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MICK KINANE ANNOUNCES RETIREMENT

mick kinane kinane and sea the stars at juddmonte
mick kinane kinane and sea the stars at juddmonte

Mick Kinane and Sea The Stars at Juddmonte International

(Photo : Getty Images)

WE WILL “SEA” YOU LATER

Thoroughbred Daily News reports:

Mick Kinane has called time on his career following a season to remember partnering Sea the Stars (Ire) (Cape Cross {Ire}). In a statement to the Press Association, the 50-year-old revealed the decision. “I have decided this is the right time to retire from race-riding. At 50 I still feel fit and sharp enough to do any horse justice but, after the season I have just had in partnership with Sea the Stars, I have the privilege of being able to end my career as a jockey on an incredible high and that’s what I want to do. I leave with a huge sense of gratitude to all the great horses I have ridden, all the great trainers whose genius developed those champions and everybody else in racing, from the stable lads to the owners, who have made me deeply thankful for my involvement in the game. Teamwork is the key to success in racing and I have been blessed with some of the best alliances a jockey could have. The most important support of all throughout my career has, naturally, come from my wife, Catherine, along with my family and friends. Both Catherine and our two precious daughters, Sinead and Aisling, know how much they mean to me.” Kinane retires as the winner of four renewals of the 2000 Guineas, three Derbys, two Oaks, a St Leger, five King Georges and six St James’s Palace Stakes. and a total of 14 Irish Classics and seven Irish Champion Stakes. He also garnered three editions of the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, a Melbourne Cup, a Belmont Stakes and three Breeders’ Cup wins.

We were lucky enough to see Mick Kinane in action here in South Africa at Turffontein at theInternational Jockey’s challenge last month. He is a legendary rider & consummate professional & we wish him all the best in his retirement.

AT TIMES LIKE THIS, CHAMPIONS HELP

rachel alexandra woodward stakes video
rachel alexandra woodward stakes video
sea the stars irish champion stakes video
sea the stars irish champion stakes video

Click above to watch the

Rachel Alexandra and Sea The Stars in action

in the Woodward Stakes and Irish Champion Stakes respectively

(Footage : YouTube) 

“THE RACHEL ALEXANDRA AND SEA THE STARS SHOWDOWN”

South Africans know the value of a champion.  We have our own POCKET POWER, who’s just taken his third consecutive Horse of the Year title, and has a magnetism irresistible to his fans.  While the rest of the world is desperately short of money right now, the one thing racing doesn’t lack, is a shortage of serious quality horses, and the emergence of an exceptional Champion on both sides of the Atlantic is probably the best antidote our sport could wish for. 

On Saturday, 8000kms apart, two three-year-olds of opposite sex, finally put up their hands and said, “I’m the one”.  In America, they’re witnessing the reign of a new queen, RACHEL ALEXANDRA, whose conquest of the older colts in Saratoga’s historic Woodward Stakes, was the best tonic that the beleaguered nation has known in a good while, Obama mania notwithstanding.

At the Curragh in Ireland, in that country’s Champion Stakes, a pair of three-year-old colts followed one another home in the same sequence as they’d done in England’s most famous three-year-old race, the Derby. In the process, the hero, SEA THE STARS, probably justified many peoples’ idea that he is the best horse in decades, even better, by some margin, than his illustrious half-brother and now famous stallion, GALILEO

Nobody really knows where they will go to by the end of the season, but there’s nobody in the game who wouldn’t want to see a resolution to the question as to whom is the better, and it seems the only way to settle that would be a meeting of the two of them on Breeder’s Cup Day in early November.  Whether that has any chance of materialising, is difficult to say, since the connections of RACHEL ALEXANDRAhave long been antagonists of the new synthetic surfaces which most West Coast tracks have embraced.  While both sides pretend to be in it for the love of the game, one wonders whether such a prejudice could be set aside in anticipation of a spectacle which has the potential to bring about an early end to the recession in the horse business.

rachel alexandra
rachel alexandra

Rachel Alexandra

(Photo : Sarah K. Andrew) 

THE FAMILY OF SUMMERHILL PATRONS

wills racing writing awards
wills racing writing awards

Dermot and Meta Cantillon scored a major home-run this last month, when their eldest son, Jack, was a joint winner at the annual Martin Wills Racing Writing Awards.

Dermot is the manager for the Smurfitt family and continues to serve the racing and breeding industries in many other ways. Together with his wife Meta, he owns Tinnakill House Stud in County Laois, which they established in 2002.

click here
click here

visit

www.willswritingawards.co.uk

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Vincent O'Brien : Legends are few, but by golly they’re passing

vincent o'brien jacqueline o'brien aidan o'brienVincent O’Brien, Jacqueline O’Brien and Aidan O’Brien
2006 Ryder Cup Race Day
(Photo : The Curragh Racecourse)

Vincent O’Brien died Monday morning at his home in Straffan, Co Kildare, at the age of 92.

Widely acknowledged as Europe’s greatest ever trainer, the former master of Ballydoyle was the Champion trainer in Ireland 13 times, and also a dual Champion trainer in Britain on both the flat (1966 and 1967) and over jumps (1952-3 and 1953/4).

Born on 9th April 1917 in Churchtown, Co Cork, Vincent O’Brien started training in 1944. He soon switched his attention to the jumping game. He also trained the winners of three Grand Nationals in a row, (1953-5). Famous for his successful gambles, he had amassed sufficient earnings and winnings by 1951 to purchase the Georgian house set in 320 acres of parkland named Ballydoyle. Within a few years, he turned to the flat, winning his first Irish Derby with Chamier in 1953 and his second four years later with Ballymoss.

 

During the 1970’s Vincent O’Brien, along with owner Robert Sangster and his son in law John Magnier, established the Coolmore syndicate, just at the time when racing was changing from a popular sport to a multi-million pound industry. The process of changing yearlings – most bought from North America and many of them by Northern Dancer – into valuable Classic-winning stallions proved vital to the business, and Vincent O’Brien’s eye for a horse was invaluable.

To have trained the winner of almost every big race over jumps was achievement enough, but to have at least matched that on the flat is what made him unique. His astonishing record on the flat included 16 English Classic victories, 27 Irish Classics, three Prix de l’Arc deTriomphes and 25 wins at Royal Ascot.

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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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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”.

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

THE BUILDING BLOCKS OF A CHAMPIONSHIP : Part 4

summerhill stallion barnSummerhill Stallion Barn
(Photo : Grant Norval)

THE MATING GAME

I guess it would be sensible to start at the beginning. The point at which champions are conceived, if not yet in the womb, then at least at the table. This is when all the benefits of individuality and specialisation are finally pooled for the greater good of our purpose.

Let me explain. There are those in the breeding business who believe that mating “the best to the best, and hoping for the best” is the most productive way of churning out champions. While there is merit in this argument, champions are never “churned” out, and in our view it leaves too much to chance, when practised as a single criterion for success.

Others resort to matching their mares for the best commercial outcome, betting the “farm” as it were, on the most fashionable stallion of the moment, proven or otherwise, and looking forward to their day in the sales ring as the sole judge of the worth of their endeavours. While this may bring short-term gains, it’s most times at the expense of long-term prosperity.

Yet others are committed faithfuls of the computer system, where some programmers have made a fortune persuading people that a champion can be generated through the rituals connected with software. To our knowledge though, without the benefit of knowing the animals concerned, their idiosyncrasies and their needs, no computer has ever consistently produced a good horse anywhere as regularly as a good stockman. As Bob Hope once said, “computers have enabled people to make more mistakes faster than any other invention, with the exception of tequila and hand guns”.

Our experience tells us there is no substitute for the eye and the experience of a good stockman, his wisdom honed over years of observation and interaction with horses. Indispensible to us is the collection of all the evidence, from the thoughts of your stallion man, the broodmare and foalcare manager, the yearling sales division and the Ready To Run team, listening to trainers and jockeys who’ve been associated with your horses where the action is beyond the rehearsal stage. All of these things influence our collective thinking.

But unless in your interpretation of what you have at hand, you can marshall the right instincts to best exploit the information and then back it up with best practice standards of husbandry, you still cast yourself adrift on the waters of chance. We like to think that we control 90% of the process at least, and the ability to do that is enhanced by the fact that our decisions are unfettered by concerns of what the result will fetch in the sales ring.

Every fan of the turf knows The Star, the Cape Argus, the Mercury, the Daily News, the Saturday Independent and the Sunday Tribune, but not everyone knows these titles belong to 1955 British Lions legend, Sir Tony O’ Reilly. Even fewer know his wife Chryss, and especially that she’s one of Europe’s outstanding breeders. Just this last year, her Castlemartin Stud in Ireland and her Haras de la Louviere in France between them produced 16 Stakes winners, among them the Gr.1 stars Nahood and Equiano. Lady O’ Reilly tells us that in their mating decisions, “we tend to favour proven stallions for our younger mares, but I would say that among semi-commercial breeders we do the least commercial matings, because our first consideration is to breed a racehorse”. We have a kindred spirit, it seems, in Her Ladyship.

trowel and bricksClick here to read :
THE BUILDING BLOCKS OF A CHAMPIONSHIP : Part 1
THE BUILDING BLOCKS OF A CHAMPIONSHIP : Part 2
THE BUILDING BLOCKS OF A CHAMPIONSHIP : Part 3

PARADISE WAS NEVER LIKE THIS!

ealine lawlor mick goss nicola yipElaine Lawlor, Mick Goss, Nicola Yip
(Summerhill Stud)

Ensconced between Goffs (Ireland) Director, Elaine “Legs” Lawlor and the Hong Kong Breeder’s Club’s Nicola Yip.

And talking of “legs”, you ain’t seen nothin’ till you’ve seen these!

 

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.

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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MICK KINANE : "MALESH NARREDU could be the Secret Weapon"

mick kinaneMick Kinane
(Hong Kong Jockey Club)

Malesh Narredu, champion jockey of India, could very well be the International Team’s “secret weapon” in Saturday’s International Jockeys’ Challenge between South Africa and the “Rest of the World” at Turffontein.

David Mollet writes in the Business Day that this is the view of world-renowned rider Mick Kinane, who is the oldest and most experienced jockey in the international team. “I have ridden against Malesh and he’s a really talented guy - his record in his home country speaks for itself,” said Mick Kinane.

Interestingly, Malesh Narredu has won exactly the same number of jockey titles - 11 - as former South African champion Michael Muis Roberts, who will be the manager of the South African side on Saturday.

Malesh Narredu’s big race wins include 115 graded races, 41 Group One events and 53 classics. These include 11 derbies and India’s Triple Crown.

Nevertheless, even that record is dwarfed by that of 49-year-old Mick Kinane, who can boast more than 160 Gr1 victories all over the world including the Melbourne Cup on Dermot Weld’s stayer, Vintage Crop.

“That will always remain one of the great moments in my career as it was the first success by an international rider in Australia’s most important race,” said Mick Kinane.

The much admired Irishman said he was delighted to be back in South Africa after riding in the last International Challenge here 22 years ago.

Australia is represented in Saturday’s international team by Damien Oliver, who knows all about Cup day at Melbourne. He has won the marathon race twice and remains the only apprentice to have won the AJC Derby, Australia’s premier three-year-old race.

Malesh Narredu’s rides in the four international races are Chariots of Fire for Geoff Woodruff, Acheron for Sean Tarry, Twilights Rush for Ormond Ferraris and Single Minded for Stuart Pettigrew. While Chariots of Fire may battle against the likes of stable companion Kingdom Come and KZN raider Citizen Dante, Twilights Rush is a decent sort on his day and could have a say in the finish of the 1600m Lufthansa Handicap.

Mick Kinane’s four mounts in the international races are Keat’s Drift for Charles Laird, Sunny Jim for Geoff Woodruff, Flight Queen for Dennis Drier and Battle Hero for Paul Matchett.

Although Flight Queen has to concede weight all round in the Racing Association Handicap, she has an each-way chance but it seems likely she could find one too smart for her in Frankie Dettori’s mount, On The Bluff.

Frankie Dettori will be the big attraction at the city track as he is arguably the best known jockey in the sport. His affable attitude and big race successes have kept him in the media spotlight for the past two decades.”

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INTERNATIONAL JOCKEYS' CHALLENGE : The Leviathans of Racing

christophe soumillonChristophe Soumillon
(Hong Kong Jockey Club)

Saturday’s Steinhoff Summer Cup meeting sees the re-inauguration of the Jockey’s International concept, this time in “Test Match” format as they take on the cream of South Africa’s best, and it’s likely to be as great an attraction as the main event at Turffontein. The four-race International Jockeys’ Challenge is led by South Africa’s champion jockey, Mark Khan, and an international team which includes the irrepressible Frankie Dettori.

Twelve of the world’s top jockeys will be in action, with the visiting contingent including France’s flamboyant Christophe Soumillon, cool Irishman Mick Kinane, Australian legend Damien Oliver, top English jockey Darryl Holland and Indian champion Mallesh Narredu.

The South African team comprises Piere Strydom, Kevin Shea, Mark Khan, Weichong Mawing, Karl Neisius, and Anton Marcus, with Anthony Delpech as the reserve. All have been awarded Proteas colours, as has team manager Michael Roberts.

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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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Mike de Kock on Breeders' Cup Map with EAGLE MOUNTAIN

eagle mountain and kevin sheaEagle Mountain and Kevin Shea at Santa Anita
(Harry How/Getty)

South African trainer Mike de Kock will saddle his first Breeders’ Cup starter Saturday, but it won’t be any of the horses he expected earlier in the year would make it to championship weekend reports the Thoroughbred Daily News.

“I had three others that I was planning to come here with and things didn’t turn out that way, Mike de Kock said. “[G2 UAE Derby winner] Honour Devil (Arg) (Honour and Glory) was going to come out for the Dirt Mile; [G1 Dubai World Cup runner-up] Asiatic Boy (Arg) (Not For Sale {Arg}) maybe for the Classic. But they just didn’t do well in England. They had really tough campaigns in Dubai. We took them to England and their coats never got good, they never ate well, never worked well. You can’t flog a dead horse, you know. You don’t want to come here just to be a number.”

Meanwhile, while his stablemates were excelling in Dubai, G1 Turf hopeful Eagle Mountain (GB) (Rock of Gibraltar {Ire}) was spending a year on the sidelines recovering from a fractured pelvis. The four-year-old, who was second in last year’s G1 Epsom Derby and G1 Champion Stakes and third in the G1 Irish Derby, seemed a longshot to make it to Santa Anita for the Breeders’ Cup. But he proved he was back in top shape in his comeback effort, winning Newmarket’s one-mile October 3 G3 Joel Stakes in course-record time in his only start this term.

“We didn’t think we were on target for the Breeders’ Cup, but his last one showed that he was,” Mike de Kock explained. “So we were able to switch plans. We were lucky that we had a backup with this horse.” The trainer is not concerned that Eagle Mountain’s light campaign will hurt him Saturday. “He’s got a good five or six months of hard work under the belt,” Mike de Kock said. “He’s done a lot of miles. He’s ready for it.”

Catch all the Breeders’ Cup action on Tellytrack, DSTV channel 232.

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NEW APPROACH retired after victory in Champion Stakes

kevin manning and new approach
Kevin Manning celebrates aboard New Approach
(PA)

Princess Haya of Jordan’s New Approach (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}) became the first G1 Epsom Derby winner to follow up in the G1 Emirates Airline Champion Stakes in the same year since the 1968 hero Sir Ivor with an emphatic six-length success on Saturday.

The Thoroughbred Daily News reports that capping a memorable afternoon for Jim Bolger following the surprise win of Intense Focus (Giant’s Causeway) in the G1 Darley Dewhurst Stakes a half hour earlier, the 6-5 crowd’s choice opened up when committed by Kevin Manning with three furlongs remaining and by the time he reached the line, he had smashed the previous track record set by Palace Music in this race 24 years ago.

“Everything went according to plan,” his typically understated jockey commented afterwards. “He really impressed me today and of all his wins, I’ve no doubt that today was his best.”

Khalid Abdullah’s Twice Over ran second and previous Herman Brown inmate, Linngari, ran a very creditable 3rd.

New Approach has been retired to stud and will stand at Dalham Hall.

 

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