering the promise of more progression to come once unleashed over further. Either way, Shamardal looks likely to play an important role in the fortunes of Andre Fabre’s season next year.
Yet on ratings and visual impact, neither can hold a candle to Pinatubo. Charlie Appleby’s colt had the scribes reaching for every superlative in the book following his sensational display in the National Stakes and although his Dewhurst Stakes victory last Saturday at Newmarket wasn’t quite as explosive, he still put the likes of Arizona and Wichita in their place to remain unbeaten in six starts. An uncomplicated character, it has to bode well for his future that he has performed to expectations on a wide variety of tracks, ranging from Epsom and Goodwood to Ascot and Newmarket.
Shamardal looks likely to play an important role in the fortunes of Andre Fabre’s season next year
Although primarily a private stallion nowadays, Shamardal covered an outside group of 16 mares in 2019, among them The Fugue and Screen Star. Naturally, such a level of outstanding recent success will only serve to make any outside slots that happen to be available next season even hotter commodities.
However, spare a thought for Pinatubo’s damsire Dalakhani, who was also on the scoresheet at Newmarket on Saturday as the damsire of Max Vega. The Lope De Vega colt, bred by Tullpark Ltd out of Paraphernalia, looked a classy colt for Ralph Beckett when running away with the Zetland Stakes.
Dalakhani, as an exceptional son of Darshaan who received a number of good mares during his time as an Aga Khan stallion, has long appealed as an effective broodmare sire in waiting. And he has duly had his moments, notably courtesy of his Irish Oaks-winning daughter Moonstone, the dam of Derby runner-up US Army Ranger and Listed winners Nevis and Stubbs.
This season, however, has seen Dalakhani in a much stronger light via his daughters. In addition to Pinatubo and Max Vega, the autumn action has featured a deserved Group 1 win for Godolphin’s top Japanese sprinter Tower Of London (out of Snow Pine), who became a second winner at the top level for Raven’s Pass when striking recently in the Sprinters Stakes at Nakayama.
Closer to home, the list also includes another promising two-year-old in Thunderous, winner of the Washington Singer Stakes at Newbury in August. With fellow stakes winners Abadan and Shelir also to the credit of his daughters this year, Dalakhani currently sits within the top 30 leading European broodmare sires in 29th.
Dalakhani was retired from stud duty by the Aga Khan Studs in 2016 once his health issues began to catch up with him. A brilliant winner of the Arc and Prix du Jockey Club on the track, he has sired his share of high-class performers, notably the St Leger and King George hero Conduit and Irish Oaks winner Moonstone out of his first crop.
In all, the son of Darshaan is the sire of ten Group 1 winners among 53 stakes scorers, including Prix du Jockey Club winner Reliable Man, whose early results at stud offered hope that Dalakhani might just forge an effective sire line; time will tell whether that becomes the case.
Also keep an eye on Dalasan, a member of Dalakhani’s final southern hemisphere crop who recently won the Group 2 Danehill Stakes at Flemington over 6f – not a distance usually associated with Dalakhani’s stock.
Indeed in keeping with his own profile, Dalakhani is more generally associated with the 1m4f horse; think Conduit, Defoe and Moonstone. And in that, there has to be some hope that Pinatubo could stay further than a mile next year during his three-year-old campaign.
Pinatubo is the third foal out of Dalakhani’s daughter Lava Flow, who was trained by Andre Fabre to win the Listed Prix de la Seine at Longchamp over 1m3f. The mare’s first foal, the Dubawi filly Antisana, won over 1m4f as a four-year-old.
Bred on a variation of the popular Darshaan – Sadler’s Wells cross, Lava Flow was out of the Barathea mare Mount Elbrus, winner of the Listed Prix Petite Etoile over 1m2½f as a three-year-old. In addition to Lava Flow, she also went on to breed Strobilus, who was beaten only a short-head when second on his final start in the 2006 Group 1 Gran Criterium, and Hunterview, who developed into an useful hurdler for David Pipe.
His family’s standing as a source of successful stallions is another weapon in Pinatubo’s armour
The greatest aspect of this pedigree, however, is the fact that it goes back to Eljazzi, now an increasingly important element within the studbook as the granddam of Invincible Spirit and Kodiac.
One of Major Johnnie Lewis’ great achievements during his tenure as bloodstock advisor to Prince AA Faisal was his purchase of Eljazzi as a yearling for 92,000gns at Tattersalls in 1982. By the Sussex Stakes winner Artaius, she was out of the 1968 Yorkshire Oaks runner-up Border Bounty and therefore a half-sister to the high-class miler Pitcairn, the British and Irish champion sire of 1980 in the year his son Ela-Mana-Mou won the King George.
Eljazzi went on to win a Leicester maiden for Prince Faisal and Sir Henry Cecil. However, it was at stud that she really proved her worth, notably as the dam of Rafha, her first foal who represented the Prince Faisal – Cecil association to great effect when successful in the 1989 May Hill Stakes and 1990 Prix de Diane.
Rafha, by Kris, has since left an indelible mark on the breed as dam of Invincible Spirit, the sire of 18 Group/Grade 1 winners and now a noted sire of sires. Another son Kodiac is also the sire of four Group 1 winners including two of this season’s standouts in Fairyland and Hello Youmzain; his metal as a sire of sires will be really tested next year when the likes of Adaay, Kodi Bear, Prince Of Lir and Coulsty are represented by their first runners.
There also seems to be great momentum in Australia behind another stallion member of the family in Coolmore’s Pride Of Dubai, an excellent two-year-old himself who has hit the ground running at stud as the sire of Tanker, successful in Saturday’s Listed Debutant Stakes at Caulfield, out of his first crop; his first Irish-bred crop are yearlings.
Fellow Coolmore stallion Gustav Klimt and Rathbarry’s James Garfield are other talented colts to descend from Eljazzi also now at stud.
Thus, this family’s standing as a noted source of successful stallions will be yet another weapon in Pinatubo’s armoury when the time comes to stand him at stud. In the meantime, he deserves to head into winter quarters regarded as the likeliest winner of next year’s 2,000 Guineas.