As far as racecourse evidence goes in advertising the appeal of this year’s retirees to stud, arguably nothing matches Mohaather’s Sussex Stakes strike. It was a performance of uncommon brilliance that demonstrated so many of the traits that breeders desire in a stallion prospect; raw pace, balance, determination and an electrifying turn of foot.
However, at the two furlong pole matters had looked decidedly unpromising. After some typical Goodwood scrummaging, Mohaather found himself at the rear of the field with a formidable opposition of Circus Maximus, Kameko and Siskin – the winners of seven Group 1s between them – ahead of him. At that stage, it looked as if his chance had gone.
What followed was quite simply jaw dropping. Once brought to the outside by Jim Crowley, Mohaather quickly got organised and began to eat into his rivals’ advantage. Circus Maximus had dictated affairs at an ordinary gallop, while the smooth-travelling Siskin had set sail for home as Mohaather was still extracting himself from an unfavourable position on the rail.
As the field stormed by the half- furlong pole, Mohaather hit top gear and in a matter of strides he made up those lost lengths and surged into the lead. Ultimately, he dismissed Circus Maximus by three-quarters of a length with something to spare, with Siskin in third and the luckless Kameko back in fourth.
It was a freakishly good performance, but one entirely in keeping with the trajectory of Mohaather’s career.
“For a horse of his stature he’s got a big stride and has so much quality”
His trainer Marcus Tregoning was understandably thrilled, albeit not quite sso stunned as the rest of us, having long since been aware of Mohaather’s most potent weapon.
“It’s pretty rare to see a horse do that,” he says of the ease with which Mohaather overcame such heavy trouble in running. “I can’t remember seeing it, certainly not in a Group 1. He had to give away at least three lengths then come around the field, and he’s still beaten them pretty comfortably.
“It was a stunning performance and a rare turn of foot; I used to see it at home, he’d pick up instantly and show this incredible burst of speed. The fact he managed to conserve his energy for a mile and produce that terrific burst in the Sussex Stakes was all down to his temperament.”
During his four seasons in training Mohaather developed into a supreme athletic specimen, and now possesses power-packed hindquarters, a strong top-line and shoulder, and a long, fluid stride. However, Tregoning says that his relaxed yet willing demeanour has been present from day one, with the trainer relaying that Mohaather was such a good ride, even his 15-year-old daughter Alice used to take over from regular rider David Croft on weekends.
As Tregoning talks through Mohaather’s key physical attributes, he draws a comparison that ought to pique the interest of breeders far and wide.
“I was very lucky to be at Galileo’s Derby,” he says. “I was in the box owned by Lady Beaverbrook, which is right over the winner’s enclosure, and I could look down and see him. His hindquarters were like two oranges put together, there was amazing definition, and at peak fitness, Mohaather had that same definition to his quarters.
“We used to spend ages at evening stables looking at him as there’s just such tremendous power there. He has a beautiful action and really swings as he walks. For a horse of his stature he’s got a big stride and has so much quality. You can see how he’d put that into his mares.”
There is, of course, much more to Mohaather’s race record than his Sussex Stakes score. He was a high-class two- year-old, winning a Nottingham novice stakes and the Group 3 Horris Hill Stakes, in which he gave an early indication of his high cruising speed and irresistible turn of foot.
At three, he returned with a consummate display in the Group 3 Greenham Stakes, in which he again travelled with elan before that trademark finishing kick saw off the likes of Great Scot, Urban Icon and subsequent Group 1-winning sprinter Hello Youmzain with ease. A severe bruise restricted him to just one further start during his Classic season, when a creditable fifth behind King Of Change in a heavy ground Queen Elizabeth II Stakes.
After his first five outings, there remained a sense of unfinished business about Mohaather’s racing days, and his reappearance run at four did little to diminish that as he finished a luckless seventh, beaten only five lengths, behind Circus Maximus in the Queen Anne Stakes, having never so much as come off the bridle.
“We used to spend ages at evening stables looking at him as there’s just such tremendous power there”
However, from thereon we got the opportunity to see what Mohaather was really capable of. He slammed a classy field, including San Donato, Duke Of Hazard and Lord Glitters, in Ascot’s Group 2 Summer Mile Stakes, having quickened clear to win by a widening three and three-quarter lengths. He signed off his eight-race career with his famous Goodwood triumph, after which there can be little doubt that he was a miler of the very highest order.
“Just having him in the yard each day,” is Tregoning’s response when asked for his abiding memory of his time with Mohaather. “That’s been a tremendous boost for everybody involved and ultimately I just feel so lucky to have trained him.
“He had the right owner because Sheikh Hamdan is a very patient man and he’s used to the ups and downs. We’ve been training for him for a long time now and he’s very understanding when things don’t go right. Shadwell were looking for another stallion and to produce one for them is very rewarding.”
The nature of breeding and racing means that as one chapter closes, another begins, and although Mohaather’s time at Tregoning’s Whitsbury Manor base has come to an end, the start of what promises to be a bright future at Shadwell’s Nunnery Stud is just getting going.
“Mohaather really hit our radar when he won the Horris Hill Stakes with such authority,” recalls Shadwell Stud Director Richard Lancaster. “His victory in the Greenham Stakes confirmed he was a proper stallion prospect and he then ran a hugely eye-catching race in the QEII after a layoff.
Not only did that alert us to his ability, it also confirmed a mile would be within his compass as he hit the line incredibly well.
“Naturally, the early part of the 2020 season was frustrating but he really showed what he was capable of in the Summer Mile in July. He backed that
up with a scintillating performance at Goodwood when he confirmed he was arguably the best miler in Europe this year. Marcus Tregoning had always maintained he was a top horse, probably the best he’d trained, and he’s seen enough class acts to know when he has a good one.”
Having proved himself to be a top- class runner, Mohaather’s next assignment will be to replicate the success he had on the racecourse at stud, having taken up a berth alongside Sheikh Hamdan’s other stallions Eqtidaar, Muhaarar and Tasleet in Nunnery’s palatial stallion barn. He has been introduced at a fee of £20,000.
“Mohaather has taken very well to life on the stud and has slipped seamlessly into his new routine,” reports Lancaster. “It’s obviously a very relaxed environment compared to a racing yard. He has, therefore, relaxed both mentally and physically.
“Sometimes when a new horse arrives in the stallion barn it is the other stallions who are affected by a new arrival. In this case, it’s working very well and they have accepted the new arrival without fuss. The next interesting time will be when Mohaather starts covering mares.”
“Hopefully by the time his first crop appears at the sales the economy will be well on the road to recovery”
Retiring any new stallion to stud is a sizeable undertaking at the best of times, and given the situation the world finds itself in, with so much of normal life having been turned upside down by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, this season may prove even more challenging than usual.
However, Lancaster says that Mohaather’s appeal is already proving irresistible for plenty of breeders, who, as a group, have maintained an inherently positive disposition, even during such unprecedented times.
“Breeders have been very enthusiastic so far,” he says of the reception Mohaather has received. “It has been naturally difficult because of the Covid-19 restrictions and lockdown, but people are showing great interest and are keen to get their names on the list.
“There are so many uncertainties at the moment, that is true. We have, however, been able to keep racing and the sales have stood up remarkably well. Racing people are an optimistic group and everyone has come together. Even the government has now come forward with an injection of funds.
“In that spirit, I think breeders will look forward to better days ahead. Hopefully by the time his first crop appears at the sales the economy will be well on the road to recovery.”
Moreover, Mohaather can count on some strong home support from Sheikh Hamdan’s own broodmare band too, with Lancaster revealing that some of Shadwell’s most accomplished mares, both in racing and breeding terms, will be among Mohaather’s debut book.
“Sheikh Hamdan gives great support to all the Shadwell stallions and Mohaather will be no different,” he says. “We will be supporting him with some very special mares, including Nazeef, who established herself as one of Europe’s leading fillies in 2020 with victories in the Falmouth Stakes and Sun Chariot Stakes, as well as Classic-winning miler Ghanaati and Listed scorer Rumoush, who has excelled at stud supplying four black-type horses [Muntazah, Ojooba, Talaayeb and Wadilsafa].”
There are, of course, myriad other factors that breeders have to consider when assessing a stallion prospect, not least pedigree. In Mohaather’s case, his brilliant race record and notably athletic physique are underpinned by a family rich in relevance and black type.
He is the highest-rated runner by Whitsbury Manor Stud’s Showcasing, a confirmed source of class and precocity, with the likes of Advertise, Quiet Reflection, Soldier’s Call and Tasleet sitting atop a list of 96 stakes performers. That paternal line also makes Mohaather a great grandson of Nunnery’s breeding-shaping stallion Green Desert.
Mohaather was bred by Gaie Johnson Houghton, mother of Group 1-winning trainer Eve Johnson Houghton, from the Inchinor mare Roodeye, who won two races herself and also finished third in the 2004 Dick Poole Fillies’ Stakes.
Roodeye has produced seven other winners, including Mohaather’s full-sister Prize Exhibit, who won twice at two for Jamie Osborne before she went on to finish third in the Oh So Sharp Stakes. She later landed a brace of Grade 2s in America for Jim Cassidy before she returned to Britain for the Tattersalls December Mares Sale, where she joined the Barronstown Stud broodmare band at a cost of 775,000gns.
It is an indication of the esteem in which the family is held that Prize Exhibit’s first foal, a filly by Galileo, was bought by MV Magnier for 2,800,000gns at Book 1 of this year’s Tattersalls October Yearling Sale.
Moreover, Roodeye’s other offspring include the stakes-placed Harbour Master and Roodle, a minor winner by Xaar who went on to produce the Queen Anne Stakes victor Accidental Agent.
“Mohaather is an extremely well-balanced horse and was blessed with an incredibly potent turn of foot,” says Lancaster. “He also has a pedigree with a lot of speed in it, which makes him very commercial. But the attribute that has really stood out to me is his temperament; he has a great mind, is very relaxed and takes everything in his stride.
“He showed on the racecourse that he was an exceptional talent, winning a seriously strong renewal of the Sussex Stakes as well as winning Group races at two, three and four. He has all the attributes that Bull Hancock, the great American stallion master, said were needed in a stallion.”
There had been some debate among bloodstock circles over whether Shadwell would stand Mohaather in Britain or Ireland, but Lancaster says that, while there was only ever one man who would make such a decision, he believes the Group 1 winner was always a natural fit at the Nunnery.
“The decision of where a stallion stands is entirely with Sheikh Hamdan,” he says. “However, I believe Mohaather was an obvious choice to stand in the UK having been bred, bought and raced here. He’s also a strong commercial prospect and I’m sure he’ll fit the criteria set by breeders.”
With the pedigree, performance, physique and support to succeed at stud, there is no telling how far Mohaather will go. “Who knows,” muses Tregoning when asked for his assessment, “with his race record and pedigree he could end up being another Green Desert.”