Initially doubtful about Golden Horn’s stamina for the mile and a half of the Derby, owner-breeder Anthony Oppenheimer has ultimately decided to pay the £75,000 to supplement him for Epsom such was the style of the colt’s win in the Dante Stakes at York earlier this month. Now seeming likely to start a short-priced favourite, what does his pedigree tell us about his chances of staying the trip and what might be the source of such stamina?
Danzig, Ahonoora, Kingmambo and Nureyev make up Golden Horn’s quartet of great grandsires, a foursome of sprinters and milers who might seem unlikely foundations on which to build hopes of yielding a Derby winner. Closer up, Golden Horn’s sire Cape Cross was a miler, as was his grandam Nuryana (his dam Fleche d’Or was unraced) who was herself out of a half-sister to On The House who won the 1000 Guineas for Sir Philip Oppenheimer in 1982. Ascot listed winner Nuryana proved an excellent broodmare, producing ten winners, the best of whom was another top miler, Rebecca Sharp, winner of the Coronation Stakes in 1997.
However, Golden Horn has already won at beyond a mile himself, over the extended ten furlongs of the Dante, and his year-older half-sister Eastern Belle (by Champs Elysees) won a listed race at Newbury last year over a mile and a quarter. More recently, she was described as ‘gaining late’ when finishing second in a non-graded stakes over eleven furlongs at Keeneland just a couple of days after Golden Horn kept his unbeaten record at York.
That still leaves the crucial question of Golden Horn’s stamina for a mile and a half. Two quite close relatives of his have already taken the Derby test, and failed, though not miserably so in the case of Mystic Knight. A Caerleon half-brother to Rebecca Sharp, he finished sixth of twenty, beaten five lengths, behind Shaamit in the 1996 Derby after winning the Lingfield Derby Trial over a slightly shorter trip. Mystic Knight saw the race out quite well considering he raced in the front rank for much of the way and was vying for the lead at Tattenham Corner. Nine years later, Rebecca Sharp’s son Grand Central (by Sadler’s Wells) fared less well, finishing ninth of thirteen behind Motivator.
With the ‘right’ sire, Nuryana showed she could get a proven mile and a half performer, however, in the form of the Cheshire Oaks winner Hidden Hope (by Daylami) who was also runner-up in the Lancashire Oaks and the Prix de Pomone.
Returning to Golden Horn’s sire, Cape Cross, it’s a fact that he has already sired a Derby winner in Sea The Stars, though with Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe winner Urban Sea for a dam, Sea The Stars almost certainly owed his ability to see out a mile and a half to the distaff side of his pedigree. However, Cape Cross had already sired an Oaks winner as well in the form of Ouija Board who herself became the dam of last year’s Derby winner Australia. We’ve already mentioned Ahonoora as one of Golden Horn’s great grandsires, and despite being a sprinter himself, he went on to sire the 1992 Derby winner Dr Devious as well as the dam of the 2008 winner New Approach.
Other analyses of Golden Horn’s pedigree have tended to concentrate solely on his sire and his dam’s family but that may well be overlooking the most important piece of his pedigree jigsaw. If Golden Horn does turn out to stay a mile and a half, it’s likely that his breeders will have his dam’s sire Dubai Destination to thank most.
Dubai Destination beat subsequent 2000 Guineas winner Rock of Gibraltar impressively in the Champagne Stakes at Doncaster as a two-year-old but missed most of his three-year-old season before emulating Cape Cross by winning the Queen Anne Stakes. Although his biggest win therefore came at a mile, the one start that Dubai Destination was able to make at three hinted at Derby ambitions as he finished second in the listed Predominate Stakes at Goodwood, a Derby trial over eleven furlongs.
The Derby was the one British classic which Dubai Destination’s sire Kingmambo failed to get the winner of. Although a miler himself, Kingmambo sired an Oaks winner in Light Shift, and, surprisingly perhaps, not one but two St Leger winners, Rule of Law and Encke. What’s more, Dubai Destination’s dam Mysterial was by St Leger runner-up Alleged, a strong influence for stamina. Dubai Destination could therefore have reasonably been expected to prove fully effective at beyond a mile, possibly at a mile and a half.
Dubai Destination might not have had much opportunity to prove himself over middle distances on the track but, encouragingly for Golden Horn’s Derby prospects, a good number of his offspring stay well beyond a mile. Of his ten best horses on the Racing Post database, six either won at, or proved effective over, a mile and a half. A note of caution needs sounding, though, because in many cases these were horses out of mares by sires known as proven stamina influences.
For example, the good French stayer (third in the Gold Cup) Top Trip was out of a Kahyasi mare, the November Handicap winner Charm School was out of a Rainbow Quest mare and the Gordon Stakes runner-up Firebet was out of a Sadler’s Wells mare. In contrast to these horses, from what we’ve seen in Golden Horn’s pedigree, Dubai Destination isn’t going to get much help from elsewhere when it comes to providing stamina.
On the other hand, Dubai Destination’s son Dhaamer, a mile and a quarter performer in Britain, went to win the Grade 3 Sunset Handicap at Hollywood over a mile and a half. He was out of the Supreme Stakes (seven furlongs) winner Arjuzah who was by the aforementioned Ahonoora.
One of Dubai Destination’s best horses is Farraaj, a mile and a quarter winner in Britain who finished a close third over the same trip in the Mackinnon Stakes in Australia last November. He’s out of a Nureyev mare, meaning he’s bred on the same cross as Golden Horn’s dam, while his dam is also a half-sister to Golden Horn’s sire Cape Cross.
[Image of Mr Anthony Oppenheimer’s silks courtesy of JockeyColours]