By Andrew Caulfield
At last week’s unmissable stallion parade at Dalham Hall Stud, mention was made of the comparative youth of the Darley stallion team, with the stallions on show featuring such as Brazen Beau, Buratino, Charming Thought, Golden Horn, Night of Thunder, Postponed, Profitable, Ribchester, Slade Power, Territories and The Last Lion.
However, youth was not integral to the production of a spate of winners last week for Sheikh Mohammed’s breeding operation, now known as Godolphin. The second-oldest member of the Dalham Hall team, Dubawi enjoyed a group race double with the homebreds Crown Walk and Quorto and also sired the very promising ‘TDN Rising Star’ Rabbah-bred maiden winner Al Hilalee. Dubawi is 16, one year younger than Iffraaj.
Another to sire a pair of Group/Graded winners was Medaglia d’Oro, the senior member of Darley’s American team, at 19. He supplied Group 2 winners on either side of the Atlantic thanks to Elate in the U.S. and to Gyllen in France. Godolphin also added another Group 3 success to its tally via the Darley-bred Inns of Court, whose sire, the 21-year-old Invincible Spirit, also sired Godolphin’s promising juvenile winner Lover’s Knot.
And it wasn’t just the stallions who were past the first flush of youth. The ex-English Crown Walk, winner of the G3 Prix Chloe, was foaled when her dam Dunnes River was 17 and Dunnes River herself was foaled when her sire, the extraordinary Danzig, was 21. It’s a similar story with Gyllen. This conqueror of Crossed Baton in the G2 Prix Eugene Adam, was foaled when his dam Miss Halory was 16 and Miss Halory in turn was foaled four months before her sire, the equally extraordinary Mr. Prospector, died at the terrific age of 29.
These family histories act as a joint reminder that top-class producers–both stallions and broodmares–often remain capable of coming up with the goods at a time when many breeders would consider them past their prime. Both Dunnes River and Miss Halory have produced previous Group/Graded winners. Miss Halory, a half-sister to no fewer than five graded winners out of Halory, including the Irish Group 2 winner Van Nistelrooy, is also the dam of the Grade III-winning Storm Cat colt Stormalory.
Dunnes River had only a neck to spare when she won a mile maiden race as a 3-year-old at Goodwood on her only appearance, However, she has thoroughly deserved her retention for Sheikh Mohammed’s blue-blooded broodmare team. Indeed her record must have been especially pleasing to His Highness, who likes nothing better than putting Dubai in the spotlight.
When Dunnes River produced her second foal, a colt by Halling, in 2004, the colt must have impressed the Darley team. In between covering Dunnes River in 2003 and the birth of the colt, the elegant Halling had been transferred from Dalham Hall to the Emirates Stud in Dubai. Although Halling will be best remembered as a dual winner of both the G1 Eclipse S. and the G1 Juddmonte International, he had also flourished on the sand track at Nad Al Sheba in Dubai, winning his first four races there. Unfortunately, he finished last in the inaugural running of the Dubai World Cup–just as he had done in the previous year’s GI Breeders’ Cup Classic.
Dunnes River was duly sent to Dubai for further assignations with Halling in 2005 and 2006. This proved to be a shrewd move. Dunnes River’s English-sired Halling colt was Boscabel, who defeated the future St Leger winner Lucarno in the G2 King Edward VII S. for Mark Johnston.
Cutlass Bay, Dunnes River’s second Halling colt, was even better. Cutlass Bay had looked set for great things when he defeated the future Grand Prix de Paris winner Cavalryman–another of Halling’s UAE produce–in the G2 Prix Grefulhe in May 2009. Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to race again until April 2010, when he extended his unbeaten record to four in the G2 Prix d’Harcourt, and he showed further progress in landing the G1 Prix Ganay on his fifth.
Crown Walk is therefore her third group winner. There was very nearly a fourth, as Dunnes River’s first foal, the Fantastic Light gelding Crested, had been beaten just a nose in a Grade III at Hawthorne in 2007. The mare’s record stands at nine winners from 11 starters and she also has a yearling colt by Dawn Approach.
Crown Walk’s graduation as a group winner will have been all the more pleasing for Sheikh Mohammed because her second dam is Elizabeth Bay, a million-dollar purchase as a yearling in 1991, when the Sheikh was in the process of building his broodmare band.
Along with the likes of Machiavellian, Kingmambo, Coup de Genie, Distant View, Miswaki and Lycius, Elizabeth Bay helped knock a hole in the theory that Mr. Prospector’s progeny were less effective on European turf than American dirt. She was unbeaten at two, when she won the G3 Prix Eclipse, and she later went within a neck of winning the G1 Coronation S. She also won a stakes race in the USA.
Crown Walk’s third dam Life At The Top was also very talented–talented enough to record Grade I victories in the Mother Goose S. and the mile-and-a-quarter Ladies H., in addition to finishing second in the Kentucky Oaks and CCA Oaks. The next dam, See You At The Top, was a half-sister to the Kentucky Derby and Belmont winner Bold Forbes and to Priceless Fame, the dam of Saratoga Six.
In addition to her powerful female line, Dunnes River was bred to a highly successful pattern, with Danzig as her sire and a Mr. Prospector mare as her dam. This nick produced 16 black-type winners from 62 foals, which equates to a magnificent 26%. Others bred this way included the Group1 winners Dayjur, Pas de Reponse and Brahms.
Crown Walk therefore has a suitably illustrious pedigree for a filly who became the 100th group winner sired by the truly excellent Dubawi. Like Galileo before him, Dubawi owes some of his impressive total to the years he shuttled to Australia. Dubawi shuttled for four years, compared to Galileo’s five, and it is fair to say that his progeny suited Australian conditions better than Galileo’s. Fourteen of his Australian-sired foals feature among his 100 group winners, including six which won at Group 1 level in Australasia or South Africa.
That means that Crown Walk is the 86th group winner from Dubawi’s British crops, but Dubawi–still only 16 and with several very high-priced crops in the pipeline–is sure to sail past the magic 100 with these British crops alone. The promising Quorto has already become group winner number 87 and Al Hilalee shapes as though he will quickly join the club too.