coolmore versus darley
coolmore versus darley


It seems we unearthed something of a hot potato when we penned our column, Changing Of The Guard, just over a week ago. The ink was scarcely cold, and John Berry penned an intriguing story on the same topic on Thoroughbred Internet. While what’s happening on two sides of the northern hemisphere bridges of the Atlantic might appear to be remote, the reality is, they inform the course of events the world over. As breeders, we have to maintain a currency in the genetics we employ, especially if we want to keep breeding at the top end. What is interesting about the emergence of the new stars in the Darley firmament, Street Cry and Dubawi, is that both descend from the Mr Prospector male line, a direction Summerhill has firmly pursued for close on a decade now. Where our stallions are not descended from the great American champion, more often than not, they carry his strain in their female lineage. 

John Berry writes as follows :

“With Darley and Coolmore seeming nowadays to be breeding superpowers as separate as America and Russia used to be in the days of the Cold War, it has been interesting to observe Darley’s attempts to break into Coolmore’s erstwhile dominance of the European stallion market. Coolmore’s recent position of strength was built on the stud’s two former dominant stallions Sadler’s Wells (who was pensioned in 2008) and Danehill (who died in 2003); nowadays it maintains its strength thanks to the next generation, such as the Sadler’s Wells stallions Montjeu, Galileo and High Chaparral, as well as Danehill’s son Danehill Dancer. As it currently seems to be Maktoum policy not to send mares to Coolmore stallions nor to buy yearlings by such stallions, it has thus not been easy for Darley to acquire potential heirs to the two patriarchs. However, purchasing high-class proven colts by Coolmore sires (such as Authorized, Teofilo and New Approach) has seemed not to be off limits for Darley, thus giving Sheikh Mohammed’s breeding operation the chance to recruit potentially top-class Sadler’s Wells-line sires. Set against this background, it must be particularly pleasing for Sheikh Mohammed to have unearthed two seemingly world-class stallions from a different sire-line and without having to buy from anyone else : in America his homebred Street Cry has already proved himself to be a stallion from the very top drawer, while in Europe the early evidence is that another homebred, Dubawi, is set for an equally glittering stud career.

Dubawi’s first batch of two-year-olds in 2009 did extremely well, but his results this year with his first three-year-olds have been even better. He enjoyed a great start to the current season when his son Makfi won Britain’s first Classic of the year (the 2,000 Guineas) back in the spring and he landed a second Classic a week later when his son Worthadd won the Italian Derby. Later in the month, the stallion came within a head of a Classic treble, his daughter Anna Salai being touched off in the Irish 1,000 Guineas. More recently, Makfi has claimed the scalps of Goldikova and Paco Boy in the Prix Jacques le Marois; while most recently, in a bid to claim his third Group One victory of the season, he started hot favourite for the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot. However, that proved to be a bridge too far - not that that was a problem for his sire, whose other runner in the race, the Darley-bred colt Poet’s Voice, carried the blue Godolphin silks to a splendid victory over the previous year’s winner Rip Van Winkle.

Dubawi’s success as a stallion must be doubly pleasing for Sheikh Mohammed, the horse being a member of the only crop sired by the Sheikh’s all-time favourite horse Dubai Millennium. That magnificent horse was an outstanding galloper who won all but one of his ten races (his only defeat coming when he patently found the 12 furlongs of Oath’s Derby too far for him) and who posted his best performance in the race dearest to his owner/breeder’s heart, the Dubai World Cup in 2000. Sadly, Dubai Millenium raced only once after that superb victory, dominating Royal Ascot’s Prince Of Wales’ Stakes with equal panache three months later. Having sustained a career-ending injury in trackwork later that summer, Dubai Millennium was duly retired and was favoured with a stellar book of mares for his first season at Dalham Hall Stud in 2001. Tragically, his first season at stud also proved to be his last because the son of the Mr Prospector sire Seeking The Gold died of grass sickness on 29 April 2001.

Bearing in mind the love and respect which Sheikh Mohammed clearly held for Dubai Millennium, there was a colossal weight of expectation on his one and only crop of foals. It is likely, though, that Dubawi was initially not one of those for whom the highest hopes were held, because he is far from his father’s son in appearance. While Dubai Millennium was a mighty horse in every respect, Dubawi is a small, compact horse, much less like his father than were some other members of the crop; for instance, while fellow young Darley sire Echo Of Light is clearly his father’s son on physique, there is little in Dubawi’s appearance to give the clue to his paternity. Although, however, Dubai Millennium did not bequeath to Dubawi his size and shape, he certainly passed on to him much of his ability.

Dubawi comes from a family which has generally raced for Sheikh Mohammed’s friend and relative Sheikh Mohammed Obaid al Maktoum. Dubawi’s dam Zomaradah, a daughter of the impeccably-bred Shirley Heights stallion Deploy, was bred by Sheikh Mohammed Obaid and carried his colours when, trained by Luca Cumani, she won the Italian Oaks in 1998. The same year saw another Cumani-trained member of this family, also bred and raced by Sheikh Mohammed Obaid, win the Derby : High-rise, a half-brother to Zomaradah’s dam Jawaher. It seems likely that, had he been a son of any stallion other than Dubai Millennium, Dubawi would too have joined Cumani’s stable under the ownership of Sheikh Mohammed Obaid - but, under the circumstances, it was understandable that Dubai Millennium’s sons would join the Godolphin fold. It did not take long before Dubawi began to make a good impression there : he was one of Godolphin’s first two-year-old runners the next year, making his debut in a six-furlong maiden at the evening meeting at Goodwood on Oaks Day 2004. Despite his patent greenness, he won so well there that he went off the solid 15/8 favourite for the Group Three Superlative Stakes over seven furlongs at Newmarket’s July Meeting on his next start. He won that too before graduating to Group One company on his third start when he justified odds-on favouritism in impressive style ten weeks later in the National Stakes over seven furlongs at the Curragh.

Resuming as a three-year-old, Dubawi lost his unbeaten record first up in the 2005 2,000 Guineas, in which he finished fifth to Footstepsinthesand. He soon made amends for that defeat, however, by winning the Irish 2,000 Guineas three weeks later, beating Foostepsinthesand’s stablemate Oratorio (subsequently winner of the Eclipse and the Irish Champion Stakes) by two lengths. Although his chunky physique and quick action suggested that Dubawi might emulate his sire in finding the Derby too stiff a test of stamina, he took his chance at Epsom, which seemed fair enough bearing in mind that his dam had won the Italian Oaks and that he was closely related to High-Rise, as well to the 1983 Park Hill Stakes victrix High Hawk, herself the dam of Sheikh Mohammed’s Breeders’ Cup Turf winner and top stallion In The Wings - and it seemed an even more justifiable challenge when, despite appearing to struggle with the extra distance, he ran his heart out to finish an honourable third behind the Montjeu colts Motivator and Walk In The Park.

After the Derby, Dubawi reverted to a mile, which saw him further enhance his already impressive racing record. At Deauville’s August meeting he echoed his father’s victory in the 1999 Prix Jacques le Marois by beating the top-liners Whipper, Valixir and Divine Proportions in France’s premier 1600m race, while he again followed in his father’s footsteps by contesting the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes. In this case, though, history did not repeat itself: the race was run at Newmarket rather than Ascot (because of Ascot being closed for its costly overhaul) and Dubawi did not win it. Although, however, he was beaten, Dubawi emerged from the race with his reputation further enhanced, thanks to the splendid duel up the Rowley Mile to which he and Starcraft treated racegoers. Neither deserved to lose; and Dubawi, dwarved by the massive NZ-bred five-year-old Starcraft, showed his courage as, seemingly taking two strides to Starcraft’s one, he went down by only three-quarters of a length.

After the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, Dubawi’s career diverged further from the path formerly trodden by his father : whereas Dubai Millennium had stayed in training to garner further laurels as a four-year-old, Dubawi was retired to Dalham Hall Stud, where he started covering in 2006 at a fee of 25,000 pounds. Predictably, Dubawi started off with a great book of mares, many owned by Darley but with plenty of outside mares too. This, of course, gave him a good start, but it was certainly no guarantee of success : the history books are choc-full of stallions who have been given every chance to succeed but who have still failed. Happily, Dubawi’s name will not be among them because last summer he began to sire winners with regularity, and stakes winners with remarkable frequency.

Under normal circumstances, Dubawi would have been champion first season-sire of Britain and Ireland last year, his total of 593,693 pounds representing an outstanding season for his first two-year-olds, 26 of whom won a total of 32 races within the British Isles. However, he had to cede the title to his contemporary, former stablemate, and fellow Darley sire Shamardal, 18 of whose sons and daughters won 25 races in Britain and Ireland between them and who collectively earned the astonishing total of 1,338,214 pounds. The bulk of this sum was snared by Shamardal’s Group Three-winning son Shakespearean, who picked up nearly a million pounds for winning the Goffs Million Mile.

Dubawi’s tally of Group winners from his first European two-year-olds was good, with Sand Vixen and Poet’s Voice each winning a Group Two race (the Flying Childers and the Champagne Stakes respectively). This year, his results have been even better, with Makfi and Poet’s Voice both winning Group One races, Worthadd winning the Group Two Italian Derby, Monterosso winning the Group Two King Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot, the Spanish-trained juvenile Irish Field winning the Group Two Prix Robert Papin at Deauville, Astrophysical Jet winning two Group Three races, and Anna Salai, Prince Bishop and the promising two-year-old filly Majestic Dubawi each winning one Group Three race. Furthermore, his first crop of Australian-conceived two-year-olds (like so many Darley sires, Dubawi has shuttled between Darley’s studs in Europe and Australia) included the likes of South African Group One winner Happy Archer, New Zealand Group Three winner Cellarmaster and Australian Listed winner Golden Millennium.

All told, therefore, Sheikh Mohammed is entitled to be delighted with the stud career to date of Dubawi, who looks set to confirm himself among Europe’s elite sires. It may prove to be the case that one of the Sheikh’s unproven sires, such as New Approach, might enable Darley to break Coolmore’s stranglehold on the best of the Sadler’s Wells line. In the meantime, thanks to Dubawi (and Street Cry in America), Darley, despite the death in 2004 of Street Cry’s sire Machiavellian, is in a very strong position as regards offering breeders access to the Mr Prospector line. This situation has come about at a time when Coolmore, after being the first to introduce this line to Europe via the hugely disappointing 1979 William Hill Futurity (now Racing Post Trophy) winner Hello Gorgeous, has chosen more recently to eschew Mr Prospector’s blood : every sire currently on Coolmore’s Irish roster is a male-line descendant of Northern Dancer. Were Coolmore to wish to dip its toe into Mr Prospector’s water again, what better way than buying a few sons of Dubawi? That would surely be a nice way of breaking the ice!”