Shamardal and Dubawi finished third and fourth respectively in the table of sires by prize money in Britain and Ireland in 2014 with total earnings of more than £2m apiece. Another highly successful year looks on the cards for the Darley pair this year, both in the British Isles and further afield, with Shamardal currently second in the domestic prize-money list and Dubawi fourth.
Members of the same crop, both were Group 1-winning two-year-olds, with Shamardal winning the Dewhurst Stakes and Dubawi the National Stakes. They then became stable-companions as three-year-olds when Shamardal, formerly with Mark Johnston, joined Dubawi’s trainer Saeed bin Suroor in the Godolphin set-up. Both colts won Guineas, Shamardal the French version and Dubawi the Irish.
They were each then stepped up in trip to contest Derbies, Dubawi failing to stay the mile and a half at Epsom, but still finishing third, while Shamardal was successful in the Prix du Jockey Club over its then new shorter trip of ten and a half furlongs. But it was back at a mile that Shamardal and Dubawi gained their final Group 1 wins. Shamardal emulated his sire Giant’s Causeway when winning the St James’s Palace Stakes while Dubawi also followed in the footsteps of his sire Dubai Millennium when winning the Prix Jacques le Marois.
The pair stood their first season at stud in 2006, Dubawi at Dalham Hall in Newmarket at a fee of £25,000 and Shamardal at Kildangan Stud in Ireland at a fee of €40,000. Apart from swapping places for a season in 2008, they have kept their respective bases in Europe though have also shuttled to Australia.
Coincidentally, although both have been at stud for several seasons, they have both hit new heights in their stallion careers at the same time; Shamardal stands at €70,000 in 2015 (he had stood at €50,000 in each of the four preceding years), while Dubawi, who stood for as little as £15,000 at one point, now also commands the highest fee of his stud career at £125,000.
While Coolmore have been able to rely principally on Sadler’s Wells and, more recently his sons Galileo and Montjeu, for big-race winners, Darley have struggled to find a consistent supplier of top-class performers for the Godolphin/Maktoum racing operations. Now, though, they could have two. Dubawi and Shamardal can boast a joint tally of thirty Group 1 winners between them, Dubawi having 17 to Shamardal’s 13.
For the foreseeable future on European turf Galileo will continue to provide the stiffest competition, and his hand in the upcoming classics looks particularly strong. He has the favourite for the 1000 Guineas and Oaks with Found and another filly prominent in the betting in both those classics, Together Forever.
Among Galileo’s potential classic colts, Gleneagles heads the 2000 Guineas betting, backed up by Highland Reel, and while John F Kennedy’s recent defeat at Leopardstown cost him his place as ante-post Derby favourite, Sir Isaac Newton and 2013 Derby winner Ruler of The World’s brother Giovanni Canaletto are other Epsom hopefuls who could emerge as leading Derby contenders.
At this pre-classic stage of the season Galileo is trailing Shamardal and Dubawi in the British/Irish prize-money standings – he’s yet to break into the top twenty, in fact – though the performances of the three-year-olds highlighted above could change all that in the coming weeks.
Of the Darley duo, Shamardal has a couple of interesting classic contenders in the unbeaten colt Zawraq, now Derby bound after impressively winning the Leopardstown 2000 Guineas Trial on the same card that John F Kennedy was turned over, and the intriguingly-bred* filly Lucida, a 1000 Guineas hopeful after winning last autumn’s Rockfel Stakes at Newmarket.
However, while Galileo’s sphere of influence is largely confined to European turf, Shamardal and Dubawi have the advantage over him of a more extensive global presence, due partly to their own dual-hemisphere stud careers. Also, coming from the sire lines of Storm Cat and Mr Prospector respectively, dirt and all-weather performers figure among Shamardal’s and Dubawi’s best offspring, besides turf horses.
Indeed, it is the success of Shamardal and Dubawi on the all-weather which largely accounts for their prominent early positions in the prize-money tables. Shamardal’s son Tryster is unbeaten in five starts on polytrack this year, and had already won the Group 3 Winter Derby at Lingfield when following up at the same track with the performance of the meeting at the All-Weather Championships earlier this month in the valuable Easter Classic. Dubawi’s three-year-old son Four Seasons made it four out of five on the all-weather when successful in the 3 Year Old Mile event at the same meeting.
However, it is in Dubai this year that Dubawi has been particularly successful. Prince Bishop became the second son of Dubawi, after Monterosso three years earlier, to win the Dubai World Cup, another of the races won by Dubawi’s sire Dubai Millennium. Also on Dubai World Cup night, three-year-old colt Mubtaahij made it four out of five on Meydan’s dirt track when giving Dubawi another big winner in the UAE Derby, a possible stepping stone towards the Kentucky Derby.
Other offspring of Dubawi to have thrived in Dubai this year are Safety Check and the now-retired Hunter’s Light. Both won all three of their starts at Meydan on turf, the former winning the Group 2 Al Fahidi Fort and Zabeel Mile and the latter the Group 1 Jebel Hatta.
Elsewhere, Dubday maintained his position as Qatar’s best horse when winning the HH The Emir’s Trophy for the second year running in February, while the mares Shamal Wind (Group 1 Oakleigh Plate at Caulfield) and Catkins (a triple Group 2 winner) have been Dubawi’s most successful performers in Australia this year.
Back in Europe, Al Kazeem has already got off the mark for the year in the Group 2 Prix d’Harcourt at Longchamp ahead of a return to Group 1 company in next month’s Prix Ganay, while 2000 Guineas winner Night of Thunder and Great Voltigeur winner Postponed are other potential major earners for Dubawi when they return to action in 2015.
Like Dubawi, Shamardal has been successful at group level in Australia this year, including with recent Arrowfield 3YO Sprint winner Delectation but it is his excellent record in European stakes in 2015 that catches the eye. Besides Tryster and Zawraq, Shamardal has also had the Earl of Sefton Stakes winner French Navy, the Fruhjahrs-Meile winner Amaron in Germany, and the French fillies Akatea and Fond Words who have both won listed races. The last-named was successful on Chantilly’s polytrack where Philosopher made it two out of two on the French all-weather to make a promising start to his career with Andre Fabre.
Fabre’s Prix Vermeille winner Baltic Baroness is another who could be seen next in the Prix Ganay, while stable-companion Fintry is a possible for Newmarket’s Dahlia Stakes the same weekend. Others seeking further group-race success for Shamardal this season could be unbeaten sprinter Lightning Moon and Bow Creek, who signed off for last season winning a Group 2 contest over a mile at Leopardstown.
However, perhaps the most exciting prospect for Group 1 success in Europe among Shamardal’s runners is his Australian-bred Hong Kong superstar Able Friend. He bids to take his winning streak at Sha Tin to six in the Champions Mile when his rivals could include former winner of the race Dan Excel, an Irish-bred son of Shamardal. Victory there could book Able Friend’s ticket to Royal Ascot for the Queen Anne Stakes.
*Lucida’s dam is by the Dubai World Cup winner Street Cry, a full brother to Shamardal’s dam Helsinki
[Image of Godolphin silks courtesy of JockeyColours]