Shamardal, a champion on the racecourse and a leading light on the Darley stallion roster for well over ten years, has been euthanised at Kildangan Stud as a result of health issues. The son of Giant’s Causeway is the sire of 25 Group 1 winners including last season’s brilliant two-year-old Pinatubo.

As fate would have it, Shamardal’s death at the age of 18 comes just at the height of his recognition. No European stallion last year could match his achievement of three Group 1-winning two-year-olds; remarkably they were produced out of a pool of less than 30 runners bred in the first season that he became a private stallion for the Maktoum family at Kildangan Stud.

Pinatubo topped the pile, his brilliant unbeaten season for Charlie Appleby culminating with victories in the National and Dewhurst Stakes. Those performances, in particular that nine-length thrashing of Armory last September in the National Stakes at the Curragh, propelled him to a rating of 128, the highest set by a two-year-old since Celtic Swing in 1994.

But it wasn’t all about Pinatubo. Andre Fabre’s Earthlight swept the Prix Morny and Middle Park Stakes while stable-mate Victor Ludorum broke through in the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere. Like Pinatubo, both are unbeaten for Godolphin and serious Classic prospects for 2020; should we get some semblance of a European Classic programme back after the ravages of Covid-19, then it doesn’t take too much imagination to envisage Shamardal picking up where he left off in 2019.

As an influence, Shamardal has been a great all-rounder for Darley. And now with a leading sire son to his credit in Lope De Vega, not to mention a burgeoning reputation as a broodmare sire of real significance, as the likes of Awtaad, Hello Youmzain and Latrobe attest, he looks poised to leave a major legacy.

As that high-flying trio of Pinatubo, Earthlight and Victor Ludorum show, Shamardal is very capable of siring accomplished two-year-olds. Lest we forget, though, that 2019 also featured a Classic-winning miler in the Poule d’Essai des Pouliches heroine Castle Lady. That filly, as well as those popular campaigners Blue Point and Able Friend, are just some of the examples of how well Shamardal’s progeny often train on.

In turn, his progeny are invariably associated with tough, sound constitutions, making them well liked by trainers. “Even my hack is by Shamardal!” remarked Fabre after he had saddled Victor Ludorum to win the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere at Longchamp last October.

“As an influence, Shamardal has been a great all-rounder for Darley”

Famously a wobbler as a young horse who was knocked down to Gainsborough Stud Management for just 50,000gns as a Tattersalls Houghton yearling, Shamardal was bred in Kentucky by Brilliant Stable out of the Listed-placed Helsinki, a Machiavellian sister to Street Cry. He was from the first crop of the ‘Iron Horse’ Giant’s Causeway and come the autumn of 2004, had become an integral element to the successful launch of what would ultimately become a championship stud career for his sire.

Shamardal swept through his juvenile season unbeaten for Mark Johnston, the highlight coming when he defeated Oratorio to win the Dewhurst Stakes, before switching to Saeed bin Suroor and Godolphin, for whom he captured the 2005 Poule d’Essai des Poulains, Prix du Jockey Club and St. James’s Palace Stakes.

Injury subsequently intervened, meaning that Shamardal was retired directly after his win in the St. James’s Palace Stakes to take up stud duty at Darley’s arm in Australia. The following spring, he joined Kildangan Stud in County Kildare, his home for all bar one of his 14 years in European service since (he stood the 2008 season at Dalham Hall Stud in Newmarket).

No fewer than 17 stakes winners emerged out of his first European crop of 112 foals, among them Lope De Vega, who emulated his sire by landing the Poule d’Essai des Poulains and Prix du Jockey Club, the latter in a relentless display of front-running. That first crop also contained German champion Zazou while a second of 117 foals included Italian champion Crackerjack King and top Hong Kong performer Dunboyne Express (later renamed Dan Excel).

Shamardal’s son Pinatubo on his way to victory in the Group 1 Dewhurst Stakes in 2019 – Photo: George Selwyn

The southern hemisphere, meanwhile, was gaining the rewards of those early shuttle trips through the deeds of Faint Perfume, Captain Sonador, Maybe Discreet and Able Friend, all Group 1 winners foaled in Australia between 2006 and 2009.

Over the following years, Shamardal developed a varied profile, his Group 1 winners ranging from juvenile talents such as Lumiere and Casamento to older performers such as the sprinter Blue Point, who lit up last year’s Royal Ascot meeting by pulling off the King’s Stand – Diamond Jubilee Stakes double, and older middle-distance performers Mukhadram and Speedy Boarding.

What never varied, however, was Shamardal’s standing as a source of quality.

To date, Shamardal is the sire of 146 black-type winners, which equates to a figure of nine per cent black-type winners to foals of racing age. Of those 146, 25 are Group/Grade 1 winners.

“Over the following years, Shamardal developed a varied profile”

Shamardal was switched to serving in a private capacity for the Maktoum family in 2016 as health issues caught up with him. His books dwindled as such but he is listed as covering 58 mares in 2019; in a departure from his status as a strictly private stallion, the group featured a cluster of outside mares including Watership Down Stud’s multiple Group 1 winner The Fugue, Ballylinch Stud’s Group 1 producer Screen Star (the dam of Lumiere and Sheikha Reika), Juddmonte Farms’ talented Joyeuse, a half-sister to Frankel, and Newsells Park Stud’s Birdwood, a half-sister to Enable.

Thankfully, Shamardal’s story is far from over. Son Lope De Vega is one of the stars of the current European stallion scene at Ballylinch Stud and now has several sons of his own settled in a stud role, notably Belardo and Phoenix Of Spain.

Darley’s roster, meanwhile, includes Blue Point – who bears a real resemblance to his sire – and French Navy at Kildangan Stud and Bow Creek at Haras du Logis in France. Shadwell offers Mukhadram, a stakes producer within his first crop, on its roster at Nunnery Stud while French champion Dariyan holds court at the Aga Khan’s Haras de Bonneval.

And of course, there is the promise of Pinatubo, Earthlight and Victor Ludorum – one of three stakes winners by Shamardal inbred to the stallion’s granddam Helen Street – to come in due course. Before then, let’s hope they have ample opportunity this season to show their capabilities as three-year-olds and provide a fitting tribute to their sire.