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TIMEFORM’S TOP RATED EUROPEAN OLDER HORSES

 Yeats

Yeats

 

TIMEFORM OLDER HORSES

Up to and including Sunday 30 August 2009 

HORSE

SIRE

RATING

GOLDIKOVA

(IRE)

Anabaa

132

CONDUIT

(Ire)

Dalakhani

130

PACO BOY

(Ire)

Desert Style

129

SEPTIMUS

(Ire)

Sadler’s Wells

129

SOLDIER OF FORTUNE

(Ire)

Galileo

129

VISION D’ETAT

(Fr)

Chichicastenango

128

YEATS

(Ire)

Sadler’s Wells

128

FLEETING SPIRIT

(Ire)

Invincible Spirit

127

PRESVIS

(GB)

Sakhee

127

ASK

(GB)      

Sadler’s Wells

126

CASUAL CONQUEST

(Ire)

Hernando

126

FAMOUS NAME

(GB)

Dansili

126

MAIN AIM

(GB)

Oasis Dream

126

NEVER ON SUNDAY

(Fr)

Sunday Break

126

OVERDOSE

(GB)   

Starborough

126

TARTAN BEARER

(Ire)

Spectrum

126

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Timeform ranks SEA THE STARS as ‘All Time Great’

sea the stars and mick kinane
sea the stars and mick kinane

Sea The Stars and Mick Kinane

(Photo : News Of The World)

Scarcely had the ink dried on our piece on SEA THE STARS and RACHEL ALEXANDRA, than Sea The Stars’ merit rating was published.

Sea The Stars has joined the list of all-time greats after his stunning Irish Champion Stakes win at Leopardstown, according to Timeform – and there is the mouth-watering prospect of better to come.

Australian and New Zealand Bloodstock News reports that Timeform have provisionally given John Oxx’s colt a huge rating of 140, which puts him alongside Shergar, Dancing Brave and Dubai Millennium as the third best horse since 1970.

Only Brigadier Gerard(144) and Mill Reef (141) have been allotted bigger ratings by Timeform since 1970. Timeform’s Flat Editor Jamie Lynch commented: “Mastercraftsman (130) appears to have run his race in third, and there is also good reason for believing that Fame And Glory deserves a rating of 135, and to be bracketed in the same league as Sinndar(134),Galileo(134) and St Jovite(135).

“Therefore the form of the race looks solid, and we have given Sea The Stars a provisional rating of 140.

“Furthermore, Sea The Stars again didn’t look all out, leaving the impression there could be an even better performance in him if ever comes up against something able to test him fully. “He should now be classed as one of the all-time greats.”

TIMEFORM RATINGS SINCE 1970

HORSE RATING

Brigadier Gerard

144

Mill Reef

141

Sea The Stars

140

Dubai Millennium

140

Dancing Brave

140

Shergar

140

INVESTEC SPONSORS ONE OF THE WORLD’S BIG FIVE

investec“Investec to sponsor English Derby”

Ask any student of racing twenty years ago which the greatest racing event in the world was, and they would’ve unhesitatingly answered the English Derby. Today the title is a vigorous contest between the “Derby” (as it’s commonly known), Paris’ Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, Dubai’s World Cup, the Melbourne Cup, the Kentucky Derby, and perhaps the Japan Cup. Certainly, if not alone the greatest, the English Derby stands apart as the most famous.

For all that, who would ever have expected an upstart South African bank to become the Derby’s sponsor? Upstart, did we say? Yes, in global terms that’s probably an apt description, but Investec has always been an innovator, a “breed-shaper”, as we might term it in racing parlance, and that’s exactly what the local banking pacemaker agreed to this week for the next five years.

No doubt, the hand of Bernard Kantor, avid racing man and the fellow that bought us Count Dubois, was more than prominent in this relationship, which follows a £38 million revamp of the Derby’s home, Epsom Downs.

Did we leave out another marquee event when we counted the “big five”? Yes, we probably did, and that’s Royal Ascot’s King George VI and Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, which for almost two decades was sponsored by South Africa’s De Beers. The difference here is that, at the time, De Beers happened to be the world’s biggest diamond producer, whilst Investec has a way to go before it can claim the same status in the banking world. Maybe, just maybe, this is a precursor of what’s to come.

Well done, Investec. From one champion team to another, we salute you.

THE VALUE OF PEDIGREE

take the hintTake The Hint
Pretty Polly Stakes 2009
(Photo : PA Photos)

When General Louis Botha, most feared of the Boer generals, took command of his nation’s troops at the foot of Summerhill in November 1899, he knew what he was in for. Britain had already claimed dominion over two thirds of the earth’s surface, and here was a man about to engage the most powerful army in creation.

But this was a man who knew how cavalry, skilfully deployed, could turn the tide of a battle. As a farmer himself, he also knew the value of breeding.

Which brings us to the point. Today’s cavalry may well compete on more peaceful fields, but the contest is just as fierce, and the importance of breeding has never been more critical.

This past weekend at the Guineas meeting in Newmarket England, the point was well made for the umpteenth time. Last year we introduced two exceptional young stallions to our band (Mullins Bay and Stronghold), and both of their already outstanding families received an encouraging boost in the principal Derby and Oaks Trials respectively.

There has been many an outstanding racehorse, not to mention Derby winners, spawned through their exploits in the Newmarket Stakes over ten furlongs of the Rowley Mile course, and on Saturday Your Old Pal (by Rock Of Gibraltar out of a half sister to Mullins Bay,) made it two from three starts thus far as he got up in the dying strides for the victory. In the very next event, the time-honoured Pretty Polly Stakes, (the route the World Champion mare, Ouija Board took on her way to Oaks glory) Stronghold’s half sister (by Montjeu,) Take The Hint, was a comfortable winner in a field whose advertisements included several Group One performers.

Your Old Pal made an impressive six-length winning debut at Newbury last October, and is reportedly headed for Royal Ascot’s King Edward VII Stakes (Gr.2) on the 19th June, while Take The Hint’s next engagement looks like being the English Oaks (Gr.1) on the Friday of the Derby meeting at Epsom.

A BOYS CONSPIRACY : The Value of Mates

highland cow and calf postcard

So one old customer at Summerhill, whose time goes back almost to the opening of the gates, reminds us periodically of the value of good friends. We had a mutual pal pass away two weeks ago in the form of Sir Clement Freud, and Alec Foster, remembered for his association with Summerhill with his horses Steamy Window (Natal Oaks Gr.1), Cereus (Canon Gold Cup Gr.1) and Red Carpet Style (countless Grades Stakes races), has never been too far from his laptop when things of interest pop up, and he was quick to pounce on the reporting in England’s racingpost.com.

We shall charm you with a couple of extracts over the next few weeks starting with “Ruin stared me in the face. £10,000 was 15 years’ salary, a 200 acre farm in Suffolk, 20 times the average reason for jumping off Beachy Head”.

Quoting from Alec’s postcard to us (the face of which is depicted in this Highland Cow and calf) “I remember when he came to Summerhill to interview you for the Sporting Life. He was not easy either, but he was known for that. I do recall you asking him where he was staying, and he gave the name of a non descript hotel in Pietermaritzburg, to which you, rather mystified, asked why he should be there, rather than at Hartford House. He replied “It’s the nearest hotel to the betting office”. That was Sir Clement Freud.

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A few National Sales comments...

pen and handwriting

BARRY IRWIN : TEAM VALOR INTERNATIONAL

barry irwinBarry IrwinTeam Valor’s Barry Irwin is famous for having proclaimed South Africa “the best kept secret in the racing game. “You’ve raised world-class horses in a world-class environment, and you have some of the world’s best horsemen”. About this year’s sale, Barry fingered the draft in general as the best by some stretch he had encountered. Some statement from one of the world’s greatest “pickers”. We often wonder whether the partners in Team Valor appreciate the talents of this man, who has separated himself from virtually every yearling selector we know, in achieving the hit rates for which Team Valor has become renowned. He’s not only a good picker though, he’s a supreme strategist, places his horses in the right places at the right time, and he seldom misses an opportunity.

 

 

Peter DoylePETER DOYLE : ARGUABLY IRELAND’S TOP BLOODSTOCK AGENT

Summerhill’s draft was outstanding, in what was the most outstanding collection of horses I’ve seen in nine visits to South Africa’s National Yearling showpiece”.

 

 

 

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SUNDAY SILENCE : The New Buzzword

sunday silence stallionSunday Silence
(Photo : Pagesperso-Orange)

Japan’s greatest sire, Sunday Silence, is making his presence felt more than ever in Europe, with another two sons due to stand there this season. Legolas is headed for France, as is Bourne King, a Grade Two placed maternal grandson of Sun Princess and a half brother to Japanese Derby winner, Fusaichi Concorde. They join Agnes Kamikaze, Great Journey, Millennium Deo, Samson Happy and Rose and Cavalier among other sons of Sunday Silence standing in France, and they follow the departure of Divine Light, sire of last year’s 1000 Guineas heroine, Natagora in his first European-bred crop. Divine Light was prematurely sold to the Turkish Jockey Club, a major coup for that jurisdiction.

What would South Africa give for a son of one of history’s greatest stallions? Watch this space.

THE SADLER'S WELLS PHENOMENON

yeats and mick kinaneSolskjaer’s brother Yeats winning the Ascot Gold Cup with Mick Kinane aboard
(Photo : Alan Crowhurst)

The latest edition of the celebrated “bible” of European racing, Timeform’s Racehorses of 2008, has just landed on our desk, courtesy of Sheikh Hamdan’s Shadwell Estate. The founder of Timeform, the inimitable Phil Bull, was as articulate and as enthusiastic a scribe on the affairs of the turf as anyone could imagine, and its at times like this that we’re reminded of how well our industry is served in the intellectual sense. This is another spellbinding edition, yet it’s the commentary on Solskjaer’s brother, Yeats, that gripped us this morning including a reminiscence around his three consecutive Ascot Gold Cups, a feat achieved only once previously by Sargaro almost fifty years ago.

It’s the degree of research the authors of Timeform apply to their writings though, that make this book so worthwhile, and in Yeats’ instance, there are reflections on his remarkable sire, Sadler’s Wells. We quote:

Sadler’s Wells was happily still in good condition physically on his retirement, and he certainly owes Coolmore nothing. In fact, the most successful stud in Europe owes its phenomenal record over the last twenty years largely to Sadler’s Wells, since his achievements as a sire of top-class runners and his legacy as a sire of sires is remarkable. The earnings that have accrued to the stud have been similarly remarkable, Sadler’s Wells never falling lower than IR 75,000 guineas and much of the time standing at IR 200,000 guineas (or its euro equivalent), though, for much of his career, his fee was officially private. By some calculations, with adjustments for inflation, this puts the notional worth to Coolmore of Sadler’s Wells in the region of £400,000,000 (or R6 billion rand!).

Tony Morris wrote in the Racing Post. “In February 1990, after Sadler’s Wells had been represented by his first crop of three-year-olds, I ventured the suggestion that he might prove to be the best stallion ever to have stood in Ireland. It was an assessment that seriously underestimated his potential. Sadler’s Wells has been one of the very best stallions to have stood anywhere on the planet’. The judgement hits the nail on the head. As to the details, it’s a case of where to start. According to Weatherbys, up to the end of 2008, the progeny of Sadler’s Wells (who had 2,274 foals recorded on Weatherby’s database) have won three hundred and forty-nine pattern or graded races, including one hundred and twenty-seven Group 1 events.

Sadler’s Wells has been represented by seventy-two individual Group/Grade 1 winners, including twenty-five individual classic winners, a record six Breeders’ Cup winners and twenty-two Group 1-winning two-year-olds – the latter figure impressive for a sire whose progeny generally are ideally suited by middle distances.

He has been Champion Sire in Britain and Ireland a record fourteen times, thirteen of those in succession from 1992 to 2004, and also won the title in France in 1993 and 1999. He has been champion sire of broodmares for the last four years too.

Comparisons with stallions who operated a century or more ago are hardly fair, given the way the world of bloodstock has changed, but the previous record holder for the number of stallion titles was Highflyer, foaled in 1774 (none of the other sires with seven titles or more was foaled after 1881). Perhaps the best modern-day comparison is with US-based Storm Cat, whose retirement was announced not long after Sadler’s Wells, and for the same reason. Storm Cat is twenty-five, so he has not had quite so many runners, but he has sired around one hundred fewer pattern or graded winners than Sadler’s Wells, and fewer than half the number of Group/Grade 1 winners. Quite right Storm Cat is regarded as an outstanding sire, which puts Sadler’s Wells achievements into perspective”.

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TEAM VALOR : The true meaning of "International"

barry irwin (michael nefdt)Barry Irwin - Team Valor International
(Photo : Summerhill Stud)

The American magazine, Blood Horse, is as time-honoured a bloodstock publication as any in the world. To have yourself featured in it has parallels elsewhere only in a dedicated article in Time Magazine. Just recently, the Blood Horse paid tribute to a man who heads up one of the world’s best-known thoroughbred investors, Team Valor International.

Of special significance to South Africa, is Barry Irwin’s well-known dedication to our cause, and we quote from the article: “Irwin added the word “International” to Team Valor’s name, saying the change was made to reflect the venture’s increasing involvement in racing abroad, especially in South Africa. They breed a tremendous animal in South Africa, and they also have the land to raise a horse right,” Irwin said. “By and large, the people who market the yearlings don’t fiddle with their legs, and they don’t give them steroids. If you can go back to about 1950 in Kentucky, that’s what it’s like. We’ve got about 30 horses there, and I consider them to be like a farm team. If they’re good enough, we bring them here or send them to Europe.”

That was a recent statement. Barry Irwin is previously on record as saying “the world hasn’t cottoned onto South African bloodstock yet, despite your great performances in Dubai”. You don’t get much credit from Irwin unless you deserve it, and this is serious praise, coming from a man whom the Blood Horse describes as “one of racing’s biggest winners, and one of its biggest critics”.

At a time when customers are a little like rocking horse droppings, Barry Irwin is a stand-out Premier League commodity.

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URBAN SEA DEAD

urban seaUrban Sea
(Photo : Irish National Stud)

URBAN SEA, Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe heroine and mother to Sadler’s Wells’ best racing son and European leading Sire, Galileo, has died during foaling complications at the Irish National Stud. Urban Sea gave birth to a colt by Invincible Spirit who has been placed with a nurse mare.

The French filly, Urban Sea, was bred by Paul de Moussac’s Marystead Farm and was foaled in Kentucky in 1989. Her sire was Miswaki, a son of the highly influential Mr Prospector.

Urban Sea had a competitive racing career which started as a two-year-old in 1991 and included victories in the Prix de la Seine, Challenge d’Or Piaget, Prix Exbury (Gr3), Prix d’Harcourt (Gr2), Prix Gontaut-Biron (Gr3) and the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (Gr1), where she defeated fourteen Group 1 winners, before a fetlock injury retired her to stud as a five-year-old in 1994.

After retiring to stud in Ireland, Urban Sea was soon to became one of the world’s most successful broodmares. Her first foal by Bering, born in 1996, went on to win the 1999 Gallinule Stakes (Gr3) and her 1997 filly by Lammtarra was to fetch the highest price ever paid for a yearling at the 1998 Deauville Sales, a staggering EUR1,500,000.

Huge success began when Urban Sea’s owner, David Tsui, bred Urban Sea with Coolmore’s Sadler’s Wells, the result was a colt named Galileo. Galileo went on to win the Epsom Derby (Gr1), the first progeny of Sadler’s Wells to do so, the Irish Derby (Gr1) and the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes (Gr1) before being voted European Champion Three-Year-Old in 2001. We all know the success of Galileo as a sire today.

Urban Sea was bred again to Sadler’s Wells resulting in Black Sam Bellamy, winner of the Gran Premio del Jockey Club (Gr1) and the Tattersalls Gold Cup (Gr1).

In 2002 Urban Sea foaled a filly by Giant’s Causeway, named My Typhoon, who went on to fetch a record US$2,955,000 at the December Tattersalls Sale. My Typhoon has subsequently won several US Stakes races including the Diana Handicap (Gr1).

The influence of Urban Sea on the world of thoroughbred racing has spanned almost two decades and the class of this broodmare will be sorely missed.

The Summerhill team extend our sincere condolences.

NB : On a positive note and of interest is to the local market is that Lot 483 on our National Yearling Sales Draft is a Malhub filly who comes from the female line of Urban Sea. The filly is a first foal out of Modraj (By Machiavellian) out of a half sister to Darley’s King’s Best and Urban Sea.

Click here to view the pedigree of Lot 483

WORLD DOMINANCE: DARLEY vs COOLMORE

coolmore darley table

Writing in the TDN this week, the world’s no.1 stallion commentator, Bill Oppenheim, touched on racing’s hottest topic: the trench warfare between the two superpowers, Coolmore and Sheikh Mohammed’s Darley. Bill’s story deals with the most recent recruits to their and the so-called “neutral” stallion operator’s line-up, and how they’ve located them strategically. This is serious stuff :

When you look at these 42 top-of-the-crop sire prospects as a whole, three things stand out. First, the rise of the Maktoum family as a force in the stallion market; they stand 16 of the 42 stallions on that list, divided equally: eight in Kentucky, eight in Europe. Second, we can see how Coolmore is sticking with the programme that got them there: very selective, the highest possible quality only, and mostly by their own, in-house, absolute top-drawer sires. Whereas Darley, in the last four sire crops, leads Coolmore in North America in top-of-the-crop prospects eight to two, in Europe it is only eight to seven. Darley’s biggest growth spurt was in Kentucky, in 2008 retirements.

The third notable point is that, with Coolmore based in Ireland and the Maktoums (Darley plus Shadwell) operating from Dalham Hall and the Nunnery in England, and from Kildangan and Derrinstown in Ireland, there has been very little left over for the “neutral” stallion farms in Europe, especially in England. Of the 17 top-of-the-crop “neutral” stallions we’ve identified, 15 stand in Kentucky, where there is clearly still much more diversity of choice. Only two stand in Ireland, Azamour at the Aga Khan’s Gilltown Stud, and Lawman at Ballylinch. None stand in England. Though that is the case, I must emphasize, only with the most expensive stallions. Some of the most successful sires among the 242 we’ve listed are sure to be among the 200 now standing for less than “top-of-the-crop” stud fees, but it is notable that the top commercial prospects from these crops in Europe are stationed exclusively in Ireland, or on Maktoum farms in England.

JOHN GOSDEN : Not just a pretty face

john gosden on horseJohn Gosden
(Daily Mail)

The only man at November’s Breeder’s Cup World Championship of Racing to come away with two victories, was Stronghold and Russian Revival’s trainer, John Gosden. Here’s a man who graduated from Cambridge University still confused about his future, and took a year off working in agriculture in Venezuela. The son of a distinguished horseman in his own right, the late Towser Gosden, John soon realised that despite a mind better suited to a professorial calling, he was going to devote his life to a career with horses.

That this was a choice of unusual wisdom, has been evidenced often enough, and the events at the Breeder’s Cup simply re-emphasised the extent of his tactical astuteness.

The intricacies of the turf and the exploitative strategic value of a life spent in observation and interpretation, was what made the difference for Princess Haya’s charge Raven’s Pass, in the big event on the card, the Breeder’s Cup Classic where he tore down the colours of the world’s highest ranked racehorse of the time, Curlin. This is Gosden’s account of how it happened……

“I learned a lot when I was on a show in the early 80’s with Eddie Arcaro, Bill Shoemaker and Charlie Whittingham. I was just a kid, but they were talking about riding on different surfaces – dirt, turf, firm turf, to loose wet turf, cuppy tracks, tighter tracks and so on – and they pointed out the most important thing was that if you want a horse to accelerate in the latter part of a race it has to be able to get hold of the track more than anything else, which is why on a cuppy track, or on a track that isn’t tight, or on loose turf it’s very hard to do that. The key thing about Santa Anita is that with the surface they are on now you can put your foot down and really spring off it.

The one thing that was very clear to me about Curlin, good horse though he is, he wins races by grinding them into the ground. He’s a relentless galloper. He just gallops and gallops, and like all dirt horses he’ll go the last quarter slower than the first but he’ll just stay on. That was where he was vulnerable, because if you can sit on him – and he was drawn beside us, so the game plan was always to track him – and you are still travelling at the quarter pole you are in business. We’ve got a turn of foot, and he hasn’t. We have what European horses are trained for – acceleration – and he hasn’t. Goldikova has it and Henrythenavigator has it. That’s where we caught him. I don’t think he’d ever had two horses come either side of him and I think it shocked him, and it shocked the jockey too, because he was in the perfect spot. On that surface a horse can really show you a burst of speed. We call that class in Europe. In dirt races you don’t see it happen. You think it’s happening but it’s an optical illusion. What it means is that the horse in front is dying and the other one is just staying on at the same pace. That’s why he was vulnerable, and that’s why we went for that race.”

(article by Graham Dench, Pacemaker December 2008)

Grand Prix motor racing is a sport followed by tens of millions around the globe, and its aficionados will tell you that it’s the tactical aspect of the sport that attracts them. Truth is this, and thus most times, it’s the fastest car that gets you home, provided there’s a modicum of competence behind the wheel. Motor racing is a limp fish though next to horse racing when it comes to the complexities behind the tactical appraisal of the possibilities of a contest, and it’s people like John Gosden and our own Mike de Kock, who separate themselves from the ordinary through their instinctive wisdom.

LEADING SIRES OF 2008

sadlers wellsSadler’s Wells
(Coolchaser/b2yor)

Northern Hemisphere GRADE/GROUP 1 WINNERS

STALLION SIRE LOCATION WINNERS
Galileo Sadler’s Wells
IRE
5
Giant’s Causeway Storm Cat
KY
5
Rock of Gibraltar Danehill 
IRE
4
Danehill Danzig
DEAD
4
Tiznow Cee’s Tizzy
KY
4
Kingmambo Mr. Prospector           
KY
3
Maria’s Mon Wavering Monarch
DEAD
3
Sadler’s Wells Northern Dancer
IRE
3
Street Cry Machiavellian 
KY
3
Unbridled’s Song Unbridled
KY
3
A.P. Indy Seattle Slew
KY
2
Chester House Mr. Prospector
DEAD
2
Dalakhani Darshaan
IRE
2
Danehill Dancer Danehill
IRE
2
Doneraile Court Seattle Slew 
KY
2
Dynaformer Roberto
KY
2
Gone West Mr. Prospector
KY
2
Indian Ridge Ahonoora
IRE
2
Montjeu Sadler’s Wells 
IRE
2
Muhtathir Elmaamul
FR
2
Nayef Gulch
ENG
2
Pivotal Polar Falcon
ENG
2
Rock of Gibraltar Danehill
IRE
2
Samum Monsun
GER
2
Smart Strike Mr. Prospector
KY
2
Tapit Pulpit
KY
2


Statistics from Thoroughbred Daily News

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For the record : THE KZN BREEDERS AWARDS

kzn breeders awardsTeam Summerhill
(Photo : Gold Circle)

Anything we ever achieve at Summerhill is always the product of many people’s contributions, and in this case, as we’ve so often said before, we must start by remembering that we work with one of the best teams in the world. Besides the expertise of those who’ve had the opportunity to work abroad at the management level, there are those among our Zulus, from the people who clean the stables all the way to the upper echelons of those who make the place tick, that have had their hands in this scrum. It’s an appropriate time then, to remember we’re privileged to work with the Zulus here, some of the most gifted stockmen in the world. Their contribution has been immense.

Besides, there’s hardly a horse bred on this farm that doesn’t involve co-ownership, and so we must congratulate all of those people that were associated with the breeding and raising of Friday night’s winners, either in partnership or on their own. Here we mention the names of His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai; the late Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Maktoum bin Rashid al Maktoum; Mike and Marty Meredith; Peter Brown, Dr Barry and Liz Clements, Robert Lynch, Stephen Gill and Angus Gold. All of them had a hand in these achievements, and our guys are standing at attention acknowledging their part.

Sprinter of the Year – Rebel King

KZN Stallion of the Year – Muhtafal

Stayer of the Year – Galant Gagnant

Breeding Achievement of the Year – Summerhill Stud

Three Year Old Colt – Imbongi

Stallion Prospect – Labeeb

Middle Distance Female – Outcome

Outstanding Older Female - Outcome


Well done.

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SHEIKH MOHAMMED awarded Cartier / Daily Telegraph Award of Merit

sheikh mohammedHis Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum
(dailymail)

The Cartier/Daily Telegraph Award Of Merit is awarded to the person or persons who, in the opinion of the special 20-strong Cartier Jury, has/have done most for European racing and/or breeding either over their lifetime or within the past 12 months.

The list of past winners of the Cartier/Daily Telegraph Award of Merit is as follows; Niarchos Family, Peter Willett, Henry Cecil, David and Patricia Thompson, Lord Oaksey, Prince Khalid Abdullah, John Magnier, His Highness the Aga Khan, Peter Walwyn, the Head Family, Sir Peter O’Sullevan, Frankie Dettori, John Dunlop, the Marquess of Hartington, Francois Boutin, Lester Piggott and Henri Chalhoub.

The 2008 Cartier Jury is made up of Michael Bell, Charlie Brooks, Alan Byrne, The Earl of Derby, Mike Dillon, Ed Dunlop, Douglas Erskine-Crum, Rod Fabricius, Philip Freedman, Tom Goff, The Lord Grimthorpe, Rolf Johnson, Sir Peter O’Sullevan, Leo Powell, Ruth Quinn, Brough Scott, Sam Sheppard, Sir David Sieff, Johnno Spence and Howard Wright.

This year’s recipient of this most prestigious award is horseracing’s biggest investor and benefactor, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

Sheikh Mohammed’s contribution to racing and breeding has been enormous. His interest in the sport started in England over 40 years ago and it has grown and developed into a worldwide empire.

He may be known on the global stage as Dubai’s leader as well as prime minister and vice-president of the United Arab Emirates, but in the racing world Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum is simply the sport’s biggest investor and benefactor.

Nobody in racing history has ever owned horses on the scale of Sheikh Mohammed and his equine empire is the culmination of an interest spanning more than 40 years.

While attending the Bell School of Languages in Cambridge, England, the 17-year-old Sheikh Mohammed and his brother Sheikh Hamdan went racing for the first time when watching the Noel Murless-trained Royal Palace win the 1967 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket.

A decade later he had his first success as an owner when Hatta, a 6,200 guineas yearling trained by John Dunlop and ridden by Ron Hutchinson, won a first prize of £968.60 in the Bevendean Maiden Stakes at Brighton on June 20, 1977. The filly went on to give Sheikh Mohammed a first Group success the following month when taking the Group Three Molecomb Stakes on the opening day of Glorious Goodwood.

It was the beginning of a passion for racing, first in Britain and soon globally, that burns even more greatly over 30 years later. He was brought up with horses. Descended from one of the most notable tribes in Arabia, Bani Yas, horses have been part of his life since childhood.

Bedouin culture and traditions are central to his heritage. The desert is a challenging, often harsh, environment so the ability to live in harmony with nature is vital to the people of the region. As a boy, Sheikh Mohammed learned to read the desert sands, to identify a single camel’s footprint in a herd of hundreds, and to understand the rhythm of nature, to be at one with the creatures of the desert.

Apart from tracking and catching scorpions and snakes, taming and training falcons and saluki dogs, it was horses that took up most of the young Sheikh’s time. He would share his breakfast with his horse on his way to school. Riding in his first horse race aged 12, he was drawn to difficult horses and earned a reputation for mastering impossibly wild horses, considered un-trainable by others.

Hatta may have been an inexpensive yearling purchase by Lt-Col Dick Warden, Sheikh Mohammed’s first bloodstock advisor, but the family were soon making their mark on a much bigger sale. At the 1979 Tattersalls Houghton Sale, trainer Tom Jones set a European record price of 625,000 guineas when buying the Lyphard colt Ghadeer for Sheikh Hamdan.

The Maktoum brothers also made a big impact on the other side of the Atlantic, regularly making headlines at the famous Keeneland July Sales of the early 1980s with Shareef Dancer, bought for $3.3 million by Sheikh Mohammed in 1981, winning the Irish Derby for the owner’s eldest brother Sheikh Maktoum Al Maktoum.

Sheikh Mohammed was keen to become involved in breeding and in 1981 bought first Aston Upthorpe Stud in Oxfordshire and then Dalham Hall Stud outside Newmarket, where Shareef Dancer retired at the end of his racing days. He also purchase Woodpark and Kildangan Studs in Ireland, after taking the advice of his long-term advisor, the late Michael Osborne.

The Sheikh’s maroon and white silks soon became a famous site on European racecourses, yielding success at the very highest level. Awaasif, a $325,0000 sales purchase, brought him a first Group One victory in the 1982 Yorkshire Oaks and three years later his home–bred Oh So Sharp won the fillies’ Triple Crown (the 1,000 Guineas, Oaks and St Leger).

He enjoyed a great run of success in the Oaks at Epsom, via Unite (1987), Diminuendo (1988), who went on to take the Yorkshire Oaks, and Intrepidity (1993). Unite also landed the Irish Oaks in which Diminuendo dead-heated with Sheikh Mohammed’s Italian Oaks heroine Melodist.

Musical Bliss won another 1,000 Guineas in 1989 while there was also a 2,000 Guineas success in 1995 with Pennekamp, winner of the previous year’s Dewhurst Stakes. Meanwhile, Moonax (1994) and Shantou (1996) scored in the St Leger at Doncaster.

There were many other star performers during a golden era in the 1980s and 1990s including Pebbles, who won the 1985 Breeders’ Cup Turf, Coral-Eclipse and Champion Stakes after being bought by the Sheikh, Indian Skimmer (1987 French Oaks and Prix Saint-Alary, 1988 English and Irish Champion Stakes), Sonic Lady (1986 Irish 1,000 Guineas, Coronation Stakes, Sussex Stakes and Prix Moulin), Ajdal (1986 Dewhurst Stakes, 1987 July Cup, Nunthorpe Stakes and Haydock Sprint Cup), Soviet Star (1987 French 2,000 Guineas, Sussex Stakes and Prix de la Foret, 1988 July Cup and Prix Moulin), Sure Blade (1986 St James’s Palace Stakes and Queen Elizabeth II Stakes) and Sadeem (1988 and 1989 Gold Cup).

Other star names included Old Vic (1989 Prix du Jockey-Club and Irish Derby), Opera House (1993 King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes, Coral-Eclipse and Coronation Cup), Belmez (1990 King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes), King’s Theatre (1994 King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes), In The Wings (1990 Breeders’ Cup Turf, Coronation Cup and Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud), Sinsgpiel (1996 Japan Cup and Canadian International,1997 Dubai World Cup, Coronation Cup and Juddmonte International), Barathea (1993 Breeders’ Cup Mile and Irish 2,000 Guineas), Carnegie (1994 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe), Alydaress (1989 Irish Oaks), Arazi (1991 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile), Tel Quel (1991 Champion Stakes), Winged Love (1995 Irish Derby), Ensconse (1989 Irish 1,000 Guineas), Shaadi (1989 Irish 2,000 Guineas) and Hailsham (1995 Italian Derby).

But the 1990s also marked the start of a new phenomenon, Godolphin. Just as Sheikh Mohammed’s Darley breeding operation remembered one of the three founding thoroughbred stallions, Darley Arabian, so did his family’s fledgling new international racing stable, the Godolphin Arabian.

Simon Crisford, who assisted the Sheikh’s then racing manager Anthony Stroud, was drafted in 1992 to manage the small initial team who would winter in Dubai before returning to Newmarket in the spring. Hilal Ibrahim had a short spell training the horses but it has been Saeed bin Suroor who has overseen most of the success.

Balanchine brought Godolphin a first Classic success in the 1994 Oaks while a year later bin Suroor trained the unbeaten Lammtarra to win the Derby for Sheikh Mohammed’s nephew Saeed Maktoum Al Maktoum.

Dubai Millennium, who traced 25 generations back to Darley Arabian, became Sheikh Mohammed’s favourite horse when winning nine of his 10 starts, including the 1999 Prix Jacques Le Marois and Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, and most famously the 2000 Dubai World Cup, the richest race on the planet created by Sheikh Mohammed at the Nad Al Sheba racecourse in his home country.

There have been a total of 145 Group or Grade One successes in 12 countries worldwide for Godolphin via such luminaries as Daylami, Fantastic Light, Street Cry, Sulamani, Dubawi, Swain, Sakhee, Doyen, Kayf Tara, Bachir, Halling, Dubai Destination, Ramonti and All The Good, who recently gave the stable a first top-level Australian success in the Caulfield Cup.

Alongside Godolphin, Sheikh Mohammed has built up his Darley stallion and breeding operation to be the largest on the planet. There are over 50 stallions worldwide based at Jonabell Farm in Kentucky, studs in Australia and Japan as well as the longer-standing British and Irish outfits still centred around Dalham Hall and Kildangan.

As well as standing home-grown stallions, Darley have invested heavily to get the best young prospects from elsewhere, among them New Approach, who won this year’s Derby in the colours of Sheikh Mohammed’s wife Princess Haya, 2007 Epsom hero Authorized, Teofilo, Manduro, Shirocco as well as many star names in the US and Japan.

Sheikh Mohammed’s purchase this year of US-based Stonerside Stables included ownership of Raven’s Pass (in whom he already had a share), winner of last month’s Breeders’ Cup Classic for Princess Haya, and Midshipman, who captured the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and has headed to Dubai ahead of a tilt at the 2009 Kentucky Derby.

As well as providing employment, both directly and indirectly, for thousands in the horse business worldwide, Sheikh Mohammed’s contribution to racing stretches far beyond his own equine interests.

The Dubai World Cup continues to be the richest race in the world while next year the futuristic Meydan racecourse will be unveiled in Sheikh Mohammed’s home country to take Middle-Eastern racing to a new level.

Both Darley and Dubai-based companies such as Emirates Airlines and Dubai Duty Free sponsor a string of major races globally including the Melbourne Cup, Irish Derby, Irish Oaks, Champion Stakes, Dewhurst Stakes, Yorkshire Oaks and July Cup.

Sheikh Mohammed has made many philanthropic contributions, including the donation of £10 million to four charities following the sale of the Racing Post last year, the sponsorship of the stud and stable staff awards in Britain and the creation of the Darley Flying Start which helps young people gain a grounding in the industry on a two-year course.

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YEATS : Finest Stayer of Recent Times

yeats and mick kinaneYeats with Mick Kinane aboard
(bbc)

For the third consecutive year YEATS brother of Summerhill stallion, SOLSKJAER, has won the coveted Cartier Champion Stayer.

Few horses have succeeded in capturing the affection of an admiring Flat-racing public like Yeats has done in recent times, but then only one other horse in history has managed to clinch the Gold Cup at Ascot on three successive occasions. Yeats joined fellow staying legend Sagaro in completing a hat-trick in the Royal Ascot showpiece in June ,and the Sadler’s Wells seven-year-old is rewarded with a third consecutive Cartier Champion Stayer Award.

With four Gr.1 victories under his belt before this year, Yeats was already established as the finest stayer of recent times. He made five starts in 2008, opening his campaign with a second successive win in the Listed Vintage Crop Stakes at Navan in April. True greatness then beckoned, and Yeats embraced it with a devastating five length defeat of Geordieland at Royal Ascot that saw him join the hitherto peerless Sagaro. A second Goodwood Cup was added as Yeats sauntered across the line seven lengths clear of Tungsten Strike.

Yeats suffered a reversal at Longchamp in the Gr.1 Prix du Cadran on 4th October as he finished a below par fifth to Spanish raider Bannaby. The great horse put that rival in his place on final start of the campaign when returning to Longchamp for the Prix Royal-Oak on 26th October. In a strong renewal of the Gr.1 contest, Yeats held the previous year’s winner Allegretto by a length and a half, with Bannaby back in fourth. Rather than a life at stud, Yeats seems set to return in 2009 when his adoring public will be willing him to a record fourth Gold Cup and perhaps another Cartier Racing Award.

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ZARKAVA TAKES HORSE OF THE YEAR

zarkava and christophe soumillonZarkava with Christophe Soumillon aboard
(Photo : APRH)

The unbeaten star filly Zarkava (Zamindar) was named Horse of The Year last night at the 2008 Cartier Racing Awards.

Europe’s equivalent of the Eclipse Awards were presented at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London, in front of an invited audience made up of leading owners, trainers, jockeys, breeders, racing personalities and the media.

Homebred by her owner, His Highness The Aga Khan, Zarkava won all five of her starts in 2008 to add to her two from two record as a juvenile. Showing tremendous versatility over distances from a mile to twelve furlongs, she captured two Classics, the Prix Vermeille and the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, in which she overcame the best middle-distance performers in Europe to register a stunning two length victory.

In Horse of The Year category, Zarkava came out ahead of the Breeders’ Cup Classic hero Raven’s Pass (Elusive Quality), Epsom Derby victor New Approach (Galileo), five-time Gr.1 scorer Duke of Marmalade (Danehill) and dual Guineas winner Henrythenavigator (Kingmambo), who won 18 Gr.1 races between them this year. She also took the honours in the Cartier Three-Year-Old Filly division.

Princess Haya’s New Approach prevailed over Raven’s Pass in the Three-Year-Old Colt category, gaining his second consecutive Cartier Award, having taken the Two-Year-Old Colt Award twelve months ago.

This year’s Two-Year-Old Colt Award went right down to the wire with dual Gr.1 victor Mastercraftsman (Danehill Dancer) pipping the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf winner Donativum (Cadeaux Genereux),

The Two-Year-Old Fillies’ category went to John Gosden-trained Rainbow View (Dynaformer).

Heading the Older Horses was Aidan O’Brien’s Duke of Marmalade (Danehill), ahead of Marchand D’Or (Marchand De Sable), Yeats (Sadler’s Wells), Youmzain (Sinndar) and Darjina (Zamindar).

There was further glory for the Ballydoyle stable with Yeats, brother to Summerhill stallion Solskjaer, taking the Cartier Champion Stayer title for the third consecutive year.

Meanwhile, the Freddie Head-trained Marchand d’Or prevailed in the race for Cartier Champion Sprinter honours.

Sheikh Mohammed, described as racing’s biggest investor and benefactor, was voted the Cartier/Daily Telegraph Award of Merit winner. Although unable to attend the Cartier Racing Awards ceremony in London, Sheikh Mohammed was presented with his award in Dubai beforehand by Arnaud Bamberger, the Cartier UK managing director.

On his acceptance of the Cartier/Daily Telegraph Award of Merit, Sheikh Mohammed said: “I am delighted by this award. I love racing and breeding. We race not only in England and Europe as Godolphin is all round the world. I am very, very pleased with my racing company and my breeding operation. I love racing and I will always be involved in the sport. Thank you very much.”

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CARTIER RACING AWARDS 2008 : Nominations Revealed

yeatsYeats, brother to Summerhill Stud’s Solskjaer
(horseracing/famegame)

The nominations for this year’s Cartier Racing Awards, European horseracing’s equivalent of The Oscars, have been announced. The highly-coveted Awards will be presented during a glittering ceremony before an invited audience at London’s Grosvenor House Hotel on the evening of Monday, 17th November.

The Cartier Racing Awards are now in their 18th year and celebrate the champions of the Turf, plus one person who will receive the Cartier/Daily Telegraph Award Of Merit. The eight horse awards are determined by points earned in Pattern races (40%) combined with the opinions of a panel of racing journalists chaired by Brough Scott (40%) plus votes from readers of the Racing Post and The Daily Telegraph (20%), a system which accurately rewards supreme excellence.

The nominations in alphabetical order for this year’s Cartier Horse of the Year Award are as follows:

CARTIER HORSE OF THE YEAR NOMINEES:

Duke Of Marmalade

Henrythenavigator

New Approach

Raven’s Pass

Zarkava

Of interest to Summerhill is that YEATS (brother to resident stallion SOLSKJAER), has been nominated in two categories, namely Cartier Stayer and Cartier Older Horse.

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ASIAN RACING CONFERENCE - Maximizing Racing Value

asian racing conferenceEquine Veterinary Science Session
(Photo : Asian Racing Conference)

Wednesday at the 32nd Asian Racing Conference stimultated varied and thorough discussions on how to maximize the value of racing.

Dr. Isamu Takizawa, the Japan Racing Association’s Presidential Counselor for Foreign Affairs, set the tone for the third plenary session with the opening remarks, in which he stressed the need for racing to reach out to a wider audience.

“We must pay attention to domestic and international audiences in order to appeal to a wider client base,” Dr. Isamu Takizawa said. “The answers are pretty simple: when we look at the pinnacle event of other sports such as the Olympic Games, the FIFA World Cup and the Masters in golf. They are genuinely international competitions, and simply and easy to understand. Indeed, our aim is to build thoroughbred racing into a popular sport that is loved and watched by people around the world.”

The nine presenters - among them trainer and former star jockey Michael Roberts - agreed that regardless of issue, the 22 member nations of the Asian Racing Federation would have to work hand in hand if the sport were to reach another height of popularity.

William Nader, Executive Director of The Hong Kong Jockey Club, pointed out that the ARF needs an ambassador to carry racing around the continent and to the rest of the world like the other sports that have been successful.

“It is interesting, however, that we choose the word Challenge to describe a series of races like the Global Sprint and the Asian Mile format, because these series to come with unique challenges - the biggest of which are related to travel,” William Nader said.

“Participation is a key driver in any major sport where the major stars like Tiger Woods, Roger Federer, Lewis Hamilton and others routinely travel as part of building interest and awareness in their own identity and the identity of their respective sport.”

Improving the overall quality of the product is another aspect that must be addressed, and Horse Racing Ireland’s Chief Executive Brian Kavanagh suggested the hugely successful Irish way would be one way of doing it.

“We aim to stage a high quality and competitive race program in Ireland, underpinned by attractive prize money and progressive elimination of opportunities for lower quality horses,” Brian Kavanagh said.

“This is born out of necessity given the number of horses in our country and to encourage owners to reinvest and upgrade the quality of their stock. This leads to much frustration on the part of owners and trainers, but following initial resistance, there has been general acceptance for the principle of less racing, more emphasis on quality and a high minimum prize money level.”

Dominic Beirne, Director of Intelligent Wagering Solutions, said a worldwide standardized ratings, rankings and language must accompany the globalization of racing, and the ARF, given its representation of half the international racing community, is in an excellent position to kickstart the process.

“The ARF is well placed therefore to instigate a ratings and rankings information service on half the world’s racehorses, which should lead to the inclusion of the Americas and Europe, resulting in a Global Free Handicap,” said Dominic Beirne. “There will naturally be opposition to the idea of creating a Global Free Handicap, yet all decent ideas present significant challenges. The globalization of racing demands the standardization of ratings, rankings and language.”

The topic of medication and drugs was also addressed. Dr. Brian Stewart, The Hong Kong Jockey Club’s Head of Veterinary Regulation and International Liaison, equine medication ought to be harmonized internationally, to create a level playing field as well as welfare and safety.

“It seems very logical to pursue harmonization of medication testing sensitivity, but this is a controversial topic and there are inevitably heated discussions about the subject when analysts, veterinarians, horsemen and racing administrators discuss the subject,” Dr. Brian Stewart said.

“The ARF racing authorities are in a position to lead the world in achieving some consistency of medication policy and harmonization of the sensitivity of testing for therapeutic medications and should grasp the opportunity to do so.”

James Murdoch QC, Barrister-at-Law, echoed Stewart while calling for a racing program completely free of drugs.

“The solution may lie in adopting an International Anti-horse Doping Rule,” said James Murdoch. “Will it be difficult to achieve? Yes. Will it assist in securing the future of racing? Yes.”

Also speaking were Nigel Gray, Head of Handicapping and Race Planning of The HKJC; Bart Sinclair, Turf Editor of The Courier Mail; Dr. Ed Houghton, Chair of the Advisory Council on Prohibited Substances of the IFHA; and Tsunekazu Takeda, President of the Japan Olympic Committee.

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